My grandmother was a diminutive woman. She was short on stature but she was a ball of energy. In my memory I can see her walking through the house with a big bread pan in her arms. She was always beating up a loaf of bread.. that pan hangs on my wall. It can’t sit flat because the bottom bulges out from all the pounding.
She was afraid of many things- tiger lilies, bullheads and thunderstorms were on the list. Fear kept her home and it was a long time before we got her to visit us in Colorado.
How my brother got her in a motorcycle I will never know, but he did. I thought she would be terrified but she was obsessed. When my brother came home from work she would be sitting outside with a helmet ready to go. The women who nervously watched us ride bikes, loved being on a motorized one. The woman who was afraid for us wandering around the little town of Gardena ND because there were abandoned wells and cisterns, would run around among abandoned mine shafts looking for turquoise. She was also fascinated by tiny blue spruce trees. One day she came back with two coffee cans. Inside were blue spruce saplings not more than six inches tall. She intended to take them back to North Dakota and plant them.
I kind of lost track of grandma about that time she went home I went back to school and don’t remember getting back to Gardena for years.
When I did the little trees were planted but from my perspective they were not doing well. They looked like some one had mowed over them; they had no color; they looked pretty dry and lifeless. So life when on. Grandma went to a home in Bottineau, died, I came back to ND, and one day went to her old place. I was shocked to see two majestic spruce over 30 feet high. The color was vibrant. There were beautiful branches all the way around. They didn’t have dead branches on one side. They were gorgeous.
So you are thinking “that is interesting” and depending on your speed, “that’s five minutes out my life I will never get back”. There is a point.
Spending time with the lessons from Sunday and the “shoot from the stump of Jesse”, there were some fascinating images that brought grandma’s trees to mind.
Isaiah chapters 1-10 lay out the political situation of the corrupt and failing kings of Israel. The last kings, 4 out of five by my count, left office by assassination. Everything was politics and alliances and God’s word was lost or ignored. The promise of “God with Us” comes in the midst of a political diatribe. The underlying explanation that God’s strength is made perfect in our weakness is lost.
The situation as is and as it will be is couched in the language of forests shattered and splintered and armies blasted.”
Raymond Ortlund in his commentary on Isaiah says, “The structure of Isaiah’s thought in chapter 11 is intricate, but his central focus is clear. At the close of chapter 10, what do we see? The infestation of human pride like a vast forest cut down. God swings his axe, and the whole evil system falls. Bare stumps as far as the eye can see. No branches waving in the wind, no birds flitting around, no life, no movement, no sound. The world is dead. But wait. Something new appears: There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1) From one stump a little shoot grows and becomes a branch and bears fruit. And the fruit it bears is a whole new world. Isaiah is thinking of a little boy, born in obscurity more than 2,000 years ago now, with no status but lineage in a failed ancient dynasty. And he is the only one who can save us from ourselves.”
It struck me powerfully-David heard for a long time the derision in the voice of Saul when he called him “”Jesse’s son”. They were nobodies. He felt the burning cheeks of embarrassment when Saul’s daughter brought up his lineage and background. And yet from him comes the “the ensign for people’s” the light to the nations.
Isaiah 11. There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
Rev 5. 5 And one of the elders said to me, “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe ofJudah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.”
16 “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to testify to you about these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.”
Like my grandma’s sapling trees the looked hopeless the shoot from the blasted stump of Jesse has the world in his hands because he is also the Creator and the one for whom it all exists.
So what do we do when we “get” Isaiah 11. When we feel like everything has blasted to ruin and hope is gone? We remember how God operates. He takes small insignificant and despised things and turns them into our life and salvation. What do we do? We sing Isaiah 12.