There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 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 of the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:1-2
I am going to bring my servant, the Branch…says the Lord Almighty, ‘and I will remove the sin of this land in a single day. Zechariah 3:8-9
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! John 1:29
Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the Lord. It is he who will build the temple of the Lord, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. Zechariah 6:12-13
And there before me was a throne in heaven with someone sitting on it. And the one who sat there had the appearance of jasper and ruby. A rainbow that shone like an emerald encircled the throne. Surrounding the throne were twenty-four other thrones, and seated on them were twenty-four elders. From the throne came flashes of lightning, rumblings and peals of thunder. Also in front of the throne there was what looked like a sea of glass, clear as crystal. The twenty-four elders fall down before him who sits on the throne and worship him who lives for ever and ever. They lay their crowns before the throne and say:
“You are worthy, our Lord and God,
to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
and by your will they were created
and have their being.” Revelation 4
Toda’s passages describe the coming of the Branch of Israel. This was a unique name of God that has several connotations. A branch, or root, was a symbol of the source of life. The imagery from Isaiah is of a green shoot emerging from a sawed off tree trunk. From that thin shoot, a new stronger tree would emerge. A branch or rod was also a symbol of authority and priesthood. Early in Israel’s history, God used a budding almond branch to select which family of Israel would serve as the nation’s high priests. The title “The Branch” was used for the coming Messiah and carries the weight of all these roles. From the words of Isaiah, Jesus is described as being the fullness of the Spirit of God. The characteristics describing him here refer to kingly qualities such as wisdom, might, and knowledge. This would be the eternal King promised through David’s line. Later prophecies in Zechariah again refer to the coming Messiah as the Branch and describe specific functions that He would fulfill. As the servant of God, the Branch would remove sin from His people. As we saw yesterday, and as John proclaims, Jesus was the Promised Savior who took away the sins of the world and gives us peace with God.
The prophet Zechariah also describes the Branch as establishing His temple, a reference which New Testament authors picked up on as they described followers of Christ as His temple. God resides not in buildings of stone, but in the lives of those who follow Him. The Branch is described in kingly terms as sitting on his throne, clothed in majesty and reigning with authority. His kingship functions duelly as one of royalty and priesthood. The scene from Revelation 4 is one of my favorite descriptions of the eternal throne room of heaven. Along with John, we are given a brief glimpse of the glorified, resurrected Christ on His throne fulfilling all His promises of a kingdom ruled in righteousness and peace. In other passages, Christ is also described as our great High Priest who stands in the throne room, offering His sacrificed life for our salvation and interceding for us.
Christ Himself reinforces this imagery of the root/branch when He tells His disciples “I am the vine and you are the branches. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love.” Again, the picture of a strong root with dozens of offshoots comes to mind. Christ is the source of life and invites us here to join Him in His coming kingdom. Our Branch offers peace with God, forgiveness of sin, and a restored relationship with Him. Our Branch is building His followers up in His life, giving the gift of His presence, and strengthening those who trust in Him. Our Branch has stood in our place, offered His life for ours, and mediates a New Covenant of grace as our High Priest. Our Branch will rule over all creation as the Perfect King in all wisdom, justice, and authority. In marveling over all He has done for us, we can join the song of heaven singing “Worthy, Worthy are you Lord to receive all glory, honor, and power” Come, let us adore Him this Christmas.
Blessings to you,