2 In that day the branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land shall be the pride and honor of the survivors of Israel. 3 And he who is left in Zion and remains in Jerusalem will be called holy, everyone who has been recorded for life in Jerusalem, 4 when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion and cleansed the bloodstains of Jerusalem from its midst by a spirit of judgment and by a spirit of burning. 5 Then the Lord will create over the whole site of Mount Zion and over her assemblies a cloud by day, and smoke and the shining of a flaming fire by night; for over all the glory there will be a canopy. 6 There will be a booth for shade by day from the heat, and for a refuge and a shelter from the storm and rain.” (Isaiah 4:2-6)
Who, or what, exactly is the Branch of the LORD? The phrase “branch of the LORD” is a Messianic title which is also found in Jeremiah 23:1-5; 33:15; Zechariah 3:1-8 and 6:1-12. The concept behind the metaphor is that of spiritual growth. The Branch is the source of spiritual life for all believers. Therefore, the life of the Branch will bear spiritual fruit (John 15:1-5) in the lives of all true believers.
As one commentator explains, “Of special interest is the Messianic use of the word (Heb. ṣemaḥ) for the scion of the family of David who would come to rule Israel in righteousness. Explicitly prophesied in Jeremiah 23:5; 33:15, the expression looks back to Isaiah 4:2 (cf. Is. 11:1, Heb. nēṣer). Zechariah 3:8; 6:12 show that the title ‘branch’ was a recognized Messianic term after the Exile, used to incorporate the idea of a priest-king.”
Isaiah describes the Branch as being beautiful and glorious. This means the Branch will be abundantly honored because of the substance of His being. Consequently, the fruit of the land will become a source of pride and honor for those who belong to the spiritual remnant of the Branch following the Babylonian Captivity.
What will mark the land will not be so much its material prosperity but rather its spiritual prosperity. In other words, the people of Israel and the inhabitants of Jerusalem will be called holy. The LORD will wash away the spiritual filth which existed. He will cleanse Jerusalem of its sin by a spirit of judgment and burning.
When this is accomplished, the future inhabitants of Jerusalem will enjoy the LORD’s protective glory on Mt. Zion. His glory is likened to a cloud or smoke by day and a flaming fire by night. This resembles the glory of the LORD throughout Israel’s wanderings in the wilderness ((Ex. 13:21–22; 40:34–38).
John Calvin writes, “Though the Prophet confirms what we have already noticed, that God will be our perpetual guide till He has brought us to the end of our journey. Yet we are reminded that believers will always be exposed to numerous calamities. Scorching heat and piercing cold and still heavier distresses press on them severely. When they (believers) escape from one danger, they meet another. But the highest consolation is that against every inconvenience the shadow of the LORD will be sufficient. For it will cover them in such a manner that nothing can injure or do them any harm. See Psalm 121.”
What was true of the LORD towards the Nation of Judah is true today for all believers in Christ. Do you belong to the Branch?
Soli deo Gloria!