Today’s Passage: Isaiah 11:1-10
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. — Isaiah 11:1
“Behind all our fun and games at Christmas time, we should not try to escape a sense of awe, almost a sense for fright, at what God has done. We must never allow anything to blind us to the true significance of what happened at Bethlehem so long ago. Nothing can alter the fact that we live on a visited planet.” J.B. Phillips
This past summer I welcomed another grandson into the world. Henry was God’s answer to a three-year prayer. He is truly a miracle baby, long awaited and much loved.
In this season of Advent—the word means “coming” or “arrival”—we focus our attention on another baby, the baby, God’s Son Jesus who came to earth in human form.
The prophet Isaiah wrote of His coming 700 years before Christ’s birth. In this passage– Isaiah 11:1-10—Isaiah spoke of a “shoot” and a “branch” coming from the family line of Jesse, King David’s father. This figurative language he used points us to the Messiah. Isaiah’s words also describe a fulfillment of 2 Samuel 7:16, where God made a covenant promise to David that descendant of his would rule forever.
But in an interesting twist, this Old Testament prophecy of Christ’s birth goes one step beyond Bethlehem. Through eyes of faith, Isaiah looked far, far ahead—beyond what even we can imagine today—to the day when Christ comes to earth again. For you see, the word “advent” can also refer to Christ’s second coming. While the first five verses of Isaiah 11 paint a beautiful word picture of the Messiah coming the first time, verses 6 through 10 describe a peace that will only be achieved when Christ returns a second time to reign in power. These verses describe a world where peace and tranquility are the norm, where the “wolf will live with the lamb” and the “infant will play near the cobra’s den.” In this single chapter, Isaiah covered the great span of time between the two comings of Christ, the two advents—the period we live in right now.
In a culture that roils with turmoil, violence, and unrest, we long for His next coming, when the peace described in Isaiah 11 becomes a reality. As for today, we can rejoice that “we live on a visited planet,” looking forward to the time of His second advent.
Dear God – as we live in the days between the two comings, keep our hearts tender in this Advent season as we celebrate His first coming and long for His second coming. In Jesus’s name, amen.