Wednesday, 15 January 2014
And again, Isaiah says:
“There shall be a root of Jesse;
And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles,
In Him the Gentiles shall hope.” Romans 15:12
So far in just two quotes, Paul has demonstrated from the Torah (the Law) and from the Ketuvim (the writings) that God has always had an intent and purpose for the Gentile peoples as well as the people of Israel. Today, Paul cites Isaiah, a prophet, to make the same point. The prophets form the third section of the Old Testament known as the Nevi’im. In essence, what Paul has done is to demonstrate God’s purposes for the Gentile people from every section of the Old Testament. Collectively, they are called the Tanakh, an acronym comprised of the first letter of each of these subdivisions – Torah, Nevi’im, and Ketuvim; Ta-Na-Kh.
This may seem trivial or without purpose, but it is not. He has woven together these quotes to show that the concept is sure, founded in the whole body of Scripture, and thus a principle tenet of God’s redemptive plans.
1) He selected a quote from Deuteronomy; written by Moses, the great Lawgiver, and in the book which provides practical living and instruction for the Israelites who are about to enter the land of Canaan.
2) He selected a quote from Psalm 117, part of the Hallel, which is sang every year during the Passover by all faithful Jewish families.
3) He selected a quote from Isaiah, “the prince of the prophets,” whose chapters and words form a “mini-bible” of 66 chapters, often showing interesting parallels to the 66 books of the Christian Canon.
Whether Paul intentionally selected these quotes of his own will, or whether he did so without thinking of the greater pattern he was forming, the quotes are a perfect demonstration of God’s plans and intents for the Gentile church. And so, quoting Isaiah, he says that “There shall be a root of Jesse…” Jesse was the father of King David. David was told that his throne would be eternal. Scripture notes that the Messiah would come from the house of David, thus being the fulfillment of the promise that he was given.
But this verse from Isaiah shows something different. It shows that “there shall be a root of Jesse.” Paul has already shown that the root supports the tree and the branches, not the other way around (Romans 11:18). Therefore, the “root of Jesse” isn’t speaking of someone after Jesse, but before. It is an indication of the eternality of Christ. This is similar to the words of Micah –
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” Micah 5:2
It is this “root of Jesse” who “shall rise to reign over the Gentiles.” The prophesied Messiah would not just be the Messiah of the Jews, but of all people. This is actually prefigured in the book of Genesis in types and pictures such as the life of Jacob and the life of Joseph. What God is doing in human history through Christ has effect for all people.
These, and many other quotes from the Old Testament, were missed by the Jewish people though. Instead of realizing that God was using them to bring salvation to all people, they couldn’t see beyond their own national identity. Paul is reminding them, and us, that Jesus is the hope of all nations. And so he finishes his quoting of Isaiah with, “In Him the Gentiles shall hope.”
“Hope” doesn’t even hint at harsh rule. Instead it is a term of eager anticipation and even longing. The Jewish people expected the Messiah to come forth, rescue them, and rule over the world from Jerusalem for their sake and for their exaltation. Rather, Paul shows that His coming wasn’t one of harsh rule over a disobedient people, but one of joy at the reign they would be under.
It is true that after the church age, Christ will physically return to earth and rule from Jerusalem and amidst His people Israel, but that is another dispensation which will come after the church age. During this time, Christ is our ruler and in Him many Gentiles have placed their confidence, their trust, and their hope.
Life application: The whole body of Old Testament Scripture – the Law, the Writings, and the Prophets, testify to the work of God in Christ for both Jew and Gentile. Christ Jesus is the hope of all people. Make every effort to pass on the good news to those around you today.
Lord Jesus, all of Scripture points to Your work in human history. The Law, the Prophets, the Writings, and the new Testament all show Your love for people of every persuasion. Because this is so, help me to look at all people with the same love. Give me the undying desire to spread the word of hope and redemption found in Your cross and resurrection. Amen.