God’s Kingdom is at Hand

Written by Stephanie Kimec Parker, Pastor, The Gathering at Scott Memorial United Methodist Church, Virginia Beach VA

Trees with light coming through. A Voice in the Wilderness

Isaiah 11:1-10

A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse,
   and a branch shall grow[a] out of his roots.
The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him,
    the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the spirit of counsel and might,
    the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.
 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.

He shall not judge by what his eyes see
    or decide by what his ears hear,
but with righteousness he shall judge for the poor
    and decide with equity for the oppressed of the earth;
he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist
    and faithfulness the belt around his loins.
The wolf shall live with the lamb;
    the leopard shall lie down with the kid;
the calf and the lion will feed[b] together,
    and a little child shall lead them.
The cow and the bear shall graze;
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp,
    and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den.
They will not hurt or destroy
    on all my holy mountain,
for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord
    as the waters cover the sea.

 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.

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Earlier in Isaiah chapter 7 we discover the people of Judah were facing attacks from Syria and the kingdom of Israel. The king of Judah, Ahaz, was unsure what to do. Of course, he didn’t want to be under another nation’s rule, he didn’t want his people to be destroyed by war, and he found trusting God to be hard to do. Isaiah, the prophet of the day, urged king Ahaz to stand firm and trust in God. Isaiah knew that God could and would provide all the protection needed, but King Ahaz would have to trust in God. However, Ahaz was not satisfied with this, and instead he entered into an alliance with Assyria.

The people of Judah have broken the covenant they had with God. They have not put God first in their lives, they have had other gods before our one God. They should have trusted God to provide protection, but instead they put their trust in the powers of other nations instead of their God. Isaiah knows it will not go well for the people now that they have so clearly broken the covenant.

Even in the midst of coming destruction and war, Isaiah writes of hope. Isaiah 11 illustrates the kingdom of God. The peaceable kingdom is coming. Christ’s return will usher in the kingdom of God, a time of total restoration of the world to what God intended when God created the world. 

This description is powerful, these unlikely animals that are predator and prey and now live in peace with each other. The wolf was known for attacking the lamb, now they live together. A calf and lion will eat together, and it won’t be the lion eating the calf, and a child will lead them. Young children will play in the homes of snakes and will remain unharmed. The snake that had ever since Genesis 3 had become a symbol of chaos and evil would be restored.

Jesus’ message was about the kingdom of God, he came to remind the people that God would fulfill this promise one day. “They will not destroy or hurt on all my holy mountain” (Isaiah 11:9a NRSV).

Although the people have made some big mistakes, God will still fulfill God’s promises. One is coming who will with righteousness judge for the poor, and decide with equity for the oppressed of the earth (Isaiah 11:4 NRSV). The peaceable kingdom will one day be fully here on earth. Death, destruction, hurt will be no more. This is good news for our world today, where everyday the news is full of death, destruction and hurt. God will restore the world to what God intended, God’s kingdom is at hand and is fully coming. On days when the news threatens to take our hope, this passage stands firm to remind us this world in its current form is not as God intended. God’s intended world is coming, Christ’s return will usher in the kingdom of God as promised. Amen.

 

 

A Voice in the Wilderness: Lent 2024

Find all entries from A Voice in the Wilderness online here: haymarketchurch.org/lent24