by Lishan Desta
God’s will was done on earth as it was in Heaven until the Fall. However, when Adam and Eve transgressed God’s command, they opened the door wide for the devil to control their lives and the lives of coming generations. As the result, sin entered the world and man became alienated from God (Rom 5:12-14). Moreover, effective dominion of the world passed from the hands of Adam as viceroy of God to the hands of the devil (Lk 4:6, Jn 14: 30, 2 Cor 4:4, 1 Jn 5:19).
Nonetheless, it was immediately after the Fall that God pronounced a recovery plan to redeem lost humanity (Gen 3:15). Though it was quite possible for God to retrieve what He lost in an instant, He rather chose to proceed in a gradual fashion. For this reason, God’s redemption plan required passage through multiple phases before it culminates itself in the end-times in the fullness of the Kingdom.
In close scrutiny we note that God’s redemptive (recovery) phases, otherwise known as dispensations, have been progressive in nature, and share some inherent principles in common. Regarding the latter, some of these Kingdom principles include, progressive gradualism, Divine selection and grace, the call to a life of faith and obedience, judgment on sin, and the path of self-denial (the cross), etc. Among other things, it is such Kingdom principles, which give God’s grand scale redemptive plan its distinctive features and make it inherently consistent regarding principles of operation. This article looks only at one of the above-mentioned principles, namely, that of the remnant-branch, or the cross-resurrection concept. The article also examines in a new light the possible implication of this principle for the last days’ phase of the Kingdom of God.
1.2 The Characteristic of the Principle
Unredeemed humanity - even for that matter carnal Christians, are hardly able to do the will of God. The root of the problem to this is the power of sin and the secular worldview to which they adhere (Rom 8: 5-8; 1 Cor 2: 14, 1 Jn 5:19). The salvation experience, though the primary and most important step in tackling the problem, however, lacks the means to completely transform the person into an obedient servant of God. God, therefore, has to undertake a pruning process to form a sanctified and mature believer fit for His higher purposes.
The sanctifying measures God initiates will primarily target the natural man’s self-sufficiency and self-glory (Ps 147: 10-11; Jer 9:23-24; 1 Cor 1:3-31; Jn 15:4-6; 1 Pet 5:5b; Jam 4:13-16). God’s ultimate intention in this process is to re-form His original image in man that was marred by the Fall. The pruning process will transform the thought processes and behavioral patterns of the individual to conform them to those of Jesus Christ. The original image to be restored in man is none other than the likeness of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself (Eph 4: 22-24; Heb 12:5-6,11; Rom 12:2).
However the pruning experience will differ from person to person, depending on the nature of some outstanding sin problem in the person, and also from the difference in the ultimate purpose God has for the person’s life. Nonetheless, the end result is essentially the same in all. After such a humbling disciplinary experience, each person will be turned into an effective and honorable vessel, restored and empowered to promote God’s higher purposes in His Kingdom in the earth.
In short, it is such a pruning measure and an empowering (fruitful) outcome that we call the remnant-branch principle in the Old Testament (Job 14:7-9; Isa 10:33-11:5; Jer 23:5; Zech 6: 12-13). The same principle we encounter in the New Testament in the form of the cross-resurrection concept (Mat 10: 38-42; Jn 12: 23-26, 15:3; 2 Cor 12: 7-10, Phil 3: 10-11; Rev 22:16). What great importance God places in this principle will become clear to us as we study the following paragraphs.
II: The Principle In Action
2.1. King Nebuchadnezzar: To and Back from the Low Places
There is no better place to start the study of the remnant-branch idea than the fourth chapter of the book of Daniel. In this chapter more than anywhere else in Scripture we find a stark illustration of the metaphor. The chapter recounts a dream about a luxurious tree, how it was felled, and how its stump was kept under chains for a period of time. The dream was meant as a prophecy of judgment and restoration coming into the life of King Nebuchadnezzar, the king of mighty Babylon. God judged the king for his hubris, as he had boasted about his own role in building the great empire. For his sin of pride, God’s ax judgment fell on him. He was turned into a lunatic and was banished from his throne for a period of time.
