“Vision of Peace”
Isaiah 11:1-10, December 4th, 2022
Sermon by Pastor Tim Woodard
Second week of Advent – Peace – “Light Purple Candle”
“Hear the words of the prophet Isaiah, chapter eleven, verses one thru ten.”
1 A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide by what his ears hear; 4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
5 Righteousness shall be the belt around his waist, and faithfulness the belt around his loins. 6 The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. 7 The cow and the bear shall graze, their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 The nursing child shall play over the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put its hand on the adder’s den. 9 They will not hurt or destroy on all my holy mountain; for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.
10 On that day the root of Jesse shall stand as a signal to the peoples; the nations shall inquire of him, and his dwelling shall be glorious.
“Having heard this uplifting prophetic message from the written words of Isaiah, let us consider our own needs to hear this ancient prophecy.”
“Vision of Peace”
When we talk about peace, we sometimes only think of war time issues. Which are the most needed places for peace. And yes, we need to pray for peace in the Ukraine! It absolutely is time for a negotiated peace to occur! But you and I know that we do not have the power to cause this to happen. And it is heartbreaking! You can read the statistics on the news reports. War is ‘Hell’ on earth! And yes! I just invoked ‘Hell’ as it is an appropriate way to describe what war is. Tormenting, cruel and devastating to the people involved! No other way to see it. Our mistake as moderns is we have movies that paint war as an entertaining drama. There are a few war movies that have been done well – powerfully depicting what war is like. If you watch one of those… you may begin to understand a little better what horror our Veterans and Veterans around the world endure!
This second week of Advent lifts-up Peace – not war. Let us therefore pray for peace in these areas of the world that are involved in war. And as we do so let us acknowledge that peace is needed in all forms of war. Not just war with automatic weapons and heat seeking missiles and drones that can now delivery multiple types of bombs, to specific targets, such as power plants and the like! Even as we try to grasp the enormity of this desire, we admit to ourselves at least that war of this type still exists. Let us pray for God’s intervention! But what of the other types of wars people are facing? Not clear as to what I am speaking of. OK. Let’s take a closer look.
How many of us have dreams that we will not experience, ever again, for ourselves and for others the struggle we are having with how to deal with these mass shootings with the use of war like weapons? Tis a different form of war, but it is hard, hard on the innocent victims and their families. If only we could find common ground as a nation to address this horrific situation. Can we at least form a vision that there are possibilities that we can make some head way on this? You see, every leader of successful enterprises knows: a vision needs to be formed before a solution can be put in place! Are you with me on this? Isaiah had a vision of God’s plan for peace. “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” /Isaiah 11:16/ What vision do we need to cut down or eliminate mass shootings? To date: no one has fashioned a vision that we might rally around. It is time for us to become part of an active solution!
Michael J Chan speaks of Isaiah’s claim. “Isaiah 11(He tells us) begins with the claim that new life will spring forth from an injured stump: “A shoot shall come out from the stump of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots.”” Of course, one must first admit they have an injured stump. Recognizing we have a problem is step one, in any formular for restoration! True in our personal lives as well as community and even national concerns. Where a disconnect has occurred, we need to identify it, acknowledge it, and begin to formulate a plan of action. Isaiah called it a vision. Before we encourage the wolf to live with the lamb, we need to see the purpose or value in it. Isaiah uses the analogy of predator and pray living together to illustrate the enormity of the task. Clearly, such a vision is an impossible dream; as such only the intervention of God, could make it possible! As believers in miracles, we ought not be afraid to ask for a bit of help now and then.
Let’s focus on ourselves for a moment. Let’s be honest… we all do that a lot! Consider something that is not working in your life. Oh, that can be harder than it sounds. Sometimes, us humans think walking around with, say a broken hand is ok. Absurd, isn’t it? The point being some folks have things that are clearly broken in their lives and are unable to admit or accept it. Yet, they are totally stressed out about it. You could say, they can not find any peace in their hearts when they turn the lights out at night. Sleep sometimes evades them. Oftentimes, their conflict is seen by others who are in their circle of life. Some may have even approached them about it, to no avail. No, Isaiah’s vision is not going anywhere until you acknowledge that there is brokenness in your life, home, or community. And this can be expanded till it reaches the thing that needs fixing or transformation.
Peace is hard to find if you’re not looking for it. Isaiah wants us to know, as he speaks to the broken remnant of the conquered people he speaks to. 7 “The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.” /Isaiah 11:7/ Cow’s and Bears do not naturally eat together, rather one prefers to eat the other! What if we change the analogy to read: The folks from the east side and the folks from the west side shall sit down and eat together, sharing the things they have in common. A need to eat nourishing food. To have food and water for their families and shelter and clothing to protect them from the harshness of Mather Natures wrath! It is easy to throw a rock at those other folks then to admit, your own brokenness and bias that stops you from doing so. Peace, of the nature Isaiah suggests that God offers encompasses many and varied aspects of our human existence. Once you can see the stump is broken, the relationship is broken, then a vision can be formed. The surgeon can discuss what needs removal from the zagged break and how it can be transformed. Meaning made new so that it can again do its function. Meaning a changed, altered relationship can be created. Not as it was – but something brand new!
It is the year Two-Thousand and Twenty-Two, and it is the second Sunday of our journey toward that humble setting described in the gospel account according to Luke. There a baby was born. You know the story. The fact that millions still speak of it is a miracle, a transforming miracle! Alan Brehm reminds us of the “Good News” news of Christ Jesus! “The good news of Advent, (Brehm speaks of,) is that Christ’s coming into the world brings a light that is powerful enough to shine into every dark corner that can exist for anyone anywhere.” Once again, we can not fully grasp the meaning here unless we acknowledge the darkness. If you stand on the bow of a sinking ship and say, “my what a beautiful sight, as the captain looks over the bow of his sinking ship to admire the setting sun.” Perhaps, the captain is at peace, with his demise as he and his ship sink to the bottom of the ocean. Yet, the blackness of the situation clearly needs a miracle to be righted!
John C Holbert, tells us that God’s plan includes peace! “God’s plan for the cosmos is peace and harmony and beauty. God is bringing this about again and again. But where and when, we rightly ask?” We must agree, the prophet Isaiah is always offering his listeners yet another vision, another pathway to peace! Clearly, we need to accept the need for correction. Then the vision must be formed. This brings us to the next gateway. Holbert’s nagging question, must be addressed. “But where and when, we rightly ask?” If we believe in the power of our Creator God, we must put our trust in the mystical hands of the one who Created us. Once we do this the where and when, which we long to know, becomes of less and less importance. Doesn’t feel right when this is said out-loud does it? It will when we truly trust in the mystical transformative power of God.
Miracles don’t always move mountains. Sometimes just a change of attitude is necessary. That broken relationship comes back together and new peace is shared between those that had been adversaries just yesterday. Janet H. Hunt asks the how question! “How do you experience the prophet’s vision for us here?” Some of the wars which we rage are deep in our own misunderstanding of our own roles in differing things and often are between us and other peoples. The season of Advent points to these cracks in our own sense of peace. Advent tells us to look to the prophets like Isaiah and see our own brokenness. We shall feel and undergo a change… if we ask for the Living Spirit of God to help us see more clearly a new vision. Every vision is different for us as individuals, as our needs, our life situations, they are all custom made by our own personal journeys.
The root of Jesse, as spoken of by Isaiah, is the broken root of the Nation of the Israelites. The Prophecy is for that new root, to bring forth a transformation… bringing new promise, a new makeover which is envisioned – to take those hearing his words to a New Place – a New Position or Station – within God’s vision for their future. Let it be so for us as well!