Let the Word Speak!

Isaiah 11:1-9: God’s Peacemaker

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[a] 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.

New International Version

In our time, it takes an unreasonable optimism to believe that our world has the means and will to create peace; that somehow, we, on our own, can fix what is wrong. Instead, we have centuries of history that show repeated failures of well-meaning peace brokers, while war, strife, terrorism, and evil continued to plague humanity. Left to ourselves, our sinful nature creates war, strife, pain, and destruction.

When God revealed the Peacemaker to Isaiah, God had to express how the Messiah would not come from this world, yet be a part of this world. Isaiah wrote that the Messiah would be new growth and fresh fruit coming from what had been a dead stump.   This is the same message in the song lyrics that assure us that “God will make a way when there seems to be no way.”  We should never let go of the knowledge that God continuously works miracles in this world and in our lives. In the same way, we must never forget that we are incapable of solving our problems on our own, any more than we should expect dead wood to produce fruit.

So how does God’s Peacemaker bring peace into our failing world and our desperate lives? The answer to that question is beyond our ability to comprehend it. The Peacemaker comes to us in God’s wisdom, knowledge, and power that is beyond anything of this world. Most of all, the Peacemaker comes in “the fear of the Lord,” the same fundamental commitment we are called to make to respect, love, and obey God. Isaiah’s consistent message is that the only solution to the problems of this world is to follow God’s Way.

But the Messiah did not come to Bethlehem only to fix problems and allow the “repaired” world to continue operating as normal.  We all have thought something like this from time to time, particularly after God has brought us out of a difficult experience. We might pray something like, “Thank you, God–I can handle it from here,” as we fall back into our sinful human tendencies.

The Peacemaker does not comes to fix, but to rule. The Peacemaker comes to bring God’s Justice to the world and to conquer any power that opposes God’s Justice. Our justice is based on our relative comparisons of “good” and “bad,” but God’s Justice is based on heaven’s absolute Good. When we give ourselves to the Peacemaker, making ourselves subject to the Peacemaker’s rule and God’s Justice, God will care for us.

Look at the “other worldly” results! Isaiah tells us of impossible combinations, with confirmed enemies living in peace, natural predators changing their ways, and such perfect safety that not even an infant has anything to fear. All the earth shall be God’s, just as surely as the waters cover the seas.

What does this teach us about how we live? The Peacemaker comes to change individual lives, starting with our own, and any other cause or movement, no matter how noble or beneficial, is nothing more than a distraction. The Peacemaker comes to tell us we can’t conquer the sin in our lives on our own, but God can.  There is no message of human empowerment or heroism, for the harsh reality is that we “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” We can’t live in righteousness from our own wisdom and strength, but the Messiah makes us part of God’s Righteousness. We cannot find peace in this world, but we will find peace in Jesus, and we will find this peace only by giving ourselves to Jesus moment by moment, step by step, and we follow God’s Way.


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Copyright © 2014 Jonathan Morris
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