The following analysis shows us how the metaphor of the remnant-branch worked through the dream and its subsequent fulfillment in the life of the king. The story provides us a lesson how God’s disciplinary-sanctifying measures work towards His higher purposes.
1.The luxurious tree: The tree was the representation of King Nebuchadnezzar in the zenith of his glory. The majestic tree signified the king in his worldwide reach and influence, and in his unprecedented glory and impressive achievements. It was such a power and glory, which made the king to become proud. He had ascribed his greatness and spectacular achievements to himself, leaving God no room in helping him. Before it was too long, his pride had attracted the attention of Heaven, and soon enough a humbling ax was sent into his life. The king was cut to size, and he left his palace to roam the fields as a lunatic (vv. 10-14, 20-22). 2.The stump: In the vision, by the decree of God, the tree was cut down to its bare stump, and it stump was wrapped up in chains. As Scripture teaches God resists the proud and accepts the humble (1 Pet 5:5). Therefore, God humbled the king, and the king languished as a roaming lunatic. The mighty one was humbled down to eating grass. The king remained in this way as a miserable figure for a period of time until a time God visited his humbled remnant (stump) in mercy (vv. 14-17, 31-33). 3.The branch: From the felled tree of worldly majesty, from its humbled stump, God in His good timing allowed a transformed person (a new branch) to emerge. After the King had completed the appointed time of his trials and repented of his sin of arrogance, God let him recover his sanity and be restored to his throne. King Nebuchadnezzar, transformed by this experience, became a God-knowing and God-serving leader (vv. 34-37).
2.2 Noah and Job: The Cosmic and the Individual
In the Old Testament there are also other places where we can see the same remnant-branch principle put to work. The lives of Noah, Job, Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, etc. bear testimony to the workings of the same principle in their lives.
For example, in the Flood account (Gen 6 –9), we read how God judged the whole world for depravity and callous disregard to the call of repentance. The Flood God sent on that generation was His ax of His judgment laid at the root of the tree of human depravity. When God saw mankind was past the point of repentance, he sent the Flood, which destroyed everything in its wake. However, God true to His principle preserved a holy remnant in the ark Noah had built. Noah, his family and a ‘genetic’ pool of animals were the great survivors of the deluge. This surviving stump (remnant) of the human and animal race, God blessed them to fill the earth.
In the life of Job, we also encounter the same remnant-branch principle, working this time at a microcosm level (cf. Job 14: 14: 7-9). In the life account of the patriarch Job, we first meet a very prosperous and pious Job, who was both in the favor of God and man. However, when God wanted to purge Job from his hidden fault (i.e. justification-by-works), God permitted Satan to bring an ax of severe calamity into Job’s life. Job’s wealth, health and family, all went up in smoke almost overnight. He was reduced into a very destitute and despised state. However, after Job has learned what God has in store for him through all that testing, God revived the ‘stump’ of Job, and restored to him double for all what he had lost.
2.3. Israel: A Remnant Shall Return
Whenever Israel prospered and became strong, there always lurked around the corner of national life the danger of arrogance and idolatry. And whenever these sins crept in, God would first send His people warning prophets. However, usually Israel would disregard God’s prophets and persist in its sinful practices. In her disregard, inevitably, Israel would seal its own doom and make herself ripe for God’s ax of judgment to humble it.
God’s judgment usually came against Israel in the form of natural calamity or invading armies. God used such dire circumstances as drought, plague, as well as occupation and exile by the hands of foreign armies to humble His people to repentance. God’s ax of judgment was primarily aimed at taking out the proud and the arrogant and preserving a lowly remnant, from which He would later bring about national regeneration and renewal (1 Kgs 19: 10; Isa 2: 12-22; Amos 3: 9-12; Micah 2: 12-13; 5: 7-8; Zephaniah 3: 11-13).
