December 5, 2022

Isaiah 11:4 He won’t judge by appearances, won’t decide on the basis of hearsay. He’ll judge the needy by what is right, render decisions on earth’s poor with justice (The Message Bible)

The prophet was looking forward to an ideal king who would do the above. In Isaiah’s time, the 8th century BC, the land was dominated by the Assyrian Empire with its capital in Nineveh, modern day Iraq. They moved west and south across Palestine, defeated and removed the northern part of Israel, and surrounded Jerusalem. The point of having an Empire was to conquer smaller nations and have them send their wealth back to the victors. Even in our history classes we tend to study the great Empires of antiquity highlighting the extent of their conquests and their architectural achievements built on the backs of the masses. Isaiah was looking for a different system led by a different type of ruler. This ruler wouldn’t just go along with the status quo of Empire but bring security and a sufficient standard of living to all citizens. In the end, none of the kings of Israel lived up to this picture. But the followers of Jesus looked back at the words of the Old Testament prophets and believed he had begun to fulfill this hope and that he would bring it to completion at some point in the future. In Advent we give thanks for what began in the manger at Bethlehem and look expectantly for its consummation as we put into practice what we can of it today.

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