Garden of GodJuly 5, 2012 - 5:00 am
“And though a tenth remains in the land,
it will again be laid waste.
But as the terebinth and oak
leave stumps when they are cut down,
so the holy seed will be the stump in the land.” — Isaiah 6:13
Rebecca Rupp, author of children’s and young adults’ books, recently wrote, “When our kids first started gardening, they wanted to grow doughnuts and bluebirds. If only we could, I thought.”
For young children – and maybe even for grizzled adults – gardening represents the potential for good in our world; it represents the hopes and dreams of people from all walks of life. This wonderful observation may shed light on Isaiah’s comparison, in this passage, between the Jewish people and a tree in the garden of God.
In his day, Isaiah spoke to a Jewish people threatened by an Assyrian empire at the height of its power. The Assyrian forces had conquered far and wide and had successfully exerted its power over much of the Middle East. It seemed then that Assyrian control over their world would never end.
Indeed, the Jews living in Israel thought that their land would be decimated by the Assyrians. It must have been nearly impossible for them to imagine that they could survive those troubled times.
That’s why Isaiah’s message in this passage is so powerful. He paints a picture of a mighty tree in autumn. All the leaves have fallen off, and the tree looks like it’ll never flourish again. But then, when spring returns and the sun comes back out, the tree begins to bloom back into the mighty specimen it once was.
Think about the State of Israel. For years this was just a dream to Jews who dared not hope that it might ever come true. Who could possibly have imagined the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the flourishing of a vibrant democracy in the very place where once Jews feared their nation would not outlive the now-long-dead Assyrians? Who would have thought, when leaves were falling off the oak tree, that come springtime, the oak would return to its former glory? And yet, like the oak tree, here we are. Back home again.
In fact, this is the attitude we need to have throughout our daily lives. Sure, when trouble strikes, it’s easy to feel as if we might never smile again – as if there’s no end in sight.
It’s during times like those that we need to remember Isaiah’s lesson: Have faith in God, and one day that oak tree will flourish again!