Where we are:
Part 1: Judgment
Part 2: Historical Interlude
Part 3: Salvation
When this takes place:
Chapter 11 takes place during the reign of Ahaz, Judah’s wicked king.
Isa. 11:2: The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him – a Spirit of wisdom and understanding, a Spirit of counsel and strength, a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.
The day is coming when Messiah, a descendent of Jesse, will reign with righteousness, uniting Israel, bringing justice to the oppressed, and striking the wicked. No harm will come to any creature, even animals, because “the land will be as full of the knowledge of the Lord as the sea is filled with water” (v. 9).
Isaiah refers to the Holy Spirit more times than any other Old Testament prophet: Isa. 11:2 (four times); 32:15; 34:16; 40:13; 42:1; 44:3; 48:16; 59:21; 61:1; 63:10-11, 14).
Righteous reign of the branch (Isa. 11:1-10)
The Lord will cut down the tall trees and clear the forests (Isa. 10:33-34), that is, the armies invading Israel, but God’s kingdom will arise from a shoot coming up from the stump of Jesse, David’s father (see Rev. 22:16). No doubt, Isaiah has in mind God’s promise to David that one of his descendents will rule over his kingdom forever (2 Sam. 7:16; see also Isa. 9:7). His rule will be unique in that the ruler himself is both divine and divinely endowed, being gifted in three ways: with “wisdom and understanding for government (cf. 1 Ki. 3:9-12), counsel and power for war (cf. 9:6; 28:6; 36:5), and knowledge and the fear of the Lord for spiritual leadership (cf. 2 Sa. 23:2)” (D.A. Carson, New Bible Commentary, S. Is 11:1). The giver of these gifts is the Holy Spirit, who falls on Messiah on the day of His baptism to inaugurate His earthly ministry and empower Him for His work of redemption (Matt. 3:16-17).
Warren Wiersbe observes: “The four Gospels describe ‘the Branch’ for us as follows: Matthew – David’s righteous Branch (Jer. 23:5); Mark – my servant the Branch (Zech. 3:8); Luke – the man whose name is the Branch (Zech. 6:12); and John – the Branch of Jehovah (Isa. 4:2). Thus Jesus Christ will one day fulfill the OT promises God gave to the Jews and will reign over His kingdom in glory and victory (Rom. 15:8-12)” (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, S. Is 7:1).
The title “Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6) is illustrated beautifully in verses 6-9 of chapter 10 as all God’s creatures live together harmoniously. But peace is hard won; it follows judgment and flows from Messiah’s righteousness. Just as Christ today transforms the human heart through the new birth, so one day He will restore the entire creation to its pre-Fall perfection (Rom. 8:19-25). There is some debate as to whether the animal kingdom will experience this full transformation during the millennial kingdom or after the creation of the new heavens and earth. In any case, we may be assured that God will fully reverse the effects of the Fall and restore His creation to sinless perfection one day (2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 21-22).
Verse 10 features several key truths:
- One day Messiah “will stand as a banner for the peoples.” While this likely pictures Jesus in His kingly role after His return, it is based on His finished work at Calvary, where He was “lifted up” (see John 3:14-16; 12:32).
- The Messiah is the Savior of the whole world, not only the Jews, and the day is coming when Gentiles (“nations”) will seek Him.
- “His resting place will be glorious.” Some see this as a reference to His work on the cross; others to His ascension, after which He sat down at the right hand of the Father; still others as the church, the body of believers over whom He is Head. In any case, it will be glorious because He has made it so.
The restored remnant (Isa. 11:11-16)
Some commentators find the phrase “a second time” significant (v. 11). Many Jews returned to Israel after the Babylonian captivity, but a far more devastating dispersion, known as the “Diaspora,” occurred in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the Temple and the sacking of Jerusalem. So when Isaiah says “the Lord will extend His hand a second time to recover,” this could be a reference to the re-establishment of Israel as a sovereign nation in 1948 as well as the blessings the people will enjoy when Christ returns and rules from the throne of David.
Isaiah looks forward to the day when the animosity between Israel’s northern and southern kingdoms will cease. Ephraim and Judah will live harmoniously as does the once-combative animal world (vv. 6-9). What’s more, the reunited Jews will defeat their neighboring enemies to the south and east. Finally, when the Jews return to their homeland at the beginning of the Millennium, God will dry up the Gulf of Suez and divide the Euphrates River into shallow canals to hasten their return from Africa and the lands to the east. They will be reminded of God’s work in ancient times, parting the waters of the Red Sea and enabling the Jews to escape captivity in Egypt.
Warren Wiersbe comments: “When Isaiah looked at his people, he saw a sinful nation that would one day walk the “highway of holiness” and enter into a righteous kingdom. He saw a suffering people who would one day enjoy a beautiful and peaceful kingdom. He saw a scattered people who would be regathered and reunited under the kingship of Jesus Christ. Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Thy kingdom come’ (Matt. 6:10); for only when His kingdom comes can there be peace on earth'” (Wiersbe’s Expository Outlines on the Old Testament, S. Is 9:1).
