Monday, December 2, 2013

Life from the Stump

Yesterday we began our Advent reading for this year with Isaiah chapter 11, verses 1,2, and 10 and chapter 7, verse 14. In 11:1 we read that a shoot would spring forth from the stem of Jesse and that a branch from his roots would bear fruit. The first king of Israel was Saul. Saul disqualified himself from service by not following after God, and he was replaced by another king from another family. (There is a lot to this account, and if you are not familiar with it I would encourage you to read 1 Samuel 9 through the end, with 2 Samuel taking up from Saul’s death and covering years of David’s reign.) The father of this second king’s family was Jesse. Jesse had eight sons and the youngest of them, David, was to be that new king. The importance of Jesse as the root from whom this new king would come is set up for us in the closing of the short little book of Ruth, where we read,

“So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son. Then the women said to Naomi, “Blessed is the LORD who has not left you without a redeemer today, and may his name become famous in Israel. “May he also be to you a restorer of life and a sustainer of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you and is better to you than seven sons, has given birth to him.” Then Naomi took the child and laid him in her lap, and became his nurse. The neighbor women gave him a name, saying, “A son has been born to Naomi!” So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David. Now these are the generations of Perez: to Perez was born Hezron, and to Hezron was born Ram, and to Ram, Amminadab, and to Amminadab was born Nahshon, and to Nahshon, Salmon, and to Salmon was born Boaz, and to Boaz, Obed, and to Obed was born Jesse, and to Jesse, David.” (Ruth 4:13–22, NASB95)

[Rabbit Trail Alert: Note that this is a compressed genealogy in Ruth and some names may not be included, but by the ones included a lineage is established. Also note that while this genealogy begins with Perez, in Genesis 38 we read that Perez is the son of Judah. And in Genesis 49:10 we read the blessing of Joseph on Judah, a blessing which is to be repeated and reaffirmed throughout Scripture. Joseph said, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” (Genesis 49:10, NASB95) In one of my study Bibles I read about “Shiloh”: “Shiloh, the cryptogram for the Messiah, the one also called the “Lion of the Tribe of Judah.”” In Revelation 5:5 we read, “Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5, NASB95)]

Back on track: Yesterday we looked at the coming birth of two special sons, John the Baptist and Jesus. Today we see that there are more special sons who God uses to establish the line from whom Jesus would come. Ruth was a widow and an outsider who had no hope to care for herself or her also widowed mother-in-law, Naomi. But God provided for them in a near relative, Boaz, who took Ruth as his wife and through them was born a son; a son through whom would come the father of a king and the one through whom the Great King would come. Ruth records for us both the joy of Naomi’s immediate welfare and a hope for the future. Joy was given back to Naomi as well as a sustainer for her old age. And as the women had hoped for Naomi, his name would indeed become famous far more than they hoped, for through him a redeemer would be born for all people.

After reading our Advent passage last night we talked about why Jesus would be born as a shoot from the stem or a branch from the roots. The answer for this question rested in the sinfulness of man and his need for a redeemer outside of himself. Scripture records for us that David was a great king, a man after God’s own heart. But it also records that David also sinned and with that sin came destructive consequences. But David was also a man who confessed his sins and repented before God. God did not remove David from being king and He allowed David’s sons to continue as kings. But from David there was a downward spiral in them following after God, with only rare exceptions. David’s sons did not follow God as David had, and their rebellion eventually led to Israel being split and conquered multiple times, ultimately leading to the last king ruling about 600 years before the birth of Christ. Through captivity the rule of the kings had been severed, but the stump lived, and it was from that stump that the King of kings would be born. Matthew 1 records for us the genealogy of Christ, and in verses 12 through 16 we see the continuance of the lineage from the last king, Jechoniah.

“After the deportation to Babylon: Jeconiah became the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel. Zerubbabel was the father of Abihud, Abihud the father of Eliakim, and Eliakim the father of Azor. Azor was the father of Zadok, Zadok the father of Achim, and Achim the father of Eliud. Eliud was the father of Eleazar, Eleazar the father of Matthan, and Matthan the father of Jacob. Jacob was the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, by whom Jesus was born, who is called the Messiah.” (Matthew 1:12–16, NASB95)

As I thought about this and how amazing our God is as He preserved this lineage and brought His plan to fulfillment, I was struck on a more personal level of His same power to bring to pass what He wants to accomplish in my life. As we can see from this account, nothing happened quickly and there are a lot of pieces intricately woven together. But God knew what He was doing then, and He knows what He is doing today. And while we might hope for some of our struggles to end and for the end of a particular path to be revealed, we also know that God is the one who will sustain us along the way and even grow us more into the image of His Son. In that we are told to rejoice.

“Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–24, NASB95)

Today in “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young (12/2)

I am the Prince of Peace. As I said to My disciples, I say also to you: Peace be with you. Since I am your constant Companion, My Peace is steadfastly with you. When you keep your focus on Me, you experience both My Presence and My Peace. Worship me as King of kings, Lord of lords, and Prince of Peace.

You need My Peace each moment to accomplish My purposes in your life. Sometimes you are tempted to take shortcuts, in order to reach your goal as quickly as possible. But if the shortcut requires turning your back on My peaceful Presence, you must choose the longer route. Walk with Me along paths of Peace; enjoy the journey in My Presence.

“For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6, NASB95)

“So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, “Peace be with you.” And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord. So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”” (John 20:19–21, NASB95)

“Make me know Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths.” (Psalm 25:4, NASB95)

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