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The Real King is Coming...
12/05/2004
Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10
Track 14 of 17 in the Living in the Light of His Coming series


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Chuck Sackett Speaker: Chuck Sackett
Dr. G. Charles Sackett is minister of Madison Park Christian Church.

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Sermon for Sunday, December 5, 2004
14th sermon in a 17 part series
"The Real King is Coming. . . "
"Living in the Light of His Coming"
(Isaiah 11:1-10)
Copyright 2004 G. Charles Sackett


In November my daughter had the opportunity to go back to Oregon for a visit. She went out to the coast where we used to live years and years ago.

She brought back a picture of a tree. Now that may strike you as a little odd in that in Oregon the whole place is covered with them. But this is an odd kind of a tree. I would describe it primarily as a stubborn one. It actually is the only tree on this particular plot. I would tell you it is a plot of ground, but it's not ground, it's a rock. It happens to be right in the entrance of the bay where we used to live. There is this huge outcropping of granite and there is one lone fir tree that stands in the midst of that rock. It has planted its roots someplace in a crack and it has survived everything that the winter storms of the Oregon coast can produce including the Columbus Day storm which blew at a 100 miles an hour for several hours and actually wiped out whole forests. But this stubborn tree refuses to give up. It's just there. I think it's just going to stay there as long as anybody leaves it alone and nobody's going out there to climb the rock with a chainsaw I'm quite sure.

There is this image in the Old Testament of the stubborn tree. That's not what it's called. It's called the Root of Jesse. It's called the branch. There are lots of names for it, but if I were allowed to paraphrase it, I'd call it a stubborn tree. It's just a tree that will not go away.

It has to do with this wonderful, incredible season of the year when that tree comes to life in human form.

I want to look at Isaiah 11 and set it in a context for you. Isaiah is the Old Testament gospel. It is that piece of Scripture that so clearly identifies the coming and the life of Jesus.

Our context is this destruction of Israel by Assyria followed by the destruction of Assyria by God. Both described in terms of cutting down the forest. Isaiah 10 is the context. We're going to be looking at Isaiah 11 eventually, but Isaiah 10:17 for example, The Light of Israel will become a fire, their Holy One a flame; in a single day it will burn and consume his thorns and his briers. The splendor of his forests and fertile fields it will completely destroy, as when a sick man wastes away. And the remaining trees of his forests will be so few that a child could write them down. Israel, he says, is going to come back and destroy Assyria. Come over to the end of Isaiah 10:33 See, the Lord, the Lord Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled, the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One.

You have these repeated images in Isaiah 10 of forests being destroyed.

The very first thing that he says in Isaiah 11 is A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. There you have that forest imagery being carried out. But it's not just that context. This context starts clear back in Isaiah 6 and runs all the way to Isaiah 12.

Isaiah 6:1 starts with this scene of worship. In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted. . . . . .and Isaiah talks about his worship experience.

Isaiah 12 is a description of a worship experience. It's like a pair of book ends. We're in the presence of God.

But in Isaiah 7, 8 & 9 particularly, it's a childhood imagery. You have in Isaiah 7 a virgin shall conceive and bring forth a child. We shall call his name Immanuel. We see that fulfilled.

In Matthew 1:23 where Isaiah is quoted by Matthew as a part of the description of the birth of Jesus. In Isaiah 9 we have him described as the light of the world, coming and bearing light to all nations. He is the one who is the Wonderful Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.

The first few verses of Isaiah 9 which find their fulfillment in Matthew 4 where Jesus enters into his earthly ministry and this text from Isaiah is quoted as being a statement as that's what we should expect from Jesus. To be the light of the world.

So you have that childhood imagery then repeated again in Isaiah 9 and it comes true in Luke 1 and Luke 2 where those same images occur. In that context we come to Isaiah 11 which is clearly understood in this context and by its comparisons to the New Testament as the statement about the coming of Jesus.

Isaiah 11:1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rent on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the 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 hole of the cobra and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of 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 place of rest will be glorious.

