“In him will the Gentiles hope.” Romans 15:12
Have you ever noticed a tree stump that has been dead for many years? It is black, weathered, decaying, and showing no signs of life. The Prophet Isaiah uses this image to describe the people of Israel who have turned their backs on the One True God and engaged in idol worship and rebellion against God’s Laws.
God calls Isaiah to speak to the people and tell them that righteous judgment is coming from the Lord. God is about to unleash the Assyrian army to bring death and destruction upon Israel and end their faithless actions. Israel will become like a dead tree stump.
But immediately after pronouncing God’s righteous judgment, Isaiah speaks God’s words of hope. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit” (Is 11:1).
God himself will make a living root come forth from this dead stump by raising up a different sort of king from the lineage of David. This King will bring light to the darkness, redemption and life to all those who trust in the Lord. “In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire” (Isaiah 11:10).
Paul refers to these words in Romans 15:12. “The root of Jesse will come, even he who arises to rule the Gentiles, in him will the Gentiles hope.”
This King whom God sent is our Lord, Jesus. Born of the lineage of Jesse, Jesus is born into our world to become our light, our redeemer, and our eternal life. Jesus has brought us from death (a dead tree stump) to life in him. This is our Christmas Hope.
Jesus, thank you for taking this undeserving, sinful dead stump of me and giving me new life in you through my baptism. Help me to live in hope for today, for this season of Christmas, and for all eternity with you. Amen.
Contributed by Susan Hathcock