Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Come Adore, Day 2

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Leslie Basham: In the carol, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” we sing about the "key of David." What does that mean? Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth tells us the key is Jesus.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: He holds the key to wisdom that you need to live this life. He is the key of David, the key to everything that you need as a child of God.

(Music from Nancy's piano CD)

Leslie: This is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, author of The Wonder of His Name. Today is Tuesday, November 29, 2016.

(Music from Nancy's piano CD)

Leslie: Revive Our Hearts wants to help you live out the beauty of the gospel, and today Nancy will show you the beauty of the gospel found in the classic Christmas carol. She’s continuing in a series called, “Come Adore.”

During this series, you can get a copy of Nancy’s piano CD also called, Come Adore. When you help Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any size this week, we’ll send you this Christmas CD. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com to support the ministry and take us up on this offer.

Here’s Nancy.

Nancy: Well, this week we’re celebrating the first week of Advent, what many believers around the world observe during the four weeks leading up to Christmas Day. The word "advent" means "coming, arrival," and we’re preparing for the arrival, the coming of the Lord Jesus. Now we know that He has come, but we prepare to celebrate the fact that He has come.

I hope that during these weeks, with all that you have going on, and I know this is a busy, busy time for you as it is for me, but I hope that you’re taking time out to let your heart soak in the wonder of what this is all about.

If you have to shed some of the extra activities—don’t feel like you need to bake up a storm every single day. Now, if that’s your gift, and you want to do that, that’s great, but I think sometimes we feel a lot of pressure from people around us and what others are doing and what Pinterest is doing to keep us with all the stuff with the Christmas season. That’s a beautiful way to celebrate, but let’s make sure we have time to ponder, to wonder, to marvel, to worship the One that we’re celebrating in this season.

So, during these days, at the beginning of Advent, we’re talking about a number of Christmas carols. They’ve been recorded on a CD where I play the piano. It’s called Come Adore. And some beautiful instruments, musicians that we recorded down in Nashville, help make these carols just a lovely way to celebrate the season.

That CD is available for a donation of any amount to Revive Our Hearts during this important time of the year. It’s our way of saying, “Thank you for partnering with us in this ministry,” and we want to make that available to you.

Now we’re talking about one of the oldest Christmas carols, maybe the oldest one that is sung today. It’s called, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” We introduced it yesterday, and we said that the origin dates back to the eighth  or ninth century. It originally was a seven-stanza poem that was sung responsively. A Scripture would be read, then a stanza of this would be sung or recited each day of the week leading up to Christmas.

The stanzas of this great carol, this great hymn, expressed longing and anticipation that Messiah will come and meet the needs of His people. Each of the stanzas starts with a title for Messiah, and most of these titles come from the Old Testament. They were prophesied by the Old Testament prophets.

So yesterday we looked at the first stanza: “O come, O come, Emmanuel.” That title is taken from the book of Isaiah, chapter 7 (see verse 14).

O Come, O come Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

It’s a prayer of longing for Messiah, Emmanuel, God with us, to come.

Now, today we want to look at two more stanzas and titles for Messiah. The titles are the Rod of Jesse and the Key of David.

Now, chances are you have sung these stanzas, perhaps in church services during the Christmas season. Chances are you’re hearing music with these words. But if somebody were to press you, and say, “What in the world is the Rod of Jesse, or what is the Key of David?” would you have any idea? Well, hopefully you will after today.

So, first, let’s look at the stanza that highlights the Messiah as the Rod of Jesse. In this stanza, we see a tone of faith in the final triumph and victory of Emmanuel. Let me read the stanza:

O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny;
From depths of hell Thy people save,
And give them vict’ry o’er the grave.

Now, when I first read this stanza, that “Rod of Jesse, save Thy people, deliver Thine own from Satan’s tyranny,” I thought of the rod as a powerful rod, a kingly scepter. It seemed to me that that must be what it was talking about, a rod by which Jesus executes judgment on His enemies.

But as you study this in the Old Testament context where this term came from, it’s actually something quite different. Let me read in Isaiah, chapter 11, verse 1. Now, this is translated a little differently in different translations, but essentially, they all have the same meaning,

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots (NKJV).

Now does that sound like gobble-dee-goop to you? It probably does. But it makes a lot of sense, and it’s a really important title of Messiah.

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse.” Another translation says, “There shall come a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”

Now, who in the world is Jesse? Well, you may remember that Jesse was the father of David, who was the second king of Israel. Jesse came from a poor, obscure family. His family was not a royal line. They did not have wealth. They were not a family of privilege. They were common shepherds as a family. And, yet, this Jesse and his son David, who became a king of Israel, they both became ancestors of the Lord Jesus.

