O Root of Jesse, Come
by Reynolds Walker
10:33 Behold, the Lord GOD of hosts
will lop the boughs with terrifying power;
the great in height will be hewn down,
and the lofty will be brought low.
34 He will cut down the thickets of the forest with an axe,
and Lebanon will fall by the Majestic One.
11:1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the 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 the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
6 The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den.
9 They shall not hurt or destroy
in all my holy mountain;
for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
as the waters cover the sea.
10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.
11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.
15:12 And again Isaiah says,
“The root of Jesse will come,
even he who arises to rule the Gentiles;
in him will the Gentiles hope.”
13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.
We all long to be satisfied. Restless and broken, we seek rest and healing. Indeed, we hope for these things. And we all allow temporary satisfaction to distract us from, or obscure, He who ultimately satisfies, our true Hope. Even this Advent season, as we consciously remember the coming of Christ and look to His promised return, we are easily distracted and constantly drawn to the temporary: time off from work, time with friends, with family, the enjoyment of beautiful decorations and good food. None of these are bad, in fact, they are all good. Further, we are called to truly enjoy these things as good gifts given by God. But, at the same time, they are not ultimate. As C.S. Lewis notes in The Weight of Glory, “we are far too easily pleased,” not just by the objects of our sinful desires, but by the good gifts of God as well. We mistakenly look to these things alone for satisfaction and rest, rather than through these things to their Source, the One who promises and provides ultimate satisfaction and rest.
In 1 Samuel, the people of Israel place their hope in the temporary power, protection, and prestige of earthly kings. Yet, even David, the greatest of these kings, fails to bring lasting safety and satisfaction to the people of Israel. Amidst Israel’s misplaced hope and David’s inadequate reign, God lavishes grace upon His people with a promise that from David’s line a king will rise who will reign forever (2 Samuel 7).
Isaiah refers to this promised king, the Messiah, as “a shoot from the stump of Jesse” and “the root of Jesse” (vs. 1, 10). He is the Shoot “from the stump of Jesse,” which means he is of the line of David and, therefore, the rightful king of Israel. And yet, he is so much more. He is the one who brings complete and lasting peace to all creation (vs. 7-9). Who is this promised king, able to accomplish what David could not? He is not only the Shoot, but also the Root of Jesse (v. 10). He is not only the promised Messiah, the promised savior from the line of David, but also the Source of the entire Davidic line, indeed, the entire race of men and all things. He is the One through whom all things were made (John 1:3). He is God made manifest; God with us.
He came once as a humble Shoot, but he will come again as the recognized Root and Source of all, the acknowledged, eternal king of Israel. J.C. Ryle paints this picture well:
“He came the first time in weakness, a tender infant born of a poor woman in the manger at Bethlehem, unnoticed, unhonoured and scarcely known.
He shall come the second time in royal dignity, with the armies of heaven around Him, to be known, recognized and feared by all the people of the earth” (Expository Thoughts on Mark).
David brought real peace and prosperity to Israel, but it was temporary and incomplete. He points us to the one who will make all things whole; he is a shadow of He who is to come, of Christ. There is only one true King of Israel. He is the Shoot and the Root; He is the Promise Maker and the Promised One. He is the God of Hope: at once, the Author, Origin, and Object of our Hope. Therefore, God calls us to hope for and enjoy the good things in this season, understanding that they “are a shadow of the things to come” and that “the substance belongs to Christ” (Col. 2:17). He calls us to enjoy them as reflections of and avenues to our ultimate source of satisfaction in Himself, as one expectantly enjoys the first rays of light heralding the fullness of the dawn.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope."