1/12/02 10.30a.m. Isaiah 11:1-9
111 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD-- 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea.
Children misunderstand even the simplest Christmas carols. A concerned little girl approached her father one day and said, "Daddy, I just don't think it's right to ignore Jesus."
Dad, more than a little confused, answered, "Well, I agree. We shouldn't ignore Jesus. But what made you think of that?" "Well, it's that Christmas song we sing at church. You know, the one that says, 'O come let us ignore Him'."
One Christmas, a two-year-old innocently warbled out a very distinctive version of the hymn 'O Come All Ye Faithful,' she sang: "Sing choirs of angels... sing and expect raisins"!
A boy called Billy was singing: "Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel ... Barney's the king of Israel."
On this Advent Sunday we worship Jesus the King of the Universe and look forward to his coming again in glory.
Isaiah began his ministry in 740 B.C., the year King Uzziah died. His name means "The LORD saves." He looked forward to the age of the Messiah who would reign in righteousness, and provide peace and safety where God's people will no longer be oppressed by wicked rulers (11:14; 45:14). Jesus is that King, born over seven hundred years later. Despite the split and decline of Israel by the 8th century Isaiah proclaimed the reign of great David 's great Son, the shoot from the stump of Jesse. He would be:
The King anticipated.
The Jewish hope was that God would live in the Temple with his people for ever, reigning in a time of peace security and love.
Jesus did come and revealed himself in the temple by his teaching and his authority to expel the traders there. However, his rule would not be a temporary, earthly one but an eternal, heavenly one. In a world of confrontation and hostility he gives peace and love. He shows God's love through his death for us on the cross, something we celebrate and proclaim in this service. He brings us peace with God through his death.
An anointed reign, verse 2.
Anointing was usually done with oil. The purpose of sacred anointing was to dedicate the thing or person to God. This included prophets (1 Kings 19:16; 1 Chron 16:22), priests (Exod 28:41; 29:7; Lev 8:12, 30), and kings ( David--1 Sam 16:1, 12-13; 2 Sam 2:7;). The oil symbolized the Holy Spirit, empowering them for a particular work in the service of God. "The Lord's anointed" was the common term for a Godly king (1 Sam 12:3; Lam 4:20).
Jesus is the Prophet, priest and king who was foreshadowed in the Old Testament.
Messiah is the Hebrew word and Christ the Greek for "the anointed one." Jesus was anointed with the Holy Spirit at his baptism (John 1:32-33), marking him the Messiah (Luke 4:18, 21; Acts 9:22; 17:2-3; 18:5, 28). The King would be filled with the Spirit of the Lord, rejoice in the fear of the lord, and receive wisdom understanding, counsel power and knowledge ( vs 1-3.)
A righteous reign, verse 3-5.
Righteousness is doing what is right in God's eyes. God is merciful and loving and helps the poor.
Israel as a nation was born out of deep poverty (Exod 1:8-14; 2:7-10) and was never allowed to forget it (e.g., 1 Kings 8:50-53). In the Old Testament law, Deuteronomy Chapter 24 contains some of the regulations expressly designed to protect the poor. One, called gleaning, is still practiced today in a modern form. Certain religious organizations in America contract with farmers to harvest their "wasted" or abandoned crops in order to feed the poor. God's laws built a concern for the poor into the Israelites' daily routine.
At the outset of his ministry, Jesus, taking for his text Isaiah 61:1-2, presents as his first aim, "to preach good news to the poor." Physical poverty is meant (Luke 6:20-26). In Matthew 5:3 Jesus commends the poor in spirit, the humble ones. Jesus moved among the poor and humble. He associated himself with them in his manner of living and his freedom from the cares of property ownership (8:20). He understood and appreciated the sacrificial giving of a poor widow (Mark 12:41-44).
The early church moved among the poor, who were not too poor to be concerned for one another's welfare (2 Cor 8:2-5, 9-15), drawing inspiration from Christ's example who exchanged heavenly riches for earthly poverty. In the early church those with property contributed to the common fund (2:45; 4:32-37). The Jerusalem Council asked Paul and Barnabas to remember the poor (Gal 2:10).
In ancient societies (and in most of the world today) poor people lose all status. Nobody of influence will listen to them or take up their cause. In the Bible, though, God emphasizes his concern for the poor and his disregard for earthly status. He will see that the poor get just treatment and he expects his followers to do the same.
While browsing around in the attic, John came across an old report card which had been his father's. He brought it downstairs and compared it with the one he had just received at school and which he intended to show when his dad was in a good mood. When Dad was seated in his easy chair, John approached. "Hey Dad, just look at this old report card of yours and then look at the one I just got. Why, your grades aren't any better than mine." "You're right, son," he said. "I guess the only fair thing to do now is give you what my Dad gave me."
