On that day the root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples. The nations will seek Him, and His place of rest will be glorious.
I. HONOR TO THE ROOT OF JUDAH. The scion from the ancient trunk will be honored far and wide among the heathen, because of those virtues already described in the preceding section. It will be a banner to which they will flock, a center of light and living oracles.
II. REDEMPTION OF THE REMNANT. The mighty hand of Jehovah will be stretched forth to gather the scattered ones from all the four quarters of their dispersion. When the banner is raised, the heathen will own its power and the captives will be released.
III. INTERNAL UNITY. The two great tribes will remain side by side, but then enmity will cease. The recent destruction of Samaria had been caused by that enmity; which ceasing, it will be found that union is strength, and the nations will submit on the West and East. And those great threatening neighbors, Egypt and Assyria, will feel the weight of Jehovah's hand and the punishment which the word of his mouth inflicts. And as the great river is smitten into seven fordable streams, the company of pilgrims will flow back, a way made for them by the hand of their God, as in the days of their forefathers, and the exodus from Egypt. The scion from the old stump may be taken as a figure of the revival of true religion in times of decay. And such revival means the union of long-sundered hearts, the recognition of an internal unity among all the faithful, the restoration of influence, and the dismay of the ungodly world. - J.
I. THE SURROUNDINGS WITH WHICH THE REDEEMER WOULD BE CONNECTED. He was to be "a root of Jesse." Elsewhere in his prophecy Isaiah speaks of Him as "a root out of a dry ground." The dry ground in which this root yielded the Plant of renown was the barren soil of a corrupt age, a worn out civilisation, a depraved humanity. His descent from Jesse associated Him vitally with a notable family of the Jews. But centuries had passed since the descendants of Jesse had made themselves conspicuous. The energy of that vigorous family had expended itself in the luxury and the frivolity of many kings. Joseph of Nazareth, the village carpenter, and Mary his espoused wife, were the living representatives of an illustrious ancestry; and they were so poor and so humble that Bethlehem, their native city, had no welcome for them when they went thither to be enrolled. The Child Jesus shared their lot. He could not have frequented the schools, for His townsmen were astonished at His wisdom when He began to teach. He evidently had the Old Testament Scriptures in His hands, and He had the swat influence of His mother, and the wise counsels of Joseph, and He had the synagogue. That was His environment — so far as His environment was helpful. He could draw no inspiration from the ordinary Jewish life of Nazareth, and still less from the Greek or Roman life of Galilee. His Jewish lineage is unquestioned, and yet there is nothing Jewish about Him. He is larger than the nation, larger even than the race. None of the important laws of heredity can explain Him.
There shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people.Psalm 2:7, 8; Isaiah 9:6; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 61:1; Isaiah 35:4-6; Isaiah 50:6; Psalm 22:16-18; Psalm 69:21; Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:2, 3; Daniel Daniel 9:26 Zechariah 6:12, 13). This paragraph is so manifestly meant of Christ, and of His kingdom, that it is perfectly incapable of any other application.
I. THE PERSON AND ONE OF THE PRINCIPAL OFFICES OF THE MESSIAH, — "A ROOT OF JESSE"; "AN ENSIGN OF THE PEOPLE."
1. In the preceding verses, He is set forth in His human nature, as the "Rod" which should "come forth out of the stem of Jesse," "the Branch which should grow out of his roots" (Jeremiah 23:5; Zechariah 3:8); but here, in His Divine nature, in which alone He could be the "root of Jesse"; the creating "word" (Colossians 1:16). The word here rendered "root," is properly so translated, and never means branch, or rod. This is the case likewise in Revelation 5:5. In Revelation 22:16, we find both natures mentioned and distinguished; and also in Romans 1:3; Romans 4:2. His office. "He shall stand for an ensign of the people." Where they may take oath and swear allegiance to the great King and bind themselves by covenant to be His loyal subjects. Where they may enlist, and engage to be His faithful soldiers to their life's end. But how is He an ensign, a banner, or standard, visibly displayed? By manifestation of His real character, and showing Himself to be the very Messiah that should come. By unfurling and unfolding the truth in His doctrine. By exerting and displaying His power in miracles. By manifesting His love in all His actions and sufferings. As lifted up upon the Cross (John 12:32). As exalted to the Father's right hand (Acts 2:33). As preached and declared to every creature, to every nation under heaven, for the obedience of faith. As coming in the clouds of heaven, gathering His elect, gathering "all nations and tongues," to see His glory.
