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Isaiah 11:1-10 1
1A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD—3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 the wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8The infant will play near the cobra’s den, the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.

clip_image158Background 2

Isaiah the prophet lived in Jerusalem about 2700 years ago, during the time in which the Assyrian Empire conquered the northern part of the Jewish homeland. The book of Isaiah contains many prophecies that are interpreted by Christians as being about the Messiah Jesus Christ. Today, we can see with our own eyes that many of Isaiah’s prophecies have found fulfillment with the worldwide dispersion of Jews, the worldwide persecution of Jews, the recent worldwide migration of Jews back to Israel during the past century, the recent re-establishment and restoration of Israel, and the worldwide impact that Jews have had on the world.

Below is a partial listing of Isaiah’s prophecies, based on the copyrighted commentaries of George Konig and Ray Konig, authors of the book, 100 Prophecies.

Verse
Prophecy

Isaiah 7:14

Isaiah 9:6-7

Isaiah 13:19

Isaiah 14:23

Isaiah 35:4-6

Isaiah 40:1-5,9

Isaiah 45:1

Isaiah 49:6

Isaiah 49:13-17

Isaiah 50:6

Isaiah 53:1-3

Isaiah 53:4-6

Isaiah 53:7

Isaiah 53:9

Isaiah 53:12

Biblical Truths 3

Verse 1: One of Jesse’s sons was David, who followed Saul as king of Israel. David overcame all of Israel’s enemies. He established national worship. And he prepared for the construction of the Temple in Jerusalem (see 1 Chronicles chapters 11 to 29).

  • Son of David’ was a title of the Messiah that the people in Judah and Israel were expecting.

Verse 2: David did many great things for his people. But his own life was not perfect (see 2 Samuel chapters 11 to 12).

  • God’s Spirit will provide the king that is coming with special gifts (skills) and qualities. Other national leaders can only pretend to possess such qualities.

Verses 6-8: The Messiah’s arrival will bring about perfect harmony (peace and calm) in all life. This includes the animals, especially those animals that are natural enemies. No person or animal will be afraid of another.

Verse 10: Foreign nations will want to know more about Israel’s Messiah.

Items for Discussion

  • What are some of the ways people attempt to foretell the future?
  • How is having wisdom and knowledge on a subject different than being able to foretell events?
  • What makes Isaiah special as a futurist – That is, able to foretell the future?
  • Why should we care that Christ’s life was foretold to us in the Old Testament?
  • Why would God want to tell the people of Israel about the future? Why not surprise them?
  • What does this scripture tell us about the character of our God?

 

Matthew 3:1-12
1In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11“I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”

Background

The opening twelve verses of this chapter present us with the character of John the Baptist before Jesus appears on the scene to be baptized by him (Matthew 3:13). As such, it gives us an illustration of the type of person he was and of the type of ministry that he imparted to Israel.

Facts about John the Baptist 4

Born: 5 B.C.

Birthplace: Judea

Died: c. 33 A.D. (beheading)

Best Known As: The man who “prepared the way” for Jesus of Nazareth

John the Baptist is a key figure in the Biblical stories of Jesus. According to the Gospels, John’s role was to announce the coming of Jesus: in John 1:23 he tells interrogators, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord.'” According to Matthew 3:4, he wore clothing made of camel’s hair and ate locusts and wild honey, and baptized people in the river Jordan. (It was after being baptized by John that Jesus was led to the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.) John later was executed by the ruler Herod; as told in Matthew chapter 14, Herod granted the demand of Salome to “give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.”

John the Baptist is a different person from the apostle John, for whom the Gospel of John is named… In speaking of Jesus, John said: “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the holy spirit”… According to Luke, John was the son of Zechariah (or Zachary) and his wife Elizabeth, a relative of Jesus’ mother Mary, and was born roughly six months before Jesus.

Biblical Truths 5

Verse 1 ‘In those days’. Matthew does not tell us exactly when John began his work. But Luke tells us the names of all the rulers at that time (Luke 3:1-2). It was about 30 years after Jesus was born. Judea’s wild country was the desert area on the west side of the Dead Sea. John may have stayed in the desert with the Essenes. They were a group of Jews who lived a very strict life together. They lived at Qumran, which was by the Dead Sea. Nobody had given the people a message from God for about four hundred years. Then John suddenly arrived in the desert.

