The King Has Come (Isaiah 11)
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Well, good evening. Welcome again. You’re gonna go out and grab your Bibles open up to Isaiah chapter 11 will be in Isaiah chapter 11 this evening. It is Christmas, the most wonderful time of the year I’ve been told many times throughout my life, the lights are on outside the decorations are here inside you hear Carol’s everywhere you go and underneath your feet, the crunch of snow just in time for Christmas, we got lucky, although I could use it being a little bit warmer. I think
you all have your own personal favorite family traditions that I’m sure immediately sprang to mind as I said that those couple of things that you’ve been doing since you were a kid you couldn’t possibly give up doing it truly is a wonderful, wonderful time.
But in some ways, it’s a bit false as well. It’s not as though all of a sudden the world is filled with nothing but joy for four weeks, we just kind of pretend like it is it’s almost like we’re papering over the cracks with shiny foil wrapping paper, your if you were to scan the headlines of any newspaper, or even just your own personal social media feed, you would see that a lot of people every year are having a pretty bad Christmas.
There is so much good in this world that we can celebrate of course, but there is so much brokenness to and that’s why we need Christmas, not the traditions mind you, but the truth of Christmas. What we most need, what we’re truly longing for. The desire that the season expresses, is for someone to come and set things right. All those things that are wrong in this world. If I could put it like this, I think what we want is a king, a good king, a perfect king, a king, who always does what is right, who rules with wisdom and make sure that people are doing what they should be doing are king like that would heal this broken world. Because there’d be no one getting away with anything any more. No abuse behind closed doors, no invasions of other countries, no unkindness in the jewel parking lot the week of Christmas.
That’s what we want. That’s what we want.
Except that’s also exactly the opposite of what we want. And therein lies the great tension of the human heart.
Because we all want to be our own kings at the same time. And wanting to be our own kings wanting to set our own rules wanting to do whatever it is we want to do is what causes all the brokenness in the world. And then we want to kingdom to come and fix all that brokenness out there while leaving me alone to do what I want to do. And so I want you to have those competing desires, which are very much alive in you right now. In your mind, as we talk tonight, I want to be my own king. I want to King to come and set things right. Because the text we’re going to look at is a text promising that King and what he will come to do what he needs to do in us even now this might seem a strange text to you. It is the culmination though of a whole bunch of Christmas text that you’re really familiar with because you’ve heard Handel’s Messiah before. So in Isaiah chapter seven, we hear familiar words like a virgin will conceive and give birth to a child, and he will be called Emmanuel, God with us. And then Isaiah chapter nine, the people walking in darkness, finally get to see a great light. Why because unto us a child is born and unto us a son is given in the government will be on his shoulders and he will be called, you know what Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. But all of that finds its climax in our text this evening, speaking of a tree that is going to spring forth from a stump, the true Christmas tree, the Jesse tree, so may start reading as we look at again, this king we long to see the kingdom we long to experience and figure out how we can get there. Let’s start with the king. First of all, chapter 11, verses one to five, Isaiah 11, one to five, A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse, from his roots, a branch will bear fruit, the Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him the spirit of wisdom, and of understanding the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord 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, but with right
justness He will judge the needy with justice, he will give decisions for the poor of the earth, He will strike the earth with the route of his mouth with the breath of his lips, he will slay the wicked, righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist.
So we know that a tree has been felled.
If you were to read previous chapters, you would know that it was God who cut down this tree as an act of judgment on the nation of Israel was meant to be a wake up call to them, because they were no longer worshipping Him but had turned to foreign gods. But that act of judgment is not the end of the story. Judgment never is God is really just clearing the way for new growth. One of my favorite places to be is The Morton Arboretum. Maybe some of you share that with me. And every now and again, I’ll walk by a place that I know well, except that it’ll look different because they have like clear cut the area, and they’ll be this little sign there that says, Just wait till spring. Wait till you see what’s going to come up out of this. That’s the sign that we have here. It says though God has planted it right in the middle of this felled force, you just wait, just wait to see what’s coming. His purpose is rebirth, restoration. But to get there, he needs to prune away what is dead and diseased the brokenness of this world. So out of this stump springs a shoot, again, the Christmas tree. Now the stump, we’re told is the stump of Jesse who exactly is Jesse, he’s not so famous, but his son certainly is. So you may know David of Goliath fame. This is David’s dad. And so the Jesse tree, it’s a family tree. And that family tree is a line of kings beginning with Jesse’s son, David all the way on. And in fact, God had promised David, you can read this in Second Samuel seven, that his line would go on forever, there would always be a king on David’s throne. But now that tree is chopped down.
