The Lord had spoken through Isaiah concerning the devastation that would one day come upon Jerusalem and Judah. Leading men and women were being judged by God. In the coming time of military defeat and exile, desperate ladies would seek the protection of any man’s name. Their standards for a husband would be so low that they would pledge to provide for their own food and clothing, “only let us be called by your name; take away our reproach.”
The Lord’s plan for His beloved people was much better than their own fearful pleas. He would one day bring a Messiah King, called here “the branch of the Lord.” As we allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, we see other Old Testament passages that share this same imagery of a person who will be a root for His fruitful tree. (See Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15; Zechariah 3:8, 6:12; and Isaiah 11 cited in Romans 15:12.) There can be no doubt that this branch is the Lord Jesus Christ, the promised descendant of David. The church that abides in Him will bear fruit to the glory of His Name (John 15).
Isaiah prepared the faithful for the coming day of this worthy Savior by speaking of His beauty, His glory, and His holiness. Those who would be connected to this great vine would find that they would be cleansed from sin and eternally secure in Him. They would be part of the Lord’s planting, together with “everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem.”
The passage, like many key prophetic Scriptures, such as Joel 2:28-32, use Old Testament geography to refer to the New Testament church that will not be bound by the borders of Israel. Passages like Acts 2 and Romans 10 prove to us beyond any doubt that the apostles understood the glorified New Testament assembly throughout the earth to be the true fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to bring about a perfect Jerusalem and Mount Zion. The wilderness imagery of “a cloud by day, and the shining of a flaming fire by night” reminds us of God’s presence with His people. We experience this even today when we gather together to sing to His wonderful Name and to hear His holy Word.
Spiritual guides who ignore the New Testament quotations of Old Testament passages send many eager hearers in wrong directions looking for confirmation of speculative end-time theories. Those who focus on predicting the timing of the coming of the Lord and the meaning of current events for the various geopolitical powers of our own day are missing the point. These mistaken teachers lead God’s children in fear and paralysis as they make baseless assertions concerning what will happen today in Israel and her neighboring nations. Such claims are not grounded in the New Testament quotations of Old Testament prophesy. Responsible interpreters have learned over and over again from the words of the apostles that we in the worldwide church are now the temple of the Lord.
In Christ we have a perfect “canopy” of eternal love. He is our “booth for shade by day from the heat.” He is also our “refuge and shelter from the storm and rain.” A correct use of the Old Testament will not lead us into strange interpretations of biblical prophesy. Instead, both the Old and New Testaments will move us away from the fear of present threatening powers and toward a more solid confidence in Christ. Our hallmark will not be instability or panic, but joy from above, and faith, hope, and love.
Prayer from A Book of Prayers
Almighty God, we come to You now. Grant that we may be called by Your Name and connected to the One Branch, Jesus Christ, who is our hope. Cleanse us from all sin. Move us in the pathway of Your glorious presence, and dwell with us forever.