Verse 2 John said that people must turn from their sins. They must prepare themselves for God to rule as he does in heaven. The Jews greatly respected God and his name. They would not use God’s name. Instead, they used the word ‘heaven’. God rules in heaven. But now God wants to rule in a person’s life. It is not a political idea. People should obey Jesus the king. Then they can become citizens of where God rules.

Verse 3 John made Isaiah’s words (Isaiah 40:3) come true. All four gospels agree with that. In those days, people had to repair a road before a king travelled on it. John was like someone who gave orders to the people. He described himself as ‘a voice that is calling out in the desert’ (John 1:23). He was telling people to prepare for the Messiah.

Verse 4 John had made rough clothes from camel’s hair. They were like the clothes that God’s servant Elijah wore long ago (2 Kings 1:8). The Jews believed that Elijah would return. Then he would announce that the Messiah was coming (Malachi 4:5). John’s food was simple. He ate a kind of insect that flies. These insects can cause trouble for farmers. They are called ‘locusts’. The Jewish law allows people to eat these insects (Leviticus 11:22-23).

Verses 5-6 Sometimes people who were not Jews wanted to become Jews. Then they asked for baptism. They did not usually baptize people who were Jews already. But John baptized Jews in water. They had confessed their sins and they wanted to obey God. Water cleans a person’s body. In a similar way, baptism shows that a person is ‘clean’ from their sins. They would then be ready to meet the Messiah.

Verse 7 The Pharisees were Jews who wanted to obey God’s Law. There were many good Pharisees. One was called Gamaliel (Acts 5:33-39). But there were also many proud Pharisees. They believed that they were the only people who obeyed God’s law. But they destroyed what the law really meant. Through the years, the official writers (called ‘scribes’) had introduced hundreds of extra rules. The Pharisees said that people must also obey all those extra rules.

  • The Sadducees came from the families of priests. They were wealthy. They wanted to keep their political power. So they opposed any religious ideas that might make them lose their authority.
    John called the Pharisees and the Sadducees ‘a family of poisonous snakes’. Later, Jesus used the same words about the Pharisees (Matthew 12:34; 23:33). They were dangerous. They were like poisonous snakes. John said that they were like snakes that were trying to escape from a fire in a forest. He meant that God was angry with them. They were trying to escape from him.

Verses 8-9 A person’s actions show whether they have sincerely changed their way of life. The Jews believed that Abraham’s actions were good enough for himself and for all his children and their families always. So Jews thought that they were safe after they died. But John said that that was not enough. A person may have Abraham as his ancestor but each person must change his own actions.

Verse 10 A farmer cuts down trees that do not produce good fruit. He throws them into the fire. God is like a farmer. He will punish those people who do not live in the right way.

Verse 11 John knew that he was preparing the way for someone. That person was much greater than he himself was, John said. Only a slave carried other people’s shoes. John said that he was not good enough to do even this humble task for the Messiah. John baptized people with water. This showed that people desired to be free from sin. The Messiah would give the Holy Spirit. The Jews had looked forward to the time when the Spirit would come. ‘It shall happen that I will pour out my Spirit on everyone’, God’s servant had said long ago (Joel 2:28). The Spirit teaches people how to live in the true way. The Spirit also gives people the power to live in the right way. Fire is very powerful. Fire can also destroy. Therefore, it is picture language for God’s judgment.

Verse 12 At harvest-time, people used a tool like a large fork to throw dry plants into the air. The grain fell to the ground, and the wind blew the rest away. The farmer stored the grain. Then he burned the part of the plant that he could not use. In this picture, John showed that the Messiah would separate people. The people who believed him would be like the grain. They would be his people. But some people did not accept the Messiah. They were like the part of the plant that the farmer burned. God would judge them.

Items for Discussion

  • Obviously, John the Baptist was a unique person, maybe even a strange person – What were the benefits of sending someone who was very different to tell people about Christ’s coming?
  • How is John the Baptist similar to a wedding invitation?
  • What would the benefits be to God by announcing Christ instead of just having Him appear in society one day?
  • What was John the Baptist’s message about Christ to the people?
  • What was John the Baptist’s message to the religious leaders?
  • John the Baptist calls those who do not believe, chaff – something to be blown away – is this fair (why or why not)?
  • What is the “fruit” that a Christian must produce in order not to become chaff?

Discussion Challenge

  • How does the Body of Christ, the Church, produce more fruit within its fields?

 

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