But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.”
Both the KJV, NKJV, Young's, and most other English translations chose seed. There is a reason. The word seed/descendants has a qualifier attached - holy. So the promise that Judah will continue on in spite of their dire present and future situation can be seen as the tribe/nation of the future being a holy seed or the holy seed refers to something/Someone else.
The Jews (descendants of Judah) certainly saw themselves as a holy nation when Jesus was here and before His ministry was over they had decided He was unholy. However the Bible is clear that no one is good, no not one and it makes this bold declaration in both the old and new Testaments. The Bible also says in several places that God has no favourites, that none are better than or higher than anyone else. In fact the book of Acts boldly states that God made from one blood all the nations of the earth.
With all that being the case it isn't possible for one family or people or nation to holy, or even holier than anyone else. In fact Judah sank so low in the time of Isaiah that Babylon (not exactly known for shining Holiness) took them over shortly after.
So what or Who is this holy seed Isaiah refers to and compares to an acorn or a remaining stump that in time will rise from the earth a new and mighty oak?
It's obvious isn't it? Eve was promised a man child from the Lord who would come and crush the serpents head. That promise of the promised One or seed was passed on to Noah. From Noah to Abraham. From Abraham to Isaac, to Jacob, to Judah. Now Judah is teetering on extinction. The promise seems unlikely now, even impossible yet (But!) the stump remains. The acorn has Another inside it. Who is that Seed?
I know only One who is holy. One who descended from Judah yet was before. The One who is, who was, and always will be. Our hope is not in a bloodline, a race, a kingdom, or a nation. If it were most of us would be disqualified by birth. Our hope is not in our holiness either. If it were we would all be disqualified for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
Our hope is in the Seed. The Holy Seed. For Isaiah that reality was but a far off dream as an acorn or a stump is to a full grown tree. We know the rest of the story. Judah was crushed but not destroyed. A remnant returned to Jerusalem. The nation in a lesser form resumed and in time a baby was born and wrapped in cloths and laid in a feed trough. He didn't have exalted parents. He seemed an unlikely hero... Just as an acorn doesn't seem to possess inside itself a mighty oak. :)