From the Garden to the City, Trees along the way
Series (Advent 2)
Jesse's Shoot
Isaiah 11:1-5

(c) Copyright 2007 Rev. Bill Versteeg


Isaiah 11:1-5

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.

We have had wonderful celebrations this Advent season, we have had great musical times of worship last Sunday Evening, we have been busy with parties, busy with shopping, busy running our businesses, hoping that the business would slow down - finally today for most of us - Sunday a day of rest, Christmas Eve - things have slowed down, maybe we experience this Christmas eve as almost anticlimactic. If we misunderstand the true meaning Christmas Eve and Christmas day, then they will seem anticlimactic because Christmas is all about small things - like a seed planted, a promise given.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Israel was like us, we tend to notice the big things in life, seasons of growth, development, the bigger the better, big productions, the biggest Christmas decoration light show, the most inches on our new television screen, the greater the immediate impact - it seems that we are people who judge with our eyes and decide by what we hear. For Israel, when those large trees were cut down to nothing, their land laid waist, their defeat was bitter, their depression overwhelming, their grief beyond consolation.

Isaiah reminded them of a small things, if only they would turn their eyes and hope toward it, a small shoot that was coming out of the stump of Jesse.

To small to notice, to infantile to care about. They passed by this stump, on their way to exile, they hardly noticed the shoot, all they could think of was their glory that was now past.
Are we any different? We notice the big things, the bigger the better. After all, that is the American way. Our toys have to be bigger. Our salaries have to be bigger. Our churches have to be bigger. Our homes have to be bigger. Our jobs have to be bigger. But the question that we are confronted with in Isaiah 11 is this question - Is bigger of God? Does bigger reveal God?

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Zechariah prophesied about a 180 years after Isaiah. The leftovers of the nation of Israel was trying to rebuild a temple from rock rubble left by all the armies that had destroyed them. Zechariah said

“This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.
And a few lines later in Zechariah 4

“Who despises the day of small things?”(10)

God is in the small things, the unnoticed happenings, these are the true spiritual advents of our Lord.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

Nothing could be more true of Christmas Eve 2000 years ago. Israel was more concerned with being counted in Caesar’s census than they were about being saved. To the degree that they were actively expecting a Messiah, someone sent from God to deliver them, they expected someone who would lead a powerful army, someone royal who could jump off the temple, survive and rally all the nation to himself. The last thing they expect was a little baby born in a cattle shed with rejected parents of absolutely no standing in community. The last thing they expected was an infant king.

You see, God is present in the small things, in the people who hardly matter, in the historical events that would otherwise be forgotten, in the places non would call special. He avoids the pomp, the pride, the royalty, the monuments, the big show and comes by the way of humility to a people characterized by humility, he comes as a shoot our of a dead stump - but his kingdom is like a mustard seed, it may be very small, but small beginnings do not determine the end.

When this king comes

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.

Where Adam and Eve judged with their eyes and decided by what they heard from the evil one, in contrast this one will have true wisdom, for the Spirit of the Lord will be upon him - and the fear of the Lord, the very beginning of wisdom will be his delight.

And his kingdom, though it starts like a small mustard seed will bring justice to the earth. With power Isaiah prophesies, he will lift up the humble and send the rich away empty. With absolute power, divine sovereign authority he will destroy the abusing powers of evil and heal those who have been victimized. Of his kingdom, there will be no end.

So today is the day of small beginnings that we dare not despise.

I don’t know if you noticed - but all of Jesus ministry was by the small things - he started his ministry with a few rag tag down on their luck fishermen and hated-by-all tax collectors, those he touched and healed were almost always discounted in Jewish culture - foreigners who had no standing, sinners who were looked down upon, lepers who were always avoided, paralytics who were powerless, and the deeply distorted demon possessed. When his followers became numerous, he called them to take up their cross and follow him, but the cost was too high and many left at his message of suffering. The few that remained with him to the end could hardly be called faithful - yet it was those small ones with which he chose to build an eternal kingdom.

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse;
from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.

This Christmas Eve - its fitting that we bring our harried climactic business to a halt and wonder, and respect, and glorify, the small things, the way God works, in the way that God reveals himself in small hardly noticed ways, in our hearts, in our youth, in our lives, in our time. And recognize that these small things are incredibly important - because in them God builds his future, his kingdom.

