Talks

James Bloice Smith

Why Bethlehem? (Isaiah 11:1-19, Jeremiah 33:1-26)

James Bloice Smith, December 2, 2018
Part of the Advent series, preached at a Sunday Morning service

Tags: advent



About James Bloice Smith: James became a Christian as a child and owned it in a new way in his late teens. He studied psychology and biochemistry at Bangor University, teaching at King’s College, London University, and theology at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University. He has worked as a Medical Laboratory Technician, in North London as a science teacher and for eight years in student evangelism and discipleship with Agapé. His first pastorate was as assistant minister at Park Road Baptist Church, Peterborough. He has been minister at Headington Baptist Church since 1996. James is married to Marion and has a son, Daniel, who works as an engineer, and a daughter, Naomi, who is a teacher. His interests include people in general, getting into boats whenever possible, the Headington community and ‘fiddling about’-making things and fixing things.
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Isaiah 11 (Listen)

11:1   There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
    and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.
  And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
    the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and might,
    the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.
  And his delight shall be in the fear of the LORD.
  He shall not judge by what his eyes see,
    or decide disputes by what his ears hear,
  but with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
    and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
  and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth,
    and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked.
  Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist,
    and faithfulness the belt of his loins.
  The wolf shall dwell with the lamb,
    and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat,
  and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together;
    and a little child shall lead them.
  The cow and the bear shall graze;
    their young shall lie down together;
    and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
  The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra,
    and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den.
  They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain;
  for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
    as the waters cover the sea.

10 In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples—of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

11 In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

12   He will raise a signal for the nations
    and will assemble the banished of Israel,
  and gather the dispersed of Judah
    from the four corners of the earth.
13   The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,
    and those who harass Judah shall be cut off;
  Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,
    and Judah shall not harass Ephraim.
14   But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west,
    and together they shall plunder the people of the east.
  They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab,
    and the Ammonites shall obey them.
15   And the LORD will utterly destroy
    the tongue of the Sea of Egypt,
  and will wave his hand over the River
    with his scorching breath,
  and strike it into seven channels,
    and he will lead people across in sandals.
16   And there will be a highway from Assyria
    for the remnant that remains of his people,
  as there was for Israel
    when they came up from the land of Egypt.

(ESV)

Jeremiah 33 (Listen)

33:1 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah a second time, while he was still shut up in the court of the guard: “Thus says the LORD who made the earth, the LORD who formed it to establish it—the LORD is his name: Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses of this city and the houses of the kings of Judah that were torn down to make a defense against the siege mounds and against the sword: They are coming in to fight against the Chaldeans and to fill them with the dead bodies of men whom I shall strike down in my anger and my wrath, for I have hidden my face from this city because of all their evil. Behold, I will bring to it health and healing, and I will heal them and reveal to them abundance of prosperity and security. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and the fortunes of Israel, and rebuild them as they were at first. I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin against me, and I will forgive all the guilt of their sin and rebellion against me. And this city shall be to me a name of joy, a praise and a glory before all the nations of the earth who shall hear of all the good that I do for them. They shall fear and tremble because of all the good and all the prosperity I provide for it.

10 “Thus says the LORD: In this place of which you say, ‘It is a waste without man or beast,’ in the cities of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem that are desolate, without man or inhabitant or beast, there shall be heard again 11 the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride, the voices of those who sing, as they bring thank offerings to the house of the LORD:

  “‘Give thanks to the LORD of hosts,
    for the LORD is good,
    for his steadfast love endures forever!’

For I will restore the fortunes of the land as at first, says the LORD.

12 “Thus says the LORD of hosts: In this place that is waste, without man or beast, and in all of its cities, there shall again be habitations of shepherds resting their flocks. 13 In the cities of the hill country, in the cities of the Shephelah, and in the cities of the Negeb, in the land of Benjamin, the places about Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judah, flocks shall again pass under the hands of the one who counts them, says the LORD.

14 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will fulfill the promise I made to the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 15 In those days and at that time I will cause a righteous Branch to spring up for David, and he shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days Judah will be saved, and Jerusalem will dwell securely. And this is the name by which it will be called: ‘The LORD is our righteousness.’

17 “For thus says the LORD: David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, 18 and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.”

19 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 20 “Thus says the LORD: If you can break my covenant with the day and my covenant with the night, so that day and night will not come at their appointed time, 21 then also my covenant with David my servant may be broken, so that he shall not have a son to reign on his throne, and my covenant with the Levitical priests my ministers. 22 As the host of heaven cannot be numbered and the sands of the sea cannot be measured, so I will multiply the offspring of David my servant, and the Levitical priests who minister to me.”

23 The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah: 24 “Have you not observed that these people are saying, ‘The LORD has rejected the two clans that he chose’? Thus they have despised my people so that they are no longer a nation in their sight. 25 Thus says the LORD: If I have not established my covenant with day and night and the fixed order of heaven and earth, 26 then I will reject the offspring of Jacob and David my servant and will not choose one of his offspring to rule over the offspring of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. For I will restore their fortunes and will have mercy on them.”

(ESV)

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