Copyright 2008 by Rob Phillips
The idea of salvation in the Jewish mind — as written in Isa. 12:2 for example — is tied to the feast of tabernacles. The reference in verse 3 to joyfully drawing water from the springs of salvation reminds the people of the ceremony practiced each day of the feast in which water is drawn from the Pool of Siloam, and it foreshadows the day when Jesus would stand, on the final day of the feast, and proclaim, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink” (John 7:37).
“As the Jew was reminded by the feast of tabernacles of his wanderings in tents in the wilderness, so the Jew-Gentile Church to come shall call to mind, with thanksgiving, the various past ways whereby God has at last brought them to the heavenly “city of habitation” (Ps. 107. Robert Jamieson, A.R. Fausset, David Brown, A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments, S. Is 12:2).
Everyone can see Jesus in the Feast of Tabernacles by noting the Messianic symbols God gave us — and Jesus fulfilled — in the feast, most notably:
1. The tabernacle.
2. The water.
3. The light.
4. The harvest.
|Name||Scriptures||Time / Date||Purpose||Fulfillment|
|Tabernacles||Lev. 23:33-43; Num. 29:12-39; Deut. 16:13-17, 31:10-13||15th – 21st of Tishri, with an 8th day added as a climax to all the feasts (September/October).||To commemorate God’s protection during the wilderness wanderings and to rejoice in the harvest.||Restoration: The peace and prosperity of God’s Kingdom on earth.|
The Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, is the seventh and final feast God gave Israel. It is the most festive of all the feasts and is mentioned more often in scripture than any of the others. The word sukkot in Hebrew is translated “tabernacles” in English and means booths or huts. Throughout this seven-day feast, the Jews are required to live in temporary shelters to remind them of God’s provision during their 40 years of wilderness wandering. The holiday also is called the Feast of Ingathering (Ex. 23:16; 34:22) because it is observed after all the fall crops are harvested. This happy feast commemorates God’s past provision in the desert and His present goodness in providing the fall harvest.
The feast begins on the 15th day of Tishri (September/October), five days after the Day of Atonement. The first day of Tabernacles and the day after Tabernacles (known as Shemini Atzeret) are sacred assemblies, or Sabbaths. No work is permitted on these days. This is one of three pilgrim feasts, along with Unleavened Bread and Weeks (Pentecost), requiring all Jewish males to appear before the Lord in the Temple.
The Biblical Observance
Four passages of scripture outline the observance of Tabernacles: Lev. 23:33-43; Num. 29:12-39; Deut. 16:13-17, and Deut. 31:10-13. A great number of sacrifices are required each day: one goat, 14 lambs, two rams, and a number of bulls – 13 on the first day, then decreasing by one each day. In addition, the accompanying meal offerings and drink offerings are presented. The work is so intense that all 24 divisions of priests help carry out the sacrificial duties.
It is during the Feast of Tabernacles that Solomon dedicated Israel’s first Temple. The Shekinah glory of God descended from heaven to light the fire on the altar and to fill the Holy of Holies (2 Chron. 5:3; 7:1-4).
Jewish pilgrims from around the world travel to Jerusalem for this feast. They build booths, or huts, in which they live for one week – all carefully located within a Sabbath day’s journey (a little more than half a mile) of the Temple. At sundown, the ram’s horn (shofar) blasts and the celebration begins as fires from thousands of Jewish camps blaze in a half-mile radius around the Temple.
Water-libation ceremony. Israel’s rainy season is from November through March. Tabernacles gratefully acknowledges the harvest and, at least in part, beseeches God for the coming moisture necessary for future harvests. So each morning of the feast, the high priest pours a pitcher of water from the Pool of Siloam into a special basin in the inner court of the Temple as a visual prayer for rain. At the same time, a drink offering of wine is poured into another basin. Three blasts of a silver trumpet follow, and the people listen as the Levites sing the Hallel (Ps. 113-118). The congregation waves palm branches toward the altar and join in singing Psalm 118:25: “Lord, save us! Lord, please grant us success!”
Psalm 118 is a messianic psalm and gives the feast a messianic focus. Centuries after this Psalm was penned, the crowds in Jerusalem greet Jesus with shouts of Hosanna (“save now”) and wave palm branches as He enters the city triumphantly (Matt. 21:8-9; Luke 19:37-38; John 12:12-13). This imagery continues in heaven where the saints worship around the throne with palm branches in hand (Rev. 7:9-10).
Temple-lighting ceremony. On the second night of Tabernacles, the people gather in the spacious outer court of the Temple known as the Court of the Women. Four towering lamp stands are in the center of the court, each with four branches of oil lamps. The wicks are made from the worn-out linen garments of the priests, who ascend tall ladders to keep the lamps filled with olive oil. The elders of the Sanhedrin perform torch dances all night long. Levites stand at the top of the 15 steps leading down to the Court of Women. As flutes, trumpets, harps, and other stringed instruments accompany them, they sing the “Fifteen Psalms of Degrees” (Psalms 120-134). With each psalm, they descend one step.
