"Unexpected Life" Isaiah 11
Words from Isaiah 11: "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: ...wisdom...understanding...counsel... might... knowledge of the LORD...fear of the LORD...equity for the meek Righteousness and faithfulness shall be the belt... They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain: wolf with the lamb leopard with the young goat calf and lion and child cow and bear nursing child and cobra weaned child and adder For the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. His resting place shall be glorious. Some of my thoughts... It is not strange to see a tree growing, nor is it surprising to see dead tree stump. It is not shocking to see baby in a mother's arms or a cobra at the zoo. A new context, however, can make familiar images startling. Life where I expect to see death, like a branch growing from a long dead stump, encourages me. Life can hold on against all odds finding nourishment from the most meager offerings, like a peony growing in the crack of a sidewalk. And this is the image God gave to Isaiah, life in unexpected places. "There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit." You people, who were called "God's people," you messed up. Badly. You spread death and selfishness and you tried to manipulate God and control his blessings. And all that could be seen from the outside was an empty dead husk. An echo of a life that was, and was no more. But God has power over death. Death is defeated in the resurrection. God can make dry bones into breathing bodies (Ezekiel 37). The power of death has been overthrown. And here we are given another even more startling image. God shows Isaiah a world where the vulnerable and vicious abide together. A lamb no longer fears its greatest enemy, but instead lives peacefully beside the wolf. A baby naps in a nest of cobras and a child plays sweet games with snakes. This is not the world we know. There is no fear needed, no protection required, no boundaries necessary between the weak and the strong because in this new world, "they shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Is. 11:9)." God is not satisfied to merely comfort and heal our brokenness but instead to give us a place to dwell in safety. And the point is not that we should never give up on people, or endlessly put ourselves into harms way, but that there will come a day and God will bring a time when there will be no danger. When our hopes are fulfilled; when we do not need to fear for the safety of our children; when the very nature of the world will have changed so radically that creation itself can feel it. 4-13-15 S. Jewell S. McGhee
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