This clear statement in Isaiah 11 about the coming of the Messiah identifies for us a number of messages that are important to this particular season of the year. The first one is found in the first five verses. It is so clearly stated that the Righteous King reigns. King Jesus. Now, we don't often think about Him as King at this season of the year. I mean he comes as an infant. He comes in a manger. He comes born in unusual circumstances but he comes as the King. And not only as a King but as a Righteous King.

This is clearly seen in Acts 13, if you want to follow over there, it's fine. I'll be coming back to this Isaiah text, but in Acts 13 when Paul is preaching the gospel and rehearsing what it is that God has done in the history of Israel. After talking about their time in Egypt and they're finally being released from Egypt, in Acts 13:21

he talks about them wanting a King and getting Saul. Then in Acts 13:22 Paul says, After removing Saul, (talking about God's activity) he made David their king. He testified concerning him: I have found David son of Jesse a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.'

"From this man's descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he promised.

There is this clear connection in the New Testament between the Root of Jesse coming from that lineage of David that Jesus would come as the reigning Messiah. He would be this righteous King.

Such an odd contrast in the irony of Israel. Here they were living under King Ahab who was among, not the worst, but among the very worst of all of the kings among the most unrighteous of the tribes. He was the one under whom this prophesy gets told. This unrighteous king is living as the Righteous King is predicted. And the Righteous King comes under the unrighteous rule of Herod, who sought to destroy all of the children.

This Jesus is a real King, one who comes filled with the Spirit of God. That's Isaiah's promise. This one will b filled with the Spirit. And then he identifies six characteristics of that Spirit. A Spirit of understanding, wisdom; a Spirit of power. When Jesus comes we have a very abbreviated version, of course, of his early life. He shows up in Matthew 1 and by Matthew 3 he's a grown man. We just don't see much of his childhood or his early years. But he shows up at the River Jordan in order to be baptized by John and when John baptizes Jesus in the River Jordan there is this statement in Scripture, Matthew 3 paralleled then in all the other gospels that the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove. And there was this visible presence that the Spirit had come and placed himself on Jesus in preparation for his ministry. And the voice from heaven says, This is my Son, in Him I am well pleased. We see that kind of imagery return later in Acts 10 when the apostle is talking to Cornelius and they've had this rather remarkable experience of preaching the gospel for the very first time to Gentile nations.

In Peter's explanation to Cornelius in Acts 10:38 he says, how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went about doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.

You have this very clear image that the Righteous King has come and righteousness characterizes his reign, righteous judgment characterizes his reign. He doesn't make decisions based on what he sees or what he hears. He bases his decisions only in the justice that righteousness produces.

Such a contrast to what we experience in our own culture. I read a New York Times article just a couple, three days ago that since 1989 they have exonerated 328 criminals on death row primarily through the use of DNA evidence. They were actually innocent, but they were going to die had somebody not taken them back for retrial. It's a scary kind of thing to think you can be arrested, put in jail and be innocent.

Not under God's judgment. Under this Righteous King he says there is a righteous judgment that Jesus fully understands and fully knows and he judges both positively and negatively. There are those places Isaiah says where this Righteous King meets the needs of people.. He judges the needy and he helps them. And you watch Jesus walking through the land going about doing good. Healing those who needed healing. It is amazing testimony to his righteous understanding of what people needed.

And then there is the opposite to that. There is this statement in Isaiah 11 that he will judge the earth with the rod of his mouth and with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. There is that other side of Jesus, the justice side of Jesus, that does not allow for that which is wrong to go without notice.

You see inklings of it in Matthew 23 when he talks about the Pharisees being a brood of vipers. But you see it most clearly in Revelation 19 when Jesus returns as the ultimate reigning King, Lord of Lords, King of Kings written on his forehead and on his thigh. At that time those who have wronged God will be judged for eternity.

There are those times in all of us I suppose when we see injustice and we think something needs to be done. And we wish that we had some control over the way things worked and we could try to provide that kind of justice. Let me promise you something that God himself has promised. "Don't worry about it. He'll take care of it." Injustice will be righted when the Righteous King reigns fully at the end of time. All of those things will be cared for.

