“The Branch of the Lord” is our topic today. It’s too bad that we all don’t speak Hebrew. It would make things much clearer.
22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. Genesis 42:22-23
Yesterday, we left off at Isaiah 4:2-4 and the Branch. Let’s read it again,
2 In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel. 3 Those who are left in Zion, who remain in Jerusalem, will be called holy, all who are recorded among the living in Jerusalem. 4 The Lord will wash away the filth of the women of Zion; he will cleanse the bloodstains from Jerusalem by a spirit of judgment and a spirit of fire.
…it may be that Matthew is associating the word Nazarene with the Hebrew word netser (“branch or sprout”). The “Branch” was a common term for the Messiah, such as in Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Hebrew was written with only consonants, and netser would have appeared as NZR—the same main consonants as Nazareth. In fact, in Aramaic, the common language of Jesus’ day, the word for “Nazareth” and the Hebrew word for “branch” sounded very much alike. Matthew’s point could be that Jesus was “sprouting up” from an obscure village in Galilee; Jesus was the Branch predicted by the prophets, and the name of the town He grew up in happens to sound just like the prophets’ word for “branch.”
Matthew was doing what every good Jewish boy did. John, too. Jesus, too. They used references from the Old Testament Scriptures to represent larger portions. When John mentioned the Holy Spirit and fire, he was calling attention to the Messianic passage from Isaiah. Winnowing was the process of separating wheat from chaff. We see it in Judges with Gideon winnowing in a wine press. The idea of Jesus winnowing was that He would call into judgment the children of Israel, those who would believe in Him (wheat) and those who wouldn’t (chaff) . As Jesus began His ministry, He called the people of Israel to repent (stop and change how you think), to believe in Him as Messiah, and to follow Him, taking up His ways.
Let’s do that, shall we?
Abba, call me to repentance as I study Your Word, as I learn to put what You have said into practice, as I listen and receive from the Holy Spirit insight, discernment, understanding, and wisdom, and as I strive to obey His nudges, restraint, and correction. We are all in training, Abba. Train us up in the way we should go. Amen.