This week’s reading from the Prophet Isaiah is a song about a new World. It’s a world of peace and harmony. It’s a world that the prophet tells us, God is going to bring into existence. It a world that you and I have heard of and, I expect, long for.
What’s striking to me though is the context and the timing in which this song of promise is sung. It’s born in a moment of incredible peril and looming destruction for the chosen people of God. The military might of the Empire of Assyria is bearing down on the cities and the villages of tribes of Jesse. It’s sung as the storm is about to break upon them, and destroy them.
But that’s what makes the promise so profound. The stump of the tree of Jesse will someday, it is promised, put forth a new green shoot. It will live in spite of what it will suffer. And the new growth, the new tree won’t just be a restoration of what once was, but a recreation and a new thing. It will represent a world in which there are no more Empires that attack and destroy their neighbors. It will be a world in which predator and prey are both transformed and violence and destruction is no more.
That song, delivered as the storm was about to break, gave hope to God’s people. And because they had hope, they endured. And because they endured, and sang their song, we are who we are today. We owe them a profound debt – a debt we can pay by singing the same song in our own day…
The direct link to the video is found here.