When it comes to describe God’s dealings with Israel in terms of the above principle, the book Isaiah is full of remnant theology. This prophet amply employs the analogy of a felled tree, a surviving holy stump (remnant), and a regenerated flourishing new branch coming from the stump to describe national judgment and restoration (Isa 4:2 –6, 6:11-13, 10:15,33-34, 11:1, 14:8, 27:6, etc.).
For example, at one point, describing national judgment, Isaiah wrote,
Behold, the Lord, the Lord of Hosts,
Will lop off the branches with terror,
Those of a high stature will be hewn down,
The haughty will be humbled,
He will cut down the tickets of the forest with ax,
And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One (Isa 10:23-34).
According to the remnant theology, God would preserve a holy stump, and use it to revive the nation, If only a tenth of the people are left, even they will be destroyed.
But just as stumps remain after trees have been cut down,
Some of My chosen ones will be left as holy seed (Is 6:13).
To illustrate the above fact, we can consider just one historical period in the national life of Israel, i.e., the Babylonian captivity. God, at about the 6th. C. B.C. used Babylon as His ax of judgment against idolatrous and arrogant Judah (2 Chr 36:14-16). Judah was carried away into captivity for 70 years. Through out the captivity period, however, God preserved a humbled and sanctified remnant, a holy seed unto Himself. After the appointed time of captivity was over, God visited this remnant and brought it back to its own land. People like Ezra, Nehemiah, Joshua and Zerubabel, and all the rest of the returnees, were a holy remnant, which God used to rebuild the temple and city, and to revive true religion in the land. In doing this, God was able to preserve the unique identity of His people, and to maintain the original form of the faith to be passed to coming generations (see Ezra chapters 9,10; Nehemiah 10:28-31).
2.4. Moses: A Prophet’s Life in Three Phases
At a personal, but grand level, Moses’ life can serve us as a good illustration of the theology of the remnant-branch. Moses’ life is worthy of consideration in that he was a great prophet God used to usher in a new Kingdom dispensation. Hence the dealings God had in the life of Moses can provide us with a pattern by which can understand the way God shapes and moulds His prophets for a great purpose.
In order to see clearly the operation of the remnant-branch principle in his life, we can divide Moses’ life into three equal periods. Each of these periods will show a distinctive spiritual stage in the life of the prophet, confirming the remnant-branch principle.
1.The first forty years of Moses life, were years of the natural man (ego) being cultivated to the outmost. From his infancy upward, Moses was privileged to the comforts of the palace of Pharaoh, and instructed in all the wisdom of Egypt. As a young man he was a very powerful prince in Egypt (Ex 2: 210, Acts 7: 20-22, Heb 11: 23-26). During this phase of his life, Moses had it all – power, wisdom, influence, riches, glory, etc. No doubt that Moses was a very self-sufficient person barely waiting on God to liberate His people from Egyptian oppression. 2.The next forty years of Moses’ life were in quite contrast to the first forty years. Moses lost it all in one day when he had to flee to the desert for his life. Moses stay in exile lasted a full forty years, and this long period of time God used for His greater purpose to shape and mould His servant. God used the time of Moses’ life as a shepherd to wear out Moses’ spirit of self-sufficiency and self-glory. In the forty years he was in the desert-tending sheep, God turned Moses into a mere shadow of his former glory. The prince of Egypt was reduced to a shepherd of Midian. One who was used to public acclaim now became a very obscure herdsman. First full forty years had to pass before He could come and visit the remnant (stump) of Moses with restoration and power. Patience has to run its full course first, perfecting Moses make him lack in nothing. 3.In a dramatic change of events, God appeared to Moses at the burning bush, and anointed and commissioned him to be a liberator of Israel from Egyptian oppression. God’s visitation just in one day changed the lowly shepherd into a prince with God. The stump of Moses’ life gave rise to a new branch, a branch that was destined to impact the whole world. At the burning bush, ‘a man-child’ was born, and mighty man of God was anointed. It was new Moses, which came out of his tribulation that God positioned as a dreadful lion to threaten and plunder the den of the mighty captor of God’s people.
