2017-12: ADVENT Thoughts 3 - O Come O Come Emmanuel - Part B: Branch of Jesse & The Key of David
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There are some interesting terms in this carol — “Key of David”, “Dayspring”, “Root of Jesse”… What do they mean? In this blog, we’ll unpack a couple of these a little.

Both “Branch/root of Jesse” as well as “Key of David” refer to the lineage of Jesus — His earthly ancestry. When thinking of the branch of Jesse, I’m reminded of how we illustrate our own family tree, depicting each family line within the larger family structure on branches.

Branch of Jesse

Many Old Testament prophesies told that the coming Messiah would be in the line of David and Jesse (Jesse was King David’s father). In 2 Samuel 7, God promised that someone from the house of David would reign over God’s people forever — and in Jesus, we have the ultimate Sovereign. A Sovereign like no other. Isaiah 11 speaks at length of the prophesied Messiah and His mission.

“A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him – the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord – and He will delight in the fear of the Lord…” Isaiah 11:1-3 and ff

Israel had a turbulent history — following God, turning away from God; being led by Godly leaders, being led by ungodly leaders; being held in captivity, being shown into a promised land. They held long to this promise of the Messiah. And yet, when He came, it was in a way they didn’t expect — a baby — something we equate with weakness. And this Baby was born into a household of regular people — not a wealthy household, not a household which held political sway, but a humble God-loving household. And this household was part of the branch of Jesse. It is interesting that in some translations “branch” or “root” is translated as “stump”. We often don’t expect much from a stump, do we? How like God to bring what was expected in an unexpected way!


Key of David

A household usually contains a number of keys. I have a key to my car, a key to my house, as well as various other sundry keys. With those keys, I can obtain access and operation. As a key-holder, I also have a responsibility and a role.

 The Lord uses this imagery throughout the Word of God. In Isaiah 22:22 and ff it is said of the governor, Eliakim: “I will clothe him with your robe and strengthen him with your belt; I will commit your responsibility into his hand. He shall be a father to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. The key of the house of David I will lay on his shoulder; so he shall open, and no one shall shut; and he shall shut, and no one shall open. I will fasten him as a peg in a secure place, and he will become a glorious throne to his father’s house.”

 With keys we lock and unlock, open and close. Keys signify authority, governance and control, the allowance or disallowance of access. It is through Jesus that we have access to the King of Heaven. It is through Jesus that we have access to everlasting life. It is through Jesus that we have access to His Holy Spirit, His gifts, His inestimable love, His infinite power, His incomprehensible peace. His ultimate Rulership unlocks for us, life. His ultimate power also breaks the chains of oppression, sickness and death.

Upon Peter’s revelation and declaration of Jesus being the promised Messiah, Jesus said: “‘I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven; whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.’” Matt 16:19

These keys are also available to us. 

This carol triumphantly reminds us that the baby in the manger is also our key to salvation, our God of hope, our mighty Deliverer. May we continually avail ourselves of the access we have to the Lord of life — He’s opened the way through Jesus. And then may we also, in and through the power of His Holy Spirit, be an instrument to help unlock others from despair, evil constraints and brokenness, and open the way for hope, life, freedom and healing this Christmas and coming year.


Belinda Tigell is an Australian singer-songwriter, speaker, teacher, worship leader and author. Find her regular blogs on belindatigellministries.com. 
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