Friday 29 December 2017

Bible Book:

and decide with equity for the meek of the earth.” (vv. 3-4)

Isaiah 11:1-9 Friday 29 December 2017

Psalm: Psalm 96


Some of these verses from Isaiah will have been included in many carol services and they fit with two key Advent themes.

The first is the birth of Jesus and how Jesus is seen by Christians throughout the centuries as the fulfilment of this prophecy. Christians have long seen many aspects of the first five verses in Jesus and it seems clear that Jesus himself saw these as well. We see for example in Luke 4:16-19 where Jesus reads from Isaiah 61:1-2. It is worth noting that it is highly unlikely that the synagogue in Nazareth would have been able to afford a complete set of scrolls for Isaiah, so Jesus may have had a limited set to read from. So these verses can be viewed as a reference to the righteousness of Christ. Christians understand Jesus as the only fully righteous person, sinless and fully acceptable to God. That is taken up in understandings of Atonement (how Jesus makes us at one with God through dying on the cross). How that righteousness of Christ impacts us is an area where John Wesley differed from many others. He argued that the righteousness of Jesus does not remove the need for us to be righteous. In other words, it is not imputed (or credited) to us. Instead we need to change, to become more holy (more like those first five verses). However, we don’t do this alone. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, the righteousness of Jesus is imparted to us, so we can become more like Christ in loving God and neighbour.

The second part of the passage is much less likely to be understood in terms of Jesus, so this is more often understood in the other Advent theme of eschatology, the return of Jesus, the full coming of God’s kingdom. In fact, the whole passage can be taken in this way which connects us with tomorrow’s passage from Revelation.

To Ponder

  • Do you feel God is imparting righteousness to you through the Holy Spirit? Where in your life do you experience this?
  • Do you follow more of a Messianic (birth of Jesus) or eschatological (return of Jesus) interpretation of this passage? What difference does it make?
  • How might righteousness as seen in verse 3b and 4 impact the world in which we live? What role do you and the Church have in this?
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