“The Branch of the Lord.”
“In that day shall the branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.”
The book of Isaiah is long, 66 chapters, but rich with poetic and memorable passages. There are many Messianic prophecies pointing to Jesus. Isaiah writes about the first appearance of Christ–his birth, ministry, death, and resurrection. There is also much detail about the future return of Jesus to a world facing annihilation during a time of great chaos. Since the book is so long short chapters can easily get overlooked. I have advice for readers. Don’t skip anything. It’s all inspired and preserved by God for a reason. Don’t miss a word of it.
Chapter four of Isaiah is absolute gold! It is not a passage we should overlook. Chapter 5 is five times as long and is a key chapter in the book of Isaiah. The great importance of chapter five can cause some readers to miss the value of chapter four. We will avoid that mistake.
Before moving into commentary about the chapter I want to make some important points. Short bible chapters and passages can be of great help to bible students. Important lessons are easier to learn while working on smaller portions of scripture.
- You’ve surely heard it’s important to chew your food slowly. Chewing slowly on the Word of God is very important also.
- Short passages can and should be read several times.
- Consider every word and their meanings.
- Find bible study helps that will direct you to the meanings of words in their original language.
- Ask questions about the words and context. Who is the author speaking to, when, why, etc.? What event has taken place? What does the prophet say will happen? Why?
- How does the context of the chapter fit with the other chapters around it? Don’t forget to peek back at the last chapter to see how the thought continues.
- Prophecy points near and far. Consider what the prophet says will happen to the people or nations he is speaking to. Then consider how that could impact a future generation.
- Almost all prophetic statements have this near and far fulfillment. Look closely to see how each should be understood. Don’t read into the passage things that don’t belong.
Let’s take a look at the chapter.
- And seven women shall take hold of one man in that day, saying, “We will eat our own bread and wear our own clothes, only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.
- In that day the branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and glory of the survivors of Israel.
- And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, every one who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem,
- when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning.
- Then the LORD will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy and a pavilion.
- It will be for a shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.
That’s the whole chapter.
It starts with ‘and’. We know what that means. A thought was continued from the previous chapter. In the last chapter the Lord charged the women of Israel with living arrogantly lavish lifestyles. They loved their fine things and sexy looks while the leadership and moral character of the nation was falling apart. The women and the men didn’t have time to care. It was all about self. Too bad they didn’t have cell phones, Snapchat, and Instagram. They could have been really self-absorbed.
In verse one there is a dramatic change in the attitude of the women. In Chapter three they are strutting about like they don’t care about anything but how they look in the mirror. In chapter four, verse one, the calamities Isaiah predicted have struck and the women are panicked.
The country is tore up. Their finer things are gone, and their pride has left as well. The men are scattered, captive, dead, or hopeless and old. There’s hardly a marriage eligible man in sight. Isaiah says seven women are willing to join with one man. In that culture, a woman’s value was measured in her ability to give birth to children. Without a man, the women of Israel were left in despair, seeing little hope for their future.
I understand that wouldn’t be the case today. Many women are very capable of finding great success without the help of a man. Isaiah wasn’t commenting on today’s modern women but was stating the reality in which the women of Israel would find themselves in once the judgment of God began to hit thousands of years ago.
In verse two we see the golden portion of this chapter. Also we find great insight into the heart of God and one of the best tools of bible interpretation.
In this verse it appears the prophet is saying the ‘branch of the Lord’ will be present. That’s not correct. When things are dark and times are tough human nature naturally looks for relief.
“When will these hard times end?”
People look to better times and hope for sunshine to break through in the midst of the storm.
The branch of the Lord is a reference to Jesus.
This image is repeated in Isaiah 11:1: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. It is repeated in Jeremiah 23:5: “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.” It is repeated in Jeremiah 33:15: In those days and at that time I will cause to grow up to David a Branch of righteousness; He shall execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. It is repeated in Zechariah 3:8: For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.
The ideas behind the title Branch of the LORD are those of fruitfulness and life. Jesus used the same image when He said that He was the vine and we are the branches (John 15:5). David Guzik
In that day does not mean that the Messiah would appear when these judgments were taking place on the daughters of Zion. It means that the promise of the Messiah would be all the more beautiful and glorious to them in the midst of their suffering.
And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped: for the remnant preserved through judgment, the promise of the Messiah would be all the more beautiful, dear, and life-giving. Fruit would come forth from the Branch of the LORD, even as they simply trusted in the promise of the Messiah before He came. David Guzik
Jesus is the hope for mankind and the help for all who are in trouble. But! He isn’t always evident in our tragedies, though he is always on hand for those who call on him. He wasn’t evident in the tragedy the women of Israel were experiencing. But the prophecy of a future hope was. The people of Israel didn’t hope for Jesus, but he was the answer they were looking for.
Jesus is the rod of Jesse and the branch of righteousness from the family of David. God would answer the pleas from the women of Israel. They hoped for a man to help them. That man is Jesus.
As I mentioned earlier, this passage also shows us something about God’s heart and how to interpret prophecy.
If God is good, and He is, then we can always…always find a silver lining to every storm. Every time God says he will judge his people we can expect to see something about a branch or something similar. You can cut a tree down but when the season changes and the spring warmth and rains come, that tree will sprout again. Hope returns. This is a very important principle in bible prophecy.
Always look for the ‘happy ending’ of every prophecy. Too many people focus on the earthquake, asteroids, or calamity. That’s not what God wants us to focus on. God has a happy ending he wishes to lead all of us toward.
A great tree, cut down in its strength, can sprout again. Jesus, cut down in his prime on the cross, rose again. The branch of God will come back stronger than ever. We will see him return. He will return to restore hope to those who have lost all they had.