“A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.” Isaiah 11:1 NRSV
Imagine going out to your favorite forest spot and finding that all the trees have been cut down and nothing is left but a cemetery of tree stumps. All you see is destruction and lifelessness.
The people to whom the Prophet of Isaiah 11 spoke had seen their lives devastated by Assyrian conquest. They wondered if there was any future for them.
Isaiah takes them on a visual field trip through the barrenness. Nothing but stump after stump remained. But, then his eye catches this one stump. And out of the stump there is a branch, a shoot, coming up from it. Is it possible that this one stump can bring forth new life? Can something new and fresh and hopeful arise out of such desolation?
This past January 2nd, we started cutting trees on our lot to prepare for our new home. There was this one tree, a poplar, that sat about 25 feet from the upper corner of the parking area, that had to come down.
Around July 4th, I saw this green shoot protruding out of the top of the stump. By the end of October is was a small tree, a couple feet tall with about 35 or 40 big green leaves. It’s the only stump that revived itself out of all of those that we cut down. One stump, one tree, one voice, crying out in the midst of desolation that new life is possible, even when everything looks to the contrary.
Isaiah is daring to imagine a world of hope and promise, brought into existence by one chosen by God, one upon whom God’s Spirit will rest and remain. A chosen one who will reign and rule through wisdom and discernment, and with counsel and strength. One who will take pleasure in honoring the eternal God.
A King who will determine fairness and equity among all peoples, who will with a single word abolish oppression and end wickedness, One whose very impulse will be to right wrong and destroy evil.
This new King will usher in the day of perfect peace and harmony among all of God’s creatures and all the nations will be filled with the knowledge of God. Rather than trusting in their own knowledge and desires, they will come to this One for guidance and direction. And glory will be restored throughout the land and sea and air and all God’s creation will praise Him!
This envisioned King is the one we know as Jesus. He is the promise of hope!!