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  • Chad Werkhoven

Isaiah 11:1-9 - Already / Not Yet

Looking at what Christ has already accomplished helps you wait patiently for that which has not yet been fully realized.


Isaiah 11:1-9 (NIV)

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;

from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—

the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,

the Spirit of counsel and of might,

the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—

3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.

He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,

or decide by what he hears with his ears;

4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy,

with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth.

He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth;

with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.

Righteousness will be his belt

and faithfulness the sash around his waist.

6 The wolf will live with the lamb,

the leopard will lie down with the goat,

the calf and the lion and the yearling together;

and a little child will lead them.

7 The cow will feed with the bear,

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,

the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest.

They will neither harm nor destroy

on all my holy mountain,

for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD

as the waters cover the sea.


Listen to passage & devotional:


Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 18: The Incarnation

So then we confess

that God fulfilled the promise

which he had made to the early fathers

by the mouth of his holy prophets

when he sent his only and eternal Son

into the world

at the time set by him.

The Son took the “form of a servant”

and was made in the “likeness of man,”

truly assuming a real human nature,

with all its weaknesses,

except for sin;

being conceived in the womb of the blessed virgin Mary

by the power of the Holy Spirit,

without male participation.

And he not only assumed human nature

as far as the body is concerned

but also a real human soul,

in order that he might be a real human being.

For since the soul had been lost as well as the body

he had to assume them both

to save them both together.

In this way he is truly our Immanuel—

that is: “God with us.”



A tree stump normally doesn't offer much hope. Certainly it's not odd to see shoots and succors growing out of a stump, but they usually don't grow into anything substantial. As the prophet Isaiah writes these words, a stump is all that remained of David's once great kingdom (Jesse was David's father, and so the stump is said to be his). But this is the gospel that Isaiah proclaims: that the coming Messiah will reinvigorate the humble stump that God's covenant people had been reduced to.

The first thing Isaiah reports about the Messiah is that He will be filled with the Spirit. He'll have wisdom, understanding, knowledge and might. Isaiah writes that "He will delight in the fear of the LORD (v3)." Think about that as you go through your day: how do the gospel accounts show Jesus 'delighting' in the fear of he LORD?

The Messiah will restore justice to the corrupted world. But it will be more than just whatever feels right at the time - justice seen by the eyes or heard with the ears - it will be a justice based on true and objective righteousness. The Messiah will powerfully implement this justice using the most powerful weapon He has: His Word: "with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked (v4)."

This passage concludes with a beautiful picture of shalom having been returned to the world: the wolf and the lamb, the calf and the lion, the cow and the bear, all living in harmony. Children will no longer be in danger from the cobras and vipers of the world. All of this will occur because the void caused by Adam's sin will finally be filled: "the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD (v9)."

Dig Deeper

Does this passage bring you comfort, or cause skepticism? After all, it's been two millennia since the angelic host filled the sky with proclamations of peace on earth, yet injustice remains nearly everywhere we look. Predators continue to prey unabbetted, in ways that often seem to be getting worse. Why didn't the Messiah fix these things the way Isaiah said He would?

We understand prophecies like this one in Isaiah to be fulfilled in a two pronged way, which is often referred to as the already / not yet distinction. In many ways, what Isaiah wrote has already been completed. Jesus was filled by the Spirit at His baptism, just as Isaiah predicted. A few weeks ago on Pentecost Sunday we celebrated how this indwelling has come to ordinary believers as well!

As God's Word is proclaimed - which is "the breath of his lips" - it brings life to God's people, but it spiritually slays the wicked. Yet a time is coming when Christ will return with a "sharp sword coming out of His mouth striking down the nations (Rev. 19:15)." So part of Isaiah's prophecy is already taking place, but is not yet fully realized.

And although we see brief instances of the shalom Isaiah describes in the final part of this passage in our lives today, we're nowhere near the idyllic paradise these words describe. But since you've seen God be so faithful in everything He's already accomplished for our salvation, you can patiently wait for that which has not yet come to be.

  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who brings new life into dead stumps;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Thank God for the aspects of salvation you've already experienced, and ask for patience while we wait for what has not yet arrived;



Read the New Testament in a year! Today: Romans 14


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