The Sixth Day: Morning
Christmas for the Doubtful (1)
There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.
The prophet is here referring to the house of Jesse. It was a grand house indeed. It was from that house that great king David had sprung. Jesse was his father.
It was while David was king that God made some staggeringly glorious promises regarding the house of Jesse. David was told that the promised Messiah would come from among His descendants, and that the Messiah would be a king like no other. While all other kings rule for a limited period of time, the Messiah would reign forever (2 Sam. 7:16).
It would seem, in light of these promises, that the house of Jesse was destined to go from victory to victory without so much as a single lull. It would seem that the luster of the house of Jesse would never diminish.
The Miserable Condition of the House of Jesse
Now we fast forward several years to the time of Isaiah, and the future house of Jesse is not so bright. It was a terribly serious time. The powerful Assyrian Empire was running around consuming her neighbors, and the nations that had not been overrun were nervous and afraid. Among these nervous nations was Judah. As her citizens surveyed the future, they found themselves wondering how long they could survive.
The survival of the nation was much more than a personal and political question. Bound up in it was this perplexing question: if the nation did not survive, what would become of all the glorious promises God had made to the house of Jesse? Specifically, what would become of that greatest of all the promises, the promise of the Messiah? The situation in Judah was so bleak at the time Isaiah was ministering that it appeared as if there would not even be a house of Jesse from which the Messiah could come. I can imagine several of the people of that time saying something like this: “Before the Messiah can get here the house of Jesse is going to be nothing more than a rotten stump.”
In light of these things, we can say many in Judah were entertaining one of the more distasteful members of the “Ful” family—doubtful.
Fueled by the Assyrian crisis, their doubtfulness was destined to become even more pronounced in the future. The Assyrian crisis was to pass, but a far more serious crisis would take its place, one that would see the Babylonians come into the land of Judah, destroy the city of Jerusalem and the temple, and deport the king and most of the citizens.
Those who had to endure the Babylonian ordeal would have even more reason to shake their heads in dismay over the house of Jesse. At that time it would look as if Jesse’s house was nothing but a dead, decaying stump.
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