Advent 16: Peace on Earth
“1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the Spirit of counsel and might,
the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and 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 of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf 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 cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” – Isaiah 11:1-10
The Heart of the King
First off, let’s pay attention to how God is narrowing the path to the Messiah. Twice in this little passage, Isaiah tells us that this hero is going to come through Jesse’s family. And you remember the story, right? Jesse was a faithful Israelite looking forward to a Messiah when out of nowhere a prophet comes to tell him that one of his boys is going to be the king. This is when Jesse parades each of his sons out in front of Samuel but then finds out that none of them are gonna work. He has to actually go out to the field to get David from watching the sheep so that he can be anointed as the king! How crazy this that?! Don’t forget: man looks at outward appearance, but God looks at the heart.
Like the Best Petting Zoo Ever
As we have seen over and over this is just another example of God narrowing and expanding the vision for his kingdom. He is narrowing it by telling us that it is going to come through Jesse’s family, but he is expanding it to include the whole world, “far as the curse it found”. We know that there is something wrong in the world. When we look around us there is so much violence. Not only do we see wars and fighting among men and nations, but we see it in the animal kingdom as well. When God created the whole world and said that it was “very good” there was no violence, just peace.
The vision that Isaiah is giving us is of that same kind of peace. Have you ever watched Planet Earth or the Discovery Channel? How do animals typically treat each other? More like food than friends, right? Well, what God is trying to show us is that in the Kingdom he is putting together there won’t be any violence at all. We’ll have no need for door locks and police officers because everything will be just like it’s supposed to be. Cows, bears, wolves, lions, and children will all be at peace with each other because the King will be in control.
The Spirit and The Word
This is the reign of the Messiah. This is what happens when God makes all things right. But how is this all going to come about? This can only happen through the work of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit of God comes on the scene he brings with him righteousness and justice.
Finally, look at verse 9, the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God. Just like the seas cover the earth, so will the knowledge of God. This means that the Word of God is going to go out to the whole world. How encouraging is this?! This is the period of time we are living in right now. And we have the opportunity to be a part of it.
God chose David, the youngest son of Jesse, to be the king. And not only that, but he chose him to be in the line of the Messiah, a direct ancestor of Jesus. We need to stop and reflect on the fact that God can use anybody to bring about his perfect plan in the world. This is what he is busy doing right now.
When we think of that little baby in the manger we also need to remember that he didn’t stay a little baby, he grew up. He was the only man to ever live who perfectly followed God’s laws. He was the only one who was fully led by the Holy Spirit of God. Let us remember the man that he was on the earth and look forward to what he is still doing. He is going to rule and reign in a kingdom where there will be real peace. In a world boiling and bubbling with hostility, ready to erupt at any minute, we can have confidence that it will not always be this way. That little baby came 2,000 years ago to bring “peace on earth and goodwill to men” and he is still doing it today.
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