Dr. Oakes, I have a question about Isaiah 11. I understand that the chapter is a messianic prophecy, but how do you interpret verse 14? Is it fair to say that this would conjure up images of a restored kingdom of Israel (God) and is symbolic of the breaking in of the kingdom in the time of Jesus? I would really appreciate your thoughts on this.
Isaiah 11:1-16 is both a messianic and a kingdom prophecy. “A root will come from the stump of Jesse” (v. 1) is a clear reference to Jesus. “The wolf will live with the lamb….” is one of the most obvious kingdom prophecies in all of scripture. It is a reference both the the restored kingdom/church and also to heaven. “In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and the place of his rest will be glorious.” (v. 10) is both messianic and a kingdom prophecy, describing the Messiah and the kingdom he will establish. So, from the context, we know that this entire passage is a messianic/kingdom prophecy.
As for Isaiah 11:14, the section from v. 12-16 is an apocalyptic view of the kingdom which is, as with all apocalyptic literature, very dramatic and symbolic. We should be careful to “push” the dramatic imagery too far. I believe he has now shifted focus from Jesus and the church to end times when God’s judgment will come on all people, both for good to his people and for bad to those who oppose his saints. Here, Edom, Moab, the Ammonites and the Egyptians are symbolic of the people who have, historically opposed God, his work and his people. After describing his judgment on his enemies, God switches over to a final description in v. 16 of a highway for God’s people, who will escape “Egypt” (symbolic of captivity to sin) and enter into God’s eternal kingdom.
There are a number of parallels to this passage in which God describes the Messiah, his kingdom, judgment on his enemies and then final rest for his people. One example is in Ezekiel 38-39, when Gog and Magog symbolically attack God’s seemingly defenseless people, but Gog is judged and God’s people are rescued. Another parallel is in Zechariah 12 and also Zechariah 14. Both of these have a similar pattern of Messianic prophecy, God’s enemies described and judged, , followed by a vision of God’s people triumphant. Of course, the obvious place where this pattern is repeated is in the Book of Revelation. There is a power point and outline on Revelation you can find in the power point section of the site which goes into great detail about this.
To answer your question, I am not sure exactly what you are referring to when you talk about a “restored kingdom of Israel.” I do not see this passage prophesying some sort of premillenial kingdom, with a physical restored kingdom of Israel. This teaching that Jesus will return and reign from Jerusalem is not biblical as far as I know. The church itself is, in a sense, a kind of restored kingdom of God, and to that extent I can agree that this is an appropriate description of what the prophecy refers to. As far as I understand the scripture, the present age will be followed by the return of Jesus, then final judgment, followed by the final kingdom/heaven as described in Revelation 21-22, Daniel 12, Zechariah 14, Ezekiel 39 and so forth.
I hope this helps.