TODAY’S READING: ISAIAH 60-63
“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout, so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to sprout up before all nations.” – Isaiah 61:11
A garden causes what is sown in it, the seed, to sprout.
A sprout is the beginning shoot of the seed that rises above the ground.
A sprout is the firstfruit of the seed.
In the same way a seed sprouts, God causes righteousness and praise to sprout before all nations.
Hopefully, the action of sprouting and the sprout that comes from the seed is bringing to your mind Jesus. Following is how I see Jesus in the action of sprouting and the sprout itself.
To sprout is the Hebrew word samah. Samah is used 33 times in the. In the Bible, the number 33 often symbolizes a sign. In Hebrew, the number 33 is written with the letters lamed and gimel. Lamed represents authority while gimel represents a camel, or one who is lifted up. Therefore, the number 33 represents the authority of one who is lifted up.
How old was Jesus when he was lifted up as a sign and given all authority to draw all men to himself?
In Luke 11:29-30, Jesus said, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah.”
Jesus was referring to Jonah spending three days and three nights in the belly of a whale as typical of the sign he would give by spending three days and three nights in the belly of the earth after his crucifixion.
First Corinthians 1:22-23 says, “For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified.”
Jesus Christ crucified is the only sign given by God.
While samah is used 33 times on the Old Testament, it is used eight times in Isaiah. All eight of these uses occur in chapters 40 to 66, which I have likened to the New Testament portion of Isaiah throughout this series of blogs on Isaiah.
Eight is the number of new beginning or new creation. Jesus was resurrected on the eighth day after he was selected as the lamb of God to be crucified on the passover. Therefore, Jesus was the sprout of the new creation.
The root word samah, which is a verb, yields the word semah, a noun. Semah means a sprout. This is the Hebrew word translated branch in passages such as Isaiah 4:2 – “in that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious” – and Jeremiah 23:5 – “the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch.”
We tend to think of a branch as something larger or more fully formed than a shoot. So, I think when we read branch in these verses we should actually think of a shoot, the beginning, or the firstfruit of the seed that sprouts.
First Corinthians 15:20, 23 says, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…But each in his own: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ.”
Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the firstfruits of life, of the new creation.
In Acts 26:22-23, Paul said, “To this day I have had the help that comes from God, and so I stand here testifying to both small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both our people and to the Gentiles.”
“Our people and the Gentiles.” That is all nations. Jesus Christ was the first to rise, the sprout, the firstfruits, so that he could proclaim light to all nations. The light Jesus proclaimed is righteousness and praise that Isaiah 61:11 says, “the Lord God will cause…to sprout up before all nations.”
We should also notice that Isaiah says “as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up.”
In John 12:23-24, Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” Jesus is the grain of wheat, the seed, that would be sown into the ground after his crucifixion and death.
But, where did Jesus, the seed that was sown, sprout up?
John 20:13-16 says, “They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, ‘Rabboni!'”
Why did Mary think Jesus was a gardener?
Because Jesus’ tomb was in a garden. Jesus, the grain of wheat that died, the seed that was sown, was sown in a garden.
So, what caused Jesus to sprout?
“A garden causes what it sown in it to sprout up.”
We can do nothing to cause a sprout to grow. We can only plant the seed. We put Jesus, the grain of wheat that had to die, into the ground when we crucified him. But, once we planted the seed, God caused it to sprout. And, God caused this sprout, Jesus to bring forth righteousness and praise for all nations.