One month ago we had a Presidential election. I know, you probably did not even realize the election was going on (especially if you live in Colorado or Ohio). This election was hotly contested and revealed a country that is very divided. No matter how the election turned out, roughly half the country was going to be disappointed the outcome. This election cycle did not begin last January, it began in November 2008 when President Obama won the White House. Both sides had zeroed in on November 2012, and both sides had promised the moon. Some people believed all the promises they heard during election season, while others were more cynical. In the 21 years I have been voting, I have seen my hope in the political process deteriorate from idealism to a great depression. The endless rhetoric of the election left many tired and wounded.
Regardless of our political fatigue, however, it is hard to argue that who our leaders are makes a big difference in our lives. This is true of the United States, and it was also true of the nation of Judah in Isaiah’s day. When Isaiah wrote his prophecy (the Old Testament book of Isaiah), Judah was in political crisis. After 52 years of being led by “good King Uzziah,” Judah was under different human leadership. This troubled God’s people and increased anxiety about what would happen to the nation without their previous King. God addressed their concerns through Isaiah’s prophecy. In chapter 6, he reminded the nation that God was still on the throne. In chapter 7, God promised relief from the attacks of Israel and Aram. In chapter 11, however, God looks further into the future, to remind Judah that their ultimate leader will provide a peace that will dwarf the accomplishments of even their favorite King Uzziah! Listen to what God promises to His people in Isaiah 11:1-10:
“Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot – yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. 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. He will delight in obeying the Lord. He will never judge by appearance, false evidence, or hearsay. He will defend the poor and the exploited. He will rule against the wicked and destroy them with the breath of His mouth. He will be clothed with fairness and truth. In that day the wolf and the lamb will live together; the leopard and the goat will be at peace. Calves and yearlings will be safe among lions, and a little child will lead them all. The cattle will graze among bears. Cubs and calves will lie down together. And lions will eat grass as the livestock do. Babies will crawl safely among poisonous snakes. Yes, a little child will put its hand in a nest of deadly snakes and pull it out unharmed. Nothing will hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain. And as the waters fill the sea, so the earth will be filled with people who know the Lord. In that day the heir to David’s throne will be a banner of salvation to all the world. The nations will rally to Him, for the land where He lives will be a glorious place.”
Wow. What a campaign promise! To a people facing uncertain national prospects, God promises a future leader who will restore peace . . . not just between people, but with all of nature! This future leader could only be God Himself to accomplish such a task . . . God coming (as this passage indicates) in the form of a little child. Jesus was to be the Branch of David’s tree that would be the Messiah for God’s people. Isaiah wrote this 700 years before Jesus was born, but what is amazing for us today is that the ultimate fulfillment of these promises has yet to be realized. Jesus will return to this earth one day to fulfill this campaign promise God made through Isaiah 2,700 years ago! When Jesus comes again, He will establish a government on this earth where the wicked are no longer allowed to rule and the poor and exploited will have a true champion. As surely as Jesus was born in Bethlehem, so we look forward to this future reign of Christ on the earth (for more details of this time, look at Revelation 20.)
This Christmas season as you either celebrate or denigrate the latest chosen American political “Messiah”, I challenge you to lift your eyes up and gain perspective. We know who the real Messiah is, and He is not a registered Republican or Democrat. He is Jesus Christ, and the peace we long for will certainly come to pass one day when He returns. To a people facing political crisis, God encourages us with the campaign promise of Isaiah 11.