The prophet Isaiah foretold the coming of Jesus with the analogy of a stump coming back to life.
Earlier this spring I shared pictures of our honeysuckles and used their overgrown dead branches entwined on our metal obelisk as a picture of sin.
Now I want use the same bushes as a picture of Jesus. I hope that double use isn’t confusing. Please read on.
I cut the honeysuckle back to the stump and it looked dead. We planted four vines originally. One vine for each side of the obelisk. It’s been weeks since I did the pruning. All that was left of any of the four vines was a woody stump.The stumps were dry and bark was peeling off. I thought that I had killed all four honeysuckle plants.
In the midst of the honeysuckle we also had 2 weed vines that were using the honeysuckle as cover to grow. It was very difficult to eradicate the weeds without harming the honeysuckle. When I chopped the honeysuckle back, I pulled it all out. Of the two weed vines, one was what I call Virginia creeper, it looks like a grape vine so it is easily distinguishable from the honeysuckle. The other is what I call potato vine. It has similar leaves to the honeysuckle. It distinguishes itself when it blooms, it has pretty little purple flowers that turn into tiny round black berries. The berries I have been told, are poisonous. Neither of the weed vines are a welcome visitor to the obelisk.￼
After chopping it back and pulling it down, everything was cleared away except the stumps. Then I waited. I wanted the honeysuckle back but I wasn’t sure how it would grow back, from the stumps or from the roots. Soon we had green vines sprouting up around the stumps but the stumps still looked dead. So we waited longer. Today I saw life springing out of the stumps of the honeysuckle.
That got me thinking about the root that grows out of the stump of Jesse that Isaiah talked about. Here I am doing yard work, trying to stay busy but avoid a tiny unseen enemy, COVID 19. I am kind of looking for an answer, a healer, a savior, a returning king. I am looking for Jesus to return.
(I mentioned the weed vines because the first green thing I saw growing was a vine growing up out of the ground. It sort of looked like the honeysuckle but it wasn’t coming up out of the stump. I was skeptical but I left it alone and waited. Eventually the real honeysuckle grew up out of the stump. The weeds had almost deceived me. Once I saw the real vine, I pulled up all of the weed impostors. There will be false messiahs who try to trick us and deceive us. They will say that they are the messiah. We need to be watchful and careful and know what the bible says about Jesus’ return so we don’t get fooled.)
Paul mentions the verse about the stump in his letter to the Romans.
“And again, Isaiah says, “The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; in him the Gentiles will hope.”
Romans 15:12 – NIV, Paul uses this verse because Isaiah was referring to Jesus.
Isaiah talked about this new life springing up from the dead stump. God promised that David’s line would continue and yet the Davidic line had evaporated. Like following a path Into the forest and losing it as the path gets smaller and the deer and rabbit trails begin to spread out.
At the time of Jesus’ birth, David had many descendants but none were royalty. By the time Jesus was born There hadn’t been a Davidic king on the throne for hundreds of years.
This is what the prophet Isaiah had said:
“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 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. The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a 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 cobra’s den, and the young child will put its 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. 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.
Isaiah 11:1-10 – NIV
At the time of Jesus, the Jewish people had been waiting for a descendant of David to come and shake off the oppression of the Roman government. Some, maybe most, saw the coming messiah as a political King. Jesus came as a son of of David, but not to set a particular group of people free from a particular group of oppressors. Jesus came to set all people free from a slavery and oppression that we have all been under since Adam and Eve first rebelled against God in the garden. Since then all people have been slaves to sin, and oppressed by sins reward, death.
Back to the vine and the stump and 21st century and hiding from a virus that may may me a little sick or kill me dead. Covid 19 has shut the world down. I lived through Mt St Helen’s eruption and the aftermath of a literal mountain of ash and how it just shut down everything. That was weird and real but it was local. And it was short. This is a fear of a thing that is real but it is global, the whole world has shut down, mostly. We don’t know how our world and our bodies will do once we begin to open back up and turn the world back on.
All of this makes me look for Jesus’ return. When things happen on a global scale my spiritual ears are pricked and perked up and my eyes are wide open and scanning the headlines and the horizon for signs that my King might be returning soon. The branch of David may soon pop out of the dead stump. No, he already did that part. The stump was the royal line of David. Jesus human family had both sides descending from David. He was humanly a son of David. Spiritually he was the son of God. He was born of a virgin. No male seed caused Mary to become pregnant. Impossible? Humanly yes it is impossible. With God, nothing is impossible. But I digress.
We do have a stump sprouting back to life. Our honeysuckle. And we have a king who we have been waiting for for thousands of years, Jesus. Hundreds of generations have scanned the horizon and the headlines for a sign of his return.
My dad and I had a strained relationship. He was a hard headed person and he was hard to live with. One quality he had that I admire was that he kept his promises. If he made a promise, he would die trying to keep it.
God is a promise keeping father. He made a promise to have a king spring up, grow out of the dead stump of king David’s lineage, he also made a promise to the woman Eve, that her seed would crush the serpents head. Jesus made a promise to come back.
The stump, the remnant, the hope for life to spring up out of death. That is what I am longing for and looking for. In Isaiah 6 the prophet has been watching his home land be laid to waste as Israel’s enemies slowly scoop up the people and either kill them or deport them.
“And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.”
Isaiah 6:13 – NIV
God had a plan to keep his plan moving forward. Jesus would be born from a daughter of King David. He was indeed born, lived, died, rose again and then he ascended into heaven and sent his Holy Spirit to lead, empower and guide his followers. And now we wait for his return.
In John’s Gospel, chapter 14 he records what Jesus said about all of this on the night he was betrayed and arrested.
“Jesus replied, “All who love me will do what I say. My Father will love them, and we will come and make our home with each of them. Anyone who doesn’t love me will not obey me. And remember, my words are not my own. What I am telling you is from the Father who sent me. I am telling you these things now while I am still with you. But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you. “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. Remember what I told you: I am going away, but I will come back to you again. If you really loved me, you would be happy that I am going to the Father, who is greater than I am. I have told you these things before they happen so that when they do happen, you will believe. “I don’t have much more time to talk to you, because the ruler of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will do what the Father requires of me, so that the world will know that I love the Father. Come, let’s be going.”
John 14:23-31 – NLT
Readers if you’re still reading, thank you for hanging on through this long post. I rambled.
Jesus is the root of Jesse that God promised. He came. He lived and died and rose again and ascended and will return. Are you ready? Are your friends and family ready? How will we tell more people about this amazing God who keeps promises and saves and redeems and sets people free? Can we each just tell one person this week? I am not very good at it but maybe I can get better. Maybe we can get better. Today we are a day closer to his return. No pressure, but can we be looking for opportunities to serve others and once we have helped and served, then watch for a time to tell them about our amazing God?
Our honeysuckle is coming back, so is Jesus. It could be soon.