So what is this “Rod from the stem of Jesse,” this “Branch that grows out of his roots”? Well, the word "rod" and "branch," both of these words speak of something, in this context, that is "weak and small and tender." It could refer to a twig, something that can be easily broken off.

Now, I know when we say the word rod, we don’t think of that, but the Hebrew word there is something that is small and weak like a twig. You see this concept in Isaiah 53 where it says, beginning in verse 2—speaking of Messiah:

He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him (NIV).

So consistently, through the Old Testament we see this picture of Messiah who was to come in humility. He would be despised. He would be rejected. He would die a criminal’s death, like a “twig broken off.”

Now by contrast, in Isaiah chapter 10, verse 33, the enemies of God are compared to strong, lofty boughs that tower over the earth—big, strong trees—and Christ, Messiah, is compared to a tender branch.

Here’s the amazing part of the story: The twig will triumph over the towering trees! That’s the gospel. The twig that can be broken off, hung on a cross to die, will ultimately triumph over these great towering trees that are the enemies of God.

Isaiah 11, verse 2, says,

And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him [upon this rod, upon this branch, this twig] . . . and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth [this is a different kind of rod], and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked (vv. 2, 4).

So here comes Messiah. Now, these Old Testament Jews did not understand this. They were just being given a glimpse of what we can see more clearly today. Messiah was to come as this humble, tender, small, frail, weak, human twig that would be broken off, cut off, but the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon Him.

He would be raised with power and, ultimately, He would strike the earth and destroy the enemies of God with the Rod of His mouth. From weakness to power—not at all the way that the Jews expected Messiah to come, but it was foretold in the Old Testament.

And we see this theme continuing in the New Testament in 2 Thessalonians chapter 1. It says that, “the Lord Jesus [the one whose birth as an infant we’re celebrating during this season—the Lord Jesus] one day will be revealed from heaven with his might angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus” (v. 7).

So here He came as the weak, vulnerable, small, tiny, fragile Rod of Jesse, in poor, obscure, humble beginnings, but God raised Him from the dead, and one day He will come back in might and power with His mighty angels to take vengeance on those who put Him to death, those who do not obey His gospel.

You see this concept in Hebrews chapter 2, which says that Christ “shared in our humanity [He became weak and frail, fragile] so that by his death [the twig cut off] he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—[through His willingness to go to the cross and die, Jesus de-fanged the devil, the one who held the power of death] and that he might free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death” (vv. 14–15).

So here’s the Rod of Jesse, the humble, meek Son of Man, in the power of the Holy Spirit who becomes victorious over all God’s enemies, conquers death, delivers “His own from Satan’s tyranny [as this carol says] and saves us from the jaws of hell.”

It’s an amazing story. Who could have imagined it? We never would have scripted it this way, would we? We would have wanted Him to come with the Rod from His mouth and destroy all His enemies. And He will. But first He came as that weak, human babe.

He delivers us from Satan, from Hell, and from death, as this carol says. And how does He do that? By saving us, not from the Romans, the Babylonians, the Egyptians, the whatever-ites that may be out there in the world. He will do that someday, but He saves us from Satan and hell and death by saving us from an even more powerful enemy . . . and that is our sin.

That’s why He had to come as a human. That’s why He had to die, so that He could save us from our sin, and thereby save us from Satan and hell and death.

So what are the takeaways for us and for our lives of this Rod of Jesse?

Well, first, the Rod of Jesse can set you free from Satan’s rule. He can save you from Hell. He can give you victory over death. And He can do the same for those that you love.

Some of you are carrying a burden for sons or daughters, grandchildren, a mate, a parent, somebody in your workplace, somebody in your neighborhood who you can just see they’re in the bondage, the grip of sin and Satan, and you know that if God doesn’t intervene, they will be separated from Him for all of eternity.

They’re far from God. They’re running from Him. They may be sitting in church, but you know in their heart they’re resistant against God. Whether that’s true of you or of someone that you know and love and care for, the truth of this carol is that the Rod of Jesse, that Twig, broken off at the cross, can set you free from all of that, can set free those you love.

“He breaks the pow’r of cancelled sin; He sets the prisoner free,” said the hymn writer, Charles Wesley.

And then, let me just make this observation: You may be a twig, a tender shoot, a root in a dry ground, obscure, poor, humble, feeling helpless and weak and fragile and frail. Maybe in the circumstances you find yourself in, you feel like the next thing to come around is going to make you snap.

