ADVENT 2022: A SEASON OF REMEMBRANCE AND RESTORATION – 12/4/2022
December 4, 2022
Hope for Those in Need
(Rev. Dr. H. James Hopkins is Senior Pastor of Lakeshore Avenue Baptist Church)
Isaiah 11:1-10 (NRSVUE)
A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
2 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.
3 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,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge for the poor
and decide with equity for the oppressed 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.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
6 The wolf shall live with the lamb;
the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the lion will feed together,
and a little child shall lead them.
7 The cow and the bear shall graze;
their young shall lie down together;
and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
9 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.
10 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.
The tone of the prophet in today’s text is positive, upbeat and expectant. The Common English Study Bible informs us that “an ideal Davidic ruler is described as ushering in peace that’s so universal it extends even to the animal kingdom.”
While the identity of this ruler for the prophet is a matter of debate, Christian readers of the text have, for millennia, seen Jesus in Isaiah’s hope-filled words.
In the New Revised Standard Version, the fourth verse reads, with righteousness he shall judge for 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.
Again, the interpretation of The Common English Study Bible is helpful. The poor and the meek (those who suffer) “are the same two groups described elsewhere in Isaiah as being exploited by those responsible for the law. Unlike the forceful rod of the Assyrians (the oppressors of Israel when Isaiah wrote), the rod of the Judean ruler is verbal, it is just legislation on behalf of the needy and against those who are violent.
Last Sunday, we expressed the hope that, this Advent, we would see Jerusalem take steps toward being a city of peace for the entire world. Today’s Advent hope is that in this season, and certainly in the year ahead, we will see legislation that lifts up the poor and needy and holds accountable those that do violence to them.