Advent is one of those seasons in the church year when ordinary time is interrupted by preparation for the extraordinary. In churches that observe the lectionary, Isaiah 11:1-10 is often the Old Testament reading for the second Sunday in Advent. It is a picture of hope for those on the verge of destruction. Even though the mighty nation of Assyria will destroy Israel, all is not lost. God will fulfill His promise made to Jesse’s son, King David, that his kingdom will endure forever (2 Samuel 7:16). 700 years later, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem because they are of the house and lineage of David (Luke 2:4). And Jesus is born and Isaiah’s prophecy begins to be fulfilled.
In Advent, we prepare our hearts not only for the coming of the Messiah but also for his second coming. We understand from Scripture passages such as this one that the second coming of Christ will result in remarkable scenes such as these so wonderfully described. What better pictures of peace and restored creation than the visual of the wolf lying down with the lamb and the cow feeding with the bear.
Just as Isaiah’s audience was given a picture of hope to anticipate, so we too look for a day of reconciliation among all of God’s created order. This Advent, let us wait and watch with wonder as we learn more about Jesus’ mother Mary and the role she plays in the fulfillment of this prophecy.
Laurie Barnes is the Pastor of Prayer and Congregational Care.