In his vision of the
ideal Jerusalem, the Holy City, the Hebrew prophet
Isaiah in chapters two and four describes a glorious
future that only the Messiah can achieve.
"He will judge between
And will render decisions
for many peoples;
And they will hammer
their swords into plowshares and their spears into
Nation will not lift up
sword against nation,
And never again will they
learn war. . . ."
When the Lord has washed
away the filth of the daughters of Zion and purged
the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her midst, by the
spirit of judgment and the spirit of burning, then
the Lord will create over the whole area of Mount
Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even
smoke, and the brightness of a flaming fire by
night; for over all the glory will be a canopy.
There will be a shelter to give shade from the heat
by day, and refuge and protection from the storm and
"And the wolf will dwell
with the lamb,
And the leopard will lie
down with the young goat,
And the calf and the
young lion and the fatling together;
And a little boy will
Also the cow and the bear
Their young will lie down
And the lion will eat
straw like the ox.
The nursing child will
play by the hole of the cobra,
And the weaned child will
put his hand on the viper’s den.
They will not hurt or
destroy in all My holy mountain,
For the earth will be
full of the knowledge of the Lord
As the waters cover the
THE TIME OF THE
FULFILLMENT (2:2; 4:1)
These are beautiful word
pictures of what will take place during the
Messianic era. However, the message is delivered
during dark turbulent political times. Against this
backdrop, God gave Isaiah a message of hope and
encouragement. It takes place "in the last days"
(2:2), the last part of the future into which the
prophetic vision penetrates. In prophetic language,
it is the "day of the LORD." It is a day of judgment
on sin (2:5–4:1), but it is also a day when God acts
in salvation. The grand climax comes at the Second
Coming of Christ.
The events will actually
take place "in that day" (4:1). It is the one great
day of God at the end of time, opening with judgment
and issuing in salvation. It will be the time when
God will act. Jerusalem is seen as the center and
focus of the great judgment day. Jerusalem will have
a remnant that will survive the judgment and will be
His redeemed people. The redeemed will be the
spiritual centerpiece of the earth.
THE PERSON OF THE
"The Branch of the
LORD will be beautiful and glorious" person (4:2a).
The future ruler will be
the "Branch of the LORD" (v. 2). This tsemach,
a "sprout, shoot, branch," is clearly a designation
for the Messiah. It is a "growing thing" full of
vitality and abundant life. It always implies
something healthy, living and growing.
Israel is not the Branch,
but that which comes from her by God's grace. This
tsemach is the Messiah who is the greatest
branch that God has brought forth. The whole saving
work in Christ is presented in the Branch. The
Jewish Targum on this passage says tsemah is
the Messiah (cf. also Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15;
Zechariah 3:8; 6:12). "At that time shall the
Messiah of the LORD be for joy and glory." The great
King of the future is a shoot springing out of the
human, Davidic lineage, which the LORD God has
caused to sprout or spring to life from the fallen
trunk of Israel.
This growing thing will
be beautiful (Matthew 5:5; 11:27–30; Galatians
5:22–23). The gentleness of Christ is easy–going,
not impulsive or given to frequent outbursts. He
takes life calmly, casual, collected and informal.
The Branch will be
glorious. He is the very radiance of the glory of
God, the expression of the divine attributes of the
God–head (Hebrews 1:1–4). He is the effulgence of
the Divine glory.
He will be a shoot
springing out of human stock (11:1; cf. v. 10).
"Then a shoot will spring
from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his
roots will bear fruit."
The prophet Jeremiah also
announced the stock of the Branch (23:5). "'Behold,
the days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'When I
will raise up for David a righteous Branch; And He
will reign as king and act wisely And do justice and
righteousness in the land.'" Later he explained, "In
those days and at that time I will cause a righteous
Branch of David to spring forth; and He shall
execute justice and righteousness on the earth"
(33:15; cf. Revelation 5:5).
