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Monday, December 10, 2018

"O Come, O Come, Emmanuel" (Advent plus 1) Pt 3


(If you would rather listen to the sermon you can go here)


O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Pt 3
Isaiah 11.1-10 (Luke 1.30-55)
BLESSED Lord, who has caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning; Grant that we may in such wise hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and comfort of your holy Word, we may embrace, and ever hold fast, the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you hast given us in our Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

Joshua Wehe’s Eagle Project tree… Today we come at the major Scripture behind the 3rd verse of “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel”: “O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free / Thine own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell thy people save, And give them victory o'er the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.” As we sing this verse we can clearly see how it bleeds Bible and glistens Gospel! The main passage driving this verse is Isaiah 11.1-10, where we hear of the Spirit of Christ, the justice of Christ and the New Creation of Christ.

Spirit of Christ (11.1-3a): The promise is of the one who will come as a 2nd David (v.1), “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (11.1). Like Joshua Wehe’s Eagle Project tree…. This special one, this long-awaited one will have the Spirit of the LORD resting on Him (11.2). The Spirit will enable this 2nd David in his calling and mission (11.3a). // “And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the Son of God” (Luke 1.35).  ““The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor” … “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing”” (Luke 4.18-21).  O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free / Thine own from Satan's tyranny…” Therefore, this Spirit is on Christ, and if we are united to Christ, the Spirit resting on him fills us. His Spirit becomes our resource for …! “O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free / Thine own from Satan's tyranny…”  The rod of Jesse, the branch from his roots that shall bear fruit, and buds and blossoms with a particular fruit, both the justice of Christ and the New Creation of Christ!

Justice of Christ (11.3b-5): No hood-winking him! No pulling the wool over his eyes, “He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear” (11.3b)! [a] He won’t be fooled BY or ABOUT the poor, “but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth” (11.4a). In fact he will show proper care and fairness for the truly poor and the genuinely meek of the earth (The meek will inherit the earth). [b] 4c sounds like the book of Revelation in a nutshell “and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked” (11.4b)! [c] He will be so accustomed to moral integrity and steadfast loyalty that he will seem to be clothed with it, “Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins” (11.5)! Even Mary’s song of praise in Luke 1.46-55 wraps justice and righteousness like swaddling cloths around the coming of Jesus! “He fills the poor with good; he gives the suff’rers rest: the Lord has judgments for the proud and justice for th’ oppressed” (Isaac watts). Therefore, the embodiment of the eternal Son of God as that embryo in Mary’s womb, as well as in his birth, holy life, teaching, crucifixion for our sins and resurrection for our justification, ascension and enthronement nails down and opens up our hope that death is not the final word; evil is not the last statement; desperation is not our definitive demise, and so we sing, “O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free / Thine own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell thy people save, And give them victory o'er the grave.” And being united to Jesus, the rod of Jesse, by the Holy Spirit thru faith, also makes us part of his concern for righteousness and justice—in a world where people are being sexually beaten up, physically violated, economically trounced and racially desecrated. “O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free / Thine own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell thy people save, And give them victory o'er the grave.” But the other fruit budding and blossoming on this rod of Jesse is the New Creation of Christ! The justice of Christ and the New Creation of Christ must go together!

New Creation of Christ (11.6-10): Alec Motyer makes this comment: “[…] first the Messiah buds forth and then, through him, new life for people becomes possible on a world-wide scale and the life of nature itself is transformed.” In a very picturesque way, the prophet shows how the one we are praying to, comes and brings reconciliation and resolution to old, deeply embedded hostilities, “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them” (11.6). In fact, the scenic presentation goes further and shows how the New Creation brought by the rod of Jesse changes the old natural fierceness from within, where carnivores have a new nature, and shockingly they become herbivores: “The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox” (11.7). This all points back to Eden, but points forward to the New Eden of the regeneration of all things! You surely may come just as you are; but be assured, he will not leave you as you are! Even the curse appears to be completely removed, “The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den” (11.8). Genesis 3.15 seems to be played out…, and, surprise, this New Eden is Mt. Zion; and, surprise of all surprises, Mt. Zion becomes the whole transformed earth; “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” (11.9)! Personal New Creation, but also Corporate, Tribal and cosmic New Creation, “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious” (11.10)!  O yes! “O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free / Thine own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell thy people save, And give them victory o'er the grave.” And the carol assures us our prayer shall be answered: “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

Those who have been made at peace with God thru our Lord Jesus Christ, the rod of Jesse, are freed to become his peacemakers among warring family members, church members, tribes and races, and joyfully desire to see love and peace flowing to the creation. As the choir sang: “Oh, happy towns and blessed lands  That live by their true king’s commands. And blessed be the hearts he rules, The humble places where he dwells. He is the rightful Son of bliss Who fills our lives and makes us his, Creator of the world, Our only strength for good” (George Weissel, “Fling Wide the Door.”). And so, rightly we sing this verse in our Advent carol, “O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free / Thine own from Satan's tyranny; From depths of hell thy people save, And give them victory o'er the grave. Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

O come, thou Rod of Jesse” – right up front you know that you are praying for the one born that night in Bethlehem to come, to come again and fill out to the fullest the promise in Isaiah 11!
O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free” – you are asking him to liberate, emancipate, to break chains and shatter shackles – our own and others! But what chains and shackles?
O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free (1) Thine own from Satan's tyranny [temptation, domination, subjugation!]; (2) From depths of hell thy people save, [hell can be felt and experienced in many ways – some mental illnesses feel like hell; crippled and cruel relationships; addictions; social unraveling and brutality – yes! From the depth of hell thy people save!], (3) And give them victory o'er the grave [run with it! Let your hearts run and race through every death-trap, and the final death-trap of us all].
And then, look up, be encouraged, for we are heard and will be answered: Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.”

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