Brother Beebe: - Please give your views on Isaiah 11:1: "And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Particularly the rod, and oblige an Inquiring Mind.
REPLY: - Jesse was the father of David, the king of Israel, the anointed of the Lord, the man after God's own heart, and although we find nothing of a very extraordinary character recorded of Jesse as a man, yet as the father of David, and as a link in the pedigree of Christ, he occupies an important position among the types which pointed to the coming and work of our divine Redeemer. He is very prominently presented in the text, his stem, rod, branch and roots are designed to set forth figurative the advent, kingdom, power and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. The description of the rod and Branch in the succeeding part of this chapter can only apply to Christ as the anointed One.
Jesse, as we have remarked, was the father of David, according to the flesh. His stem may denote his extremity, as a stem is diminutive compared with the root, the trunk or the branch of a tree; so Jesse, as a man, was small among the thousands of Israel, or even of Judah, that from him should descend a lineage of powerful princes and kings, yet God was pleased to bring forth from his loins a succession of mighty rulers to sit upon the throne of Israel. The stem is exemplified in the anointing of David, when all the sons of Jesse had passed in review before the prophet of the Lord; the tall, athletic Eliab first. But the Lord said to Samuel, "Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart." Then Jesse called Abinadab, but Samuel said, "Neither hath the Lord chosen this." Then Shammah passed before the prophet, but he was not the man. And" Jesse made seven of his sons to pass before Samuel. And Samuel said unto Jesse, The Lord hath not chosen these:" Thus all the towering branches of Jesse were rejected. "And Samuel said unto Jesse, Are here all thy children? And he said, There remaineth yet the youngest, and behold, he keepeth the sheep. And Samuel said unto Jesse, Send and fetch him: for we will not sit down till he come hither. And he sent, and brought him in. Now he was ruddy and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, and anoint him: for this is he." While the strong and stately boughs were refused, this youngest and most diminutive son, the very stem, was chosen of the Lord to sit upon the throne, and rule the tribes of Israel. A rod is used in the Scriptures to signify power and divine authority. As Moses demonstrated his divine commission by the rod with which he wrought wonders in the land of Ham, and at the Red Sea, in the wilderness, at the rock in Horeb, and throughout his history. The rod of Aaron and his sons was used when Dathan and others contested the priesthood, and brought their rods arid laid them before the Lord; while all their rods were barren and fruitless, that of the divinely authorized priesthood blossomed, and brought forth almonds, and it was laid up in the Ark, as a memorial before the Lord. Hence we see in the anointing of David, and his brilliant reign over Israel, what a rod of strength God brought from the very stem of Jesse. From this stem of Jesse, David, a long succession of kings were raised up to wield the sceptre, and bear the rod of government; and from his roots a royal branch was developed in the house of David. Thus the development of the stem of Jesse, in the person of David, be- came a spreading and fruitful Branch, far excelling Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, or any of the seven sons of Jesse which to the prophet's eye were at the first appearance more imposing than the stripling shepherd boy.
Thus far we have only considered our subject in its literal bearing, as applicable to David and his house, but the surpassing glory of our subject is only found in him who is the Root and Offspring of David, and the bright and morning Star. David was an eminent type of Christ, and so clearly prefigured him in his whole history that Christ is frequently called David; for he being both the Root and the Offspring, he was David's Son, and David's Lord. "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David." "For David speaketh concerning him, [Christ] I foresaw the Lord always before my face; for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved. Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life," etc. But David is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. "Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne. He seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption." (Acts 2:25-31) David in prophesying of Christ, said, (Psalms 110:1-3) "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool. The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power," etc. The rod of the Redeemer's power, which God has sent out of Zion, answers to the rod of Moses, setting forth the investment of all power in heaven and in earth, in Christ; power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as the Father hath given him. And as Moses in leading Israel subdued all their enemies, and wrought salvation in Egypt, at the Red Sea, at Horeb and in the wilderness with his rod, so Christ shall rule in the midst of his enemies, and break them to pieces, as a potter's vessel. (Psalms 2:9; Rev. 2:27) This rod of Christ's strength also answers to that of Aaron and his sons, signifying the oath by which he is made a priest, not by the law of a carnal commandment, but by the power of an endless life; and shewing also the success of his priesthood, in that the power of his atonement blossoms and bears fruit. It is also antitypical of the rod of David's regal or kingly strength, by which he was established on the throne of Israel, by which his holy anointing, his divine commission and reigning power were demonstrated. So Christ in demonstration of his high authority referred the Jews to the works which he had performed. See John 5:36,37: "The works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me. And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me." The rod of his strength, as the right sceptre of the spiritual government of his church, is laid up on the Ark of the Testament, as a memorial forever, and every son shall feel it. "For, whom the Lord loveth, he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son that he receiveth;" and all shall have occasion to confess to him, "Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."