What’s happened? Has God’s word failed? Surely not. It never does. And so here we read centuries later, a chute will spring up from that stump. And it’s interesting because this person who’s coming is not just going to be a son of David, which is a familiar phrase in the Bible, that that King in David’s line who was coming, but we don’t need another king in David’s line, because we had a whole bunch of them. And honestly, they weren’t that great. So what we need here is not a son of David, but another son of Jesse, we need a nother David a second, David, the true and better, David. And this was the hope for the Jewish people of this time, what they would have called the Messiah just means the anointed one. This was the hope that a king was coming to set things, right.
But the king they were waiting for was a king that was going to do what they wanted him to do. We always have that right. And so it really was a king with some lowered expectations. All they wanted from this king who was coming the second David was for him to get rid of those pesky Romans who had occupied is really just wanted their kingdom back and nothing more that can be true of us to can’t hit these lowered expectations of a king does we want like, we don’t really want a king what we want is a Santa Claus, someone to bring us whatever it is we ask him for, to bring us what we want, instead of what we really need. So we might ask the Santa Claus, for example, to bring us financial security, instead of bringing us a loosened grip on the things of this world.
But this branch, this shoot springing up from the stump of Jesse, this will be the king we need. And we know that because we read this seven fold description of his wondrous character, the spirit of Lord will rest on Him bit of wisdom, understanding counsel, might knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
There’s only one descendant of Jesse who fits this bill by the way, and that is Jesus of Nazareth. Nazareth by the way, fun fact, if you’re to translate it in English means something like chutes Ville. So it would make sense a good place for the shoot of Jesse to spring up. We know it’s Jesus, the Spirit descends on Him at His baptism. And certainly Jesus speaks with wisdom and understanding. We all know that even those who reject Christianity acknowledge the depth of his teaching. There was a an article in The New York Times today, Nicholas Kristof, who is not a Christian, and yet interviewed a well known pastor and said, I’ve always liked Jesus’s teaching. Of course, everybody likes Jesus’s teaching, because he speaks with wisdom and understanding. I mean, who here would go you know what, I don’t really care for that hole, do unto others as you would have them do unto you what we call the golden rule. We call it the golden rule because it speaks so powerfully to us. We know if everyone did that, well, the world would be a different place.
In fact, our entire culture, entire western culture has been shaped by Christ teaching every facet of our culture springs from Christ. Some of the most popular buzzwords around equality, progress, consent, freedom, what we mean by Justice, even kindness, all comes from Christ what we mean by these words.
So we hold to Christ values because he spoke with wisdom and understanding. But there is that problem again, we understand, there’s a good chance on the way here, you drove by a sign that said, kindness is everything, right? Probably in somebody’s neighbor’s, you know, front yard or something like that.
And yet we don’t live like kindness is everything. We like Jesus’s teaching right up until we don’t like it. He says, Love your enemies. And we go, Hang on now. What exactly do you mean by that?
We have not been uniformly kind, it’s not hard to admit that you have probably not been uniformly kind. Today even. I’m a little bit sick. I got Christmas stress asked me if I snapped at my kids at any point this week, as them in fact, it’ll be a more honest answer, you’ll probably get. We don’t always love like, we know we should. And yet, instead of choosing love and self sacrifice, we choose self centeredness. We believe in equality and human dignity. And yet certainly we have all used people as means to an end. Many, many, many times in our lives, there’s that tension in our heart. Again, we want the king right up until we don’t like we want the king to make the world live according to those values that he taught us that we respect.
We just don’t want to make us live up to those values all the time. But the trouble is, we’re going to get the king we need not the king, we want and he is the king, we need you again, he’s got the wisdom and understanding to lead he always makes the right decisions. He’s got the counsel and might to triumph to make sure that those decisions are carried through he’s got the knowledge and the fear of the Lord, to live. He is holy, there is no blemish of imperfection in him he has never done wrong, how different that is from the paper heroes of our history. We keep tearing down statues. Why? Because there was a tension in the people who lived before us but not in Christ. He judges rightly. He judges rightly judgment by the way, not a bad word. We sometimes hear it it’s a bad word. But it just means he renders a just decision. Every time no wrongdoer escapes, just because they’re wealthy or influential, and yet no innocent is punished just because they lack the resources to defend themselves. That does not sound like our world today. He knows every side of every story. He sees the heart. He weighs our motivations, even stabbed in the back some time where you know, you were innocent, and no one else believes you will the king sees the king judges rightly even for the needy, and the poor, those lacking in influence, or wealth, he judges rightly. You see, in verse five, he rules with righteousness. That’s a commitment to what is right. And he rules with faithfulness, as a steadfastness and carrying out what is right, we would take a king like that, wouldn’t we? Because that’s so different from our lived experience. And that is not how our leaders lead. Is it in an age of me too, or here in Illinois, where every other governor gets tossed in jail.
