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I. Root of Jesse
I have good news and bad news. First the bad news. The nation will be destroyed. Because the people have turned away from God and His Law and God has had enough. It’s been going on for a long time and there is no sign of repentance. So God is going to destroy the nation, not with a cataclysmic flood as He did in the days of Noah, but through a foreign power that He will use to punish and destroy the nation.
It is still not too late however. If you will yet repent, God will yet relent and turn aside His fierce anger and in His great mercy, forgive you all of your sins and give you a fresh start and a new beginning.
But the really bad news is, you will not repent. And you will not repent because you will not listen to His word of warning. You turn a deaf ear to the preaching of His preachers and imagine that nothing bad will happen to you because you are God’s chosen nation. You imagine that you do not need to repent because God will work all things for good, even if you continue in your willful ignorance and disobedience of His Law.
And now for the good news. After the destruction of the nation is complete and after there is nothing left of the nation’s former glory and former power and influence, God will raise up a new nation out of the ashes of the old.
The good news is that just as in the days of Noah, when God destroyed “everything on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life,” “He preserved believing Noah and his family, eight souls in all.” (Gen.7:23). And He will do the same with you. Out of death, He will bring life. Out of destruction, He will bring reconstruction. Out of a wicked nation, God will raise up “a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.” (1Ptr.2:9).
This, in summary is the preaching of the prophet Isaiah to the nation of Israel. The book of Isaiah has some of the worst bad news and the best good news in the bible. The bad news is that the nation of Assyria, Israel’s enemy to the East, will attack the nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, and destroy it. God will use Assyria to carry out His discipline upon His people because of their refusal to listen to His Word.
Isaiah pictures Israel as a great forest that has been completely ‘clear-cut,’ nothing but stumps remain. Assyria will reduce Israel to nothing. All who see it will laugh and shake their head and wag their tongues. “How pathetic!”
But then comes the good news. “There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” What looked like total destruction is not so total. What looked hopeless is actually hopeful. What looked like the end is actually a new beginning. One tree that bears all the marks of death will actually become the tree of life.
Isaiah is using a mixed metaphor to preach the gospel. Shoots and stumps, branches and roots are all about trees. But “Jesse” is the name of a human being, and human beings don’t have shoots or stumps, branches and roots.
Isaiah is referring to a ‘family tree.’ Of all of the other family trees in the forest, this is the tree that you want to watch closely. Follow the offspring that ‘comes forth’ from this man named Jesse because “the Spirit of the Lord will 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”
Isaiah describes the new nation ‘comes forth’ from this ‘offspring of Jesse.’ It’s ideal and glorious, full of peace and safety and security. “The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion… and a little child shall lead them.”
But like I said, the prophet’s sermon fell on deaf ears and the nation would not repent and turn to the Lord. And they were destroyed.
And how did the nation respond to the invasion of the Assyrians and to their defeat and Assyrian tyranny?
Some, if not most, shook their fists at the sky and cursed God and blamed God for their condition saying, ‘how could God let this happen to us? We are His people?’
But some, maybe no more than eight souls in all, who knows, recalled the words of the sermon that the prophet had preached and they confessed that us, they were responsible for bringing this punishment upon themselves because of their refusal to listen. And they repented. And they believed the GOOD NEWS, that out of death, God would bring life. And they put their hope in the Word of the Lord as spoken by the prophet. And they waited in faith for the new day to dawn when “a shoot would come forth from the stump of Jesse and from and a branch from his roots would bear fruit.”
They lived by faith in the GOOD NEWS, believing that contrary to all appearances, (for appearances can be so deceiving,) they would yet become “a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that the day would surely come with they would yet proclaim the excellencies of him who called them out of the darkness and into the light.” Because God’s Word always does what it says.
Just follow the family tree from Jesse. “Jesse, the father of David, and David the father of Solomon, and Solomon the father of Rehoboam…” And fast forward to “Matthan the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom Jesus was born, who is called Christ.” (Matthew 1).
