Saturday, December 6, 2014

Advent Reading Day 1 – The Greatest Birth Pronouncement (Isaiah 11:1-2; 7:14)

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.” … “Then in that day the nations will resort to the root of Jesse, who will stand as a signal for the peoples; and His resting place will be glorious.” (Isaiah 11:1-2, 10, NASB95) “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14, NASB95)

Isaiah lived 700 years before Christ, and these words as well as the many others he wrote stood for all of those years as a pronouncement from God not only of the condition of Israel and the hardship it would suffer because of its rebellion, but also and incredibly gloriously about our awesome God and His faithfulness to all of His promises. Though Israel would rebel God would not totally forsake them, and would one day bring One to them who would take bake the throne of David and hold it forevermore.

It is this shoot of Jesse, the branch from his roots that would bear fruit. Jesse is the father of King David through whom the Messiah would one day come. This coming king that was spoken of by Isaiah would be filled with the Spirit of God and possess as integral to who He is wisdom, understanding, counsel and strength, and knowledge and the fear of the Lord. As we know from our side of the cross and having the full record of Scripture, this One was none other than the very Son of God who became man for our salvation. As man He never became any less God and in that He possessed the fullness of God and all of these incredible attributes. Balancing these two as only the God-man could He spent a great deal of time in prayer with the Father  as He was filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit. We read throughout the gospel of John just how well He knew the hearts of men, how He had power to give sight, heal the lame, give life to the dead, and so much more. He had power over all created things.

For the Jews, the coming of this king was expected to be a magnificent thing brought about with His initial coming. They were looking for the king to arrive on the scene and deliver them. It is because of this that they wanted to take Jesus away by force and make Him king after the feeding of the 5,000 as we read in John 6:15. But Jesus knew this was not to be the case. He knew that there was much to do before He would reign over the Jews and all of the peoples of the world in their presence. He would first have to go to a cross to pay for the sins of man. He would then be buried and on the third day take His life back up again in resurrection. He would have to return to the Father for a season, before coming again. The people would suffer greatly and see evil for just how bad it is, and then He would return to reign for 1,000 years prior to the final eternal fulfillment of all that was promised. The Jews were expecting this to happen all at once, but God knew better.

It is in that later day that the people would turn their hearts back to God and would see His Son for who He really is. It is in that day that they would worship in His presence and serve Him as the One who is King of kings and Lord of Lords.

It is in verse 10, later in chapter 11 of Isaiah, that we read that there would be a time when even the Gentiles (the nations meaning non-Jews) would turn their hearts to God and even stand as a signal for the people. Referring back to that season when Jesus would return to the Father so that a mystery might be unfolded, Isaiah mentioned several times in his writings the prophecies of God about the nations turning to God. “He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also make You a light of the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”” (Isaiah 49:6, NASB95) … “The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God.” (Isaiah 52:10, NASB95)

The apostle Paul wrote of this great hope of both the Jews and the Gentiles. We read in Romans chapter 15, “For I say that Christ has become a servant to the circumcision on behalf of the truth of God to confirm the promises given to the fathers, and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “THEREFORE I WILL GIVE PRAISE TO YOU AMONG THE GENTILES, AND I WILL SING TO YOUR NAME.” Again he says, “REJOICE, O GENTILES, WITH HIS PEOPLE.” And again, “PRAISE THE LORD ALL YOU GENTILES, AND LET ALL THE PEOPLES PRAISE HIM.” Again Isaiah says, “THERE SHALL COME THE ROOT OF JESSE, AND HE WHO ARISES TO RULE OVER THE GENTILES, IN HIM SHALL THE GENTILES HOPE.”” (Romans 15:8–12, NASB95)

Earlier Isaiah had written (7:14), “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” This is the greatest pronouncement of a coming birth ever made. As a proof of the coming of the promised One a virgin would conceive and bear a son. Physiologically this is impossible. There was no cloning or in vetro fertilization (which even takes an intrusive intervention by man). No, a woman who had never had any form of sexual activity would become a mother. And as we read in Luke chapter 1 this was explained in that she would eventually conceive by the power of the Holy Spirit. This woman would have a son and this Son would be called Immanuel which means “God with us.” This simple verse contains the most incredible truth that man had ever heard. God was going to make Himself present among mankind. The Son of God would take on the form of man in order to bring man back into a relationship with Himself. This is the heart of the Christmas story when the Son of God becomes the Son of man being born in a stable.

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