This is not how we live either. You always know what to do? Probably not. But when you know what to do, do you always do it? Probably not. You never shown any favoritism with somebody who can help you out no excuses for yourself that you wouldn’t grant if somebody did it to you. Or having a king like this on the throne would change this world in ways beyond our reckoning. How exactly let’s keep reading let’s look at the kingdom that he would bring verses six to 10.
The wolf will live with the lamb. The Leopard will lie down with a goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together and the little child will lead them. The cow will feed with the bear their young will lie down together and the lion will eat straw like the ox. The infant will play near the Cobras den, the young child will put his hand into the Viper’s nest, 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.
So we get this series of startling images to show what this new kingdom will be like. And what’s obvious from the get go is that this kingdom is going to involve a fundamental change of nature. This is definitely not how the
world works. The wolf doesn’t eat the lamb anymore. Instead, they’re roommates now, gonna get the bear and the lion are eating grass instead of eating their new friends. This is straight out of that great theological text. Finding Nemo fish are friends, not food.
Also, and I know this is a bummer for some of you but the vegetarians when in the end, it seems although I think that’s only because kale tastes like filet in glory.
But this is not just for the birds and the beasts. And this is not just meant to be a picture of the the animal kingdom or something like that. This is a picture of the whole, this is comprehensive. It even says everyone will know the Lord. And so everyone will live with this type of peace in their midst. It’s so as though the king didn’t just end the civil war, but ended with it.
All the things that led to the war in the first place like our own civil war, it ended and there was a tremendous southern resentment. And the South is supposed to rise again. I heard for some time after that, but not here. Like now we’re talking about not just an end to the war, but an end to slavery, not just into slavery, but an end to racism and an end to the animosity, the bitterness, the grief that would have come with the war. I mean, let’s contemporize what would this look like today for
enemies to become friends like the wolf and the lamb, we’re talking about? Black and white, living in harmony, every other color every other ethnicity like and Israeli and Palestinian, worshipping together. The rich and the poor Scrooge and Tiny Tim, at the same table. By the way, why the church matters so much because the church is meant to be an outpost of that future kingdom. This should be the place where those animosities have already been broken down in Christ, and we are together. But for that to happen, this king is going to have to put an end to the civil war, not just out there, but in our hearts as well. Because there’s that tension. Again, we don’t always live according to our own values. We don’t measure up we preach kindness and yet practice unkindness.
The reality is, and this is a hard word. I’m sorry about that. But I have to say it, we’re not good people who occasionally do bad things. Because after a while, if you keep doing bad things, you got to go. Maybe I’m just a bad person.
I have not ever how we talk about ourselves, right? Like, it’s just the amount of gossip I just gossip.
You see the difficulty there? Right? We’re just, we’re just bad. And the proof of it is written every day in our lives. We are wolves always looking to devour cuddly little lambs. But what did this King come to do? To bring the knowledge of God to transform our nature so that this doesn’t have to be true of us any longer so that we would delight in the fear of the Lord also, and worship Him rightly, if we call him king? What would the result be? What would that kingdom look like? No more injustice, no more poverty, no more violence, not even the violence of creation, no more division. And this is the world we want. But we’re not there yet.
And we are not there like you and I specifically as individuals are not there yet. We don’t belong in this kingdom. How could we possibly who does for that matter? So how can we possibly get in to it? That’s our last section. By the way. We’ve seen the king we’ve seen the kingdom he’s coming to bring. The only problem is no one deserves to be there. So we’re going to need a way as well. And that is the Kingshighway the rest of the passage it really got the verses wrong. But that’s all right verses 10 to 16, not 11 to 16.
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. And that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of His people from a Syria from Lower Egypt from Upper Egypt from cush from Elam, from Babylonia from Hamas and from the islands of the Mediterranean. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel. He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four corners of the earth, ie from his jealousy will vanish and Judas enemies will be destroyed. Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim. They will swoop down on the slopes of Felicity out to the West together they will plunder the people to the east. They will subdue Edom and Moab. The ammonites will be subject to them the Lord will dry up the Gulf of the Egyptians see the scorching wind he will sweep his hand over the Euphrates river he will break it up into seven streams so that anyone can cross over and sandals there will be a highway
The remnant of His people that has left from a Syria as there was for Israel when they came up from Egypt.
