Going Deeper 12-3-19

The first reading for Advent 2…

Isaiah 11:1-10  1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. 5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder's den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.


This text provides another example of the difficulties involved in interpreting prophesies.  Given that it is read during Advent, it has been understood as being a messianic prophecy pointing to Jesus the Christ.  And that certainly would be one application… but not the only.


Who did Isaiah have in mind?  Given both the literary and historical contexts, Isaiah is anticipating the weakening and the falling of the Assyrian Empire… which is on the horizon at the time of this writing.  He is pointing toward a new kind of leader to arise, one filled with the “spirit of the Lord” and with the wisdom, understanding, council, might, and knowledge that comes with it, one whose leadership will be marked by justice, righteousness, and faithfulness.


Well, the next world power to exert itself after the fall of Assyria was Babylon.  Their kings certainly did not fulfill this prophecy.  But later, Isaiah will point to the reign of Cyrus, the Persian, who would bring about the fall of Babylon and fulfill most of the prophesied qualities in our text.  Most, but not all.


So, it would appear that we need to wait for Jesus, from “the root of Jesse”.  And when He came as the Christ/Messiah, Jesus did begin to fulfill all of the qualities of our text, but the complete picture of tranquility described is something we continue to wait for, and anticipate being completed with the final coming of Christ.


Soon… after a while… much later… and at the end of time… all wrapped up in a single prophetic text!!  The bottom line for us?  God is always at work, and always will be.  And His thoughts and His ways are much greater and higher than ours.  We simply trust Him to be faithful.

With You in Him,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."