Summary: God planted a Christmas tree in Bethlehem. But it was a differnent kind of tree than the one folks often decorate and place in their homes for Christmas.
Back in 2008 an Englishman named Greig Howe bought a 35-foot tall Christmas tree for his house. Now that’s a pretty big tree. And you’d expect that Mr. Howe must then have a fairly large house. But he didn’t. His was a two story dwelling that was only 30 feet tall.
So, did he just put the tree on the OUTSIDE his home and decorate it there?
No. What he did was he cut that tree into three almost equal parts and installed them in every floor of his house... including the roof!
He put the bottom chunk that has 10ft long branches in the living room.
The middle part was squeezed into the spare bedroom above.
And the top section, measuring 15ft, was placed on the roof directly above the bedroom.
It took Howe and 7 of his friends 2 entire days to put the tree in place.
Then they decorated it with 160 big ornaments and whopping 2000 LED lights. It even had a star perched on top.
Today I’m going focus on 3 facts about this tree:
1. It was a “Big” tree.
2. It was a “dead” tree.
3. And (outside of being a pretty tree) it didn’t do anything of any value
Greig said: "From the outside it is a bit of an optical illusion because it appears to be one huge tree that has shot up through the ceilings and floorboards and out through the roof."
(12/17/08 Bizarre News).
A tree that “shot up thru the ceiling and floors and out thru the roof”
That’s interesting. But that was all just an optical illusion.
Isaiah 11 that God planted a Christmas tree in Bethlehem… but His tree wasn’t an optical illusion.
In the previous chapters God said it was His plan to cut down the trees of Assyria and Israel
Of Assyria He says: “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; Lebanon will fall before the Mighty One.” Isaiah 10:33-34
And of Israel and Judah He declared: “So the LORD will cut off from Israel both head and tail, both palm branch and reed in a single day… Surely wickedness burns like a fire; it consumes briers and thorns, it sets the forest thickets ablaze, so that it rolls upward in a column of smoke.” Isaiah 9:14 & 18
These trees symbolized the power and majesty of those two nations. And God was telling us that He was going to take an ax and go through the forests of their power and He was going to cut it all down. When He finished with them, there would be nothing left of their pride and might.
But then – in the devastation that was left behind he was going to graft a shoot into one of the stumps left behind and grow a new tree. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” Isaiah 11:1
ILLUS: This imagery would have been familiar to the Jews of that day.
Olive trees were an important and valuable tree for people in that region. They were a source of food, medicine, fuel, and a base for the anointing oil they used in anointing their kings, priests and prophets. Spiritually, the oil of that tree represented peace, faithfulness, endurance and… new life.
The reason the tree symbolized new life was because the tree was virtually indestructible.
They could grow in almost any soil and flourish in great heat with little water.
Most Olive trees can live to the ripe old age of 500 years, and some are believed to be over a thousand years old.
One expert explained that “New sprouts and trees will emerge from the olive tree stump roots, even if the trees are cut down.”
Even if a the grove catches on fire a good Olive Tree Grower can graft an olive shoot into the stump of that tree and grow a new tree in its place.
So in Isaiah 11, God is declaring that - in the devastation left behind after the destruction of Assyria and Israel…
• a branch would grow out of the stump of Jesse.
• a branch would be grafted into the tree that had been cut down and destroyed.
So what was this branch?
Or more to the point - WHO was this branch?
Well – it was the Messiah. It was Jesus.
The prophecies about the coming Messiah started in Isaiah 7 where we learned that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a son and we would call His name Immanuel. Then in Isaiah 9 God told us this child would minister in Galilee and that He would be a great ruler and leader of His people. And that this Messiah would be a light to those walking in the shadow of death.