The Rod of Jesse

As the Advent season quickly concludes its third week let us examine the third stanza of that great hymn O Come O Come Emmanuel:

O come, thou Rod of Jesse, free
thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
from depths of hell thy people save,
and give them victory over the grave

Here we trace the importance of the Christ being the Rod of Jesse promised to us in the book of Isaiah chapters 11& 12.

In this powerful prophecy  we are given a picture of a new king who will rule from the throne of David and usher in a new and lasting kingdom, one in which the people will, in joy and salvation, sing praises to the greatness of his name. This is the reason I believe the writer of O Come, O Come Emmanuel seems to focus on the victory that this king will bring, not over an earthly nation, but over the tyranny of Satan.

To help us to see the blessings of God in this text, we begin by observing the rod that would come from the stump of Jesse. Here is something so important and yet so often overlooked. Isaiah points to a future in which the line of Jesse (i.e. David) the great and mighty tree that ruled over the houses of Israel would become but a stump. To the rest of the world it would seem as if God had forgotten His people. The great house that was to be for all eternity, would become nothing. However the Lord reveals to Isaiah  something much greater, and that is that this great house would be restored, and His promise to David would be fulfilled. The coming Christ would once again grow from what looked like a deceased line. In the book of Matthew we get a picture of God’s faithfulness as Jesus’s lineage is traced back to the Royal family.

God never forgets His promise to his people. Isaiah hundreds of years before revealed to us the heart and plan of God. He revealed the love and desire that He had for His people and that He would never forget his promises. So too for us as we sing the song we reflect on the fact that His promises are secure and that though we wait, as Israel waited for the Christ, we way with the knowing hopeful expectation of Christ’s second advent with us.

The prophecy in Isaiah continues to look to a future complete fulfillment of the coming of Christ, and with this coming the bringing of a new and lasting kingdom. This new and future kingdom points to a time when the very natural world would be upended. Those who were enemies would become an everlasting family. He points to the peace and tranquility that will exist between God, man and creation. The reality of this kingdom began when Christ was crucified and resurrected, for in that day He brought reconciliation between God and man. In Him the wrath of God was absorbed against all who repent and believe. Those were once far-off, despised and hated by the religious rulers now found hope in the kingdom not set by human standards but declared and won by God himself.

This new Kingdom was like nothing that they could’ve imagined. It would be a kingdom not built by where you were born in this physical world, but rather it would be built by the power of the Spirit of God moving and changing hearts and lives through faith and repentance. This new Kingdom would be a kingdom of refugees and exiles; and yet it is a true kingdom of freedom and liberty. For its people have been saved from their sins, they have been given victory over death and are no longer bound by Satan’s tyranny, but rejoice in the love and greatness of their God. If you are in Christ this is the kingdom for which you truly live and breathe. The things of these earthly kingdoms of this day will pass away just as Rome fell, just as the British Empire shrank, just as Babylon stands no longer the kingdoms and countries of this world will not last, especially in comparison to the great and glorious kingdom of our God which will live forever. Therefore let us rejoice in the victory of our King Jesus who is the Rod of Jesse, who is the son of God, who is our King eternal.


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