2.5. The New Testament: The Cross and the Believer
In the New Testament the theology of the remnant-branch is presented in the form and language of the cross of Christ. In the New Testament, the cross is used in dual sense. First and foremost it is about the sacrifice Jesus made of Himself on Calvary to atone for the sin of humanity. In its second sense, the cross signifies the surrender of self and ones own will the believer has to make on an going basis to follow Jesus. In this regard, the cross places an obligation on the believer to purge himself daily from all carnal inclinations and to transform his natural mind set to reflect that of the Word (Mat 10: 37-39; Gal 2:20, 5:24). Therefore, in this sense, the cross implies the laying down of ones preferences in order to do what pleases God. As it involves giving up a lot for God’s sake, it will be a humbling experience for the soul.
If we examine the cross-resurrection principle in its second sense, we can note that purging and pruning can take place in any of the following three ways,
oVoluntarily carrying ones cross daily: The believer willingly crucifies the flesh daily so that the will of God will prevail in his life. Such a person happily applies the ax of surrender and humility to the tree of pride and self-sufficiency on a daily basis. The humble remnant of such a person, in His own due time, God will lift up and glorify in the sight of all (Mat 10:37-39; Lk 14: 7-10; 1 Pet 5:6). oA pruning process: God sometimes undertakes the initiative Himself to trim off fleshly desires and carnal pursuits from the life of His own people. When this happens, the working of the cross in ones life will be deep and painful. The person undergoing such pruning experience will suffer the dark night of the soul. In God, His means justifies His end, and hence He will let the remnant of such a pruned disciple to go on to bear much fruit for the glory of God (Jn 15: 1-7; 2 Cor 4: 16-18, 6: 10; Heb 12: 3-11; Jam 1: 1:2). oJudgment of God: Whenever God sees a sin not repented in a person’s life; He will undertake a disciplinary measure to forcefully subject the person to a humbling and purifying experience. The trial God orders will be quiet a fiery one, and will effectively purge the person(s) from the sin of pride and arrogance (1 Cor 5: 1-5; 1 Tim 1:19-20; Rev 2: 22-23, 3: 19; cf. Isa 4:3-4).
Since the major emphasis of the New Testament is on humbling oneself voluntarily, the life is Jesus a pattern to follow.
2.6. Jesus Christ: Our Heavenly Example
The voluntary subjection of ones mind to do God’s will on a daily basis and to obey God to the uttermost, draws its prime example from the incarnation and crucifixion experience of the Lord Jesus Himself. St. Paul writing about Jesus in Philippians clearly brings out the inherent meaning of the life and suffering of the Lord Jesus. St. Paul words in Philippians 2: 1-11 give the idea that Jesus’ life also followed the remnant-branch principle, or in this case the cross-resurrection path.
1.The pre-incarnate Jesus existed in Divine glory and He was part of the Godhead. In this state, Jesus was co-equal with God, and hence possessed all the Divine attributes (cf. Jn 1:1). 2.At the incarnation, Jesus voluntarily emptied himself of all His Divine attributes, and entered the world as a lowly human being. Not only that, but He also humbled Himself to the point where He died on the cross for the sin of humanity. His crucifixion was the sign of the depth of His self-denial and obedience. In the eyes of the world, crucifixion was a penalty reserved only for the accursed (Jew), the moron (Greeks), or the worst criminal (Romans). 3.For the depth of Jesus’ obedience for dying on a despised cross, God the Father vindicated His Son by resurrecting Him from the dead, raising Him to Heavenly glory, in giving a name above every other name, and in bestowing authority on Him to rule over all God’s creation. To this Jesus, God said, ultimately every knee will bow and every tongue will confess as Lord.
