The prophetic landscape at the end of Isaiah 10 is dark and foreboding. Destruction has fallen on the Assyrians from the hand of the Almighty. Only a remnant of Israel remains.
Then comes a brilliant point of light. A splotch of green against a bleak, gray landscape.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
(Isaiah 11:1 ESV)
A son of Jesse growing like a tiny twig on the stump of a fallen tree. The twig will grow into a strong branch bringing fruit to a barren landscape.
How? What fruit will this son – the Messiah – bring?
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
(Isaiah 11:2-5 ESV)
Oh, yes. This sounds familiar.
This is Jesus.
The One whose wisdom and knowledge confounded the Pharisees and astonished the people. The One who sided with the poor and the meek. The One who called out the the Lord in public and took time to steal away for a few moments alone with God. The One who healed the sick, taught the unlearned, gathered in the children and accepted the outcasts.
Read the gospels. Meet the Branch. See the fruit he bore.
And remember that he still bears fruit, even in the darkness of your landscape …
… when you’re afraid to take a step forward because you’re surrounded by the cutting shards of broken dreams.
… when you reach out only to feel the cold steel of the prison of addiction and pain.
… when you listen for the voice of a friend but only hear the sound of your own heart beating.
… when you strain to see the light at the end of the tunnel but feel crushed by the stony walls of worry.
Look for the Shoot from the stump Jesse.
And grab the Branch with everything you have in you.
Even in your weak grasp, the Spirit of the Lord will rest on you through Him.