Advent: Death to Life

December 16  

Week 3: Death to Life 

Writer: Carlo Dangelo 

Key Passages:  Isaiah 11:1-10 

Big Idea: When we think of Christmas, we think of an evergreen tree trimmed with lights.  We don’t think of the stump that was left behind. The image of a stump is the very image that Isaiah uses to speak of life. Life that comes through the King who will reign and bring peace. To a land dwelling in darkness and death, this King will bring life and light. 

When I was in college down in Southern California, I had the opportunity to work at Disneyland. I loved it so much that eventually I got my girlfriend (now wife) a job at Disneyland as well. Working at Disneyland we learned so much about the park and Walt Disney himself. Walt had a vision in the late 1940’s to build a theme park. He wanted a way for children to interact with characters they fell in love with from the films. His vision was to create a safe place for families to come together and build memories.   

The quest had begun to find the perfect location to build Disneyland. After many years of searching Walt bought 160 acres of orange groves and walnut trees in Anaheim, California. People thought he was crazy for buying so much land in an area like that. People thought the most ideal location would be closer to the ocean or even closer to Los Angeles. There was a lot of tension at Disney HQ in taking a risk like this. Walt’s reputation was on the line, and people were not sure if they could trust him. This was a 17-million-dollar project in the 1950’s, which was a lot of money then. People were unsure if this whole idea of a theme park was a good idea.   

Walt saw something unique and majestic in these orange groves, he envisioned this was where families would come for years and years to build memories with characters they fell in love with. He believed in his product, trusted his gut instinct and proceeded with building the park. On July 17, 1955, Disneyland opened, and the rest is history as Walt’s dreams and vision finally came to fruition.   

When we read this section of Isaiah in the Old Testament, we see God uses Isaiah to announce judgment is coming to Jerusalem and warn the people to not live in sin. God gives Isaiah a vision of His coming to be with us and deliver us.  At that time people were living in complete sin and chaos. Isaiah felt so guilty, that he believed God would punish him for the sins that had been committed. But rather than punishing Isaiah, God purifies him and gives him the vision and illustration of a stump. The vision reveals that Israel is going to be chopped down like a tree and all that will be left is a stump. This stump is going to be burned, and after it’s burned, it is supposed to become like a seed, a “holy seed” that survives into the future. The story continues that this holy seed, rooted from the burning stump, will grow into a branch, and from this branch will come our divine King. From this dead stump will come life thought Jesus Christ, from this seed God is coming to be with us “Immanuel.” From this tiny seed a King would be born to come and rule the New Jerusalem, which would be built for all nations and all people. He would bring peace and restoration to the world.  

At that time, no one believed in Isaiah’s vision or that anything good would come from this stump and Israel being cut in half. But Isaiah’s dream and vision was that from this burned stump, hope and restoration would come.   

In 1955 no one believed that 160-acre orange grove would be a place where families would come together and build memories. Likewise, no one believed that through Isaiah’s vision of a stump, a King would be born and bring hope to the world. The vision God gave Isaiah, brought light into darkness and gave us hope. The hope Isaiah talks about, is the same hope we celebrate during this season, Jesus coming to be with us.  

Discussion Questions: 

  • What characteristics from Isaiah’s vision in this passage (Isaiah 11:1-10) connects to the gospel? 
  • Where do you see Jesus in Isaiah’s vision? 
  • What is God trying to show you in the stumps in your life?  

Weekly Prayer Focus: 

As we encounter God’s light, pray that people who might feel excluded would begin to feel embraced.