Isaiah Chapter 4 – an observation

I have recently begun a very in depth study of the book of Isaiah and am privileged to be able to have my Sunday School class of young adults help me in this study. We just completed chapter 4 and I’d like to share some of my thoughts on the book of Isaiah up to this point.

When I first started studying chapter 4 I thought to myself that it would be a quick and fast study as it is only six verses long. Two hours in I realized just how wrong I was. While it may be short, this chapter is packed full of thought provoking ideas as well as the introduction of Isaiah’s prophecy regarding Jesus the Messiah. I would like to focus on that aspect today.

In chapter 4:2, Isaiah states that a branch of the Lord was coming. This branch was to be Jesus and is a fulfillment of much Old Testament prophecy regarding the Messiah rising from the “tree” of David. Not only is there a branch but it will bear fruit that will bring glory to those still faithful to God. The fruit mentioned here is the gospel. So, the gospel will come from the branch that is Jesus. Later in the chapter the Holy Spirit is also mentioned as something that will come with this branch. So, in Isaiah chapter 4 the people of Judea are told that Jesus Christ is coming with a message and a spirit that will change the world forever.

As the chapter progresses, the love and care of Christ is said to be like the cloud that covered and led the children of Israel while they wandered the desert. This branch that Isaiah foretold is also going to provide a coverage for its people. Verses 5 & 6 tell us that this branch will serve as a canopy that will protect from heat during the day and will protect us from storms and rain.

As I read this my mind went back to the first chapter of Isaiah when he tells the people of Judea that they were making a mistake by taking pride in the oaks of the Gentiles. I would like to focus on just how beautiful and seamless this book of Isaiah is by discussing this matter of the terebinth further.

The terebinth tree is one which provides great shade and was often found in cemeteries in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. It can be compared to a oak tree. Leafy and strong, the terebinth is a very good tree. Many of the people of Judea had taken to pagan Gentile worship which sometimes took place in cemeteries. Those hearing this message at the time knew what tree Isaiah was speaking of and had indeed taken comfort in the shade that these trees provided. Metaphorically, the shade provided is the level of comfort felt in the beliefs of their religions.

As Isaiah continues in chapter 1 he warns that the people of Judea who had strayed from God were doomed to become like the terebinth tree whose leaves wither away. This is an interesting point to me because he does not say that their beliefs would become like the terebinth whose leaves wither but that they would become so. This makes sense though. If nothing else, what does a shade tree shade? Itself of course and if the leaves of that shade tree fade away then there is no shade to be had but also none to share. The people of Judea were to become totally unprotected as well as unable to protect anyone else (read chapters 2 and 3 to understand how God would make the people of Judea unable to protect themselves). God was to make not only them personally, but their religion totally useless (a tree with no leaves, a garden with no water).

Enter the Messiah in chapter 4. The tree that the people had loved was now useless and how does Isaiah introduce the Messiah? As a new tree, a new branch that grows from what was once the glorious family tree of King David. A tree that not only the people could glory in, but that God Himself could find glory in. This new tree would provide all needs. Jesus would provide shade, protection, and fruit that those who come to that tree can find pride and honor in. The fruit is a gospel message that gives hope to the hopeless. The shade from heat that those of us who venture into the world daily for work experience in gossip, spite, bad words, and persecution. Protection from from the storm and rains that come from the loss of loved ones, the loss of jobs, illnesses. This branch which is Jesus Christ would provide all while at the same time rendering all other trees and beliefs useless (read Romans for more insight on how this happened). What a glorious God we serve and what a blessing it is that we have the book of Isaiah to draw understanding of a Messiah that has come but that at the time was yet to come.

The question then becomes one of introspection. Do I take glory in trees that are not of God? Do I bask in the shade of my worldly status or do I find solace in serving others? Do I sit beneath the shade of God’s word daily for reflection or do I spend that time underneath the flickering lights of television? Do I care for my own personal relationship with that branch daily in prayer or do I go long periods of time thinking that without my care and input that tree will still be there when a storm comes? Have you sought Jesus and asked for his protection, love, and fruit or are you following useless matters?

To those who read this and are Christians, please leave comments discussing times in your life that Christ provided you with shade, fruit, or protection.

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~ by dvdbrumley on November 24, 2008.

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