Come See the Trees

Come see the trees!  Can you smell Christmas?  Part of what gives the season meaning and power are the memories and traditions that we have burned into our memories from childhood.  Smells are a big part of that!  Like the smell of a freshly cut evergreen.

Tradition has it, not just Lutheran tradition mind you, that Martin Luther was the first one to bring home a Christmas tree and put it inside.  One evening he was overwhelmed by a snow covered tree that sparkled in the moonlight.  So to share the sight with his family, Luther took the tree home and decorated it with candles.  The Christmas tradition of the indoor tree continues today.  For many families getting a Christmas tree means driving off to the woods or a tree farm, finding just the right tree and cutting it down.  The tree is brought home and the fragrant pine smell fills the room.  Yes it smells like Christmas.

The prophet Isaiah also loved trees.  He doesn’t speak of Christmas trees per se, but he does use a tree as a sign of our sin and our Savior.  This morning come see the trees.  Come see the stump of Jesse.  Come see the Branch bearing fruit.  And come see the Root of peace.

Did you know that other cultures, godless pagan cultures, used the pine tree in their celebrations?  The Romans used the pine tree in their winter festival in honor of the god of agriculture.  There was a heathen nation known as the Assyrians who were threatening the nation of Judah.  No nation had ever stood up to the Assyrians.  They were brutal and savage.  Just two verses before the words of our text God comforts his people with what he will do to the Assyrians, “The Lord, the Lord Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled, the tall ones will be brought low.”

Thirty-two years ago Mt. St. Helen’s erupted.  The devastation was incredible.  Mile and miles of dense forest, thick trees leveled like grass.  It was as if someone spilled a box of toothpicks.  When you hear God’s promise, that he will lop off the boughs with great power, don’t think of your dad or grandpa cutting down the Christmas tree.  Listen to what God did for his people in 2 Kings 19 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand men in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.  God kept his promise and stopped the Assyrians from destroying his people.

So what does God mean when he speaks of the stump of God’s people?  What stump?  Watch this Sunday’s message from Isaiah 11 to find out.  This is the second in our Advent series – Come, Lord Jesus.