II. THE APPLICATION THAT IS TO BE MADE TO HIM BY THE GENTILES. "To Him shall the Gentiles (Hebrews, 'the nations') seek." He Himself came to seek and save the lost, and He is often found of those that before sought Him not. Those, however, that are first found of Him do themselves also seek Him.
1. But for what purposes? As an infallible Teacher, for truth and grace. As a Mediator, for pardon, etc. As an all-sufficient Saviour, expecting deliverance from the power and pollution of sin, from the flesh, the world, and the devil. As their rightful Sovereign, to give law to them, to rule, protect, and exalt them. As the Captain of their salvation, to go before them and conquer for them, to enable them to conquer, and to crown them as victorious.
2. But how do they seek Him? By desire, earnest, constant, increasing, restless (Isaiah 55:1; John 7:37; Revelation 22:17). By prayer (Joel 2:32; Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13; 1 Corinthians 1:2). By faith and trust (Isaiah 28:16; Romans 10:11; Romans 15:12).
III. THE EFFECTS THAT SHALL FOLLOW. "His rest shall be glorious." As a Teacher, the "light of the world," and as made of God to His people "wisdom," He gives rest to the understanding from the uncertainties of error, by the clear and satisfactory knowledge of the truth, and faith therein, or "the full assurance of understanding." As a Priest, and as made of God to us "righteousness," He gives rest to the conscience. As a Saviour from sin, and as made of God unto us "sanctification," He gives rest to the will, affections, and passions, humbling our pride, subduing our rebellious dispositions (Matthew 11:29). As a King, by delivering, defending, governing, ordering, disposing, and making all things work for good, and setting up His kingdom in our hearts, He gives us rest from cares, fears, and anxieties. As the Captain of our salvation, He gives the rest consequent on victory over our enemies, in deliverance from all tormenting fear of them, even the fear of death, and enabling us, while on earth, to live in peace, love, and harmony, with one another. He gives rest to the earth during the millennium (Isaiah 11:6-9; Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 32:15-19; Micah 4:1-4; Zechariah 14:6-9).
(J. Benson, D. D.)
II. THE ATTITUDE WHICH THE REDEEMER WOULD ASSUME. He was to "stand for an ensign of the people." Ideas are symbolised by standards. A national flag represents a national idea. Isaiah declared that Jesus would "stand for an ensign of the people" — not of the Jews merely, but of the Gentiles also; and Jesus made a similar declaration concerning Himself. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth," etc. He anticipated universal supremacy. This is surely a very remarkable expectation to be cherished intelligently by an ordinary Jew of that period of history. Racial lines were then sharply drawn. Yet Jesus — a Jew, and a Jew in a small provincial town, rose to an appreciation of the essential oneness of humanity, and presented Himself, with His idea, as the ensign of the people, so that Paul, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, was able to write to the Gentiles of Ephesus: "Ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God." This expectation was not cherished by one who was marching at the head of an invincible army, but by a very humble young man in the quiet village of Nazareth. He had never been abroad. He had enjoyed but little contact with the world. Yet He made this claim of universal authority. The sobriety of His claim will appear, and the wisdom of His purpose will be evident, if attention is directed to the characteristics of His idea, and if the trend of human progress is regarded. The idea of Jesus, the idea illustrated by His character and life, the idea around which Christendom is crystallising, is clearly expressed in the words, "not to be ministered unto, but to minister." This idea, the service of self-sacrifice, is one which is capable of transforming life. Now that idea is beginning to assert its power.
III. THE INFLUENCE WHICH THE REDEEMER WOULD EXERT. "His rest shall be glorious." This is the promise of peace which Jesus Himself repeated. Very simple are the terms, and yet men draw back from their simplicity. They want the rest, but they do not want to kneel at the feet of Christ. This work — so glorious — is not an experiment. It has approved itself. In Christ, all men may find rest.
(H. M. Booth, D. D.)
I. MUSTERS HIS FORCES FOR THE BATTLE. Under the Old Testament dispensation, Jehovah revealed Himself as the Lord of hosts — as a man of war; and God manifest in the flesh was the Captain of salvation, and set up His standard for men to rally around, that they might overcome sin without and sin within. As soldiers of the Cross, we are to muster around our great Ensign, for discipline, drill, and for battle. The royal proclamation has gone forth; war has been declared against the powers of darkness; the trumpet of the Gospel has sounded, calling upon "all the world" and "every creature"; to it the Gentiles have come, and the Church militant is going forth in this holy war.