But this is a reminder that when we are filled with His Spirit, we become strong—not strong in ourselves, but strong in His strength—and that God can use us in our weakness thanks to the Rod of Jesse.

Now, let me just move quickly to another stanza, the next stanza of this hymn:

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

“Oh come, Thou Key of David.” What’s that talking about?

Well, again, we go back to the prophecy of Isaiah. Isaiah chapter 22, and this is a prophetic passage where there are two leaders in Israel. One is named Shebna, who has exalted himself as a leader, but he was to be put down or deposed by God. He was not God’s chosen leader. He was not a godly leader. And in his place God was going to raise up another leader named Eliakim. He would be raised up by God as a faithful, wise leader of His people to replace Shebna.

Now, I know these aren’t household names. You probably don’t name your kids these things, although people name their kids some crazy things today. But these are important names in the Old Testament. Eliakim is a type of Christ, and this is a description of the Messiah who will come and take charge. He will be placed in charge by God to depose ungodly leaders.

Verse 22 of Isaiah 22 says, “And I will place on his shoulder [speaking of Eliakim, this type of Messiah] the key of the house of David.”

David was God’s chosen king, and his house was God’s chosen lineage. God said the line of David, the lineage of David will continue until it comes to Messiah. And God says, “I’m going to give to this leader the key of the house of David.” That’s an important statement there.

Now then we come to Isaiah 9, verse 6, speaking of Messiah, and it says, “The gov­ern­ment will be up­on His shoul­der. He shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut and none shall open.”

So what’s this stuff about keys, and what does it have to do with Jesus, and what does it have to do with us?

Well, keys are used to do what? To lock and to unlock. They give access to places that others cannot enter. A key is a symbol of access. It could be access for the king to have to his royal treasure stores. Not just anybody can walk in off the street and get the king’s treasures or jewels or precious items. But the king has a key, and he has access to those treasure stores.

The key is a symbol not only of access but of authority, of power, of control. You talk about somebody having the “keys to the Kingdom.” Well, Jesus Messiah has absolute authority and power. He has the right to enter wherever He pleases, whenever He pleases and do whatever He pleases. There is no one with higher authority anywhere in heaven or on earth. He holds the keys.

He controls entrance to the kingdom of God. The one who is the Key of David is the one who can open the door of life so that we can enter in. There’s no other way, no other name to come into the kingdom of God, to come into life unless Jesus, the Key of David, opens the door for us.

He holds the key to salvation. We see this in Revelation chapter 3, where the messenger to the church in Philadelphia says, “These are the words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens” (v. 7). 

And then he says, “Behold, [he says this to his people] I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”

He opens the door, the gate to salvation so that we can enter in. And if He opens the door for you, no one can keep you out. No one can shut it. No one can push you out.

He also holds the keys to death and hell. In Revelation chapter 1, Jesus says, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades” (vv. 17–18). Hades being the “place of the dead.” He holds the keys.

He holds the keys. We see this in Revelation chapter 9. This is in the context of the judgment of God at the end of time. “The fifth angel sounded: And I saw a star fallen from heaven to the earth. To him was given [to this angel was given] the key to the bottomless pit” (v. 1).

Chapter 20 of Revelation, verse 1: “Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven, holding in his hand the key to the bottomless pit and a great chain.”

Who controls where Satan ends up? Jesus does. He holds the key to the bottomless pit. He holds the key to heaven. He holds the key to salvation. He holds the key to death and Hades, the place of the dead. And He opens heaven for those who repent and place their faith in Him. And He opens and then shuts hell on those who refuse to repent and believe, puts them in there forever and ever. He holds those keys.

Aren’t you thankful that He has opened Paradise for us, as we sing in “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today,” another Charles Wesley hymn?

He opens the door to those who have repented and placed their faith in Christ that they may enter in.

Here’s what Matthew Henry had to say about the power of Christ as it relates to being the key of David. He said, “Christ’s power in the kingdom of heaven, and in the ordering of all the affairs of that kingdom, is absolute, irresistible, and uncontrollable.” Now remember that.

O come, Thou Key of David, come,
And open wide our heavenly home;
Make safe the way that leads on high,
And close the path to misery.

He holds the keys.

He holds the key to eternal life, to heaven, to abundant life here on earth.

He holds the key to victory over sin and Satan and your flesh. This is not a matter of striving or trying or being a better person. The gospel of Jesus Christ is that He holds the key! He is the one who can give you those things. He holds the key to “every good and perfect gift that comes from above.”

