Friday, February 7, 2020
Isaiah 61:11 For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations.
Eight years ago I was in Bayou DuLarge, Louisiana on a mission trip. At the time we had a sister church there that we were helping rebuild houses that had been destroyed by two hurricanes. When I returned from that trip, I was surprised that summer had already arrived in Wisconsin. While on the Bayou the temperatures were only 3-5 degrees warmer than here, but the humidity levels were a lot higher. I’m glad to have the warmth without the wetness.
As I looked out over the back yard at my house, I saw so much work that needed to be done. I knew it was far too early, but the open gate to my garden was inviting me to enter and begin preparing the soil for planting. As foolish as that would be, it was very tempting. I am amazed after all these years that I still get thrilled watching seeds that I’ve planted begin to germinate and grow, and that one day I will harvest a crop of delicious vegetables.
As I read through Isaiah 61 again this morning, my attention was drawn to the gardening metaphors.
- We will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor. Isn’t that exciting – we…you and me…are planted by the Lord so we can display His splendor to the world! How’s that going for you? Does the world see us despairing over the sufferings of life or displaying the splendor of the Lord? Do we bend, sway, and snap off at the storms of life, or do we stand tall and strong in the face of what life blows at us?
- For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations. This metaphor confused me. I understand the soil part of causing a seed to germinate, but since when does a garden cause seeds to grow? Seeds will grow outside of gardens as well, won’t they? Then it hit me – the Lord is the soil; He is the garden. We are the seeds. When we are planted in Him, in the soil that He has prepared, and when we remain in Him, within the boundaries of His garden, then we spring up as righteousness before all the nations and praise Him.
I like that. Life started in a Garden, where everything was good, and righteousness and praise continually sprung up. Even though that original physical garden is gone, destroyed by man’s sin, there is a spiritual garden in which each of us can be planted to spring up with righteousness and praise. I am reminded of the words of Psalm 1 –
Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
I wonder if the reason we don’t spring up with righteousness and praise more often is that we are drawing our water from the wrong place. The water of the world will bring disease and death to any seed, but the water from the River of Life brings a harvest of spiritual prosperity.
God has prepared a garden for each of us in which we are to sprout up and spring up with the splendor of His grace. It is a well-watered garden, and in it we will flourish. The world has a garden also, but just beneath the soil that looks fertile is the blight of death. Enter the open gate of the garden of God, and spring up with life.