Well what do ya know.

I learned a bit about trees while reading through the book of Ezekiel. Who would’ve thunk it?

Here’s what I read:

“This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. And all the trees will know that it is I, the LORD, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the LORD, have spoken, and I will do what I said!”

Ezekiel 17:22-24 NLT

Well, wouldn’t you know, we’ve got three cedar trees in our front yard! That was my first thought.

My second thought went something like this: “Is this true? Could I really take a branch from the top of one of our cedars and plant it in the ground??”

So since I like to find answers to my questions, I went searching. Here’s what I found out:

  1. Yes, you can plant cedar trees native to North America from cuttings. It takes a little work and a lot of patience, but it is possible. (Check out Sasha Degnan’s article on SFGate, or Mike’s Backyard Nursery for a few tips.)
  2. My cedar trees are imposters. They’re not real cedars at all! If I’ve identified them correctly, they’re called Northern White Cedars, but are actually included in the Cypress tree family.
  3. The cedar trees Ezekiel would have been familiar with were the Cedars of Lebanon, vastly different from the “cedars” I’m familiar with. They are extremely challenging (but not impossible) to grow from cuttings, so are usually grown from seed instead.

“But,” you ask, “what does it all mean??”

There’s a lot to dig out of this passage from Ezekiel, but I’ll just touch on a few things.

  1. We are reminded that God is able to do what is nearly or completely impossible for us mere mortals. Yes, this is a figurative passage, but if God wanted to do it, He could!
  2. This passage looks forward to Christ, the new Branch spoken of by both Isaiah and Jeremiah. What a great reminder as we near the Christmas season!

Out of the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot—yes, a new Branch bearing fruit from the old root. And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. He will delight in obeying the LORD. He will not judge by appearance nor make a decision based on hearsay. He will give justice to the poor and make fair decisions for the exploited.

Isaiah 1:11-4 NLT

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.

Jeremiah 33:15 ESV

3. Christ is for everyone, the world over (“birds of every sort“). No one is exempt from calling on his Name.

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the LORD: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.

Psalm 91:1-2 NLT

4. God is faithful to his promises. Not seeing it yet? You will! He will do what He said. Maybe now or maybe later, but it will happen. Just you wait! This promise in Ezekiel was fulfilled when God sent his own Son to reconcile us to himself.

And one final thought. This passage reminded me of another verse which says,

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.

2 Timothy 3:16 NLT

Scripture is useful . . . even when learning about cedar trees. How much more useful might God’s Word be when applied to our spiritual lives?

Street

Our house sits on a corner lot, and that little bit of street showing between the bushes is what’s left of an old driveway from when the house was built back in the 80’s. Back then there weren’t so many people living in town or driving around, but the road has become a shortcut from one main road to another. It gets quite a lot of traffic, and backing out of that spot could get quite tricky.

The street runs in front of our house, but the driveway gets no use. You can tell by the “mature” bushes growing on either side of it! Another entrance was put in on the side street years ago, where getting out isn’t quite as risky.

These days we can have one or two accidents on our corner intersection each week, especially when traffic picks up during the summer tourist season. But today it’s almost quiet enough out there for me to stand in the middle of the road and take a picture! I’m not thinking I’ll attempt it, though.

I don’t know when the driveway got moved to the side street, but I understand why it did. Change needed to happen, and someone did something about it.

This season is forcing change on many of us, whether we are comfortable with it or not, excited or filled with dread. Yes, it’s a challenge, but wrapped up in that challenge is opportunity.

What challenges are you facing today that hold within them seeds of opportunity? What will you do with the opportunities that you have been given today? If you’re wondering what steps to take, I know Someone who can help you figure it out . . .

“Show me Your ways, O LORD; teach me Your paths. Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are the God of my salvation” (Psalm 25:4-5 NLT).

Authority

The thread of authority winds through the story of the way Rebekah came to be Isaac’s wife (Genesis 24); a busy day in the life of Jesus which included healings, deliverances, and calming a storm on the water (Matthew 8); the authority given to humans over creation itself from the beginning (Psalm 8); and a promise of peace for those who submit to wisdom (Proverbs 1:33). Continue reading Authority