This church was started because somebody had a small thing, an idea, a vision for the future.
The church in Tijuana Mexico - Mission Jeruselaem was started by a few overheard words shared with a Mexican woman.

Every one of our children which we call gifts of God, were started by a small act of love between husband and wife.

How many of our lives were turned toward the Lord by a small simple act, a kind word spoken by another, the still small voice of the Spirit working in our hearts.

God works, God reveals himself, in the small things. And that is also the way in Christmas 2000 years ago, God established his eternal kingdom and the angels said “Glory to God in the Highest and Good will to all men on earth.”

God continues to work that way today. His kingdom grows by the small things, the small things we say to others, the small acts of kindness that characterize our lives, the small sacrifices we make for the kingdom of God.

The Banner August 28, 2000. The article titled "Winning the Soul of Korea" by Timothy Won asked the question, "What has caused the success of the Korean Church?" In the past 45 years, the Korean church has gone from 5% of the Korean population to over 40% of the South Korean population. The city of Seoul, South Korea has 10 or the Worlds 20 largest churches. Every day, 20 new churches are planted and 1400 more people come to Christ. What is the cause of this success?

He gives three reasons: God's providential preparation in making the people spiritually hungry with the discrediting of its original national religion, Confucianism. His third point is that Koreans whole heartedly accept the gospel and live it out. His second point I want to focus on: Missionaries Mirrored Christ. He writes:

"In 1865, Rev. Robert J. Thomas, a missionary from the London Missionary Society to China, visited Korea's west coast area to study and distribute Chinese Bibles. The following year he returned to Korea. On the way to Pyongyang, his ship was set fire by Koreans, and the escaping sailors were massacred. According to an eyewitness, Thomas made his way to shore with his arms full of Bibles, thrusting them into the hands of the very men who killed him. He became the first Protestant missionary to shed martyr's blood in Korea.
Even though Thomas did not live to see the fruit of his labor, Samuel Moffett, a missionary in Pyongyang, found a man in 1893 who actually had received a Chinese new Testament from Thomas. Moffet reported what had happened after Thomas' murder: "Some Government officials went down the Daidong river and destroyed all the Gospels they could find; but they could not erase from men's minds the eager face of God's messenger, neither could they find and destroy all the books. Some were hidden and read and became good seed in fertile ground."

Its not by power, not by might, but by my Spirit says the Lord.

God comes to us in the small things, he reveals himself to us in those small words, those small expressions and above all in a small child wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger. Do you see God, hear God, in the small things of your life.

 

 


From the Garden to the City - Trees Along the Way
Immanuel CRC's Theme for 2006-2007
The complete Series

  1. Acts 10:34-48, text vs. 39 FROM THE GARDEN TO THE CITY:
    TREES ALONG THE WAY: Introduction

  2. Genesis 2:4-9, 15-17, 3:1-24 There was more than one Tree in the Garden

  3. Genesis 12:1-9 The Great Tree of Moreh

  4. Genesis 13:14-18, 18:1-5 The Evolution of the Presence of God

  5. Isaiah 6:1-13 Jesse's Stump (Advent #1)

  6. Isaiah 55 The Pine and the Myrtle

  7. Isaiah 11:1-5 Jesse's Shoot (Advent #4)

  8. Galatians 3:1-14 Those who Hang on Trees (Lent)

  9. Luke 19:28-40 The Trees Bowed Before Him! (Palm Sunday)

  10. Genesis 22, Mark 15:33-37 The Ram Caught in the Thicket (Good Friday)

  11. John 20:10-18 They Met Under the Trees in the Garden (Easter Morning)

  12. Acts 2:1-4, 42-47 Pentecost - the City has Arrived

  13. Matthew 6:13 (footnote)  “For Thine is the Kingdom, Power and Glory - the New Jerusalem - Focus of Desire”

  14. Revelation 17, 18 The Great Babylon

  15. Revelation 21 The Bride has Made herself Ready

  16. Revelation 22 The Tree Stands in the City




 


(NIV) Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright (C) 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers.

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