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Isaiah 11:1-10 (NIV)
The Branch From Jesse
11 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked.
5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the cobra’s den, and the young child will put its hand into the viper’s nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy
on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his resting place will be glorious.
I love baseball. Even more than watching the Cubs play, I love getting out there and playing myself. That is getting harder as I get older! When I was a kid I could not wait to get out there and play. I would do all sorts of things to get ready: practice fielding by throwing a ball against rough bricks on the side of the house, practice my pitching, and on game day I would be so focused and in game-mode that I would get ready early. Really early. If our games were at 6 pm I was ready to go by noon! Play ball! But what does this passage have to do with practice? Isaiah is giving us a glimpse of what God’s future, the ‘big game’, is going to look like. Right now, Jesus has begun His reign. He forgives sins, defeats death, and gives new life. But in the future, when Jesus comes again, he will fully establish His kingdom of righteousness, justice, faithfulness, truth, peace, and love in a way that will be universal, comprehensive, and complete. That is why we celebrate Advent! The word advent means “arrival” or “appearance” of someone or something. Each year at Advent we are reminded that we live with hope for Jesus to appear again and bring the fullness of His kingdom. And since we know what that kingdom is going to look like we can begin to get ready. We can prepare for a kingdom of peace by practicing peace, for a kingdom of righteousness by doing good, for truth by speaking truth and rejecting lies, for faithfulness by being steadfast and strong for others. We could all come up with things we need to practice. So, let’s get ready for the coming of our king by getting our ‘uniform’ on and preparing for the big game! Let us pray: Prince of peace, send Your Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, and might to us that we might practice and get ready for Your kingdom. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.