SPOKEN PRAYER: Out loud, pray for God to speak to you through your reading. Praise God for giving us His word. Ask the Spirit to help you read with faith, and to live out what you hear from God through the passage.
Multiple Messianic Prophecies
by Pr. Dave Mann
Advent is a rich time of year, but it can appear to be somewhat confusing, picking themes from here, there, and everywhere. We have Scriptures that prophetically refer to the second coming of Christ, others to the first coming, and still others have an application in the near future of the prophet. Well, which is it? Is Advent supposed to point us to the end times? Is it about the first coming of Jesus in Bethlehem? Or is it about short-term prophecies 700 years before Jesus was born? The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
I think it is helpful to liken the vision of an Old Testament prophet to someone who is situated at a wonderful viewpoint, gazing into the distance, and describing the beauty of mountain peaks. Sometimes those mountain summits are miles distant from each other, but from the vantage point of the viewer, they appear to be right next to each other. The prophet may describe clearly what he sees. But how far away is it?
The phrase, the Root of Jesse, is the theme of Isaiah 11 – the coming Messiah. (See also Romans 15:12.)
Some of today’s verses seem to refer to the return of God’s scattered peoples from many nations to a gloriously restored Jerusalem in the 8th century B.C. Isaiah is encouraging the people of the Lord not to lose hope. There may even be some military victories as part of the fulfillment.
However, it is also clear that the Root of Jesse represents new life to the tree of God’s people through the Messiah, even after the ax of God’s judgment has cut down the tree of Israel. The felled tree appears to be a definitive sign of the end of the nation. But, no! There is hope. The Messiah (Jesus) will come and inspire new spiritual life.
And still another mountain range is far into the future. We have to go back to verse 6 to understand that Isaiah is also describing a third fulfillment in the various mountain peaks. This peak is the peaceful kingdom, clearly a reference to the ultimate consummation of God’s kingdom, which the Root of Jesse will usher in at the end of time.
O Jesus, Root of Jesse, come breathe new life into me whenever you wish – in my lifetime, in remembrance of Jesus’ birth, or in that great, final Day of the Lord. Come! Amen.