Passage: Isaiah 11:1–11:10
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Isaiah 11:1-10
Date: December 4th, 2016; Advent 2; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Maybe you remember a television commercial from a few years back that wonderfully pictured peace on earth.
The commercial begins with a dog walking into a room and finding a comfortable place to curl up by a fireplace.
Next a cat comes in, walks over to the dog, rubs faces with the dog, and lies down beside him.
Then a mouse scurries in and lies down next to the cat.
Finally, a little girl, about five years old, looks through the door and smiles at the three animals lying together.
The last scene is of the three animals looking up at a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, and the words Peace on Earth appear on the screen.
The animals aren't afraid of each other - they are just resting together in front of the Christmas tree. Peace on earth.
The prophet Isaiah also pictures peace on earth very well.
He prophesies about animals that would normally eat each other instead relaxing and eating together.
A leopard stretches out and takes a nap next to a goat rather than picturing it on a dinner plate.
A wolf no longer snarls and prowls around a lamb, but the two are best buddies, playing together.
Lions, tigers, and bears eat grass and nap in a pasture with a bunch of cows - and none of the animals are nervous about the arrangement.
Natural enemies in the animal world will become friends, living in perfect harmony.
A nursing child will be filled with laughter as he plays safely with a cobra snake! No threat, even from a poisonous snake!
Peace on earth. The picture is beautiful.
The weakest and most vulnerable will be safe and secure. No one will get hurt. No one will be in harm’s way. No more injustice. No more enemies. No more war.
Just living together in harmony and peace.
Of course, that’s not the way it is on earth right now. Animals do not play nicely together.
You will see this clearly if you search “animals attack” on youtube or watch the National Geographic channel - then you will see how harsh and cruel the animal kingdom truly is.
But it’s not just the animal world where peace on earth seems to be missing.
Terrorism. Car bombs go off, and innocent people are killed.
Wars continue to be fought and there is always risk of more as tensions increase.
There is crime, gang activity, and murder being reported on the news all of the time.
Even in our homes and among friends and co-workers we experience turmoil.
We find little peace when we look at how human beings are treating each other.
But God has promised that love and peace will be restored and will prevail.
Peace on earth has to start somewhere, and in Bethlehem, long ago, true peace arrived as a little child, born so humble and vulnerable.
Isaiah’s prophecy, written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, described Jesus’ arrival as a shoot out of a stump.
At the time of Isaiah’s writing, God’s people looked dead, like a stump.
They had continually disobeyed God and they were suffering the consequences of their disobedience.
But God had promised that a Messiah would come one day, and he would be called the Prince of Peace.
King David’s father, Jesse, is named in Isaiah’s prophecy to show that the promised Saviour of the nations would be born in humble surroundings. And he was.
Mary and Joseph were not famous: a carpenter and his wife—simple working-class folk.
Jesus is born and laid in a manger, not a palace.
He is raised in a small town among fishermen and other hard-working people - not in a capital city.
Yet he is the shoot out of that stump who brought peace on earth.
Jesus was sent to make peace between us and God and to bring true peace on earth.
His death on the cross would take care of all of the punishment we deserve because of our sin and rebellion.
We call it forgiveness, but we can also call it peace.
Listen to how St. Paul describes it: “For in [Jesus] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross” (Colossians 1:19–20).
And then came that day when peace flowed like a river from Jesus to his first followers.
On Easter he rose from the dead. The violence done to him - was undone.
Later, when the disciples were huddled in a locked room, afraid for their lives, they suddenly saw Jesus alive and standing in their midst.
He greeted them by saying, “Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, even so I am sending you” (Jn 20:21).
With that, the true peace that Jesus brought began to spread into the world.
Jesus is the shoot that comes out of the stump.
He sprouts branches and leaves wherever his people are. Wherever you are. You are very much an important part of the fulfilling of Isiah’s prophecy of peace on earth.
How can you bring peace into this world filled with chaos, hurt, and fear?
Seek reconciliation and forgive someone you are in conflict with.
Visit with someone going through a difficult time. Offer any assistance you might be able to provide. Pray with them. Share with them an encouraging Word from God.
Support organizations that provide support, food, shelter, and other care to those in need.
Proclaim to others that the same peace that you have received from God through Christ Jesus is also for them.
What higher honour and privilege could we have than to serve God as his disciples who help bring his peace into this world?
What a joy it is to proclaim to the world God’s gift of forgiveness, salvation, and the certain hope of eternal life.
We are the instruments of peace for the Prince of Peace.
During this season of Advent, this season of anticipation, we look forward to the Last Day when Isaiah’s prophecy will be fulfilled completely.
Animals will lie down together in harmony.
No more anger, conflict, violence, or wars.
No more injury, sickness, disease, and suffering.
No more sin.
No more death.
Only love, joy, health, and life.
The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9) - and their will be eternal peace. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.