We have here a further prophecy of the enlargement and advancement of the kingdom of the Messiah, under the type and figure of the flourishing condition of the kingdom of Judah in the latter end of Hezekiah’s reign, after the defeat of Sennacherib.
I. This prediction was in part accomplished when the great things God did for Hezekiah and his people proved as an ensign, inviting the neighbouring nations to them to enquire of the wonders done in the land, on which errand the king of Babylon’s ambassadors came. To them the Gentiles sought; and Jerusalem, the rest or habitation of the Jews, was then glorious, Isa. 11:10. Then many of the Israelites who belonged to the kingdom of the ten tribes, who upon the destruction of that kingdom by the king of Assyria were forced to flee for shelter into all the countries about and to some that lay very remote, even to the islands of the sea, were encouraged to return to their own country and put themselves under the protection and government of the king of Judah, the rather because it was an Assyrian army by which their country had been ruined and that was not routed. This is said to be a recovery of them the second time (Isa. 11:11), such an instance of the power and goodness of God, and such a reviving to them, as their first deliverance out of Egypt was. Then the outcasts of Israel should be gathered in, and brought home, and those of Judah too, who, upon the approach of the Assyrian army, shifted for their own safety. Then the old feud between Ephraim and Judah shall be forgotten, and they shall join against the Philistines and their other common enemies, Isa. 11:13, 14. Note, Those who have been sharers with each other in afflictions and mercies, dangers and deliverances, ought in consideration thereof to unite for their joint and mutual safety and protection; and it is likely to be well with the church when Ephraim and Judah are one against the Philistines. Then, whatever difficulties there may be in the way of the return of the dispersed, the Lord shall find out some way or other to remove them, as when he brought Israel out of Egypt he dried up the Red Sea and Jordan (Isa. 11:15) and led them to Canaan through the invincible embarrassments of a vast howling wilderness, Isa. 11:16. The like will he do this second time, or that which shall be equivalent. When God’s time has come for the deliverance of his people mountains of opposition shall become plain before him. Let us not despair therefore when the interests of the church seem to be brought very low; God can soon turn gloomy days into glorious ones.
II. It had a further reference to the days of the Messiah and the accession of the Gentiles to his kingdom; for to these the apostle applies Isa. 11:10; of which the following verses are a continuation. Rom. 15:12; There shall be a root of Jesse; and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, in him shall the Gentiles trust. That is a key to this prophecy, which speaks of Christ as the root of Jesse, or a branch out of his roots (Isa. 11:1), a root out of a dry ground, Isa. 53:2. He is the root of David (Rev. 5:5), the root and offspring of David Rev. 22:16.
1. He shall stand, or be set up, for an ensign of the people. When he was crucified he was lifted up from the earth, that, as an ensign of beacon, he might draw the eyes and the hearts of all men unto him, John 12:32. He is set up as an ensign in the preaching of the everlasting gospel, in which the ministers, as standard-bearers, display the banner of his love, to allure us to him (Song 1:4), the banner of his truth, under which we may enlist ourselves, to engage in a holy war against sin and Satan. Christ is the ensign to which the children of God that were scattered abroad are gathered together (John 11:51), and in him they meet as the centre of their unity.
2. To him shall the Gentiles seek. We read of Greeks that did so (John 12:21; We would see Jesus), and upon that occasion Christ spoke of his being lifted up, to draw all men to him. The apostle, from the LXX. (or perhaps the LXX. from the apostle, in the editions after Christ) reads it (Rom. 15:12), In him shall the Gentiles trust; they shall seek to him with a dependence on him.
3. His rest shall be glorious. Some understand this of the death of Christ (the triumphs of the cross made even that glorious), others of his ascension, when he sat down to rest at the right hand of God. Or rather it is meant of the gospel church, that Mount Zion of which Christ has said, This is my rest, and in which he resides. This, though despised by the world, having upon it the beauty of holiness, is truly glorious, a glorious high throne, Jer. 17:12.
4. Both Jews and Gentiles shall be gathered to him, Isa. 11:11. A remnant of both, a little remnant in comparison, which shall be recovered, as it were, with great difficulty and hazard. As formerly God delivered his people, and gathered them out of all the countries whither they were scattered (Ps. 106:47; Jer. 16:15, 16), so he will a second time, in another way, by the powerful working of the Spirit of grace with the word. He shall set his hand to do it; he shall exert his power, the arm of the Lord shall be revealed to do it. (1.) There shall be a remnant of the Jews gathered in: The outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of Judah (Isa. 11:12), many of whom, at the time of the bringing of them in to Christ, were Jews of the dispersion, the twelve tribes that were scattered abroad (Jas. 1:1; 1 Pet. 1:1), shall flock to Christ; and probably more of those scattered Jews were brought into the church, in proportion, than of those which remained in their own land. (2.) Many of the nations, the Gentiles, shall be brought in by the lifting up of the ensign. Jacob foretold concerning Shiloh that to him should the gathering of the people be. Those that were strangers and foreigners shall be made nigh. The Jews were jealous of Christ’s going to the dispersed among the Gentiles and of his teaching the Gentiles, John 7:35.
5. There shall be a happy accommodation between Judah and Ephraim, and both shall be safe from their adversaries and have dominion over them, Isa. 11:13, 14. The coalescence between Judah and Israel at that time was a type and figure of the uniting of Jews and Gentiles, who had been so long at variance in the gospel church. The house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel (Jer. 3:18) and become one nation (Ezek. 37:22); so the Jews and Gentiles are made of twain one new man (Eph. 2:15), and, being at peace one with another, those that are adversaries to them both shall be cut off; for they shall fly upon the shoulders of the Philistines, as an eagle strikes at her prey, shall spoil those on the west side of them, and then they shall extend their conquests eastward over the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites. The gospel of Christ shall be successful in all parts, and some of all nations shall become obedient to the faith.
6. Every thing that might hinder the progress and success of the gospel shall be taken out of the way. As when God brought Israel out of Egypt he dried up the Red Sea and Jordan before them (Isa. 63:11, 12), and as afterwards when he brought up the Jews out of Babylon he prepared them their way (Isa. 62:10), so when Jews and Gentiles are to be brought together into the gospel church all obstructions shall be removed (Isa. 11:15, 16), difficulties that seemed insuperable shall be strangely got over, the blind shall be led by a way that they knew not. See Isa. 42:15, 16; 43:19, 20. Converts shall be brought in chariots and in litters, Isa. 66:20. Some think it is the further accession of multitudes to the church that is pointed at in that obscure prophecy of the drying up of the river Euphrates, that the way of the kings of the east may be prepared (Rev. 16:12), which seems to refer to this prophecy. Note, When God’s time has come for the bringing of nations, or particular persons, home to himself, divine grace will be victorious over all opposition. At the presence of the Lord the sea shall flee and Jordan be driven back; and those who set their faces heavenward will find there are not such difficulties in the way as they thought there were, for there is a highway thither, Isa. 35:8.