Below are some preliminary questions to assist in the study of this passage. For a comprehensive study of the passage, download the Study Guide (PDF download).
1. It appeared that the fierce empire of Assyria would totally annihilate the people of God—indeed, what little was left of the nation of Judah is viewed as a mere stump of a tree that has been chopped down to the ground. But the Lord declares that from this stump there shall spring new life (11:1). Great king David’s royal line would not be extinguished; rather, it would produce a king (the Messiah) who will one day rule over all the earth. Describe the character and reign of this king who is none other than Jesus the Messiah. See Isaiah 11:3-5 (printed below)
He will delight in the fear of Jehovah. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, nor will he decide by what he hears with his ears; (4) rather, he will judge the needy with righteousness and render decisions with justice for the meek of the land. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. (5) Righteousness will be the belt around his waist and integrity will be the sash around his loins. (Isaiah 11:3-5)
Isaiah 11:3-5 describes the future reign of this king who is none other than Jesus the Messiah. “He will delight in the fear of Jehovah” (verse 3a). The Hebrew word has the root meaning “to smell,” “to smell with pleasure,” and hence, “to delight in.’ Thus the Messiah is pictured as “breathing in the invigorating atmosphere’ of the fear of the Lord; and being Himself governed by that holy fear, He shall carry out the rule assigned to Him by His heavenly Father. From verses 3b-5 we learn that He will not base His judgments (decisions) upon superficial, outward appearances; rather, He will look upon the heart and judge with true righteousness. Consequently, the poor and the meek shall receive justice and the wicked shall be condemned. What is described here is the righteous reign of the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns at the end of the age (note 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10a).
2. What will conditions be like when Jesus the Messiah exercises His reign? See Isaiah 11:6-9 (printed below)
The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the young lion and the yearling will play together, and a little child will lead them. (7) The cow and the bear will graze together, their young will lie down together; and the lion will eat straw like the ox. (8) The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will reach his hand into the viper’s nest. (9) They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain; for, just as the waters cover the sea, so shall the earth be filled with the knowledge of Jehovah. (Isaiah 11:6-9)
Verses 6-9 describe the universal peace that shall permeate the Lord’s great kingdom when He comes to establish a new heavens and a new earth. Verses 6-8 are describing the peaceful co-existence that shall prevail throughout nature and between man and nature; it will be Paradise. From verse 9 we learn that the entire world shall be transformed into the kingdom of God. Note: the kingdom of God, the earthly manifestation of which in Old Testament times was concentrated on holy Mount Zion, shall expand over the entire earth (note 2 Peter 3:13).
3. What promise does the Lord make with regard to His people in Isaiah 11:11-12 (printed below?)
On that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. (12) He will give a signal for the nations and assemble the exiles of Israel; he will gather the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the earth. (Isaiah 11:11-12)
Those who survived the onslaught of the Assyrian army were taken captive and deported from the land of Israel (note 2 Kings 17:5-6). They were removed from all the blessings of God that were once available to them in the Promised Land; above all, the temple of God that was His earthly dwelling place. But now in 11:11 we read that the Lord will reach out His hand to once again reclaim and re-gather His people. Just as the Lord had called His people out of Egypt, so the day is coming when He shall once again gather them unto Himself; on this second occasion He shall reclaim them from throughout all the earth (verse 11-12). Note: Romans 11:25-26 speaks of a great and final in-gathering of Israel to the Lord (see, also, Hosea 3:4-5).
4. With regard to His people, what further promises does the Lord make in Isaiah 11:13-14 (printed below?) Note: Edom, Moab, and the Ammonites were the archenemies of Old Testament Israel.
Ephraim’s envy will disappear, and those who trouble Judah will be cut off; Ephraim will no longer envy Judah, and Judah will no longer trouble Ephraim. (14) They will swoop down on the slopes of Philistia to the west; together they will plunder the people of the East. They will lay hands on Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites will be subject to them. (Isaiah 11:13-14)
With reconciliation to the Lord by means of Jesus the Messiah, there also comes reconciliation to one another as brothers in the Messiah (verse 13). Furthermore, the redeemed of the Lord will share with the Messiah in His conquest and dominion over their enemies (verse 14).
5. In Isaiah 12:3 (printed below) what imagery is used to describe the salvation bestowed upon His people by Jesus the Messiah? What aspects of that salvation are emphasized?
Therefore, with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. (Isaiah 12:3)
Verse 3 speaks about the comfort and privilege given to the believer in Christ: “Therefore, with joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation.” The imagery is that of an abundant supply of refreshing, life-giving water (very meaningful to people living in the arid Middle East). Thus are we reminded of the abundance of grace and divine blessing that is offered to us in Christ (note Ephesians 1:3). Here is a divine abundance that is presently ministered to us in measured portion, but that shall finally be poured out upon us in unlimited and eternal bounty in the kingdom of God.