Read Isaiah 11:1-3
1 Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—
yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root.
2 And 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.
3 He will delight in obeying the Lord. (NLT)
Perhaps we have seen landscapes where whole forests have been felled. Where there was once dense vegetation is now desolation. It is this picture that Isaiah paints when he considers Israel, now in Babylonian exile because of their failure to obey God.
And yet amidst the desolate landscape there is a sign of new growth, a small green shoot growing from a tree stump. A reminder that amidst the destruction all is not lost. In its biblical context, this is a reference to the coming of the Messiah who will put things right. From the ruins of the old disobedient people of God will come a one man person of God who will be utterly obedient.
It is a regular theme of the Bible, this contrast between loss and hope. The Babylonian exile is not the last word for the people of God. Our own estrangement from God is not the last word either. There is hope, and it comes in the form of this “shoot from the stump of David’s family”. Or in other words, Jesus.
Sometimes our life can resemble a ruined landscape; all our hopes and dreams seem to have been destroyed. The once beautiful trees have been cut down and only stark stumps remain. And that is the time to go searching for the tiny green shoots of grace and hope, a sign that God has not given up on us, that this is not the end of our story.