"A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit." — Isaiah 11:1
God's people had forgotten God; they had forgotten his call to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with him (Micah 6:8). God grieved at this because he had planted the people "like a choice vine of sound and reliable stock" (Jeremiah 2:21) and had expected them to grow and flourish and carry out his purposes in the world. But they had become wild and corrupt. The prophets warned that there would be consequences, and the people faced seventy long years of oppression in exile in Babylon.
But in the midst of this tragedy, Isaiah speaks the sweetest words of hope the people could hear. Though the family line of King David, son of Jesse, had been cut down to a stump, out of the deep, thick humus of human faith and suffering a tender new shoot would grow. This little green sprig would be a sign of something new springing from the old.
We, too, long for deliverance from oppression in our slavery to sin. So even as we anticipate the birth of Jesus the Branch, the new shoot from the stump of Jesse, we also anticipate, in hope, a second coming of Christ. We await the completion of God's promises of salvation—when God will free from sin's grip his well-loved creation and come to live with us forever.
Are you longing for that day?
O come, Emmanuel, and ransom your people, who mourn in lonely exile. We long for the day when you will come and set us free from sin and death forever. In your name, Amen.