The Promise of the Messianic Child

Hope all of you had a good Thanksgiving! Moltmann Monday is back with an excerpt from a Theology Today article on children, childhood and hope. Here’s a snippet:

The child, whose birth and whose future reign of peace devoid of violence and war Isaiah announced (chapters 9,11), is the “Son of David.” He is a descendant of David, endowed with the dignity of the chosen King David. Just as David conquered Jerusalem, making it the capital of Israel, the future “Son of David” will redeem Israel (from the Babylonian exile) and will rebuild Jerusalem. Most important, the coming “Son of David” will fulfill the prophet Nathan’s ancient promise to David: “I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom forever.” (2 Sam 7:12-13)  The promised “Son of David” is the messianic king for which Israel is hoping.

The hopes placed upon him do, however, explode all (historical) limits: “he will raise up the poor of the land,” he will “bring justice to the peoples,” and he will sow peace between humans and animals: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fading together, and a little child shall lead them” (Isa 11:1-11). While this messianic hope exceeded all of life’s experiential limits, it was conceived during the time of the Babylonian exile, at Israel’s “ground zero.” From the very beginning, it was part of Israel’s traditions of hope.  [Abraham and Sarah’s] promise brought into history an orientation towards the future, replacing the eternal return of the same in nature religions. Children were no longer merely included in the powers of origin through the veneration of the ancestors, but the generations were now aligned towards children as the carriers of hope and as signs of the steadfastness of the God of promise.


The hopes placed on the messianic child explode all limits. I love the imagery that conjures in my head, like an electric wire exploding from too much energy and making a fireworks show that lights up the night. I also appreciate that these hopes are beyond rational, really. They are not something most people walk around and assume. To have Advent hopes means to be willing to explode our limits of what is possible. Through this one promise, this one vulnerable human child, the whole world carries a new kind of hope for the future.

1 Comment

  1. time to watch that children of men clip. i just found it while unpacking.

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