Jesus is the shoot of Jesse, the branch that bears fruit. Don’t be deceived by appearances. He bears the marks of death in His hands and feet and side. But this is the tree of life. And the fruit that He bears is ‘release from tyranny’ and ‘victory over the grave.’ From this righteous branch comes “a holy nation, a people of His own possession,” the one, holy, Christian and Apostolic Church, whom He has called out of the darkness and into His marvelous light.
This is the branch that you were grafted into in your baptism. This is your family tree and you are His precious and glorious fruit. Listen to the Word of the Lord. Repent and turn from your sin. Live by faith in His Word. He is coming again to make all things new.
Sing with me stanza 4 of O Come, O Come Emmanuel.
O Come thou Branch of Jesse’s tree;
Free them from Satan’s tyranny,
That trust Thy mighty power to safe,
And give them factory o’er the grave.
Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel,
Shall come to thee, O Israel.
II. Key of David
I have good news and bad news. First, the bad news. God hates sin and He will not tolerate it. He will not cohabitate with sin.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they were cast out of paradise and the presence of God and the door to the garden was locked shut and neither Adam nor Eve could open it. They could not get back into paradise and the presence of God, and neither can you. The damage has been done. And there is nothing that you can do to repair it. The door is locked and you don’t have the key to open it.
How you want to picture this is up to you. It’s either the door that you can’t open to escape the prison of sin that you are jailed in. Or it’s the door that won’t open to let you into the presence of God and His peace and joy and perfect freedom that you long to enter.
The key, you see, is having the right key. We have a lot of keys. We have a key to the house and a key to the car. Some say that they have discovered the key to happiness or the key to success. You may have the key to someone’s heart.
But what key will open the heart of God that is closed to us because of our sin? And what key will open the door to the Kingdom of Heaven that we may escape this prison house of shootings and murder and misery, and enter into the presence of God and His peace and joy and perfect safety?
And once again, it is the prophet Isaiah who after announcing the bad news, proclaims the good. “I will place on his shoulder the key of the house of David. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut and none shall open.” (Is. 22:22).
In His Revelation, St. John is given a look behind the locked door. “To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens… Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.” (Rev. 3:7-8).
Jesus Christ holds the key to the door He and He alone opens it. He opens the door of our prison to bring us out of our misery and even the grave. And He opens the door to the Kingdom of Heaven and brings us into the presence of God and His peace and joy and perfect safety.
And what is this key that Jesus holds that OPENS THE DOOR TO YOU? It is the key that was laid on his should and that He carried to Golgotha. To say that He holds this key is a drastic understatement. His hands and feet are nailed to it. Jesus holds the key to the Father’s heart and by His body and blood, given and shed for the forgiveness of your sins, He has reconciled the Father to you.
And the Father through the joy of the Spirit says, “Bring the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet and bring the fatted calf and kill it and let us eat and celebrate. For this my child was dead and is alive again; was lost and is found.” (Luke 15:22-23).
And what He opens, no one is able to shut. On the third day, the disciples were huddled together in their own little prison house of fear, “the doors being locked. But Jesus came and stood among them saying, ‘do not be afraid.’ He is the One who opens and no one can shut.
But He is also the One who, by the same key, shuts the door and no one can open. There is no other key than Jesus Christ and His cross. No other key can open the heart of God to us for there is no forgiveness of sins except for the forgiveness won by Christ and Him crucified. Reject this key and the door will remain shut.
Listen to the chilling words of the One who holds the key. “When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ (Luke 13:25).
It is a remarkable thing that Jesus has given the keys to the Kingdom of Heaven to His Church – you and me. Listen, “I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven and whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:19).
Every week, the strangest thing happens all over the world really. Christians gather together in building like this one and together they confess, ‘we’ve locked ourselves out again. And we need someone to use the Key to open the door and let us in so that we may hear the Lord speak to us and eat the feast He has prepared for us.’
And one who has been set aside to be the keeper of the keys says, “In the stead and by the command of my Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you all of your sins, in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” And with that the door are flung open and we are in the presence of God, we are home again, and no one can shut it.
Sing with me stanza 5:
O come, thou key of David, come.
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path of misery.
Rejoice, rejoice. Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel.