“All the trees of the field will know that I am the LORD; I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree, dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform.”
While the context of this verse is God promising to remove an appointed ruler from his position, this verse contains three principles that caught my attention this morning.
The first is contained in this statement: I bring down the high tree, exalt the low tree. The statement reminded me of other ways this has been said in scripture, specifically, that God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6,1 Peter 5:5). This is why, I suspect, James tells the believers to whom he writes that they should humble themselves in God’s presence and that God will exalt them (James 4:10). The principle is this: God and pride do not mix. If I would be great in God’s kingdom; if I would be greatly used by God, then the first step is to humble myself.
The second principle is contained in this statement: I … dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. There are many potential ways this verse could be understood, but my understanding came in the form of Job’s story and how he summed things up at the outset: The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the Name of the Lord (Job 1:21). It is easy to lose sight of Who, ultimately, is in control of blessing and cursing. It often seems that the wicked flourish while the righteous wither, but those are times when I have lost sight of the long game. God is not competing for humanity’s comfort in the here and now, but for our eternal comfort. He is not quite as concerned with my temporal situation as He is with my eternal. This is not to say that He does not care about my here and now — He cares deeply about everything that concerns His children — only that He is working for something much more important than this mortal coil. He is working on forever. Which brings this thought around to what Jesus said about life: I came that they may have life, and have [it] abundantly (John 10:10). Yes, God is concerned with my creature comforts, but nowhere near as much as He is concerned about my Life. He wants me to be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44-45, 19:2, 20:7; 1 Peter 1:16) and to be able to be where He is (John 14:3). This means that it may seem that I dry up in the here and now, but am actually flourishing in eternal terms.
The third and final principle is in this statement: I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will perform. It may seem that the statement of God’s lordship is independent of the second part, but it is not. The second assertion — that He will do what He has said He will do — depends completely on the first assertion — that He is the LORD. LORD, in all caps like that, indicates the four-letter deal called the tetragammaton; the covenant Name of God. This is the Name He gives when He promises Abram (later renamed Abraham) a son. This is the Name He gives when He makes promises to Jacob (renamed Israel). This is the Name He gives Moses when Moses asks Who he will say sent him to the Israelites in Egypt. This is the Name God consistently gives when He is making or keeping His promises. The use of that Name here means something larger than just a choice of appellation; this is a call-back to the history bound up in that Name. This is a reminder that the One Who is making a promise now is the same One Who has fulfilled the promises made in times past. The final principle is that God will do what He has said He will do. His Word stands. And His use of the covenant Name is a reminder that His track record is perfect. He has never made a promise that He did not fulfill.
Three things of which I often need to be reminded: (1) God opposes the proud and gives grace to the humble. (2) Paucity and plenty alike come from the hand of God in order to make His children flourish for eternity; make us holy. (3) God makes good His promises. Always.