The other interesting thing about this Righteous King is that his righteousness ultimately becomes ours. Do you notice that down in Isaiah 11:5. Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. That should "ring a bell for you". It ought to sound vaguely familiar because it's the very imagery that's used in Ephesians 6 about the person who places upon themselves the armor of God. Those are two of the images used by Paul in Ephesians 6 to talk about those of us who take upon ourselves the armor. It isn't Roman armor. It's the character of God. And this righteous character of God becomes the character of Christians. A part of that character is that sense of righteousness and faithfulness.

Then there is this rather interesting transition that occurs at Isaiah 11:6. Suddenly we find ourselves in rather different language than most of what we're used to. It's uh, actually poetic and if you're like me, you probably grew up not liking poetry. Not my favorite subject. I never could make heads nor tails out of it, which, by the way, was a poetic statement. It was! It was symbolic. That's poetry. It's full of symbols. Let me read for you one of my, well, just a portion of one of my favorites. You'll forgive me, I'm not a poet. I don't even read it well, so endure, please.

"Will you walk into my parlour?" said the Spider to the Fly,

"Tis the prettiest little parlour that you ever did spy;

The way into my parlour is up a winding stair,

And I have many curious thing to show you when you are there."

"Oh, no, no," said the Fly, "to ask me is in vain;

For who goes up your winding stair can ne'er come down again."

"I'm sure you must be weary, dear, with soaring up so high;

Will you rest upon my little bed?" said the Spider to the Fly.

"There are pretty curtains drawn around, the sheets are fine and thin;

And if you'd like to rest a while, I'll snugly tuck you in!"

"Oh, no, no," said the little Fly, "for I've often heard it said

They never, never wake again, who sleep upon your bed!"

Well, you know how the rest of this goes. And not one of you has ever read that and thought there was a real conversation between a spider and a fly. You always thought that was poetic, that it was symbolic of not allowing people to tempt you into places that you should not go.

It is a natural kind of language for us to be able to take the poetic and walk it into the real without thinking that you have to take it literally, as if spiders and flies actually talked.

In that light, let me read for you Isaiah 11:6 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 hole of the cobra and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

In grand poetic language Isaiah describes the radical change that comes when the Righteous King reigns in your life. It is so utterly incredible the kinds of changes that occur in people's lives that the only way to describe it is to grab these absolutely impossible images, to talk about lions and lambs lying down together and little children reaching in to snakes nests. Now you know that's not how it works.

My cousin lived in Nevada on a big ranch. They had a garbage pit for the whole ranch. It was just a big hole in the ground out there where they threw their garbage away and every once in awhile they would do the landfill thing and cover that part up and dig another one. Well, my cousin being the rather (I'll be nice) venturesome kind, decided that he would try to capture a pair of cougar cubs that had meandered into the pit. So there he was, two little cougar cubs back in a corner. He's trying to corral them when he hears something behind him. It sounded vaguely like a cat. A large cat and mama cougar was right behind him.

There were no lions laying down with lambs at that moment. There were no children playing with vipers and being unharmed. My cousin lived to tell about it. It's a rather gruesome story so I'll not give you the bloody details, just to tell you that life isn't like this Isaiah 11 thing, but it's designed to be.

In what biblical teachers have tried to describe as the now and the not yet, there is life as we know it and there is life as we will have it. And in this poetic language, if you move yourself to the end of time after the return of Jesus, we will have returned to a pre-Eden kind of condition, a pre-fall condition. We will go back to where we were and literally, lions will lay down with lambs. It was that perfect place of perfect peace where everybody got along just fine before sin came along and destroyed the place. That's the anticipation of the New Testament. Colossians 3:1 when you have been raised up with Christ. Colossians 3:10 says, you are being shaped into the image of the one who created you in the first place. There will come a time, out there, when this radical change will have occurred.

But, what about the NOW? The time we live in while we wait for the not yet when this poetry becomes real. The poet uses it to describe the radical change that occurs in the life of people who have come to know Jesus. That things are so radically different you wouldn't even recognize them any more. And if they tried to tell you about some of what they were like back before they came to know Jesus, you would sit back and say, we're not talking about the same person. You're lying to me. That's not, you could not have been that way.

