Isaiah 11: 1-10 (page 575 in our pew Bibles) Tempting to just luxuriate in some well known and beautiful words of Isaiah. The Spirit endowed Messiah has God like qualities so natural to him that they are worn as "Clothing" (v. 5). He is also endowed with the power to enforce his justice leading to universal peace not just in the realm of human affairs but also in nature as well
Romans 15: 4-13 (page 949 in our pew Bibles) Paul affirms the words of scripture affirming the psalms, the law, the historical books and the prophets as all being written for our instruction (v. 4). On this 2nd Sunday in Advent we celebrate the role of the prophets.
Matthew 3: 1-12 (page 808 in our pew Bibles) Luke also quotes Isaiah when referring to John the Baptist. John baptised with water but Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit and will judge the nations with God's justice.
On this day we celebrate the role of the prophets in our salvation history. But what is a prophet? There are two closely related aspects to being a prophet.
One is taken from the Greek profetes which means “foretelling”, but the original Hebrew word Nabi’ means “one who proclaims” powerfully into the political and social circumstances of his time.
The greatest prophet is generally judged to be Isaiah and in today’s offering we have a beautifully written foretelling of the coming of a future Messiah.
This future Messiah will be from “the root of Jesse” Jesse was the Father of King David so the future king would come from the Davidic line. But this future King would be endowed with the “Spirit of God” and not like all the disappointing kings of Israel they would endure.
Just as true Prophets were endowed with the Spirit of God to deliver the words of God the ideal future king will Govern as God would govern.
Actually his God-like qualities would be so natural that they would be worn like clothing. And he will judge the world as God would judge it and bring in the peace that passes all human understanding.
And not only to the human world but to all creation, symbolised by the calf and the Lion laying down together. The whole cosmos will recognise the sovereignty of God.
And as if to underline the authority of scripture as a binding agent for warring parties to unite behind Paul quotes from various parts of the Bible, including Isaiah, and says that these words were written for our instruction and will if followed bring different parties of Christians together under the authority of Christ as vested in the scriptures.
This is a powerful appeal to the authority of the Bible to unite behind.
And just in case we needed more encouragement our last reading is from Matthew’s gospel where he too quotes from the prophet Isaiah, referring to his prophesy about John the Baptist. And of course, but not included today is the episode when Jesus, sitting in the Synagogue unrolls the scroll of Isaiah and reads from it and declares, “Today this prophesy has been fulfilled in your presence”
But in this text today from Matthew there Is a hint of the extent that Jesus surpasses John. John baptises with water but Jesus baptises with the Holy Spirit.
Remember that baptise means “to immerse” so at baptism the person is immersed not just in water but in God’s Spirit. Immersed in God; drenched with God.
That is God’s promise, that when the little child is baptised here today she will be drenched in the reality and truth of God. A light will be lit in her heart that God willing, when she is old enough to understand will respond to in her life.
The prophesies in the Bible are true. They were fulfilled in Jesus and their prophesies about the far future will also be proved true. Our role is to co-operate with the truth and work in tandem with God to bring his light to bear where we find ourselves.
Not in an overbearing way. We need to be canny. We introduce people with gentleness and respect. After all, Jesus told us that we had to as wise as serpents and as innocent as doves.
Nothing impresses people more than a positive change in ourselves and today we bestow the means to enact that positive change on another child. Whether she uses the God given gift given to her this day will be up to her but all baptised people are given the means, God’s Spirit at their baptism.