Summary: Year A. Second Sunday in Advent December 9th, 2001 Title: “For God to be God, the leader-king-lord in our lives, requires our acquiescence and requires it every minute of our lives.”
Year A. Second Sunday in Advent December 9th, 2001
Title: “For God to be God, the leader-king-lord in our lives, requires our acquiescence and requires it every minute of our lives.” FIRST READING: ISAIAH 11:1-10
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the LORD shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. His delight shall be in the fear of the LORD. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling 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 asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
(Here ends the first reading)
This prophecy is a reflection, giving the divine interpretation to the human situation, upon the period following the takeover of the northern kingdom, Israel, by the Assyrians in 722BC. The Davidic dynasty, now two hundred years old, in the south, Judah, is clearly in danger. What will happen if it becomes extinct, if the Assyrians kill off all the members of the royal family as is their custom when taking over a country?
The prophecy assures the people that the royal dynasty will not only survive, but will thrive, if, and only if, the king starts taking God’s interpretation of reality seriously. When the king is anointed as such he receives God’s Spirit. If he ignores that reality he leads the people into disaster. As was the case in the north so will it be in the south. Because God is faithful to his word, his promises, he will raise up a strong and faithful king who will establish justice and peace. Of course, what is true of the king is also true of the king’s subjects. Like the king, they must look beyond the surface of things and connect with the Spirit, stop being deaf, dumb and blind to the word of God, stop depending on human resources and advice, and behave as the king’s good servants yes, but God’s servants first. The result of this, right behavior, righteousness, will be not only social and political peace but total peace, a peace which includes the natural environment as well, idyllic peace, paradisal peace.
This text is one of the best known descriptions of the ideal king and kingdom, of the future whom later Judaism and Christianity call “Messiah,” Anointed One, “Christ.”.
In verse one, a shoot from the stump of Jesse: Looking back over three centuries of morally bankrupt kings and being without a Davidic king at present, the prophet sees God’s fidelity to his word in a new shoot rising from what to human eyes was a dead tree, the Davidic dynasty. There will be a new king, but not one who rules like human kings, especially like the Davidic kings of old. Jesse was David’s father. So, the prophecy reaches behind David to Jesse, the root, the source. Micah 5:1 will also reach behind Jerusalem to Bethlehem, the root of David’s birth and glory. “Stump” describes the broken, cut-off dynasty, a fact of history by the time of this writing, in terms of the revival of an apparently dead tree. The dynasty did continue beyond the Assyrian crisis of the eighth century. The Babylonian crisis of the sixth century, however, was another story. Only a “stump,” remained. Like the dead bones of Ezekiel, this “stump” will have new life breathed into it by the Spirit of God.
In verse two, the spirit of the Lord: “Spirit,” means “breath, life-force, wind, energy”. When used in reference to God’s spirit it endows a person with extraordinary power to accomplish a task requiring more-than-human ability. The skills specified in the rest of this prophecy give the “offshoots,” of the Spirit, how the Spirit “incarnates” himself in and through a human agent. There are six of these in the Hebrew text; the Greek LXX has “reverence,” Greek eusebeia, instead of “fear of the Lord,” Greek phobos theou. To that is added the “fear of the Lord,” in the next verse to get the traditional seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. The spiritual endowments of this ideal king, enabling him to do the humanly impossible, are seen by Christians as passed on through the Messiah King to all his, Christian, descendants.