II. MARCHES WITH HIS FORCES TO THE BATTLE. He goes in front as Leader and Commander, to guide, stimulate, and cheer. The strength of His arm and the light of His eye are to act as inspiration to His troops.
1. He goes before in His example. He fought with Satan, and He overcame the world. He conquered its frowns and smiles, and always went His way. "He was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin."
2. He goes before us in precept. He has given us commandments how we shall march and how we shall fight; and He is ever present to give power to His Word by the illumination and demonstration of His Holy Spirit. The early Christians were heroic and successful in battle, for they realised the presence of the great Ensign with them.
III. MINGLES WITH HIS FORCES IN THE BATTLE. "His rest shall be glorious." It shall not be a doubtful or drawn battle; it shall end in complete victory. The Saviour, when He finished the great atonement, ascended up on high, and "sat down" in peace and power, — He entered into glorious rest.
(F. W. Brown.)
1. Jesus may be called an ensign because He is a gathering or rallying point for men. There always have been persons who have stood forth prominently from their fellows, in travel, in science, in ethics, in art, in song. These have founded particular schools of thought or philosophy, and men have claimed them as leaders, ranged themselves round their standards, and been proud to be called by their names. Such individuals have been "ensigns of the people," gathering or rallying points for their own followers. Just so is Jesus preeminently "an ensign for the people."
2. An "ensign," is a banner to fight under. The watchword of the true believer in Jesus is, "Jehovah nissi!" There are different regiments enrolled in the Lord's sacramental host, and therefore are they spoken of as "an army with banners"; but every sectional flag droops and dips in the dust as it is borne before the "Captain of our salvation."
3. An "ensign" is a guide to travellers. And such is Christ to the travellers from earth to heaven.
II. THE REST OF CHRIST. "His rest shall be glorious."
1. Because it will be the rest which follows victory.
2. The rest of abiding peace. In 1815, when the British Parliament were voting honours and emoluments to Wellington, and considering "the measures necessary towards forming a peace establishment," suddenly all their plans were interrupted and their peace projects dissipated by the intelligence that Napoleon had escaped from Elba. Nothing like this will occur during the rest of Christ; His enemies once subdued will be subdued forever.
3. Because it will be the rest which follows successful attempts at salvation. Like the rest of the life boat crew, when the mariners have been all brought from the tempest tossed and torn and tottering wreck; like the rest of the firemen when they have rescued the last inmate who was ready to perish from the burning building. His rest shall be glorious, for "He shall see of the travail of His soul and be satisfied."
4. Because it shall be the rest of social enjoyment, unmarred by pain or sickness, by separation or death.
5. The rest of joyous activity.
6. A rest of unending duration.
(J. W. Cole.)I. THE PERSON OF CHRIST.
II. THE EMBLEM BY WHICH HE IS REPRESENTED.
III. PRACTICAL APPLICATION.
1. The need we have of the Holy Spirit's work. Christ may be faithfully and constantly preached, but it is by the Holy Spirit convincing us of our need, and giving us a living faith, that we range ourselves under His banner.
2. We must expect a conflict.
3. Christ will come to take His saints to Himself, to claim that glory which He has purchased by having died for them.
(E. Auriol, M. A.)
His rest shall be gloriousI. CONSIDER WHEREIN THIS REST CONSISTS.
1. In that great obedience which Christ has rendered unto God, in the human nature, for man. There is a rest of conscience to those who are in Christ.
2. Another ground of this rest of the spirit is in the victory that Christ has obtained over all His enemies. Death, sin, Satan, the world. The enemies of the believer are vanquished through Christ Jesus.
II. IN WHAT SENSE IT MAY BE CALLED GLORIOUS.
1. It is glorious to God the Father; whose wisdom and love it manifests. It is glorious to God the Son; who obtained it for His whole spiritual Church by His incarnation and toil and agony. It is glorious to God the Spirit; who foretold it, who described it, who reveals it, and seals them for it. It is glorious, because all God's attributes are honoured in it. His justice is satisfied: His mercy also is infinitely displayed.
2. The rest is glorious and honourable to all those who are brought into it. For they are washed from their sins wholly, through the blood of the Lamb, and stand as candidates for heaven in those blessed garments, which grace has purchased for them and called them to wear. They cease from the impious intention of asking heaven for their own obedience, from a deep and heart-felt conviction of God's infinite holiness and their own unworthiness. They place the crown of honour on the head, where God would have it placed — even on that head that wore the crown of thorns.
3. There remains a more glorious rest hereafter.
(T. Snow, M. A.)
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