Advent 1 - Hope
A small village a half days walk from the sea, was know in the region for it’s arrogance. The clan who settled the village were from the lineage of the most beloved king in their country’s history. Youngest son of Jesse, David, was from Bethlehem, a short walk down the hill from Jerusalem. David’s was followed by his son Solomon, afterwards the kingdom split. Ungodly kings followed, then the land was conquered by the Assyrians and Babylonians and the people were taken into captivity and spread across many nations. As the remnant returned to the land of Promise, some of Jesse’s family settled a village in the northern region, Natser, which meant a new sprout or shoot. The village was sometimes referred to as Netser which means to watch or guard a secret.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch (natser) will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of 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 righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod 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. Isaiah 11:1-5 NIV
The prophets foretold God’s promise that David’s kingdom would be restored in full majesty, lasting for all eternity. The people understood the word picture of a branch coming from the stump to start a new tree that would bear fruit. Living in an agrarian society, Israel knew the olive tree’s amazing ability to regenerate from its extensive root system after being cut down or burned by fire. Scripture was clear, the king would be raised up from the stump of Jesse, roots generating a Branch to be their future king, a king greater than David.
Jewish scholars expected the new king would come from Bethlehem where the clan of Jesse and mighty David had originated. Natser believed otherwise since they were of the clan of Jesse, branches from Jesse, and watchers of the Messiah’s arrival. It was their little secret. Jerusalem, and more populated southern regions, looked down upon those from Natser referring to them as haughty, country folk. “Nazareth! Can anything good come from there?” Nathanael asked. “Come and see,” said Philip. John 1:46 NIV
The land of Israel was under the oppressive authority of foreign powers who governed the people harshly, so they anxiously waited for the redeemer, watching for the Messiah. Natser was confident the next king would come from their small village. One day, about mid-year, Gabriel appears to a young Natser girl, and so our Christmas story begins…
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin's name was Mary. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end." Luke 1:26-27, 31–33 NKJ
Isaiah 11 provides a prophesy for people watching for a messiah:
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. In that day the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the surviving remnant of his people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath 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 quarters of the earth. Ephraim’s jealousy will vanish, and Judah’s enemies will be destroyed; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah, nor Judah hostile toward Ephraim. Isaiah 11:1-5,10-13 NIV
Jesus is on His throne to judge the people of the earth. All nations will rally to Him as He stands in rule over HIs people returning from the four corners of the earth. My friends, all of God’s prophesies have not been fulfilled. Isaiah 11 proclaims a glorious time for the LORD’s Kingdom to come when jealousy and hostility will be no more.
May this Holy Season of Celebration be a time of hope for you and your family. Our time on this earth is but a blink in the story of our God, whose plan is to restore mankind to Himself. Whatever you are going through, whatever troubles and obstacles you are facing, the story is not over. Our Father’s plans are ongoing until every one of them has been fulfilled when He sends the Messiah a second time. Let us be watchful, confidently waiting for our LORDs with the same expectation as the people of Naster, Nazareth, anticipated His first arrival. This time He will come in full majesty and arrayed in all His glory.
Almighty God, All things are under Your authority. We praise You for Your lovingkindness demonstrated as you sent Your only Son to redeem this world from our sinful state, to throw off the powers that enslave us so we may walk in freedom and righteousness. Open our minds to what You desire for us to learn and open our hearts to the depth of Your love as we eagerly anticipate the second arrival of Yeshuah ha Messiach, Jesus the Messiah. You have adopted us and made us part of Your family, and although we are burdened by the hardships of this world, You are returning to establish Your eternal kingdom. Thank you, Holy Abba, Father, for this time of hope and remembrance when Your Son’s birth. We praise you now and forever more. Our hope is in You alone. Amen