Friday, December 13, 2013

Solus Christus: A Branch from the Stump

I know we’ve looked at a lot of prophecies from Isaiah. It may seem like he’s the only one through whom God spoke to the Israelite people about their Redeemer, but Isaiah was not the only prophet to prophesy about the coming Messiah. Prophecies of the coming Christ are all over the Old Testament. There are more than I can write about in these short devotions, but we have time to look at some of them. For today’s devotion we’re going to look at how both Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied that the coming Messiah would be a branch from the stump of Jesse—the house of David—and would be our righteousness before God:
1 There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
2 And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
4 but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and 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 of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins. (Is. 11:1-5)
5 ”Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’” (Je. 23:5-6)
Both Isaiah and Jeremiah prophesied that the Messiah would come from the line of Jesse (David’s father), and both likened him to a shoot or a branch. Both declared that He would save God’s people, and both proclaimed that He would be a man of righteousness. Then, of course, centuries later Jesus came and was exactly that. He’s the one through whom we have righteousness (cf. Ro. 5:12-21). Indeed, as Jeremiah prophesied (above) and Paul declared the Corinthian believers: Jesus is our righteousness (1 Co. 1:30). God demands righteousness from humanity and He provides it for His people in Jesus—the shoot and branch from the stump of Jesse. As the Westminster Confession of Faith states in 11.1:
Those whom God effectually calls, He also freely justifies; not by infusing righteousness into them, but by pardoning their sins, and by accounting and accepting their persons as righteous; not for any thing wrought in them, or done by them, but for Christ’s sake alone; nor by imputing faith itself, the act of believing, or any other evangelical obedience to them, as their righteousness; but by imputing the obedience and satisfaction of Christ unto them, they receiving and resting on Him and His righteousness by faith; which faith they have not of themselves, it is the gift of God. 
As Moses reminded the Israelite people, “The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, forgiving iniquity and transgression, but he will by no means clear the guilty.” To stand before God, we must be righteous. To be judged by Jesus in righteousness and not be sent to hell at the Final Judgment, we must be righteous. We can’t do that on our own, but God knew that and provided a Messiah whose is Yahweh Tsidkenu—the Lord is our righteousness (Je. 23:6). Thank God for that branch—that shoot from the stump of Jesse—for we have no righteousness of our own that would ever be acceptable to God.

By the way, did you notice the Messiah arose from the stump of Jesse? He didn’t come from a thriving tree or even from a sickly tree. He didn’t come from a people who just needed a little extra help to be acceptable to God. He came from the stump, i.e. spiritually dead humanity (Eph. 2:1). Indeed, He arose from the very same dead humanity that He came to save and give new life.

On this day of Advent remember where God found you, where God found all humanity when He sent His Son to be our sacrifice and our righteousness. We weren’t just sick in our sins. We weren’t just a “basically good” people who just needed a good example to follow. As Paul tells us in Eph. 2:1, we “were dead in the trespasses and sins in which [we] once walked.” Dead men have no hope of life except by a miracle. Remember on this day of Advent that the Miracle was born two thousand years ago in the little town of Bethlehem from the stump—dead humanity. Praise Him for coming down to walk amongst those dead in their sins so that they might have life again in Him. Praise Him for giving you new life and for giving you righteousness when you deserved the exact opposite. Praise Him for being the Lord your righteousness.

By His Grace,

1 comment:

Big Jen said...

This is my favorite of the advent posts!