A sermon preached at Lyonsville Congregational United Church of Christ on December 8, 2013 (Second Sunday of Advent)
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2The 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. 3His 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; 4but 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. 5Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6The 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. 7The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 9They 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.
10On 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. – Isaiah 11:1-10
Matthew 3:1-12 (John the Baptist)
In order to understand the beautiful passage from Isaiah we read this morning, it is important to know something about the kings of ancient Israel and Judah, and also to know something about geneaology. During the time that God’s people Israel had their own independent kingdom, they had kings who were supposed to rule over them on God’s behalf – with wisdom and faith and justice and care for all – from the greatest to the least and most vulnerable. The Bible’s judgment of the kings is that most of them weren’t very good. The best of the bunch was the second king, named David. It was David who unified the twelve tribes of Israel, led the armies of Israel in defending the kingdom from neighboring peoples that threatened them, and made the city of Jerusalem his capital. David was very human – he had flaws that got him into trouble, but he truly loved God with a passion rarely seen afterwards. Continue reading