Saturday, February 25, 2012

Slow Down And See

When I drive I miss so much. I don't realize what I miss until I ride my bike or run. The slower pace and being outdoors lends to a greater experience of my surroundings. Sight, sound and smell. I am very glad that I have taken up two "sports" in the past two years...running and bicycling. My blog header was a photo taken on a run last fall, and so was the above photo. Capturing details that would be missed totally if I drove by them in my car...

Similarly, slowing down and walking through scripture is revealing rich details that I miss in a sit-down-read-through of the same text. As I study to teach the Sunday School class on Isaiah, I am seeing and savoring the "landscape" {sight, sound and even the smell} of the text. 
Have you noticed that the Cedar tree is frequently mentioned in Scripture? (Mmm, love the fragrance of Cedar!) Have you ever pondered the "why?" 

Look at some of the details about the Cedar tree:

  • Stately (Ezekiel 31:3-5) 
    • Beautiful branches
    • Shade
    • Very high
    • It's tops among the clouds
    • Many boughs
    • Long branches
    • Nourished by "many waters"
  • Long branched (Psalm 80:10)
  • Fragrant (Song of Songs 4:11, Hosea 14:6)
  • Durable- used for boards and pillars. (1 Kings 6:9, 1 Kings 7:2, Jeremiah 22:14)
  • Grew abundantly in Palestine, particularly in Lebanon.
    • Used in the construction of the temple and the Kings' palace.
    • Used in the second temple built by Zerubbabel (Ezra 3:7)
Israel has been in captivity in Babylon for 50 years when this portion of Isaiah is delivered to them. {The message of Isaiah 40-66 was given 150 years before it was delivered to Israel} They are feeling parched, barren and dry, as if God has abandoned them. In this particular verse (Isaiah 41:19), God is expressing via His message of comfort and assurance to His people that He will bring this mighty, wonderful tree into the wilderness. Since Israel was not a land with many forests or trees, this would have been significant imagery for the discouraged people who were longing for shade, for familiar smells of their homeland. 

For us it is as well. Even on a good day, it is uplifting and beneficial to be reminded that our loving God is able to bring sweet blessings into any barren place. He calls the things that are not as though they are...

Thank you Father for reminding us over and over and over again (because we forget easy!) in your word of your mighty works on behalf your people!


Warren Baldwin said...

Great message. We need to be reminded of the great messages of hope. And I like how you tie illustrations in with the biblical text. Good job.

Jessica S. said...

Thank you for this.
And thank you for being one of these sweet mercies in my desert.

♥ Jessica