14Listen, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the good promises that I have spoken to the house of Israel and concerning the house of Judah.
15In those days and at that time,
I will cause a righteous Branch to grow up from David’s line.
He will establish justice and righteousness on earth.
16In those days Judah will be saved,
and Jerusalem will dwell securely.
This is what she will be called:
The Lord Our Righteousness.
What is a promise that you had to wait a long time for its fulfillment? Some couples have had to wait in long marriage engagements. That can be very hard to wait. The great promises of God about the coming Christ continued for centuries! Talk about having to be being patient for the fulfillment of a promise! Advent is about waiting. As we wait and prepare for our Christmas celebration on the season of Advent, we wait in the greater waiting for Christ to come on the last day. We wait with sure hope for the fulfillment of the promises of God. As we wait, we wait in Christ.
When we have to wait a long time, we may be tempted to give up on the promise. What could possibly lead us to give up on a promise of God? For Israel, which was made up of the 10 tribes in the north and Judah, whose capital is Jerusalem in the south, there was much that tempted them to give up on waiting for the Christ. They were tempted partake of the religions of their neighbors which offered instant pleasures. The religions of the neighbors included idols that you could see. The religions of the canaanites promised that if you did the rituals you would have fertility and a great harvest. The false religions had rites that appealed to the flesh with all their fornication acts in their rites. Your kind neighbors simply wanted you to join them. Most in Israel and Judah did give up on the promises of God and lived for the now.
The people of God were like a dead tree—worse, a chopped down tree—a dead stump of a tree rotting for centuries. No sign of life could be seen in the sinful and rebellious nations of Israel and Judah! It may seem as if all God’s promises to them were dead—like a tree stump.
So it is today. We are waiting for Christ to come and we are being tempted. Satan and the World and our sinful flesh are right with us…to tempt us to give up on waiting and abandon the hope. We are tempted to join the religions of our neighbors that are not about the Gospel. These false religions, world-views and philosophies of the world may promise that you should feel great now or you can do what you please or you will gain the glory or wealth now. Scripture warns us: “Watch yourselves or else your hearts will be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and the worries of this life, and that day may come on you suddenly. 35For it will come like a trap on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Are we going to find the day of the Lord come and we are caught in the trap of sin?
We can also give up waiting in love for each other in love. We are tempted to give up on each other. It is hard to be patient with someone who struggles with this sin or that sin. We may want to just leave them, abandon them, no longer be there for them, stop praying for them, or no longer speak the truth to them. Its just is taking too long. Our love grows cold for others since we can grow cold in our love of Christ.
Does God wait? He sure does! God is patient with you. God waits upon you this day. Just as a parent loves their child and waits for them to grow up in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man—God has given you much time. As long as we have time here on earth, we have the sure hope of God’s grace. But the time is getting shorter. The day is soon at hand. But…as of this moment, there is still time today, to wait in Christ and thus—live!
Even in the OT, when the wait was long, when most gave up waiting….Christ was there…as a branch growing in a stump. Even in the mass rebellion of Israel and Judah and God’s wrath upon them…there was in their dead stump…in that rotting wood that long was chopped down and decaying…a sprig, a sprout, a little branch that you could see if you looked real close. That branch is the promise of Jesus coming. God waits faithfully. 14Listen, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will fulfill the good promises that I have spoken to the house of Israel and concerning the house of Judah. 15In those days and at that time, I will cause a righteous Branch to grow up from David’s line. The believers of the OT held to the promises of the coming Christ who would be born of a virgin in Bethlehem, suffer as a servant, be crucified and buried— and rise from the dead. God gives his word and Holy Spirit to keep them waiting with faith in Jesus.
Behold a branch is growing
As of loveliest form and grace,
As prophets sung, foreknowing;
It springs from Jesse’s race
And bears one little Flower
In midst of coldest winter,
At deepest midnight hour.
The wait is rewarded with fulfillment! The son of God waited to come into this world and finally he did in the fullness of time. Born of Mary, a holy child and man, a suffering servant, a crucified Savior, and risen in glory. This life and death of that branch that the world waited upon is all we need for salvation. His spotless life opens heaven for you. His execution was him laying down his life for you, to atone for your sins. All who wait on Christ have by faith all he earned for us: forgiveness of sins, life and salvation! You, the church, the bride of Christ, are righteous in Jesus: This is what she (you) will be called: The Lord Our Righteousness. Jesus is our holiness, our Savior!
Isaiah hath foretold It
In words of promise sure,
And Mary’ s arms enfold It,
A virgin meek and pure.
Through God’s eternal will
This Child to her is given
At midnight calm and still.
In Christ we hear his Word and are made increasingly patient and faithful. In Christ we receive his sacraments and absolution—the forgiveness of all our sins. In Christ we abide and are able to truly wait in faith knowing the day is coming! 16In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. You are Judah and Jerusalem…names for the Church, all believers. You are secure and safe in Christ’s gifts of word and sacrament as you wait in Jesus! He will establish justice and righteousness on earth.
But maybe you had a period of your life, maybe a very long season of manifest rebellion or a love of a sin so that you did not repent. God is parent with you not wanting you to perish. Repent and know that your Savior is waiting for you. God is like the father of the prodigal son. Christ is here today to declare to you: Welcome home, I forgive you. You can wait for heaven in Me and my grace—in my Word and Sacraments. Even now the branch is growing in that the promise of Christ coming is sure even if it seems bleak and dark and hopeless and so far away:
This Flower, whose fragrance tender
With sweetness fills the air,
Dispels with glorious splendor
The darkness everywhere.
True Man, yet very God;
From sin and death He saves us
And lightens every load.
While you wait in Christ you wait working for him in gladness. Your wait is active and seeking to love one another in our daily tasks. It is a purpose-filled focused waiting…a waiting in Christ is waiting being fed by Jesus Word so that you can have the wonderful purpose of using this time of serving him who first loved you.
It can be hard to wait on a promise. Like a long engagement, we wait for our Savior to come. But as we wait for Jesus, just as we wait for Christmas we wait in Christ—we wait in his Word and Sacraments—in his righteousness that is now ours by faith alone. We waith in love and service of others for he first loved us.
O Savior, Child of Mary,
Who felt our human woe;
Savior, King of Glory.
Who dost our weakness know,
Bring us at length, we pray.
To the bright courts of heaven
And to the endless day. Amen.