The amazing thing is to meet people who used to have a kind of life that they would never want anybody to know about and you meet them at this point in their career, when they're Christians and they've been with Jesus for awhile, and you just wouldn't have even thought of that because it is so different.

Paul says it this way in the text just ahead of the text that Ginny read for us at the beginning of our service. 2Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! Radical transformation, the kind of thing that we assume to occur in the life of people who come to know Jesus. But the "Now and the Not Yet" exists even in that change because as much as we'd like to be so totally, radically transformed, we sometimes aren't, are we? We don't always do things the way we would like to believe that they should be done. We are still ultimately human and we make some mistakes.

Some of you have felt some of that in this congregation in recent months. Have felt as if there were things that were uneasy. Several of you have asked for someone to make some kind of a comment about that so Wayne is going to come on behalf of the Elders and simply read for you a statement from the Elders that tries to put into some perspective where we are in this "Now/Not Yet" continuum of becoming what we ought to be.

STATE OF THE CHURCH

One of the things that often happens in the midst of transitional times in any church is a sense of where we are and what we're doing and I just want to spend a very few minutes talking about where things are as far as Madison Park is concerned.

We continue to have people come to know Jesus. There have been 77 decisions made thus far this year that we can tell you about. Forty-six of those have been by baptism. There was one happened again this week that you will find out about second service if you happen to be here. There's another one planned for next Sunday morning. There have been 31 people who have transferred their membership into this body to share with us as a part of our congregation and our ministry. There are some people who have been baptized as a part of this ministry that have not yet decided to be formally members of the church. We're still seeing people come to know Jesus. We want you to understand that. That has not changed, nor will it.

State of the church. . . .
Attendance
Discipleship
Adult Discipleship
Offerings
Campaign Offerings

What we want you to hear is this. God is alive and well in Quincy, Illinois and working in this church.

We want you to know that we live in the "Now and the Not Yet." We believe radical change is happening. We also believe there's a lot of radical change left to come in all of us.

Isaiah 11:10 is the last verse of the text we read this morning where this Righteous King becomes the rallying point. In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him and his place of rest will be glorious. This Righteous King rallies those who need rest.

I don't know whether you saw the Patriot movie about revolutionary war times but there is a scene at the end of that movie where Mel Gibson's character is carrying the American flag and rallying the American troops to fight the British. It is absolutely overwhelming. It's just one of those moments when the emotion of the movie catches you and you would want to follow that flag too. It's been the nature of the flag to do that, to be a rallying point.

And what this text is reminding us is that this one who comes through Jesse's seed, Jesus of Nazareth is the rallying point for people. He will call people from the east and the west. He will bring them into a relationship where they have genuine rest and peace. He is the one all of history has been rallying around and been pointed around.

Paul talks about it so clearly in Romans 15 as he comes towards the end of the book of Romans, in Romans 15:8 he says, I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God's truth, to confirm the promises made to the patriarchs so that the Gentiles may glorify God for his mercy, as it is written: "Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles; I will sing hymns to your name."

Again it says, "Rejoice, O Gentiles, with his people."

And again, "Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles, and sing praises to him, all you peoples."

And again, Isaiah says, "The Root of Jesse will spring up, one who will arise to rule over the nations; the Gentiles will hope in him."

The church exists for one reason. To draw men to Jesus and help us become more like him.

And at this incredible season of the year, this Righteous King who reigns for eternity wants to reign in you. And he wants to produce the kind of radical change that causes people to rally around Him. Our job, as simple as it can be, is to be the kind of people who lift up Jesus, elevate Him in the eyes of people and let Him be that rallying banner under whom we all gather. Jews and Gentiles, male and female, young and old, black and white and red and yellow, we come to this one place. It's called the cross of Christ where this child who came as the Root of Jesse calls us to Himself to be radically transformed. To have a kind of life that is just absolutely impossible to imagine outside of Jesus himself.

And I don't know what poetic image you'll use for your life, but Isaiah said it this way. Lions lay down with lambs and little children lead them.

We invite you to know Jesus and to let this Righteous King rule in your life.

Let's stand and sing.