The Stump of Jesse

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY…. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Isaiah 11:1 NIV

“In the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, [the] king of Babylon…released Jehoiachin …from prison…the king of Babylon gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance as long as he lived, till the day of his death.” Jeremiah 52:31-34 NIV

When I returned to my mother’s house where she had lived for 60 years to see the renovations that the buyer of her house had made, I couldn’t help but notice the gangly looking “bush” growing between the curb and the sidewalk. Years ago it was a nice shaped healthy tree. But the city cut it down during some sidewalk work. But it refused to die. I remember trying to trim it or cut it down to the ground, but it continued to somehow shoot back to life, even though it was a sad appearance of its former state.

That tree is like the city of Jerusalem and the tribe of Judah. Jerusalem was the capital of God’s chosen people. Although they lived in outright rebellion against the Lord for many years they had endured. As a result of times of revival and returning to the Lord they even prospered.

But God’s judgment finally came and the grandeur of the great city would be cut down by the Babylonian sword and God’s people would be in exile for 70 years. However, the Lord promised to one day return His people to their homeland.

However, the city of Jerusalem would never be what it once was. The prophecy of Isaiah of a “shoot from the root of Jesse…” was not about the restoration of a nation as much as it was about a coming King who would be of the lineage of Jesse and would sit on David’s throne. It was a prediction of a coming Messiah that was fulfilled in Christ.

But for that prophecy to be fulfilled there needed to be an historic link back to the royal line of King David. That is where Jehoiachin comes in. Jehoiachin ruled only thee months and is described as “[dong] evil in they eyes of the Lord.” When Nebuchadnezzar attacked Jerusalem he surrendered, saving his life, and was taken captive to Babylon all in fulfillment of the prophecy of Jeremiah.

But for some unknown reason this insignificant king with a direct tie to the throne of David is released from prison by a new king of Babylon and given a place of honor and provided provisions until the “day he died.” Both 2 Kings and Jeremiah end with the released from prison and restoration to “kingly” status of Jehoiachin.

The historic and all important genealogical tie to Jesus the Messiah is found in Joseph’s family line recorded in Matthew 1. “Josiah was the father of Jehoiachin and his brothers (born at the time of the exile to Babylon). After the Babylonian exile: Jehoiachin was the father of Shealtiel…” (Matthew 1:11,12 NLT)

It is fitting for Jehoiachin to be the “son of David” that is mentioned in connection with Jesus. Jehoiachin hardly had a reign, there is nothing of historical significance other than being the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy of judgment on his father, Jehoiachim. But Jehoiachin, this insignificant King, is shown “grace” (unmerited favor) by the King of Babylon.

How fitting for the One who would “slip into the world” as a baby born in a manger, who John would describe as coming, “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) God always makes a way for His purposes to be fulfilled, even when there seems to be no way for it to happen.

God is able to accomplish His purposes for the world and in our lives, even when it doesn’t seem possible or make sense as to how it will take place.

I remember a song from a musical by Don Moen that said,

God will make a way
Where there seems to be no way
He works in ways we cannot see
He will make a way for me;

He will be my guide
Hold me closely to His side
With love and strength for each new day
He will make a way, He will make a way