O Antiphons – Part 2

In the Advent hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” we discover 7 “antiphons” that depict 7 “types” of Christ presented to us prophetically in the Old Testament and fulfilled in the first Advent of Christ’s incarnation recorded in the New Testament. The antiphonal voices of the prophets are joined responsively by the king himself, Jesus, and his faithful disciples then and now.

The first two antiphons are “Emmanuel” and “Wisdom” which we covered in the previous blog. The next three are “Lord” and “Rod/Root of Jesse” and “Key of David” – expressing Jesus’ lordship and power.

O come, O come, thou Lord of might, Who to Thy tribes on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law, in cloud and majesty and awe.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

In Exodus 3 we see how the angel of the Lord came to Moses in the burning bush, invited Moses to lead the people of God out from their slavery in Egypt and give them the Law, both of which would set them free. The Lord works mightily in their midst and behalf, all of which resounds with shouts of rejoicing and praise. In the Incarnation, Jesus Himself fulfills the Law and comes to set us free!

O come, O Rod of Jesse free, Thine own from Satan’s tyranny,
From depths of hell Thy people save, and give them victory o’er the grave.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

In alternative hymnals, the opening line is changed to “O come, O Rod of Jesse’s stem, from every foe deliver them that trust they mighty power to save…” Either way, the rod or root of Jesse signifies the stem from which Jesus would come would be through the lineage of David, the youngest offspring of his less famous father Jesse. The humility of this reference is striking indeed…mentioning Jesse rather than King David. Jesus came in all humility as well, born of a teenage mother, birthed in a simple manger, but with power, majesty, and offering a salvation on He could provide.

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.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel shall come to thee, O Israel!

The Key of David reference signifies kingly authority; holding the keys to that control of domain that David once held in a geographical and historical setting would now have worldwide influence in Christ. Found in Isaiah 22 and Revelation 3, Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic Covenant and the head of the Church in Philadelphia.

So we cry out once more, “Come, yes come even more, Emmanuel” and be with us, guiding, protecting, sustaining, and ruling over our hearts and lives this new Advent season. With prayerful and joyful anticipation, we await your coming once more in the humble manger of hay, and having risen miraculously from the dead, we look forward with heavenly intent to the time you will come again and usher us into glory with you forever! In response to that life-changing truth…Rejoice!

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Steve Macchia

Steve Macchia

Founder & President

Steve is a graduate of Northwestern College (IA) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (M.Div. and D.Min.). His prior ministry includes serving on the pastoral staff at Grace Chapel (Lexington, MA) and as president of Vision New England. Since July 1, 2003 Steve has served as founder and president of Leadership Transformations, director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building, and adjunct faculty in the Doctor of Ministry department at Gordon-Conwell. He is the author of fifteen books, including the Baker bestseller Becoming a Healthy Church, and Crafting a Rule of Life (IVP). He lives in the Boston area with his wife Ruth and is the proud father of two grown children, Rebekah and Nathan, daughter in-love Ashley, and papa to his beloved granddaughter, Brenna Lynn. “My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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