Have you ever been hiking in the woods and noticed something that seems strange? Like a tiny branch growing up through a dead stump or a tree in the middle of a rock. Today’s advent reading has meaningful applications for our lives today, just as it did when it was written around 700 BC. The Jesse’s stump is the defeated Judah but the green shoot (living branch) is the Messiah. This tells us that what grows from that stump will be stronger, more powerful, and more fruitful than the original tree. God promised a Messiah and He would deliver!
How are these verses relative to today? For one thing – HOPE. We already have the promised Messiah and we wait for him to return to Earth and reign over it. We know how the story ends; it is our hope. We crave peace in a world where conflicts never rest; safety is promised with hesitation. Verses 6-10 of Isaiah 11 tell us how even dangerous, wild animals will be tame enough to play with young children. I am thankful for the Hope of peace on Earth when Christ returns. (1 Corinthians 15:52) Do you feel like you’re living under the scrutiny of – well – everyone? Pay attention to verses 2-5. You’ll feel better. Life is not fair. We are constantly viewed through someone else’s lens, rated on where we live, the size of our paycheck, the status we maintain at work, the car we drive, what we wear, and even how we sell ourselves. We are implored to ‘just be yourself’, but not ‘that‘ self. Right? Please! I am thankful that when the Messiah returns for his final entry to Earth all the inequities, unfairness, misrepresentations, and demoralizing standards will evaporate. When King Jesus reigns, the wicked will be destroyed just as God has promised.
Isaiah 11:1-10 (The Message)
A green Shoot will sprout from Jesse’s stump, from his roots a budding Branch. The life-giving Spirit of God will hover over him, the Spirit that brings wisdom and understanding, The Spirit that gives direction and builds strength, the Spirit that instills knowledge and Fear-of-God. Fear-of-God will be all his joy and delight. He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth’s poor with justice. His words will bring everyone to awed attention.
A mere breath from his lips will topple the wicked. Each morning he’ll pull on sturdy work clothes and boots, and build righteousness and faithfulness in the land.
The wolf will romp with the lamb, the leopard sleep with the kid. Calf and lion will eat from the same trough, and a little child will tend them.
Cow and bear will graze the same pasture, their calves and cubs grow up together, and the lion eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will crawl over rattlesnake dens,
the toddler stick his hand down the hole of a serpent. Neither animal nor human will hurt or kill on my holy mountain. The whole earth will be brimming with knowing God-Alive,
a living knowledge of God ocean-deep, ocean-wide. On that day, Jesse’s Root will be raised high, posted as a rallying banner for the peoples. The nations will all come to him. His headquarters will be glorious.