December 1 …
Just uttering the word, “December,” brings a certain tension, the month with the ultimate to-do lists. Today I hear the Spirit say, “Be still and know that I am God.” BTW, that “be still” means to cease striving! Time to let go, relax, enjoy walking with God, finding peace in the completion of tasks!
Today I read Isaiah 11:1 – 5. The first verse stuck with me throughout the day … “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”
I’ve been thinking all day about the imagery. A stump, broken … a reminder of a once stately tree – but no longer with any beauty to speak of – an unlikely source of life. Yet, a shoot sprouts from its roots, where life still runs deep.
Isaiah comes back again to that same imagery in Chapter 53, “He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.” Again, an unlikely source of life – “dry ground.”
The Hebrew for a shoot is “netser.” Typically a branch sprouting from a stump, from dry ground would be worthless, it’s of little use. Some scholars believe that netser is the Hebrew origin of Nazareth – the town in which Jesus grew up. Those scholars say that Nazareth was an insignificant town, judged to be out in the sticks – and those that lived there to be insignificant as well. Recall that Nathaniel asks blatantly, “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?”
Can any good thing come out of a stump, out of dry ground? With it’s humble, unlikely source of life, this shoot, this branch will bear fruit!
Paul says in Romans 15, “Accept one another [Jews and Gentiles], then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” He uses Isaiah’s passage as support for our unity … “in that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples, the nations will rally to Him.”
John in The Revelation (22:16) makes clear who this “root of Jesse” is … “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.”
Today I’m thankful that our Creator God planned our salvation from the beginning of time; He established a peoples, a lineage from which the Savior would be born.