Summary: This parable pictures Jesus as a cedar sprout from the top of David’s family tree. He becomes low and dry to save us, but the Lord made him a tall and florishing tree so that we are safe in his branches.
Only God has made the Tree
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. The Word of God through which the Holy Spirit guides our hearts and minds today is recorded in Ezekiel 17:22-24
This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish.
“I the LORD have spoken, and I will do it.” (NIV) – This is the word of the Lord.
Dear friends in Christ Jesus, who find rest beneath him,
Joyce Kilmer wrote this poem: “I think that I shall never see/ A poem lovely as a tree.// A tree whose hungry mouth is prest / Against the sweet earth’s flowing breast; // A tree that looks at God all day, / And lifts her leafy arms to pray; // A tree that may in summer wear / A nest of robins in her hair; // Upon whose bosom snow has lain; / Who intimately lives with rain. // Poems are made by fools like me, / But only God can make a tree.”
(Louis Untermeyer, ed. Modern American Poetry. 1919. from www.bartleby.com/104/119.html).
“Only God can make a tree.” How true that is! Only he is the Creator. God’s Word for today also speaks of the Lord God making a tree. These verses, though, are not referring to a literal tree. They are part of a parable. And rather than just any tree, these verse refer to the Tree. Who is this Tree and what does he do for us? May the Holy Spirit guide us to answer these questions from God’s Word as we consider the theme: Only God has made the Tree
1) The Lord himself takes a shoot from David’s family tree
Who is this Tree that the Lord has planted? To answer that we need to look at the first part of Ezekiel 17 and remember the times in which Ezekiel lived. The first part of the parable talks about an eagle breaking off the top of a cedar tree and taking it to another country. Cedars were majestic evergreen trees. They could grow over 100 feet tall and live for centuries. Later the Lord explains the parable, saying, “The king of Babylon went to Jerusalem and carried off her king and her nobles, bringing them back with him to Babylon” (Ezekiel 17:12).
The eagle who carried off the cedar top is Nebuchadnezer the king of Babylon. The cedar top is the king in Jerusalem who was Jehoiachin. You may not remember him. He has king for only three months before Nebuchadnezer took him into exile around 600 B.C. But you do know the name of his ancestor. Jehoiachin was the heir and descendant of King David, who lived about 18 generations earlier. The cedar whose top is broken off is David’s family tree. Although the base of the tree in the days of David and Solomon was strong and god-fearing, by the days of Jehoiachin, the tree was weak and ungodly.
Could anyone save God’s people caught in such a wicked time? No earthly king could. Jehoiachin was in exile. His successor Zedekiah relied on human ingenuity and strength. With the Lord as his witness, he promised to be faithful to Nebuchadnezer and then broke his oath and plotted with the Egyptians against him. The end result of relying on human power and ingenuity was the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. Could anyone save God’s people?
Into this hopeless darkness the Lord’s Word shines: “I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a [Hebrew = “the”] cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain.” (Ezekiel 17:22 NIV).
No one else could do it, so the Lord himself did it. He himself takes a shoot from top of the cedar tree. He takes someone from David’s family tree. Whom does he take? Jesus. According to his human nature, Jesus is a descendant of David. Matthew and Luke clearly trace Jesus ancestry back to David.
Jesus did what no one else could do. He carried out God’s saving plan. Only Jesus could do it, because only Jesus is both God and man. The Lord himself takes a shoot from David’s family tree. He becomes that shoot, when God the Son became flesh. Only the Lord can save.