‘There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. 2 And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. 9 They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations enquire, and his resting-place shall be glorious.
Isaiah looked ahead to a future where God’s people would enjoy peace, as they did for a time when Jesse’s son David was king. Under David, Israel’s borders were secure and the people were free to worship God. Now, David is a distant memory and God’s people long for respite from their enemies. Into this context God’s speaks words of hope through the prophet Isaiah. The stump of Jesse (David’s family) will bear fruit as a king from David’s line reigns over Israel. This king won’t just be for the Jews; the nations will flock to him as well.
The Christmas story was hundreds of years in the making. The Old Testament is full of promises from God of a time when His people would again have a king like David. To fully appreciate the story of the birth of Jesus, the root of Jesse, it’s essential to know the prophetic hopes his birth fulfilled.