This celebration is repeated every night from the second night to the final night of Tabernacles. The brilliant lights, bathing the Temple and flooding the streets of Jerusalem, remind the Jews of the descent of the Shekinah glory in King Solomon’s day as the people look forward to the return of the Shekinah in the days of the Messiah (Ez. 43:1-5).
It is the day after Tabernacles that Jesus proclaims in the Temple, “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Later that day, He heals a blind man and declares, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world” (John 9:5). The Pharisees bristle at both statements. The best they can do is to accuse Him of healing a man on the Sabbath. Incidentally, there are no Mosaic laws against healing on the Sabbath; the tradition of the Pharisees is the only thing Jesus violated.
Hoshana-Rabbah ceremony. On the seventh day of the feast, the Temple water-pouring ceremony, which is performed each morning throughout the week, takes on great importance. Jewish tradition holds that it is on this day that God decides whether there will be rain for the next year’s crops. Instead of three silver-trumpet blasts, there are seven sets of three blasts. Rather than one circuit around the altar, the priests make seven circuits. The day is known as the Hoshana Rabbah, or “Great Hosanna.”
It is during this ceremony that Jesus stands up and shouts, “If anyone is thirsty, he should come to Me and drink! The one who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, will have streams of living water flow from deep within” (John 7:37-38). The Jewish leaders are infuriated; some want to seize Him, but no one lays a hand on Him A debate ensues among the people, many of whom do not realize, or will not believe, He is the Son of David, born in Bethlehem, the Messiah (John 7:40-44). The chief priests and the Pharisees rebuke the Temple officers, who had the authority to arrest Jesus for disturbing the ceremony, but the officers reply, “No man ever spoke like this” (John 7:46).
The Modern Observance
The sukkah, or tabernacle, is the primary symbol of the feast today. As soon as Yom Kippur is past, observant Jews build rough booths in their yards or on their patios. The booths are three-sided and covered with branches. The roofs are thatched so that there is partial shade in the daytime, and so the stars can be seen through it at night. Throughout the feast, Jewish families eat their meals in the booths, and some even sleep there. These booths remind the Jews of their hastily built housing in the wilderness.
Leviticus 23:40 instructs the Jews to take fruit, palm branches, the boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook and rejoice for seven days. Observant Jews may build their booths with these items, or carry them in their hands as they rejoice, or both.
At the synagogue, congregants circle the building and sing Psalm 118. The Torah scroll, rather than the ancient altar, is the center of the ceremony. Since the destruction of the Temple, the feast is more closely connected to Yom Kippur. Hashanah Rabbah, the last day of the feast, is seen as the last day on which the judgments God declared on Yom Kippur could be reversed, so observant Jews ceremonially beat willow branches on the synagogue pews to remove the leafs, symbolizing repentance and the removal of sin.
The Bible often compares the harvest with God’s judgment (Hos. 6:11; Joel 3:13; Matt. 13:39; Rev. 14:14-20). In keeping with this imagery, God designed the Feast of Tabernacles to foreshadow the day in which He will gather His people to Himself and send away the wicked (Mal. 4:1-3). When the Messiah returns and sets up His earthly kingdom, He will bring together Jew and Gentile to worship Him in Jerusalem (Zech. 14:16-17).
Further, the Lord Himself will tabernacle, or pitch His tent, with the redeemed (Ez. 37:27-28; Rev. 21:3). The Shekinah glory will be seen again (Isa. 60:1, 19; Zech. 2:5), covering Mount Zion with a cloud by day and a fire by night (Isa. 4:5-6). God’s people will enjoy intimate, face-to-face fellowship with their Savior.
An interesting observation: Some believe Jesus was born during the Feast of Tabernacles, based on scriptural information regarding the timing of John the Baptist’s birth. If that’s true, it more fully illustrates the truth that Jesus is the Tabernacle of God. John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and took up residence (lit. and tabernacled or and dwelt in a tent) with us.” Col. 2:9 states, “For in Him the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily.” Jesus will again tabernacle with us when He returns in power and great glory.
In another way, the shelters that are built represent the physical bodies in which we temporarily live today – bodies that eagerly await their glorification at the return of Christ (Rom. 8:23; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; 2 Cor. 5:1-4).
The Old Testament visions of the coming of all nations to worship at Jerusalem refer to the Feast of Tabernacles on the occasion of their pilgrimage (Zech. 14:16-21). This feast speaks of Christ’s millennial reign – a new beginning without the ravages of sin. The earth gives bountifully, all animals are docile (Isa. 65:25), armies no long march against each other, every man sits under his own fig tree (Micah 4:4), and righteousness becomes a lasting reality on the earth. As the Apostle John wrote in Rev. 22:20b: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!”
This concludes our study of the Jesus in the Feasts of Israel.