THE SAVING WORK OF THE
Both Isaiah and Jeremiah
declared the salvation of God's people will be
connected with the Branch. "For He grew up before
Him like a tender shoot, And like a root out of
parched ground . . . " (Isaiah 53:2a). "In His days
Judah will be saved, And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called,
‘The Lord our righteousness'" (Jeremiah 23:6).
Zechariah saw the day when God would take away the
iniquity and clothe His people with festal robes
(Zechariah 3:4). That day of cleansing would be at
Calvary when God would open up the fountain for
cleansing of sin (13:1; cf. Hebrews 9:11-14;
10:10-14). "'Now listen, Joshua the high priest, you
and your friends who are sitting in front of
you—indeed they are men who are a symbol, for
behold, I am going to bring in My servant the
Branch. For behold, the stone that I have set before
Joshua; on one stone are seven eyes. Behold, I will
engrave an inscription on it,’ declares the Lord of
hosts, ‘and I will remove the iniquity of that land
in one day'" (Zechariah 3:8–9).
The whole saving work of
God involves the Branch. "In that day the Branch of
the LORD will be beautiful and glorious, and the
fruit of the earth will be the pride and the
adornment of the survivors of Israel" (Isaiah 4:2).
The prophet probably had in mind the remnant
returning from Babylonian captivity when he speaks
of "the survivors of Israel." However, his message
looks to a greater remnant of the redeemed of all
ages. It is a remnant of God's saving grace.
The Branch of Yahweh will
be fruitful. All the nations will come to Him "that
He may teach us concerning His ways. And that we may
walk in His paths" (2:3). He will make Jerusalem
holy (4:3–4). Moreover, the whole mountain of the
LORD will become a holy of holies (v. 5). "Then the
Lord will create over the whole area of Mount Zion
and over her assemblies a cloud by day, even smoke,
and the brightness of a flaming fire by night; for
over all the glory will be a canopy."
This remnant will be
called "holy." The basic idea is separation. Every
believer has been set apart to God. They have been
consecrated to the Lord and therefore stand under
God's providential care. Divine grace is the source
of this holiness. It is not something that man
achieves or merits. This holiness is a work of
grace. Believers have a standing before God. We are
holy because of our special relationship to the
Branch. We are a "holy nation" (Exodus 19:6;
Deuteronomy 7:6; 1 Peter 2:9). Every true Christian
is a "holy one," a saint. The moment you believed on
Christ as your Savior you were "separated" to Him
for His glory. Moreover, in our daily practice we
are to be separated, consecrated to God. This is why
it is so important to begin every day with a
commitment of your life to the Lord. Just a simple
prayer that reminds you of your dependence upon Him
and asking Him for wisdom, guidance and strength to
be all He wants you to be. "Lord Jesus, this is your
day. I give it to you. Take my life and do as You
please. Live your life through me." A daily reminder
of your commitment to Christ will change your life.
If your lifestyle is not practically holy then claim
the promise of 1 John 1:9 and Ephesians 5:18.
This holy remnant which
is the fruit of the Branch includes "everyone who is
recorded for life in Jerusalem" (Isaiah 4:3).
Ancient cities kept citizenship records. "Everyone
who is recorded for life" is equivalent to being
ordained to life (cf. Acts 13:48; Revelation 3:5;
20:11–15). Do you rejoice that your "name written in
the book of life"? (Philippians 4:3). Every born
again believer in Jesus Christ has his name
inscribed in the Book of Life.
Obviously this remnant
consists of cleansed people (Isaiah 4:4). "When the
Lord has washed away the filth of the daughters of
Zion and purged the bloodshed of Jerusalem from her
midst, by the spirit of judgment and the spirit of
burning." The depravity of the daughters of Zion
(3:16ff) was hidden under their vain finery.
Probably Isaiah is referring to the judicial murders
committed by the rulers against the poor people when
he says the Branch "purged the blood shed of
Jerusalem" (cf. 3:13–15).
