Our fourth Advent reading is Isaiah 11:1-9:
Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—
a Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
a Spirit of counsel and strength,
a Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
His delight will be in the fear of the LORD.
He will not judge
by what he sees with his eyes,
he will not execute justice
by what he hears with his ears,
but he will judge the poor righteously
and execute justice for the oppressed of the land.
He will strike the land
with a scepter from his mouth,
and he will kill the wicked
with a command from his lips.
Righteousness will be a belt around his hips;
faithfulness will be a belt around his waist.
The wolf will dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard will lie down with the goat.
The calf, the young lion, and the fattened calf will be together,
and a child will lead them.
The cow and the bear will graze,
their young ones will lie down together,
and the lion will eat straw like cattle.
An infant will play beside the cobra’s pit,
and a toddler will put his hand into a snake’s den.
They will not harm or destroy each other
on my entire holy mountain,
for the land will be as full
of the knowledge of the LORD
as the sea is filled with water.
The theologian Geoffrey Grogan explains the significance of verse 1, writing,
The reduction of the Davidic dynasty to a mere stump is a true metaphor for its condition when Christ was born; for, though still in existence, it had been without royal power for nearly six hundred years.
What an unusual prophecy!
Isaiah is saying, ‘When we are reduced to almost nothing, that’s when salvation will come.’
In Advent, we ask what hope is like. Can hope handle our emptiness? Is there a hope strong enough for our need? For hundreds of years, God’s people only had Isaiah’s promises to cling to.
And then a shoot did grow from the stump of Jesse. As The Gospel of Matthew records, “Jesse fathered King David…and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.”
Yet we are still waiting for the complete realization of this prophecy.
We see the poor forced to endure injustice. We see the wicked ruling over many lands. We see the natural world “red in tooth and claw.” The land is not yet full of the knowledge of the Lord.
And so we wait.
But because of Isaiah 11, and the coming of Christ, we wait in hope.
What connections do you see between humility and hope?
In what ways, if any, does Isaiah’s vision of God’s kingdom inspire you to live differently?
You are encouraged to share other reflections on these passages.
The introductory post for our Advent 2021 series is here: