When Paul says, in Romans 15:4, “whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope,” he had passages like Isaiah 11 in mind. It is from that very chapter which he quotes, “The root of Jesse will come; even he who arises to rule the Gentiles; in him will the Gentiles hope.” Paul is speaking right to the heart of believers like you and me. All of scripture, whether historical narrative, prophesy, or poem, was written for our instruction that we might have hope.
Isaiah 11 is just brimming with the kind of hope Paul wants us to have.
“There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.” –Hope for the future of Israel, hope in One who will be filled with the Spirit of wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord, hope in a righteous judge, hope in a just avenger, hope in a future peace– “for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea…”
“…In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples –of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.” –Hope for the Gentile nations that would be grafted in as well. This is was what Paul was marveling at in Romans 15, that “in him will the Gentiles have hope.” He continues, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”
In a season when all the world seems to be offering empty sources of hope, joy and peace, Paul’s benediction points us to our ONLY hope, to THE GOD OF HOPE, the only source of joy and peace, WHICH COMES THROUGH BELIEF IN HIS SON, JESUS CHRIST, THE ROOT OF JESSE. Through belief in Him we might not just have hope, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, we might ABOUND in it.
“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.”
Click on the About link at the top of the page to find out how we use tiny objects like the one above to help remember each of the 25 people in the genealogy of Christ we will be reading about during the Advent season