The New David : sermon from First St Johns 140 W King St. York, Pa.

I like referring to the Book of Isaiah as the “Fifth Gospel”, since it was written about 300 years before the birth, the incarnation of Jesus, it could be referred to as the “First Gospel”. Jesus is not referred to by Name, but clearly Isaiah is writing about the coming Messiah, Meshiach, the Savior of Israel. Isaiah lived in Jerusalem at the time when countries all around them were pushing in on Israel/Judah and God was not happy with Israel, which would result in Israel being conquered and many of the inhabitants exiled to Babylon.

Israel had been in its usual cycle. The people did what they wanted, they abused the trust and grace of God, followed whoever they felt was giving them the best deal, the creed was, as it is today “whatever works, whatever makes me happy, whatever I get the most out of”. If Yahweh isn’t going to give me a good deal, then there are other “gods” I can turn to. That’s pretty much the attitude today, what I “like”, what I want and anything else is unnecessary, no integrity, no faithfulness, no loyalty, whatever works for me and whatever the results, ehhh.

Clearly the Law is apparent here. Isaiah has been warning Judah, the center of which is Jerusalem, keep doing what you’re doing, keep ignoring Yahweh, He is the one who has put you there. He gave your ancestors the land, the buildings, the fields, the trees and crops that you have now, your food, all your wealth is from Him, not from these phoney “gods” you worship. You may think that other things can save you, but only Yahweh can, and He will through the promises He’s making through Isaiah. But now after repeated warnings, you are done, the Babylonians are going to sweep in, relocate everyone, and that’s it, or is it?

God disciplines His own, He tells us that. But He never leaves us without hope. As much as we may deserve it, He is the faithful Father and never deserts His children. Yes, they’re going away to Babylon for awhile, but in the meantime, He gives Israel something to cling to. The greatest hero of the Jewish people, King David was a great, very real, man, who did great things and had his failures, his sins too. He started as a shepherd, then became Israel’s greatest king. But Isaiah doesn’t specifically refer to David, he refers to the “stump of Jesse”, that the “axe of divine judgment would cut down the kingdom of David…” the Lutheran Study Bible notes. Isaiah is saying that there will be no more kings of Israel, at least not the way we think about kings. Referring to Jesse, Isaiah is saying that this will be a new David, the David who is the physical son of Jesse died hundreds of years ago. The new David, Jesus, will come. You can see why people in Jesus’ time didn’t enthusiastically buy into Jesus being the Messiah. It would be easy to read Isaiah and think that this is a military king like David. But, as Dr McGee points out, “Jesse was a farmer, a sheepherder who lived in a little out-of-the-way place called Bethlehem…by the time of Jesus, the line of David had sunk back to the level of a peasant … [David’s line was to one] raised in a carpenter’s shop.”[1] So the Jews of Jesus’ time might have been expecting another King like David, the one they got, infinitely greater than David, but born in the line of Jesse a humble farmer, a new David, raised in a carpenter’s shop. But this David will not only be a man after God’s own heart, as David was, Jesus is very much God, as much God as the Father, all-mighty Lord, through whom the universe was created.  

Yes, Yahweh is distinctly unhappy with Israel/Judah, they are adulterous, unfaithful to Him, they have simply rejected Him and made themselves all little “gods” much as we see today. Even though we don’t deserve it, whether we are openly dismissive or hostile to God, passively uninterested, He is still interested in us. He gives us the promise of a new future, new life, new world, as He does here in our reading. If we continue to dismiss it, we can’t blame God for what happens to us. The Holy Spirit keeps coming back over and over and if we keep rejecting Him, we have condemned ourselves. God doesn’t want anyone to die, be condemned, He does His part, but so many resist and reject Him, they’ve got no one to blame but themselves.

Yahweh gave Israel/Judah great promises and we can know these promises for ourselves. Yahweh promises what Dr McGee calls the “sevenfold spirit”. The Spirit of the Lord rests upon him, Him being Jesus, as I said as much God as the Father, infinitely mightier than David. All the qualities of the Father, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding. This Messiah will know everything, same as the Father, of counsel and might, nothing is beyond His Creation or His strength. Not only is this how Isaiah describes the promised Messiah, but as Christians, we know that these things will be ours too, because we are in Jesus. Let’s be honest, we don’t deserve to be not only saved, but loved, showered with the amazing promises of God anymore then the Israelites of 2,300 years ago, we are sinful beings just as they were. But we are loved and generously provided for, God’s love is far above anything we can imagine and is eternal  and unlimited, even for those who are so deserving of punishment, in Jesus we are given great and eternal gifts and the promise of the perfect life in the new David. Not in this temporary world, but in the eternal reality of the resurrection in the New Jerusalem. But in the meantime since we are His, we called to be more like Him, we remember our baptism daily and as Paul tells us “to put off the old self … which is corrupt through deceitful desires and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness” (Eph 4: 22-24) Our new self is of Jesus our Lord. A promise made by God through Isaiah 300 years before His birth. We take that same promise and know that in the Resurrection we will be all those things and in the presence of Jesus forever.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

[1] J Vernon McGee   “Through the Bible Commentary Series Isaiah” p 108

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s