This Advent season comes in the midst of worldwide tensions that could end up resulting in the death of millions, made even billions of people. Are we hoping for Jesus’s return?
We have just gone through a pandemic, and several major disasters that are the result of poor stewardship of this planet we live on. Is there a desire in your heart that the Lord would return soon?
We are waiting, well, we are supposed to be waiting if we are to believe in the promise our Lord gave to us. We are to be waiting and alert. We are to be waiting and alert for Jesus to return. But how, how do we do this? Do you realize it has been close to 2000 years ago that Jesus made the promise to return? How does a hope continue for 2000 years?
Truthfully, the Christian life is not an easy life if we never move beyond our initial trust in the story, the Gospel that first brings us to Jesus. We come to the Lord believing that Jesus gave his life for us. We are told by Jesus himself that he will return. Jesus to whom the title, root of Jesse, is applied. We need to move from introduction to intimacy. We need to seek to be in a relationship that can allow us to pray, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”
I look at this passage in the context of the prophecy of Isaiah as a whole. This was difficult this time around. This time I found an angry prophecy, a violent prophecy in which God expresses very extreme emotions. The prophecy is full of how God has been mistreated. The words of anger are also words of pain. It is clear that God is not a happy camper with God’s own chosen people. The people have ignored God and thus are paying a price. Yet, I struggle with the violence. Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.
Chapter 11 has war-like language, “and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.” Yet, along with this hard language of killing and destruction, there are words of hope that offer a peace this world cannot give.
God speaks of one who will bring about the end of the cycle of death and violence. It is a future that is not based on one of God’s creations killing another to preserve its life. No longer will survival be an issue. Isaiah tells us we are waiting on one to come who will bring about this change.
This is the image of peace, of life, of being beyond what is now. “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. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. This is so fantasy full. It could not possibly ever happen.
True, in a fallen world, living in the time of death’s power, and under the judgment of God, this could never be. But the reality we now live in will change. The world we now live in is going to be redeemed as well. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” (Rom. 8:22-23 ESV) Isaiah tells us that this time will come, “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.”
Isaiah’s prophecy is a call to wait, to wait for what is wonderful. To wait for God even when there are so many seeming threats and worries. Remember Isaiah writes to people who are defeated, detained, and deported. These are people facing real life and death possibilities.
Isaiah tells the people and thus tells us that God will/would send someone, someone human like us, who would bring about this wonderful time to come when the natural order no longer has the factor of violence. The creature will not depend upon another creature for food, but the Creator will provide.
While we are waiting, the One who promised to return is waiting as well. The One who came, “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.” He came from the branch of the root of Jesse. He came and was crucified, yet he rose from the grave and ascended to the Father, where he, waits.
Remember, “And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.” Was this not what Jesus offers us? Is it not Jesus who taught us God is our Father, a Father who loves us. Delight is such a wonderful word. To move beyond the simple cycle of an unfocused Christian life to a state of delight in all, in the fear of the Lord. What a paradox, fear of the Lord, when the Lord is love.
Isaiah goes on to tell us, “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness, he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” Is this not what we know about Jesus? Isaiah did not know Jesus as we know Jesus, but Isaiah knew God and accepted God as God wanted to be.
I am troubled by the suffering I see around me. I see it in the eyes of the homeless, in the altars set up by the road in memory of those killed at that spot, and in every broadcast on TV and every notice of news on the internet. Sometimes I do wish the Lord would hurry back.
Yes, the Lord will come. He will either come for us at death or at the end of time, but God will come. The One the prophecy speaks of did come, the root of Jesse did arrive, and the people were not ready. Will we be ready when he comes again?
“Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.” The One coming knows what is right and he is faithful to those who are waiting on his return. “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.” (Isa. 11:1-10 ESV)
Jesus told us to watch for the signs. Jesus said we do not know the hour, but we can read the seasons. As love grows colder on earth, the signs of the coming of the root of Jesse to bring about the new creation are growing strong. We need to be waiting, alert, and aware of delightful, and wonderful future lies for those who are ready.