Jesus in his passion and resurrection left a pattern for the church to follow (1 Pet 2:21). The Christian is advised to follow Jesus in imitating Him in His obedience (Phil 2: 5, 3:10-11; 1 Pet 4: 12-14; Mk 10: 35-45; Rev 11). It is promised that if we endure our suffering as He did His, we will enter a glory like His (2 Tim 2:12; Rev 3:21).
III: The End-Time and The Branch
3.1 The Precedence
At the beginning each Kingdom dispensation the remnant-branch principle operates at a grand scale. For example, when God inaugurated the Dispensation of the Law, we saw how the remnant-branch principle operated in the life of Moses. We noted how God made a new branch out of the shepherd Moses to anoint and commission him to liberate the people and usher in the covenant of the Law. Similarly, at the beginning of the Church Dispensation we noted how God used the death-resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ to liberate mankind from the power sin and to usher in the age of Grace. Jesus who is called the root (i.e. stump) and branch of David (Rom 15:12; Rev 22:16) is the mediator of the New Covenant between man and God (Heb 7: 22).
In saying all these, the matter of interest however is to answer the following question successfully. If each Kingdom dispensation is ushered in by the remnant-branch operation, then is it true that a similar happening will occur at the end of the ages, when the fullness of the Kingdom of God is ushered in? Of course, the answer to this important question lies through careful investigation of the Scripture. However, it is also equally important to listen to the voice of revelation as being given by the Holy Spirit, the ultimate author of the Scriptures (1 Cor 2:10; 1 Pet 1:10-12).
3.2 The Promise of the Branch
In both the Old and New Testament there is ample evidence that the reign of Christ and the saints in the Millennial Kingdom of God that the remnant-branch principle will be in full play. For example, St. Paul quotes the prophet Isaiah (Isa 11: 1-10) to associate the future kingship of Jesus Christ with the remnant-branch concept,
"There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the gentiles. In him the gentiles trust" (Rom 15: 12).
Jeremiah on his part uses the same remnant-branch metaphor to describe the future king,
"Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth" (Jer 23:5).
Jesus in the Book of Revelation declares Himself as the promised Root and Branch of David, thereby identifying Himself as the promised Messianic King (Rev 22: 16, 5:5).
3.3 The Overcomer As the Branch
As we read in the Book of Revelation, Jesus has promised to share His glory and power with the overcomer (see Revelation chapters 2 & 3). In one of such promises, Jesus said,
"He who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end - as I also have received from my father, to him I will give power over the nations. He shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the potters’ vessels shall be broken to pieces. I will give him the morning star" (Rev 3: 27-28).
Promises made to the overcomer in the 2nd and 3rd chapters the book of Revelation allude to the major Messianic prophecies of Daniel (Dan 7:13), David (Ps 89, 110), and Isaiah (Isa 9 & 11). The implication of Jesus’ words in these promises to the overcomer, is therefore, that those who endure the end-time tribulation to end will get a glory and authority similar to the one the Lord Himself had obtained after His victory over the cross and death (Rev 3:21, Eph 1: 20-22).
The idea of the believer being conformed to the suffering and glory of Jesus is not new to Scripture, rather it is found in several places in the Scriptures (Rom 8: 18--30; Phil 3: 10-11, 21; Col 3: 3-4; 2 Thes 2: 14; 2 Tim 2: 11-13; 1 Pet 4: 12-14; 1 Jn 3:2). For example, St. Paul writes (Rom 8: 29-30) that the ultimate goal of God’s plan is to conform the believer to the image of Christ.
"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified."
As the above passage shows, the justification (i.e. sanctification) process implies a pruning and purging process. It is through the crucible of suffering that the dross of the carnal nature is consumed and the image of Christ formed in the saint. The aim of the end-time tribulation is to prepare the saint to the glory to come. In short, the path to the Kingdom throne passes through the passion of the cross. When St. Paul expresses desire in participating in the passion of Christ and in attaining to the resurrection of the dead (Phil 3:10-11), he is more than likely referring to a ‘remnant-branch’ or ‘death-to-glory’ experience, which is the ultimate goal of the call of a Christian (Col 3: 3-4; 2 Tim 2: 11-13; Rev 3:21, 11: 1-19).
