Friday, December 28, 2012

A Shoot from the Stump of Jesse

The tree had been felled and all hope had been dashed. The kingdom that once was had been broken in two. God’s promise to David (son of Jesse), of an heir who would reign forever, had apparently failed. But wait! What’s this? There is still life in the old stump. All is not lost and there is still hope, for a new shoot has emerged.
Then a shoot will grow from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots will bear fruit.
(Isaiah 11:1 HCSB)
The tree was the kingdom of Israel, which had been divided into two, Israel and Judah, after Solomon departed the scene. Israel, the northern kingdom, was about to be carried off into captivity by Assyria. That was the prophecy of earlier chapters. However, a remnant of Israel would return from exile — but only a remnant — and would turn to the LORD in faith. Then Isaiah spoke of an “anointing” that would lift the burden of the oppressor off their shoulders and would completely destroy the yoke from off their neck (Isaiah 10:27). The power of the enemy would be broken. And then, a shoot would grow from the stump of Jesse.

A remnant and a shoot. That seems so little, so small. And yet, that is so often how God does His work. Indeed, in Zechariah 4:10, He says, “Do not despise these small beginnings” (NLT). In the book of Daniel, the prophet interprets the dream of Nebuchadnezzar and speaks of the Messiah (the “Anointed One”), who would come in like a stone but would “grow” to become a great mountain that fills the whole earth. He would break in pieces the other kingdoms and establish a kingdom that would stand forever — the kingdom of God (see Daniel 2:29-45).

This is the Lord Jesus, the “stone” that smashes all the other kingdoms and becomes a great “mountain” that fills the whole earth. He came preaching, “The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is at hand,” and at the cross, He disarmed the principalities and powers, which are the demonic influences behind all the kings and cultures of the world (Colossians 2:15). He established the kingdom of heaven on earth, and it has been growing and increasing ever since. Remember how Jesus described the kingdom in the parables He taught.
  • “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground, and should sleep by night and rise by day, and the seed should sprout and grow, he himself does not know how.” (Mark 4:26)
  • “What is the kingdom of God like? And to what shall I compare it? It is like a mustard seed, which a man took and put in his garden; and it grew and became a large tree, and the birds of the air nested in its branches.” (Luke 13:18-19)
  • “To what shall I liken the kingdom of God? It is like leaven, which a woman took and hid in three measures of meal till it was all leavened.” (Luke 13:20-21)
  • “From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it” (Matthew 11:12 NIV).
The kingdom of God starts small but grows big. Even the Messiah, the Word who “became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14), had a small beginning in the world. Born in a tiny, inconspicuous town, nestled in the insignificance of old feed trough, visited only by shepherds and star geeks. And yet, this is the one of whom the prophet says,
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever
(Isaiah 9:6-7)
Messiah came into the world as a child, an infant, a tiny shoot from an old sawed-off stump. But He is a Son, the Son of David, and He grew up to sit on the throne of David, where He will rule and reign forever. His kingdom has come, and it will keep on increasing and advancing until it fills the whole earth.

Let Earth Receive Her King
Let Earth Receive Her King
Advent, Christmas and the Kingdom of God
by Jeff Doles

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