Today's reading refers to the justice that King Jesus will dispense when he returns. There is a difference between the monarchy today and in the time of Jesus. Then a King was all-powerful and, whilst he would not want to upset his subjects so much they revolted against him, what he said went. When Jesus returns he will decide judge everyone, living and dead, by the response they have made to the revelation that God has given them. Those who have decided to follow Jesus and lived a life with Him as their King, ruling and controlling them in what they say, do, and think, can look forward to living in his everlasting kingdom. Those who have not will live forever outside God's grace, love and mercy.
Righteousness and justice for the poor would flourish in His kingdom. 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
A peaceful reign verses 6-8.
The perfect picture in verses 6-9 shows that Jesus has undone the effects of Adam's sin in the Garden of Eden. When God created the earth it was good and everything he made lived together in perfect harmony. When Adam disobeyed God he let sin loose into the world resulting in chaos and a breakdown in relationships evidenced by the hostility between mankind and snakes. Jesus is the second Adam and, through his life, death and resurrection sets his followers free from the effects of sin.
This brings peace with God and with others, especially our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is why we will be celebrating our unity with Butt Lane Methodist and Baptist churches in January by recording a Joint Service here on Thursday 9th for Rdaio Stoke, This will be broadcast on Sunday 19th which is in the week of prayer for Christian Unity.
We are currently in between the first and second comings of the Lord Jesus. The new age broke into this present evil age when Christ rose from the dead, but the new has not yet wholly replaced the old. We experience some of the blessings that Jesus has secured, including forgiveness of sins, a right relationship with God and some victory over sin. But there is much more to come and we will have to wait for Jesus to return and take us to be with Him in that perfect kingdom. We are 'in between' kingdoms, in this world but not of it. We are to set our minds on God because we are citizens of heaven. As people of God the church is called to engage urgently in mission and evangelism because it may be a brief time before Jesus returns.
It is hard for us to understand Jesus' delay in his coming. God's time clock is certainly out of sync with ours as Little Jimmy learned one day as he was laying on a hill in the middle of a meadow on a warm spring day. Puffy white clouds rolled by and he pondered their shape. Soon, he began to think about God. "God? Are you really there?" Jimmy said out loud. To his astonishment a voice came from the clouds. "Yes, Jimmy? What can I do for you?" Seizing the opportunity, Jimmy asked, "God? What is a million years like to you?" Knowing that Jimmy could not understand the concept of infinity, God responded in a manner to which Jimmy could relate. "A million years to me, Jimmy, is like a minute." "Oh," said Jimmy. "Well, then, what's a million pounds like to you?" "A million pounds to me, Jimmy, is like a penny." "Wow!" remarked Jimmy, getting an idea. "You're so generous... can I have one of your pennies?" God replied, "Sure thing, Jimmy! Just a minute."
The King in glory
One day, we don't know when, Jesus will bring in a new order totally without sin and it's effects. Then we will all have new, perfect resurrection bodies. There will be no more illness, suffering, death, mourning or hostility. We will be able to worship and serve God with all the other saints in heaven. We will live with God in the beautiful Holy City. The river of the water of life will flow down the middle of the main street in this city. It's going to be great ! It's going to last for ever ! The things of this life will pale into insignificance compared to the glory that awaits those who give their lives to the love and service of Jesus.
Paul looked forward to this in Romans 8:18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God. 22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.
We have been considering the Kingship of Jesus, but we need to come under his rule. And call him...
Jesus my King
When we crown the exalted Jesus as our King:
We are anointed with the Holy Spirit as well. This gives us power to live for Him. Fruit to make us more like Him. Gifts so we can serve Him and build up the body of believers whom we are united with.
We are to reflect the Kingship of Jesus by sharing the values of the Kingdom. This includes helping the poor and wanting justice for the oppressed.
Martin of Tours, after whom this church
is named, was a Roman soldier and a Christian. One
cold winter day, as he was entering a city, a beggar stopped him and asked for alms. Martin had no money; but the beggar was blue and shivering with cold, and Martin gave what he had. He took off his soldier's coat, worn and frayed as it was; he cut it in two and gave half of it to the beggar man. The stained glass window at the back of the gallery shows this.
We share the same King and Father so we can live in peace and unity with fellow Christians. Jesus said John 13: 34 "A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." We have received the love of Jesus and are called to exercise this sacrificial and costly love in our lives.
As subjects of King Jesus we can look forward to sharing glory with Him. We, too will be like Kings. Isaiah lived in frightening and uncertain times when true faith seems to be in retreat. We may identify with that situation. But if we proclaim Jesus the King and enthrone him at the centre of our life and worship we will receive his gifts, see him changing us to be more like him, and using us in the world.