Just before this chapter, God declares punishment on the people: “the tallest trees will be cut down and the lofty will be brought low.” The trees, the people -- both will be clean cut off. And then God provides this visionary promise through the prophet:
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.
Who could imagine anything growing as they sat on the stump of utter despair? It was the leftover of God’s punishment. There was no life in this place. I’ve sat there myself, perhaps you have, too. You may be there now -- at that place where hope is hard to find, where loss and despair have desensitized your heart.
But God’s word comes to sit with us. This word will not ask us to spring up and celebrate. The prophet’s vision is surprising, but small. The nation would never rise again as it was. The shoot would not become a mighty cedar. The shoot that was growing would be different from what the people expected.
Faith doesn’t look only at what has been, wishing to return things to the past glory of something that is long past. Faith strains to see the “fragile sign” in the present that points us to the future. A future full of hope is what awaits for those who develop the eyes of faith. Yet, whether our eyes struggle to see what God is doing with the old stump or whether we are fully in tune with God’s work, God’s word sits with us at the place where it finds us. We can sit on the stump counting the rings, remembering the past…God’s word sits with us. So, today—right now—God’s word is with you in mourning and in joy, in pain and in celebration, and the work of God surrounds us as God continues to LOVE you, us, this world—the handiwork of creation.
I want to share thoughts, insights, and scriptures that lead us in the direction of Christ.