Summary: Third in the series on God’s view of the coming of Christ as revealed through the message of the major prophets.
We’ve been looking these last few Sundays at the coming of Christ from God’s perspective by viewing some of the Messianic prophecies of the major prophets.
We looked at how Isaiah saw the coming of Messiah as "God with us", and Jeremiah, who saw Jesus as, "The Lord Our Righteousness".
Ezekiel, another of God’s "seers", saw Christ as a tender branch cut from the very top of a tall cedar tree, then transplanted on a high mountain.
This takes a little more explaining than Isaiah or Jeremiah’s prophecy.
First, we need to consider the background of this prophecy about the coming of the Savior.
Ezekiel delivered his message to the Jews as they were being taken captive into the foreign country of Babylon. God was allowing this to happen because of their refusal to repent of their sin, primarily idolatry. It wasn’t a very joyous time. But God gives a promise of future deliverance to His people in the midst of this time of sorrow.
To get His message across He uses two very impressive natural objects: the tall cedar tree, which sometimes grew to a height of one hundred feet, and the high mountain.
These items were awe-inspiring and spoke of the grandeur of God’s creation. In the Old Testament they are associated both with the majesty of earthly kings and also God’s majesty.
Chapter 17 of Ezekiel begins with an allegorical reference to the king of Babylon taking the top branch from one of these tall cedars and transplanting in Babylon. This can easily be interpreted as the king of Judah being transplanted in Babylon. Against his will he’s dethroned and made a prisoner of war in a heathen country. This was a sign of great weakness and spiritual failure.
In order that the people of God not be given over to complete discouragement however, God lets them know of a coming king who would not be overtaken by any enemy.
He says in verse 22, "I myself am going to take a shoot from the very top cedar and plant it on a high mountain." He continues in verse 23, "I will raise up a king in Israel who will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar."
Furthermore He says in verse 23, "birds of every kind will nest in it."
God was here foretelling His plans for the coming of Christ. This is indeed a Messianic prophecy fulfilled in the Lord Jesus.
There are several implications of this prophecy but we will limit ourselves to considering just two for now.
Do we see what Ezekiel saw?
First, Ezekiel shows us that God takes the insignificant and gives it significance.
He was going to take a small, tender branch from the top of the tree and make it the most significant tree the world has ever seen. That is exactly what the coming of Christ into this world was like.
Jesus was born in a animal barn and cradled in a feeding trough in one of the most insigificant towns of the day. His earthly parents weren’t rich or famous. He was certainly a tender branch when He came into this world - yet He forever changed the course of history.
If we can see what Ezekiel saw we would see that what is insignificant to the world is often very significant to God and vice versa.
When we begin to see what Ezekiel saw we will adjust our perspective about what is important and what’s not.
Those of us who are Christ followers are consistently called upon to reshape our thinking and re-order our priorities according to God’s perspective.
The Christmas season should not only be a time to check our shopping list - its also a very good time to check our priorites. Do we view ourselves and others around us as God does? This is a vital question.
None of us should ever view our lives as insignificant. Our name may not be in neon lights or riveted across the headlines but we are each and every one valuable. We don’t have to enjoy celebrity status to be important.
Walt Disney was once asked, "How does it feel to be a celebrity?" This was his answer:
"It feels fine when it helps me get a good seat for a football game. But it never helped me make a good film, or a good shot in a polo game, or command the obedience of my daughter. It doesn’t even seem to keep fleas off our dogs - and if being a celebrity won’t give one an advantage over a couple of fleas, then I guess there can’t be much in being a celebrity after all."
Like Joseph and Mary and the baby Jesus, we may not appear very significant to the world, but each and every one of us is important to God!