How does the Branch
cleanse? He does it "by the spirit of judgment and
the spirit of burning" (v. 4). He brings conviction
of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11).
The regenerative work of the Holy Spirit is clearly
in view. He regenerates and at times destroys. He
sifts and refines as in a refiner's fire. His
chastening work sifts and destroys all sinful
attitudes and behaviors in our lives.
Isaiah uses an unusual
expression, "the spirit of burning." Literally, "to
burn up," clear away, destroy. He sweeps it clean.
John the Baptizer said he came baptizing with water
because of repentance, "but He who is coming after
me is mightier than I, and I am not even fit to
remove His sandals; He Himself will baptize you with
the Holy Spirit and fire. And His winnowing fork is
in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean His
threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into
the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with
unquenchable fire" (Matthew 3:11–12). Isaiah saw the
thrice holiness of God and cried out "'O, woe is me,
for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips
. . .' Then the seraphim flew to him with a burning
coal in his hand which he had taken off the altar
with tongs and touched it to Isaiah's lips and said,
'Behold, this has touched your lips; and your
iniquity is taken away, and your sin is forgiven'"
(Isaiah 6:6-7). Sin and its cleansing are serious
The Branch is also
the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
The Messiah is designated
"My servant the Branch" (Zechariah 3:8; Jeremiah
23:5). But He is also described as Him whom the LORD
causes to sprout, or Him who has sprouted from the
LORD. Clearly, He is the Son of God.
THE LORD GUIDES AND
PROTECTS HIS PEOPLE.
Isaiah 4:5–6 is a graphic
picture that refers us back to the days of the
Exodus and Israel's wandering in the wilderness when
they were being guided by the pillar of fire and the
cloud (Exodus 13:21; 14:19, 24; 33:9, 10; 40:34).
The cloud and the fire were to be a reminder of the
presence of God with His people. God came near and
was there to guide and protect His people. Isaiah
tells us on that day it won't be just the Temple
itself that is filled with smoke, but the whole
Mount Zion would become a holy of holies! The glory
of God will fill the city.
Moreover, the creative
hand of the LORD is seen at work as in the days of
creation. There is divine action and miraculous
production by the Branch. There is a fresh
manifestation of Yahweh's presence. After the
cleaning of Jerusalem, "the Lord will create over
the whole area of Mount Zion and over her assemblies
a cloud by day, even smoke, and the brightness of a
flaming fire by night; for over all the glory will
be a canopy" (4:5). At night it will be a fiery
splendor or a flaming brightness of real and living
The future glory of
Israel is to be found in the LORD God Himself.
The cloud is "over her
assemblies" (v. 5). I cannot help but reflect upon
our Lord Jesus with Peter, James and John at His
Transfiguration. "And He was transfigured before
them; and His face shone like the sun, and His
garments became as white as light" (Matthew 17:2).
That is only a foretaste of what is in store in the
future of the Messiah and Jerusalem. The purified
city will be bathed in the sunshine of God's
holiness and grace. It will be altogether beautiful
and lovely. The same judging fire that purged them
will be the fire of salvation and protection.
The Lord Jesus Christ in
His glorified person is the true Shechinah.
He is the true indwelling of God in His body.
Furthermore, the indwelling presence of Christ
through His Spirit is the highest privilege of every
Isaiah pictures in v. 6
the "shelter" (sukkah), or literally a booth
or tabernacle over Zion. It is there for protection.
God takes care of His chosen people. Christ is our
Yes, the Branch is
altogether lovely and beautiful. We wait for the
Second Coming of Jesus Christ to see the completion
of the fulfillment of His judgment and salvation as
promised in Isaiah 2 and 4. We shall see Isaiah
develop more fully the person and work of the Branch
in chapters seven through twelve.
If you have never put
your faith in Jesus Christ as your personal Savior,
please take a few moments to reflect over A Free
Gift for You. It is our prayer that you will come to
know Him as your Savior.
Title: Isaiah 4:2
Christ in the Old Testament