3.4 The Making of the End-Time Branch
As Scripture teaches, as we enter the end-time, we shall encounter the great tribulation, which among many other things, the Lord will use it shape and mould His people into His own image. First by allowing them to pass through a fiery trail, He will make sure that they are purged of carnality. Afterwards, by restoring and glorifying them, He allows them to obtain His holiness and righteousness, which are His Divine essence. As the saints endure the deep work of the cross through the tribulation, they mature and grow into the full stature of the image of Jesus Christ.
The end-time suffering and glory of the saints can be then be understood in terms of the remnant-branch principle. The end-time suffering-persecution can be compared to the state of a tree stump, what the saints look like as they pass a fiery pruning process. The glory that follows their tribulation, on the other hand, can be compared to new branch emerging from a lowly stump. The idea that God will lift up the humble to the throne is found in several places in the Scriptures. When Scripture says the meek shall inherit the earth, it is promise made to the saints, because they submit to the sanctifying (pruning) work of the Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Sam 2: 8; Ps 37: 11, 113: 6-8, 147:6, 149: 4; Isa 60:22; Mat 5:5; Lk 12:32; Mat 5:5).
3.5 Identifying the End-Time Branch
In the history of the church the identity of the overcomer of Revelation chapter 2 and 3, or the two witnesses of chapter 11, or the man-child of chapter 12 has not been easy. The prevailing consensus among Evangelical scholars is that all the above figures refer to all the saints who will be taken up in Rapture and who then come back with Jesus in His Second Coming to rule and reign with Him. According to this viewpoint, none of the ruling-judging saints will pass through the Tribulation. In contrast in the post-tribulation teaching about the end-times, the saints will be present on earth during the tribulation period, and much protected from it. They make little mention of the need that saints will be shaped and transformed by the tribulation. However, in recent years, there is an emerging viewpoint which teaches that the overcomers or the man-child company will be a few last-days saints who will be accorded special revelation about the end-times. According to this teaching it is such a revealed knowledge that will qualify them to sit on the throne with Jesus and rule the nations with a rod of iron. In this viewpoint also, there is little mention of the Tribulation or its role in the shaping of the reigning saints.
The writer of this article has different viewpoint. The writer maintains that one to be called an overcomer one has first to pass through a fiery trial, endure without fainting, and then emerge victorious at the end. The two witnesses of Revelation chapter 11 have first to pass through death before they entered resurrection glory. Even the man-child and his mother have to face the great dragon, Satan, himself who tries to destroy them. The two witnesses and also the woman who gave birth to the man-child have first to endure the mystical 42 months period of suffering before they emerged victorious. The great tribulation and the glory to follow it can then be understood in terms of remnant-branch (cross-resurrection) principle.
Secondly, more than understanding the overcomer identity as a company of saints, the writer will also like to bring forward the importance of the personal (individual) dimension to the forefront of end-time discussion. For example, some Bible scholars have been able to discern a reference to an individual in certain passages of Scripture.
- The great Bible commentator A. R. Fausset (*) reads in the very empathic Greek original wording of Revelation 21: 7 an intended reference to an individual person. He observed,
"He shall be my son--"He" is emphatic: He in particular and in a peculiar sense, above others: Greek, "shall be to me a son," in fullest realization of the promise made in type to Solomon, son of David, and antitypically to the divine Son of David."
-There have been also a few other Bible students who have said the person referred to in places such as Ezekiel 37:24 and 44:2-3 is a human being. They understand this person as a future viceroy king who will rule on earth as Jesus rules from Heaven. Unfortunately, such viewpoints are the exceptions rather than the rule.
