Background with Stump
December is finally here! Now we officially begin doing something we have already been doing... WAITING!! An even better word might be anticipating, or waiting with expectation.
What are we waiting for? Not just for presents and decorations and cookies! We are now in a season called Advent, and it comes from the Latin word meaning "coming." It is a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the birth of Jesus.
Why do we spend a whole month waiting and preparing to celebrate the birth of a baby? This particular baby is SO important that Scripture has been pointing us toward His coming since the beginning of creation! We will be learning about why He is so important over the next few weeks.
Our first passage comes from the book of Isaiah. As we read it, see if you can figure out why we use a tree trunk and branches as the background for our ornaments:
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord,
And He will not judge by what His eyes see,
Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; (Isaiah 11:1-3 NASB)
Our property was clear cut for timber several years before we bought it. The timber crew left fields of stumps remaining, where large hardwood trees once stood. Gazing at these fields, you would have felt a sense of emptiness and gotten a picture of what the words “barren” and “desolation” mean.
In our back yard, we now have a few decent sized oak trees. Each one of these trees is growing out of an old stump, where it was once thought that all was lost and dead. If these trees continue to grow, they will be strong, towering hardwoods. There is life where all was thought to be lost and dead.
In the passage we read, Isaiah was writing about a time when people might have thought all was lost for Israel. God had judged them and allowed them to be desolated by neighboring countries, just like a field that had been cut for timber. The line of kings from David was no more.
Question: The Bible says that a shoot will spring from the stem of whom? (Jesse)
Question: Can anyone remember who Jesse was in the Bible? (father of King David)
The Bible uses the name Jesse instead of David (who we might remember better) to let people know that it is not just another king in the line of David for whom we are looking; instead, a David-like king is coming.
Interestingly, the bible doesn't JUST say this promised King will be the shoot of Jesse... It also says He will be the root of Jesse. How can a King be the root of Jesse (that is, come before him) AND the shoot of Jesse (that is, come after him)? It is Christ, the promised Messiah!
All was NOT lost for Israel. God would send us a King. Not the kind of king that the Israelites expected, but the King who would bring life to barren and desolate people. God would send a faithful King, able to fulfill all that the Father had sent him to do. It is the celebration of this special King's birth that we anticipate!
This Advent season we will be decorating our Jesse tree with ornaments that will show us how God keeps His promises, and how the Bible points us to the coming of His Son Jesus. As we prepare our hearts and wait with expectation, let's seek the Lord together and ask Him to show us just how much we need a Savior.
And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; For the Gentiles shall seek Him, And His resting place shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10 NKJV)