Summary: Here's a Christmas sermon designed for those who are struggling this year.
Peace At Christmas Time”
1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
2The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
This is a different kind of Christmas for Pat and me.
Within the past 3 weeks, Pat has been in the hospital twice.
Her battle against cancer and infections has left her very weak.
Usually she has all kinds of Christmas decorations
put up all around the house.
Usually by this time we have a Christmas tree put up
with numerous wrapped Christmas gifts beneath it.
Not this year!
The Christmas tree is still not up.
I know that we are not alone.
There are surely many other people facing stresses and disorder.
It’s difficult in times like that to be in the Christmas spirit.
Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus,
the prophet Isaiah came with a message from God
to people who were weary and stressed.
Peace was not a part of their ordinary life.
Isaiah uses many word pictures in his prophecies.
In today’s scripture he talks about trees.
They are symbols representing people.
If you still have your Bible open to Isaiah
look back in chapter 10 at verses 33 and 34.
Behold, the Lord, The LORD of hosts, Will lop off the bough with terror;
Those of high stature will be hewn down, And the haughty will be humbled.
34 He will cut down the thickets of the forest with iron,
And Lebanon will fall by the Mighty One.
Obviously Isaiah in not talking about literal TREES.
He is referring to the Assyrian soldiers
that as a group looked like a forest--mighty and powerful.
However, he says they will be cut down just like trees.
Today’s scripture begins by saying, “1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
Isaiah is speaking there of the tribe of Judah.
Jesse, the father of David, came from the tribe of Judah.
So Judah would be like a tree chopped down to a stump,
but from that stump a new shoot would grow.
This “rod” or shoot would become Israel’s Messiah.
Isaiah’s message to the people in chaos and disorder
was saying that where peace doesn’t exist a rod will sprout.
So what does that have to do with peace?
How does it apply to me?”
Isaiah was saying, Jesus the Savior--the hoped for Messiah
is going to come to bring peace.
He is going to come from the ancestral line of David.
David was the son of Jesse.
Why does Isaiah use the name of Jesse instead of David?
The reason is that David’s father, Jesse,
lived a life of unimportance
and his family was not highly regarded.
That fact is clearly seen when King Saul
offered to give one of his daughters to David for a wife.
So David said to Saul, "Who am I, and what is my life or my father's family in Israel, that I should be son-in-law to the king?"
We know that David did become king of the tribe of Judah
and eventually over all of Israel.
He was succeeded by his son Solomon.
The kingdom of Israel divided in 925 B.C.
Descendants of David continued to rule over the tribe of Judah.
Babylon under Nebuchadnezzar conquered Judah in 585 B.C.
That cut off the royal family of David.
It was cut down and only the stump was left.
It appeared that the promised Messiah who would bring peace
was lost forever.
Yet, Isaiah says it shall SPROUT again.
Other scriptures use this imagery of a tree stump:
And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah
Shall again take root downward, And bear fruit upward.
Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob;
Israel shall blossom and bud, And fill the face of the world with fruit.
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
But one of the elders said to me, "Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals."
It looked as if this would be impossible for the Messiah to come.
There was no son of David on the throne.
By the time just before the birth of Jesus
the Roman Empire was oppressing Israel.
The descendants of David was reduced in numbers
and held no positions of importance in Israel.