Therefore, it can be said that the personal dimension of the overcomer promise in Revelation has be one of those Scriptural truths, which has been hid from past generations (Rev 2: 17, 3:10-12, 21-22). However, insight into the Word of God is now been given that many among the people of God are getting the understanding that someone bearing the image of Christ will appear on the world stage as priest-king-prophet. Undoubtedly, there shall be such a personage who will be at the head of the company of overcomers. As Revelation 2: 17 says, he is promised a new name, which carries the name of Jesus Christ, of God and of the New Jerusalem (Rev 3: 12). If so, then He will bear the names given to Jesus in the Old Testament. Hence he will be known as, ‘The glorious branch,’ (Is 4:2), and ‘The root of Jesse,’ (Isa 11:1,10). To Zechariah he is known as, ‘ The branch which will rise from his own place,’ (Zech 6:12). Jeremiah calls him, ‘The righteous branch of David,’ and, ‘The prince,’ (Jer 23:5, 30:21). Ezekiel knows him as, ‘The Prince,’ (Eze 44:3), and ‘ king David,’ (Eze 37: 24). In Daniel he is represented as the son of man who comes to receive kingdom authority on behalf of God’ s saints (Dan 7: 13-14, 27).
3.6 The Narrow Path to Glory
Such a manner of a saint will be a Moses-like figure for the ways God will deal with him and later glorify him. Such a person, the Spirit of the Lord will shape and mould following the above discussed pattern of the remnant-branch.
1.In the beginning the believer will be one enjoying the glories of the natural man. 2.Then the believer will be reduced to a very lowly state. He will be a humiliated and despised person. [The stump/remnant of the saint, as being conformed to the suffering of Jesus, is assigned different naming by the prophets: ‘the fallen tabernacle of David’ (Am 9), ‘the worm’ (Ps 22, Isaiah 41), ‘the lame’ and ‘the exile’ (Jer 31:7-13; Mic 4:6-7), ‘the feeble’ (Zech 12), etc.] 3.Lastly, to the lowly stump will come resurrection glory. When the Holy Spirit visits this lowly person, and as the result, the stump will shoot forth a new and glorious branch,. This amounts to the opening of the grave and calling him out of his death-like experience (cf. Col 3: 3-4). When the lowly and obscure servant is delivered by the Holy Spirit from the travail of his soul, he shall see the joy of resurrection, and become a very powerful world-changing prophet. Such a branch will be called ‘the glorious branch’ (Isa 4: 2-6, 11: 1-10), ‘the victorious lion of Judah’ (Rev 4), ‘the overcomer’ (Rev 2), the man-child (Rev 12), ‘the servant of God’ (Is 42), ‘ David’ (Jer 23, Eze 37), etc.
The following words of the prophet Isaiah (49: 7) can be used to best describe the death-resurrection (or stump-branch) experience this prophetic person will undergo.
"Thus says the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, the Holy One,
To him whom man despises,
To him whom the nation abhors,
To the servant of rulers,
Kings shall see (you) and arise,
Princes also shall worship,
Because of the Lord who is faithful,
The Holy One of Israel,
And He has chosen you."
This transition from a humiliated stump to a glorious Branch is also expressed in Isaiah 52: 11- 15 passage. Or as St. Paul has put it (Eph 4:9),
"Now this, ‘He ascended’ – what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth?"
I believe that when God is speaking through the prophet Zechariah (6: 12-15) about the Branch, that He is saying to us to watch for priest-king-prophet overcomers to be revealed in the last days bearing the image and glory of Jesus.
Then say to him, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Behold, a man whose name is Branch, for He will branch out from where He is; and He will build the temple of the LORD. "Yes, it is He who will build the temple of the LORD, and He who will bear the honor and sit and rule on His throne. Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.'" Those who are far off will come and build the temple of the LORD." Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And it will take place if you completely obey the LORD your God.
* Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
This one volume commentary was prepared by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown and published in 1871.
Glory be to God!
(Revised: July 19/03)