The stem of Jesse, out of which this rod should come, may refer to the time and circumstances of Christ's advent. The rod in its application to David, as the stem, the smaller part of the family tree, grew to be a mighty branch, but like all natural branches of a tree, they taper to a mere stem; so at the time of Christ's birth, the house of David had dwindled to a very small stem. Ichabod had been written, and the glory of the house of David, after the flesh, had faded, and very few of the lineal descendants of David were found, but still the promise of God was secure. It was written, "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting." (Micah 5:2) Here then we see, not what Doctor Watts calls "The stem of Jesse's rod, "but what the Scriptures present as the rod of Jesse's stem. For this rod came forth out of the stem of Jesse, according to our text.
"And a Branch shall grow out of his roots." Christ is frequently called a Branch. "Hear now, O, Joshua the high priest, thou and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at; for behold, I will bring forth my servant, the Branch." (Zech 3:8) Again, "Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is the Branch: and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the Lord: even he shall build the temple of the Lord; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." (Zech. 6:12,13) (See also Psalms 80:15; Isaiah 4:2.) The man whose name is the Branch is the Messiah, and according to the prophecy has grown out of the roots of Jesse. The roots of a tree are the parts which literally lie buried in the earth. So at the time of Christ's advent Jesse and nearly all his sons were in their graves, but notwithstanding the apparently hopeless condition of the family of Jesse, and "Although my house be not so with God; yet" saith David, "he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things and sure: for this is alt my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow." (II Samuel 23:5)
But it is said, "A Branch shall grow out of his roots." In the sense of this subject, Jesse has a plurality of roots; as also it is written of David, "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star." (Rev. 22: 16) In this application of the figure the root signifies the germ, or origin from which the tree grows, and the roots of Jesse may here denote, in their two-fold application, the natural and the spiritual origin of David. First, after the flesh, it was in Jesse; as David was literally the son of Jesse, after the flesh. Second, his spiritual origin and life was immediately from God. And Christ in his Messiahship developed both these roots, growing out of them. First, as the Son of God he descended from heaven; he proceeded and came from God. (John 8:42) He did not receive his divinity from Jesse, nor from David, but came down from heaven, and John saw and bare record that he was the Son of God. "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." (John 1:14) Hence his root, as to his divinity, was in the Father, in whom also is the root and source of all spiritual life and immortality of the church through him. For this life was with the Father, and was manifested. (I John 1:2) "And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son." (I John 5:11) And when Jesus had finished his meditorial work on the earth he said to Mary, "Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God." (John 20: 17) "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren; saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren; in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself like- wise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people." (Heb. 2:10-17)
We have endeavored to show that the divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ was from his own self-existent, independent and eternal Godhead, and that the spiritual life of Jesse, of David, and of all the saints, is from the same divine root, fountain or source, and that in being made flesh, or manifested in the flesh, he evidently sprang out of Juda, through the loins of Jesse and David. So that although he was David's Son after the flesh, he was David's Lord, David's Root, and the Horn of his and of our salvation.
Volumes might be written on this sublime subject, but what we here present we hope may meet the desire of an "Inquiring Mind," and be blessed to the edification of all who love the truth.
February 1, 1862.
Elder Gilbert Beebe