Alright, things get interesting right away. Because the shoot of Jesse has now in verse 10, the root of Jesse.
And that doesn’t make any sense, because he comes from Jesse. And yet Jesse comes from Him.
That paradox only makes sense in light of Jesus was written 700 years before Jesus’s birth. And yet here we have it, no one else could possibly fit this bill, the eternal God who created Jesse becomes a human in Jesse’s line, veiled in flesh, the God had see hail the incarnate deity. I mean, he would have to be this king, both God and human, in order to be the root and shoot of Jesse, this newborn baby is the Ancient of Days, the son of Mary, is the everlasting father. That’s the paradox. But he would have to be both God and human in order to do what he’s come to do. And what is that exactly Isaiah tells us to rally all his people to him. But now it’s not just Israel. This is now a global picture. He’s inviting people from everywhere, like there are a lot of places mentioned here. And you don’t need to know them all. The point is pretty simple. He’s gathering people from every corner of the map, like we’d say it today, he’s pulling them from all seven continents, from Cape Town to Caracas, from Tokyo to Toronto, from Sydney to Stockholm. We’ll throw in a few penguins from Antarctica as well, because they’re cute and cuddly.
These are his people.
These are as people who have been scattered in exile, literally. The people that Isaiah is speaking to here, they’re about to be deported, as first to Syria and then Babylon come in and conquer them and take them away. So they’re actually in exile. But then literally, as well, because we are
separated from God, we’ve been exiled from God by our sin, these the people that God will bring them back home, this king will lead back home to his resting place. The wonderful word by the way that used for resting place, you actually all know it, it shows up in Psalm 23, which you’ve probably heard many times in your life. When it says He leads me beside still waters, that word still is the word resting place. So all that imagery comes to mind as we read this, this is the place where His goodness and love follow us all the days of our lives, and we will dwell in His house forever.
And when those people come together, they will come in peace. The old hostilities are gone, Ephraim and Judah who are in the middle of a civil war at this point, but that’ll change this would be like, again, after the Civil War Two soldiers, a Union and Confederate soldier coming together and going, I am sorry, I shot at you a bull run. It’s okay. Like we’re gonna be friends. Now fist bump, century before that was a thing, but the Kings Kingdom will spread to cover the earth. Now this sounds like conquest, certainly. But of course, we know what Jesus came to do. And he did not come to bring the sword. And so this is a conquest of peace. This is a conquest of people laying their arms down. But they can only come. They can only come into this kingdom, because the root of Jesse has made away and we get this imagery here in verses 15 and 16, especially those that are very similar to God leading his people out of Egypt during the Exodus, you may remember he splits the Red Sea and the people walk across on dry land. He’s going to do that again. But they’re not just coming from Egypt. They’re coming from a Syria as well. So he’s going to split up the Euphrates River into seven little streams and you can just wade across he removes the barrier, in other words, but what is that barrier? Really? Is it a physical barrier? I mean, is it a big river that’s keeping us from God, no way the barrier is spiritual. For us to come home, God must remove the barriers in my heart, and in your heart,
going on inside of us against the one true King, and
pardon for that rebellion, as well.
And we learn as we read about Jesus, that Jesus doesn’t just make the way for us. Jesus is the way John 14 Verse six people come to God come into this kingdom through Jesus, by grace through faith. He is the king and the Kings Highway
And that’s really where we have to land on Christmas. And what we need to hear again, this evening, the problem with Christmas is that we do the same thing every year. And so it becomes a very familiar story. And so we stopped paying attention to it. You know, it’s a Yeah, yeah, the baby, the manger, the stable, Wiseman, shepherds, it’s all great. But we can hear all that and still be in danger of missing the point. If Jesus is the King, we need who’s establishing the kingdom we want?
