Monday, December 13

Reader: “Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—”

Response: “Yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.”

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-9  

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—

    yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.

And the Spirit of the Lord will 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.

He will delight in obeying the Lord.

    He will not judge by appearance

    nor make a decision based on hearsay.

He will give justice to the poor

    and make fair decisions for the exploited.

The earth will shake at the force of his word,

    and one breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked.

He will wear righteousness like a belt

    and truth like an undergarment.

In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together;

    the leopard will lie down with the baby goat.

The calf and the yearling will be safe with the lion,

    and a little child will lead them all.

The cow will graze near the bear.

    The cub and the calf will lie down together.

    The lion will eat hay like a cow.

The baby will play safely near the hole of a cobra.

    Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes without harm.

Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,

    for as the waters fill the sea,

    so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord.

Some thoughts:

This is our first devotional text from the book of Isaiah, “the Messianic Prophet.” He is quoted in the New Testament more than any other prophet. An intact text of the book was discovered in the Dead Sea scrolls. The scroll is about twenty-four feet long and dates from around 200 B.C. Though the Masoretic text is some 1100 years younger than the Dead Sea scrolls, there are only nine letters different from the Masoretic text which we use today, a testimony to the great care given in copying the biblical text.

Like much prophecy, Isaiah’s word

s are concerned with not only the immediate circumstances of the people of his day. In this case, they also refer to a day in the future, a day that is yet to occur. You’ll recall God’s promise to King David that the Messiah would come from his family line. Though many of his descendants were lousy kings and the monarchy even disappeared during the exile, a “Branch bearing fruit from the old root of David would appear. Isaiah describes the characteristics of the Branch.

Notice the markers. (Think of Jesus as you read these.) The Holy Spirit will rest on him. He will be filled with wisdom and understanding. He will give good counsel and have great power. He will have all knowledge and revere the Lord God. He will perfectly obey the Father. He will give justice to the poor. The world will tremble at the force of his word. One breath from his mouth will destroy the wicked. He will not negotiate with evil. He will crush it without mercy. He will speak truth and be filled with righteousness. This was the description Isaiah gave of the coming Messiah. While the first part of this prophecy was fulfilled in the coming of Christ Jesus, the latter part is yet to arrive, some 2800 years after Isaiah uttered these words. The description “as the waters fill the sea, so the earth being filled with people who know the Lord” is very, very far from reality. 

The words in the last part of today’s reading describe a day when Jesus is established on the throne and he rules over his kingdom. There will be no wicked people, no evil, no corruption, no sin . . . The whole world will return to the Edenic state before the Fall. Looking at things as they are going on this week makes it even harder to imagine what it would be like living in that kind of a world. Yet God has promised that that day is coming. God promised that he would come as the Messiah to bring redemption to the world and he did. He promised to bring reconciliation and he does to all who receive him. He promised to return and set up his eternal kingdom and he will. Do not doubt it! He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Look at today in this context, it’s the truest context to understanding our times.

Music: “Now Is Born the Divine Christ Child”  Westminster Choir

Prayer:Bring us, O Lord God, at the last awakening into the house and gate of heaven, to enter into that gate and dwell in that house where there shall be no darkness nor dazzling, but one equal light; no noise nor silence, but one equal music; no fear nor hope but an equal possession; no end nor beginnings, but one equal eternity, in the habitations of thy majesty and thy glory, world without end. Amen.    ―John Donne (1571-1631), from Eerdmans’ Book of Famous Prayers, p.52