During the season of Advent, we await the arrival of the Messiah. The name Messiah is also a title, but it was not the only title bestowed on the Savior we are waiting for in this special season. In Jeremiah 23:5-6 another title which is given to the Messiah is “The Branch of Righteousness”. This title was attributed to the Messiah because He was to be a descendant of King David (Jer. 33:14-17), that is He was to be a branch in the lineage of David’s family tree. The imagery of this word comes from the natural realm. The word branch, netzor, can also be translated as sprout, root, shoot, or rod. This sprout or shoot, is the kind that appears on the side of a tree or bush which has been drastically trimmed or chopped almost to the ground. The plant appears to be dead, yet at the next growing season it produces a shoot bearing leaves. This is the same word that Isaiah uses in Is. 53:2, which speaks of the Lord's Servant growing up as a tender shoot out of parched ground.
Although the Branch's beginnings are humble, the prophet Zechariah writes that "He will branch out from where He is...and sit and rule on His throne," (Zech. 6:12-13), meaning He will rule over a kingdom just as His ancestor David did. While earthly kings lose their position and their people are scattered, the Branch's kingdom will be strong and flourish under His leadership (Is. 4:2; Jer. 23:5-6, 33:15-16).
The New Testament writers recognized the fulfillment of these prophecies in Jesus Christ. They recorded His lineage and noted that He was from the tribe of Judah and a descendant of David (Lk. 3:23-38; Mt. 1:1-17). The author of Hebrews also took note of this in Heb. 7:14. The New Testament writers noted that Christ's death and resurrection placed Him in a position of authority (1 Cor. 15:27) but that some aspects of His Messianic kingdom were still to be established (Rev. 11:15, 20:6, 21:3-5). Even so, this dimension of Christ's leadership designates Him as The Righteous Branch spoken of in Zech. 6:12 and Jer. 23:5-6.
While the earthly kings of Judah and Israel were faulty and flawed, they eventually went the way of all mortals in death. But Christ as the Messianic Branch is different. He is tsedeq, or righteous, a term applied to weights and measures. Where earthly kings had altered their weights and used deceptive measurements, Jesus as the Righteous Branch will judge fairly and in righteousness (Jn. 5:30, 8:16). Where earthly kings oppressed the poor and preyed upon the innocent, Jesus as the Righteous Branch lifts up the lowly and meek (Mt. 9:35-36). And because of His righteous obedience to God the Father, He will fully complete the promise made to David and reign on the throne forever (Heb. 6:19-7:3, 17). Most importantly, like natural “netzors”, the Messiah will spring up and come to life much like those little sprouts that shoot out of what appears to be a dead tree. David’s lineage appeared to be lifeless at the time of Jesus’ death, but the resurrection changed all that!
The Messianic title of "Branch" is also picked up in an interesting little side note on the early life of Jesus. Although He was born in Bethlehem, David's city, He did not grow up there. Matthew notes that after a brief time of hiding in Egypt, Mary and Joseph returned to Israel with Jesus and settled in Nazareth (Mt. 2:23) which fulfills the prophecy of Is. 11:1. Only the Lord would orchestrate something as specific as this. The literal translation of the name Nazareth, (which is a derivative of the Hebrew word netzor) is Root Town!
Ann LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com; Olivetreeann@mail.com; https://www.linkedin.com/in/annhlefevre; https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre