What Is the Meaning of “Tender Plant. . . out of Dry Ground”?
“In Isaiah 53, the coming Messiah is described as a ‘tender plant and as a root out of dry ground’ (v. 2).What is the meaning of this expression?”
Isaiah 53 is a veritable galaxy of prophecies regarding Jehovah’s suffering Servant — the Christ.Seven centuries before the birth of Jesus, God’s prophet declared that the Messiah would grow up under the Lord’s watchful eye, yet under the most disadvantageous conditions. The prophet symbolically describes the situation as being somewhat like a “tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground” (53:2). Hardly a plan for success, it would appear.
What was the significance of the prophetic declaration?And how was it to be fulfilled?
As noted already, a “tender plant,” attempting to survive in “dry ground” seems like an unlikely situation.In reality, however, such was by divine design! The text is intended to emphasize that what appears impossible with men, certainly is not with God. To use a gross but common figure of speech, the “deck was deliberately stacked” against the Messianic mission, the purpose of which was to demonstrate that the commencement and success of Christianity was orchestrated by Heaven. Such was not a result of a collection of “lucky” circumstances. Note:
- The Lord came from a paralyzed nation.The Jews had been laid low by several foreign powers in the centuries preceding the birth of Christ. Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman invasions had held a stranglehold upon the Hebrew people.The nation of Israel had become but a “stump” compared to its glorious past.Yet from this apparent deadness, a “branch” would spring up to the amazement of humanity (Isaiah 11:1ff).
- Jesus arrived to commence his mission in the most vulnerable form imaginable — a newborn infant.Surely enemies, horrified by the prospect of a coming king, could extinguish this potential rival (as they perceived the matter). But not so; though Herod the Great attempted to exterminate the lovely child, he failed dismally in the effort (Matthew 2:13ff).
- Christ was reared in a despised community (John 1:46), yet such could not nullify his intrinsic divine nature.In fact, it further confirmed his humble background as previewed in the prophetic literature of the Old Testament (cf. Matthew 2:23).
- The Savior had no formal rabbinic education that he should amaze the people with a scholastic faÂ