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Budding Trees

“They are planted in the house of Yahweh;

In the courts of our God, they sprout.”

(Psalm 92:14 {verse 13 in English translations})

How often we find that we do not blossom in life because we do not plant ourselves in the right place. To plant yourself (keeping the analogy of the righteous being like a tree) in the house of Yahweh does not mean that we all need to be pastors of churches; it simply means that we must find our foundation in the Word of God — in a relationship with him — seeking to be in his presence as you do all you do in life, whether that be farming or banking or working in the services industries or being a pastor of a church. Everything we do must be rooted in God and in his word. When we seek to do that, indeed, that is when we will bud and sprout.

Remember, too, that there no longer is a physical temple to travel to; that temple was destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD and God has kept its foundations bare even to this day by placing an Islamic Mosque on its location. Why is this significant? First and foremost, because Jesus is the greater temple. His body is the temple of which he spoke when he said, “tear this down and in three days I will raise it up again” (John 2:21). Thus, in his resurrection, this temple is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty, maker of heaven and earth — as the creed would word it.

Even so, there are “lesser temples” in this world — the bodies of believers (1 Corinthians 6:19). For we are the Temples of the Holy Spirit, walking and talking and working our way through this world. It is the Holy Spirit in us that fulfills the role that the Old Testament Temple played (to be a sign of God’s presence to the world). Yet, indeed, how can we genuinely be Temples of the Holy Spirit if our roots are not sunk deep into the living water of God’s Word.

A challenge for those who are skeptical. Commit to immersing yourself in the Scriptures. Seek out scriptural counsel before you do anything you do — not just the big things but the little things as well — and discover whether or not you find wisdom there. I believe you will. I also believe that the more you sink your spiritual teeth into the scriptures, the hungrier you will become, for you (again the tree analogy) will sprout forth and will bear the Fruit of the Spirit.

The Bruised Reed

4/25/14

“And they stripped him and laid a scarlet cloak on him. And they twisted together a crown from a thorn vine and put it on his head with a reed in his right hand, and they knelt before him and mocked him saying, ‘Hail, king of the Jews.’ And they spat on him and took the reed and beat him on the head.”

(Matthew 27:28-30)

 

“And they clothed him with a purple cloak and they put on him a crown woven from a thorn vine and they began to recognize him: ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they were striking him on the head with the reed and spitting on him and bowed the knee to worship him.”

(Mark 15:17-19)

 

“And the soldiers wove a crown from a thorn vine and put it on his head and clothed him with a garment of purple. And they came up to him and said, ‘Hail, King of the Jews!’ And they gave him blows.”

(John 19:2-3)

 

 

So we have the robe, the crown, and now we are left with the reed that was given to our Lord, Jesus. And as we look at this element of Roman mockery, there seems to be two ways in which we can approach it. One of the tools of a reed in the ancient world was to form a standard of measure. Reeds were cut to a consistent length and could then be used much like we would use a yard stick. Thus, in scripture, we find Ezekiel measuring the New Temple with a measuring reed (Ezekiel 40) while John repeats that same activity toward the closing of the Canon (Revelation 11 & 21 — note that even the word “Canon” comes from this word for “reed”). As justice was measured along the lines of standards, the reed also became a symbol of righteousness worked out. That in itself helps us to see the horrible irony of this event, for the reed (of justice) is taken from the King’s hand and used to beat him.

We take this one step further, though, when we realize that in addition to making sure that justice is done, a King is given power over men that is often symbolized by the scepter that he carried. And while reeds were known for being straight, they were not known for being the sturdiest of materials to use and could be easily broken. Hence Jesus asks if, when the people went out to see John the Baptist, what they were looking to see was a “reed shaken by the wind.” Thus, the counterfeit that the Romans were using was that of placing a scepter in Jesus’ hand that represented power to be broken.

But there is a second way that this can be perceived, this time not as much in terms of the design of Roman mockery, but in terms of God’s prophetic design. Isaiah writes about the Messiah:

“A bruised reed, he will not break;

A glowing wick, he will not quench;

In truth he will bring forth justice.”

(Isaiah 42:3)

And here we have the one who will not break the wounded and broken but will restore them, having the symbol of the bruised and broken (the reed) crushed over his own head. How often God requires of his prophets seemingly strange acts so they may become living examples of his truth, justice, and grace; here is one more.

Yet, how often we are like those Romans, seeking power in the strength of men and not in the strength of God. How often people in our churches prefer force to humility, preferring to break the bruised and crushed reeds in their midst than to preserve and heal. How often truth and justice are only sought when convenient…yet how often genuine truth and justice are costly.