5 December 2023

5 December 2023

A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse,
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
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.
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;
but 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.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist,
and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
Isaiah 11:1-10, NRSV

This vision of a perfect king or ruler was a complete contrast to the reality of the leadership that prevailed at the time when Isaiah made this prophecy. The kingdom of Judah was threatened by invasion from the Assyrian empire, known for its fearsome army and harsh laws. Corruption amongst the leaders was rife, the nation of Israel was divided and downtrodden and the people lacked faith in God. And yet Isaiah saw that there was hope for something wonderful to be reborn from this nation and foresaw a time when they would be ruled by a fair and just leader in a kingdom of complete peace and safety. Some would say that this is an unrealistic vision, and yet throughout history we have seen instances of previous enemies learning to live in peace and leaders who have shown solidarity with the poor and meek. Our world may be far from perfect, but we may find signs of hope if, like Isaiah, we look for them.

    • What words particularly strike you in Isaiah’s description of the coming king?
    • Do you know of any leaders today who demonstrate any of the qualities described by Isaiah? 

Advent is described as the season of hope. What signs of hope can you identify today?

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