This past week my family and I had the opportunity to hike some trails in an area of Southern California affected by forest fires in the recent past. The effects of the devastation left by the fires were still evident as some of the areas were still off limits to hikers. And the landscape itself was pretty bare.
Yet as we were hiking I couldn’t help but notice new growth already sprouting in various places. The most notable ones were clumps of greenery right in the middle of a burned tree. Here are a couple of examples:
Isn’t this awesome!!!
Fire had devastated the land the greenery but new life is sprouting right there in the midst of the dead tree.
This is analogous to where we are with our journey through the Bible with the people of Israel.
The time for the final devastation of exile and captivity had finally come. The people of Judah are being taken away into captivity. The promised land and the establishment of the kingdom is all but a distant memory.
The people of God are now indeed like a tree stump in the ground and the words spoken to Isaiah by God have indeed come to pass:
“Until the cities lie ruined
and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the Lord has sent everyone far away
and the land is utterly forsaken.
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 6:11-13, NIV.
Yet, there is hope!
From that very stump that was left bare in the land, there will be new growth. We read:
The stump of Jesse of course refers to the now exiled kingdom of Judah since the father of King David was Jesse. And the new branch reference is to the coming Messiah.
Praise God for this hope of restoration even in the midst of utterly devastating circumstances.
However, we need to keep in mind that this new growth that would spring up will be new and we should not expect it to be the same at the former things. When God restores and repairs the years of destruction, He will make them far better than what they used to be.
Even research on forest fires reveals that what grows back after a fire may not resemble what was lost.
In the second part of Isaiah we see this message of new hope and restoration repeated as promise of the Messiah is foretold. This new Messiah who will arise from the stump of Jesse, will cause one to forget the former things and usher in a new Kingdom.
As we read about the fate of the Israelites and the new hope that awaits them, we also ought to examine the areas of our lives that may be lying in ruins and left with only a broken stump. So may we also put our hope in Christ the Messiah who is able to restore and cause new life to grow out of that broken stump.
Now, here is the weekly plan for you to read for yourselves about the end of the kingdom of Judah and the promises spoken over them by the prophet Isaiah.
Judah meets its end resulting in exile and captivity; Isaiah speaks forth the message of hope through God’s promises concerning the future Messiah.
Weekly Reading Plan
If you want to dig deeper here are some of my suggestions:
- Use the above schedule to read through all of the text
- Read Job 14: 7-9. What is it that could cause a stump of a tree to sprout and grow again?
- Read Psalm 1:1-3. How can one remain like a tree that will never wither?
- Optional: Read Psalms 67-69
And that is it for week 25!
Happy Bible Learning!