“Ah…. those were the good old days!”
How many of you have ever said or thought something similar to those words?
Thinking about the past always brings up memories, both good and bad. These memories include kids playing street hockey or climbing trees or making forts or walking 40 miles to school-uphill both ways! The problem with remembering the good old days is that sometimes they weren’t as good as we think they were!
The prophet Isaiah reminds us of the good old days when David ruled a united Israel, when life was simple in the Garden of Eden, and when God’s people fled Egypt to find a permanent home. Isaiah tells us that no matter how good the good times were even better times will happen when Christ returns. In this season of Advent, we remember both Christ’s birth in the stable in Bethlehem over 2,000 years ago and his Second Coming. Nothing in the past can be measured against what is yet to come.
Before Christ returns, the world will undergo trouble and strife through the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon. When Christ returns, not only will he bring with him the saints who are in heaven, but he will also redeem those Christians who are alive here on earth. That is what Isaiah means when he refers to the Messiah as a shoot or twig from Jesse. The Messiah and his earthly kingdom will grow from the remains of God’s judgment of the people on earth.
Before Christ returns, the world will be under judgment. Evil will be weeded out and what is left will be the shoot I just referred to. That shoot will be modest, just like Jesse, the father of King David, was. What Isaiah means is that the Messiah will be of the house and lineage of King David, who was the son of Jesse. The word “stem” refers to a “root-stock” or “stump”. The image of a stump indicates hope, for out of the stump will come a root or branch; namely, the Messiah. Isaiah recalls God’s promise to King David in 2 Samuel 7:16 that his descendant would rule over his kingdom forever.
David was empowered by the Holy Spirit, but the Messiah will be more richly empowered by the Holy Spirit. He will show ideal faithfulness and find deep joy in living reverently before God. The coming Messiah will be endowed with the Spirit of the Lord, who provides the wisdom, ability, understanding, counsel, power, knowledge, peace and allegiance to God that are necessary to accomplish a challenging task.
That task includes transforming the social order and restoring nature to paradise. He will do what is right in His judgment and what is fair in His decisions. He will bring justice to the poor, the needy and the wicked. The peace Isaiah refers to in the animal kingdom mirrors the relief from oppressive injustice within human society. Isaiah 11:1-10 refers to the 1,000-year rule of Christ on earth after his second coming, which is also referred to in Revelation 20:4-6. It is the final earthly chapter in God’s plan to bring earth and its inhabitants back under his rule. The earth will return to the days of the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned.
Paul quotes Isaiah 11:10 in Romans 15:12 to show that salvation is for Gentiles as well as Jews. The Messiah’s rule will be over all nations. Christ will heal the hostility between the nations of the world. As I mentioned earlier, He will allow the remnants of God’s people who are left after the Great Tribulation and the Battle of Armageddon to return to Him.
In the meantime, we must make certain that we are ready for His return, because it could happen at any time. We can do this by making certain that our lives are a reflection of what his kingdom here on earth will be. That includes being fair in our dealings with other people, loving everyone and being honest in everything we do. Jesus will see our true nature, so it doesn’t make any sense for us to pretend that we are doing these things.
It has been said that the main purpose of the Old Testament prophets was to afflict the comforted and comfort the afflicted. The reading from Isaiah 11:1-10 is an example of an Old Testament prophet comforting the afflicted. It gives hope for the future. In this season of Advent, the readings refer to our need to prepare for Christ’s return-a time when there will be the hope and peace referred to by Isaiah and the final judgment proclaimed by the apostle John. In a world full of hurt and pain, Isaiah reminds us that we are children of God. We as Christians have seen the fulfillment of the hope promised by the Second Coming, so we can and should proclaim this passage from Isaiah as our hope for salvation peace to be realized in the future.
- Jeremiah, Dr. David: The Jeremiah Study Bible, New King James Version (Brentwood, TN: Worthy Publishing; 2013; pp. 893-894)
- Gathering Magazine, Advent/Christmas/Epiphany 2017 (Toronto, ON: The United Church of Canada, p. 8)
- ESV Study Bible. Part of Wordsearch 11 Bible software package.
- McKenna, D.L. & Ogilvie, L.J.: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Vol. 17: Isaiah 1-39 (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.; 1993, pp. 153-158)
- MacArthur, J.F. Jr.: The MacArthur Study Bible, New American Standard Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers; 2006)
- Lucado, M.: The Lucado Life Lessons Study Bible (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 2010, pp. 943-944)
- Selwyn Hughes, “Don’t Forget the Parentheses.” Retrieved from Crosswalk@crosswalkmail.com
- Jennifer Benson Schuldt, “Snake in a Box.” Retrieved from www.rbc.org
- Joni Eareckson Tada, “Of Wolves and Lambs.” Retrieved from www.joniandfriends.org
- Exegesis for Isaiah 11;1-10. Retrieved from www.lectionary.org
- Jeremiah, Dr. David: Agents of the Apocalypse (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2014)
- Anathea Porter-Young, “Commentary on Isaiah 11:1-10.” Retrieved from www.workingpreacher.org
- Ron Hansen, “The Peaceable Kingdom.” Retrieved from www.journeywithjesus.org
- The Rev. Dr. Stephen Montgomery, “Not Much, But Enough for Me.” Retrieved froom www.day1.org