He holds the key to the treasure stores of His spiritual riches so that we can have access to them. He says, “Come boldly to the throne of grace that you may have mercy and grace to help in time of need.” He holds the key.

He holds the key to understanding of His Word so that we can pick up our Scripture and we can mine riches from the Word of God. He holds the key to that. So if you want to get into God’s Word and get it into you, you pray, “O come, Thou Key of David. Come, open this door to me.”

He holds the key to the wisdom that you need to live this life. He is the Key of David, the key to everything that you need as a child of God.

The key is not in yourself. It’s not in your wisdom, your strength, your abilities, or your good works. He holds the key. And that means that He is in control, this Key of David—not only of your eternal destiny, but of everything that happens to you between here and heaven. He holds the key. He’s in control. His power, His ordering of these affairs of His kingdom is “absolute, irresistible, and uncontrollable,” says Matthew Henry.

Jesus, the Key of David, He opens the door to our heavenly home, to heaven, and in the meantime, He is taking us, as this song says, on a safe pathway, the pathway that leads to heaven. He’s leading us there.

And it’s that same key that opens Paradise for us that also closes for us “the path that leads to misery,” that is the path that leads to eternal hell and separation from God.

If you are in Christ, that pathway to misery is closed. You will never go there. You will never, ever go there. No one can put you there. No one can throw you there. You cannot put yourself there if you are in Christ.

And if you are not in Christ, you cannot in any way, by any means, open the door to heaven. You can’t do it. You can’t do it. Christ is the key.

“O come, Thou Key of David, come.” And we pray for Him to come; we rejoice that He has come. We rejoice that He is that key, and we sing, “Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel has come!” He is the Key of David.

(Music from Nancy's piano CD)

Leslie: I think, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” is one of my favorite Christmas carols. And now that I’ve learned a lot more about it from Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth, I can’t wait to hear it again.

Nancy is giving us the background to some of the carols on her Christmas piano CD, Come Adore, and we’d like to send you a copy of that CD during this series. We’ll send your copy when you donate any amount to support Revive Our Hearts.

But, Nancy, when listeners give, they’re doing a lot more than getting a CD.

Nancy: Yes, Leslie. Your gift helps us connect with women like Edina.

Edina got married recently, and she said that God used Revive Our Hearts to help prepare her to be a wife, and God used this ministry to help her think about what to look for in a husband. Our team connected with Edina at the True Woman ’16 conference.

Edina: Oh, yes, Revive Our Hearts definitely helped me formulate the idea of what I wanted in a husband because I wanted a godly man. What does that look like? And then you released the book, True Woman 101, and how to be submissive and how to be obedient and how to be kind and loving. Revive Our Hearts showed me how to do that in real life because there’s one thing of knowing it in your head and believing it in your heart, but then living it out in real life—that’s the hard part.

I’m super thankful for Revive Our Hearts because I wouldn’t know how to live it out in real life if I didn’t have the resources and the examples they provide.

Nancy: Because Edina and her husband are both basing their marriage on biblical principles, they’re going to be able to show a picture of Christ and His Church. They’ll be living out the beauty of the gospel together.

I’m so grateful that the Lord chose to use Revive Our Hearts in that process for that couple, and that He’s multiplying that story in the lives of women across the country and around the world.

Now, if you have given to support the work of Revive Our Hearts, you have made an investment in Edina and her marriage. If you’ve never before donated to Revive Our Hearts, do you realize what a valuable investment that could be?

There’s no better time to support this ministry. Typically, close to half of the donations we need for the entire year arrive at the end of the year. So in order to keep speaking to young women like Edina throughout the year ahead, we need to hear from you now.

We’re asking the Lord to provide $1.8 million in donations by December 31. That includes a $600,000 matching challenge. If we meet that challenge, we’re one-third of the way toward the total, thanks to some friends of this ministry who see God working in the hearts of women like Edina who want to invest in these lives, and they want to encourage you to do the same.

These friends are doubling each gift given over the next month up to $600,000. Would you help us meet and then exceed this challenge?

When you donate any amount during our current series, we’d like to send you a copy of my piano Christmas CD, Come Adore. Be sure to ask for the CD when you call us at 1–800–569–5959, or visit us at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thank you so much for your support as together we call women to live out the beauty of the gospel.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

One reason it’s so helpful to sing Christmas carols is that they remind us of the way we should live all year long. Nancy will talk more about that tomorrow. Please be back for Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture is taken from the ESV unless otherwise noted.