Tuesday, September 24, 2019
I have a friend who is a marvelous tree climber, and has all the ropes and tackle necessary to cut down trees and make the branches and trunk fall in just the right spots. He came over to my house to help me with two trees that were dying. It was a big job, and I was tired by the time it was done. There were a lot of branches to haul into a pile, and there was a lot of firewood to stack.
My plan was to use my chain saw at a later date to cut off the stumps at ground level so they didn’t interfere too much with the growth of the new lilac bushes I planted. Well, the stumps still stand. And now there are shoots of new trees sprouting 3 feet high from the side of one of the stumps. It doesn’t look good. In fact, just the other day, a guy was driving by and stopped and asked my wife if we would hire him to remove the stumps. He obviously thought they were pretty ugly also. (Hmmm…What a strange expression – pretty ugly.)
I was thinking about those new shoots of trees from the old stump. I really do miss that tree. It would be nice if it grew again. I wonder what those shoots would ever amount to if I pruned them and let one of them grow? I know it would take a long time, but someone, someday, would enjoy the fruit of my endeavor, if it actually worked.
History tells us that nations, like trees, tend to die. They cease to be productive. God tells us the reason: they move down a political path that rejects the truth of His Sovereignty. Death is always the result of rejection of God. Sometimes nations die a slow death of moral and social decay. Sometimes they are cut down before the decay causes further damage to surrounding territories. In the tenth chapter of Isaiah, God cuts down the nations that have rejected Him.
See, the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled, the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax. (Isaiah 10:33-34)
God’s judgment always has a two-fold purpose. First, it is to destroy sin. Second, it is to restore life as He intended. Whether we are destroyed or restored is our choice and depends upon the humility of our hearts to repent of our sin and surrender to God’s purpose for our lives. The same is true for nations. When there is humility and repentance, there will be restoration. God promises it. It may take a long time, and we may not be around to see the full effects of the restoration project, but God is faithful to accomplish it.
God’s faithfulness is guaranteed in the very next verse after He describes the chopping of the trees.
A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD—and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. (Isaiah 11:1-3)
The stump is going to produce a new shoot – a Branch that will bear the fruit of restoration. This is the spiritual truth illustrated by the stump in my front yard. Jesus Christ will spring forth from the tree of Israel that was cut down because of its sin. He will be filled with the Spirit of the LORD and He will be qualified with wisdom, understanding, counsel, knowledge, and power to restore the Kingdom and reign as its King. He will bring to the people the delight of living in awe of God.
This spiritual principle of pruning to perfection is what God may be doing in your life right now. At the minimum He’s clipping off the unproductive and sinful branches of your life so that the righteous branches can bear more fruit. At times it seems like He’s cutting down the whole tree. Some people need that. They need to be left with a stump in order for the Branch to sprout fresh and bring them life again. To whatever degree God is pruning you, let Him. Sure it hurts – but the new growth will be much better and you will delight in it.