Summary: How do we find peace in a world of turmoil? Is it possible?
Iliff and Saltillo UM Churches
Second Sunday of Advent
December 5, 2004
“Peace in a World of Turmoil”
INTRODUCTION: Story: A few days before Christmas two men in Florida decided to go sailing while their wives went Christmas shopping. While they were out sailing a terrible storm arose. It was all they could do to keep their boat under control. As they maneuvered their way back to land, their boat became grounded on a sandbar. They had to jump overboard and push with all their might trying to get the boat into deeper water. While they were doing this, the wind was blowing, the waves were rushing upon them and they were soaking wet, knee deep in mud.
One of the guys looked at his buddy and said, “You know, it sure beats Christmas shopping though.”
So often we become so accustomed to our life being filled with the stresses and turmoil of daily life that we think it is normal. We just get used to it. We COPE. We have long forgotten what peace looks like and don’t recognize it when we see it. Listen closely to what people talk about, and you will find that the stresses and turmoil of our times has robbed people--even Christians--of their peace. At this Advent season we can reflect on where we are and come back to the Restorer of our peace.
1. Isaiah’s Prophecy: Hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah came on the scene to bring prophecies of salvation to people who were weary and beat down by the stresses of their life--by the turmoil of war and chaos brought on by the Assyrians. Peace was not a part of their ordinary life. They didn’t know what it looked like anymore.
Isaiah uses many word pictures in his prophecies. In today’s scripture he talks about TREES representing people. Take a look at vs. 33, 34 from the previous chapter where he says, “See, the Lord Almighty will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled, the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; Lebanon will fall before the mighty one.”
What he is talking about here is not literal TREES, but he is referring to the Assyrian soldiers that as a group looked like a forest--mighty and powerful. But he says they will be cut down just like trees. The Message Bible says, God’s “ax will make toothpicks of that forest, that Lebanon-like Army reduced to kindling.”
Knowing this background, today’s scripture begins by saying, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Judah the royal line of David would be like a tree chopped down to a stump but from that stump a new shoot would grow--the Messiah. He would be greater than the original tree and would bear much fruit.
This is Isaiah’s way of saying “Peace is On the Way” because out of this destruction and turmoil of war and chaos where peace doesn’t exist, “a green shoot will sprout.” You might say, “So what. What’s this have to do with peace? How does it apply to me?”
Isaiah is saying, Jesus the Savior--the hoped for Messiah--is going to come to bring peace and He is going to come from the household of David. David is called the son of Jesse. Why does this particular scripture use the name of Jesse instead of David? The reason is that David’s father, Jesse, lived IN OBSCURITY and his family was of SMALL ACCOUNT (See I Samuel 18:18). It was a way of contempt and reproach that David was sometimes called the son of Jesse (I Samuel 22:7).
The royal family (David) was cut down and only the stump left, almost leveled to the ground and lost completely, yet Isaiah says it shall SPROUT again. Job 14:7 says, “At least there is hope for a tree. If it is cut down it will sprout again and its new shoots will not fail.”
Other scriptures use this imagery of a tree stump:
II Kings 19:30 says, “Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will TAKE ROOT below and bear fruit above.”
Isaiah 27:6 says “In the days to come Jacob will TAKE ROOT, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.”
Isaiah 53:2 says, “he grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.”
Rev. 5:5 says, “See the Lion of the tribe of Judah the root of David has triumphed.”
Maybe for a tree, but what about people? It looked as if this would be impossible in their current situation.
The house of David was reduced and brought very low at the time of Christ’s birth--think about the obscurity and poverty of Joseph and Mary at that time. Going to a stable? How is this going to possibly work out?