In discussing the return of the Jews and the fulfillment of the promises to ‘national Israel’ a reader stated,
There is no way that someone can demonstrate that Isaiah 11 has been fulfilled.
I felt that this was not something to be discussed in a comment section, but that it might serve a purpose as an individual post.
The little that I do know of the Hebrew language as employed by the writers of the Old Testament, I realize that many times, parallelism was used to set things off, or to explain things in a different manner. Here, the prophet-poet delivers a passage of hope, twice.
There is the other view, that somehow of the course of time, like Isaiah, there are two writers contributing to this passage. (This is not an argument against inerrancy.) This passage not merely speaks to the establishment of the Davidic monarchy through the Messiah, but serves as a capstone for the previous few chapters.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked. Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.
The wolf shall dwell with the lamb.
The leopard shall lie down with the kid.
The calf and the lion and the fatling together,
Then a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall feed;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The infant child shall play over the hole of the asp – the toddler shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
It strikes me as I look more closely at the passage that there is a nearly one-to-one correspondence between the virtues of the first part of the text and the animals of the second. Just as wisdom, understanding, counsel and might rest on the shoot of Jesse, so the wolf, lamb, leopard and the little child are celebrated in the second half. As it is the spirit of counsel, might and knowledge of the Lord that triumph at the beginning, so it is the calf and lion and fatling together in the second, with the little child triumphing over them al – by leading them.
But, just who are these animals? In my understanding, they are the Gentile Nations. While Jacob refers to Benjamin as a wolf in Genesis 49.27, we should look at Jeremiah 49.27 which describes the nations around Judah as different animals. Daniel also refers to the Gentile kingdoms in animal terms.
If we understand the animals as Gentile nations, then we can understand the children in the passage as the Jews (Mark 7.27-28). Taking this together, we understand this passage as fulfilled at the start on Pentecost.
The second half of the parallel,
In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious.
Paul, seeing this passage as being fulfilled, writes,
Now I say that Jesus Christ has become a servant to the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made to the fathers, and that the Gentiles might glorify God for His mercy, as it is written: “For this reason I will confess to You among the Gentiles, And sing to Your name.” And again he says: “Rejoice, O Gentiles, with His people!” And again: “Praise the LORD, all you Gentiles! Laud Him, all you peoples!” And again, Isaiah says: “There shall be a root of Jesse; And He who shall rise to reign over the Gentiles, In Him the Gentiles shall hope.” (Romans 15:8-12 NKJV)
In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant which is left of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Ethiopia, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea. He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.
Again, we see that these nations were, at least in part, represented at Pentecost,
Par’thians and Medes and E’lamites and residents of Mesopota’mia, Judea and Cappado’cia, Pontus and Asia, Phryg’ia and Pamphyl’ia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyre’ne, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, (Acts 2:9-11 RSVA)
We see again, that this passage of Isaiah, conveniently placed in a single chapter by some 14th or 15th century monk, has been fulfilled.
The jealousy of E’phraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; E’phraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass E’phraim. But they shall swoop down upon the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put forth their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the LORD will utterly destroy the tongue of the sea of Egypt; and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching wind, and smite it into seven channels that men may cross dryshod. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant which is left of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt. (Isaiah 11:1-16 RSVA)
Some scholars understand Ephraim, as a whole, to indicate the Gentiles (remember, the northern Kingdom, the Ten Lost Tribes) were scattered among the Nations.
I believe that in the scope of biblical prophecy, this passage has been fulfilled. Paul himself thought so.