A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
or decide by what his ears hear;
but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb,
the leopard shall lie down with the kid,
the calf and the lion and the fatling together,
and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze,
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
on all my holy mountain;
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
as the waters cover the sea.
On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free Thine own from Satan’s tyranny ; From depths of hell Thy people save, And give them victory o’er the grave. Rejoice ! Rejoice ! Emmanuel Shall come to thee, O Israel.
This is another of Isaiah’s promises of a restored “Messianic Kingdom”. Though the family tree of Jesse (David’s father) has been reduced to a stump, God will make it grow a new branch.
The new king will be given God’s spirit, just as God’s spirit “came mightily” upon David. Governing in the spirit of God will mean caring for the poor and the meek, as it does throughout the Bible (Psalm 72).
This text goes beyond what we have heard so far by including all creatures in the kingdom of peace. The “dog eat dog” world will no longer prevail, even though for now, that too is part of God’s created order. The vision of a world in which wolves and lambs, calves and lions all lie down together clearly moves beyond the possibilities of the here and now. We only have to bring to mind all of the current conflicts, to realise that. By bringing together the child and the snake in peace, the text reminds us of the enmity brought through human sin in Eden. God will overcome the curse of sin and order a world in which all creatures thrive. In the parlance of today, this might now be described as an “environmental impact statement.” Judgment and promise, sin and grace are not solely for humans, but their consequences, good and bad, are felt by the entire creation.
Our hearts more and more urgently
cry out for your reign to extend over all humanity:
“Come, save us, and do not delay”.
Ann Barton is the Facilities and Health and Safety Manager at Church House.