Well, then that means we don’t get to be kings anymore. of our own tiny little kingdoms, kingdom of one. Like we don’t have the power and the wisdom and the goodness to rule. Not collectively, two centuries of progress. Pretty well proved that a couple of world wars like Have we made progress in medicine and technology. Absolutely. Have we made progress in the human heart? I don’t think so. And you’ve probably seen that in your own life as well. You’ll make some new year’s resolutions here in about a week, and I’ll see you next Christmas and you can tell me how you’re doing on them. There’s, there’s a good chance you’ve been making the same resolutions for a couple decades at this point. Like we know we don’t have what it takes to rule not there’s the world but our own lives, and yet we rebel, still, just what causes all the violence and strife in the world. But it keeps happening every time we hear Jesus is King, the self asserts itself and makes an illegitimate claim to authority. And we might even spiritualize it and say things like, Well, God would want me to be happy. And so we create a religion or God of our own life and just a few tweaks to the Bible, you know, just pop in a few asterisks here or there anything that you don’t like that would be challenging for you love your enemies estrus yet not you, Mary. It’s okay. I know what she said about you. You couldn’t possibly forgive that. That’s how we often approach scripture. And so we make ourselves the final arbiter of our own truth even speak that way, don’t we my truth, your truth. All that means is you get to make the laws in your own kingdom. We start to deceive ourselves, maybe I am wise enough to rule my life.
But if we recognize Christ’s absolute authority,
that this baby is also the eternal God, the root and shoot of Jesse, the only possible response is unconditional allegiance. There’ll be no more line in the sand moments. No more. I’ll follow you this far, but no farther. Like, I believe 97% of the Bible. If there’s one sentence in all the Bible that you say, I’m not going to listen to that then you are still your own king.
So the way AW Tozer said it, he said sin has many manifestations, but its essence is one, a moral being created to worship before the throne of God sits on the throne of his own selfhood. And from that elevated position declares, I am. That is sin in its concentrated essence. And I love this last part yet because it is natural, it appears to be good. That’s our whole culture in a nutshell. Because it’s natural. It must be good. Just do whatever you want. It’s not working out for us guys. Only when we see ourselves for who we are, and Christ for who he is. Well, our hearts be changed. I mean, just consider why did this true king leave his throne of glory to be born in a lowly manger? Why are we even here at Christmas?
Because in a piercing irony, and an matchless love, that King came to save those who claimed his throne for their own.
Most kings wage wars to reclaim their thrones. But Christ waged a war against our rebellion, in order to reclaim us may look back at verse four, I just just blew past this part. It says he will strike the earth with a rod of his mouth, and slay the wicked, not a very happy Christmas sort of message. But it would be very just and right of God to just wipe us out in light of our rebellion. But that’s not what he came to do at first. The first time He came, He came to be struck by the Earth and slain by the wicked.
What a remarkable truth. Why, to make away to pave the King’s Highway so that we can come home to his glorious resting place injustice, he deals with our rebellion, but in grace, He takes the punishment for that rebellion on Himself on the cross, so that we can be forgiven, this baby came to die.
The problem with our culture is that we want the kingdom all those values we’ve been talking about without the king, like we want to culture shaped by the kings values but without his authority in our lives. Clearly that doesn’t work. Because we don’t live up to our own standards. We’re not living out
out those values. So there’s the big question, what do we do then? He’s gotten Scrivener points out, he says Only a person can forgive you. Values can’t, they can only judge you. Like the abstract value of kindness cannot forgive you. It can only tell you, you have not lived up to my standard. And so there we are trapped in guilt and exiled in shame, no hope of redemption, unless
it’s not a value. But a person unless that King makes, even becomes the way that the cost of his own life isn’t that yet King you would want to follow. Like, why not bend the knee to him like the shepherds like the Weizmann you are not fit to be king. I am not fit to be king. I haven’t seen anyone who is except the route and shoot of Jesse. So don’t let another Christmas go by without making a choice, who the who will be king is one or the other.
This Christmas received the greatest gift ever given forgiveness, and redemption. And Christ himself. But don’t just unwrap it and put on the shelf. Let him become the center of your life. Let Christ be king. Because every heart comes with a throne, and it only seats one. So give him his rightful place in your life. That is what Christmas is all about. That is the joy of every longing of heart. We need the right ruler to rule rightly. And to make a way for us to come under His rule. Despite our years of rebellion, we need Jesus, we need the root and shoot of Jesse, the King has come, the king will come again. Why not welcome him. Now, let’s pray.
Father, we confess that we live our lives so often as though we were the king.
We make our own laws.
We preach certain standards.
And yet we fail to live up to them. We don’t even live up to our own standards, nevermind your standards, Lord. And that is a problem. And so we confess that openly, willingly, freely before you.
But more than that, Lord, we confess
that we have no right to rule in our own lives, that we are yours. Because You created us that you made us for yourself. And so we lay ourselves down now we bow before the manger before the cross before the empty tomb before the throne in glory and confess that you are king of kings and Lord of lords.
And you are Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, that you have the right to rule, the power, the wisdom, the goodness to rule and we welcome you in our hearts and in our lives to rule even now.