I’ve been through East Texas in the summer, and it’s pretty barren. Nothing grows there – it’s too parched and dry.
When choosing a metaphor to describe the rejection of the Messiah, Isaiah chose an agricultural illustration. He said he would be like a plant trying to take root in parched ground. In Isaiah 53:2 he said, “For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot” (or an unwanted sprout), “and like a root out of a dry ground…” This is a reference to His environment and background. They saw it as unproductive and stifling – like a plant trying to take root and grow in parched, dry soil.
The word “dry” here is a word used to refer to desert conditions, where there is no water to sustain life. Dry ground is parched earth, where a plant has to struggle just to live. Now Isaiah is saying that this is one of the reasons that Israel will reject the Messiah. He didn’t have the right credentials, and He didn’t come from the right place.
Think about it. Jesus was not the product of Jewish aristocracy from the territory of Judea, nor was He from one of the priestly sects in Jerusalem. He was a simple peasant prophet from Nazareth, and that was not something to be proud of. It was Nathanael who said, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” Nazareth was a military town, a town of infamy and bad company. It was a “nowhere” place to be from, like dry or parched ground. So the Messiah is not seen as a great cedar from Lebanon, but as a lowly plant in the parched ground of Nazareth. He was from the wrong side of the tracks, from a ghetto town where nothing survives and nothing grows.
“He is like a root out of a dry ground.”
Say – didn’t they know that Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, in the City of David?