Trees of righteousness

Genesis 12: 2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing

1 Chronicles 9 And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren, and his mother called his name Jabez saying that because I bare him with sorrow

10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying oh that thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldst keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested

Isaiah 61: 1 –The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me: because the Lord has anointed me to preach good tidings to the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound…

3: To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified

4: And they shall build the old wastes, they shall raise up the former desolations, and they shall repair the waste cities, the desolations of many generations

Matthew 28: 18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth,

19. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations….

I have often wondered about the struggles of this life. Why some have so much, and others so little. My deep interest in the phenomenon of leadership comes from this enquiry. Fortunately, in trying to understand it, I have been led to the truths of the Bible. A history book that tells the inside story of how this world began, and how it will end. Some like to pretend that it tells the story of only the Jews.

But it tells the story of the whole earth, and this is clear from its’ opening lines. How it began, how humanity came to inhabit it, how humanity got perverted, and the effort to redeem and reconcile a struggling human race with its maker, so there will be ‘peace on earth, and goodwill to all men’.

It scans epochs, and the histories of various peoples, nations, and superpowers over the ages. Within these journeys, and from the call of Abraham, the spotlight moves on the group that carried the bloodline of Jesus Christ, until He is born in time. This is the relevance of the Jews in the bible. But this does not limit the book to their story. Indeed, after the resurrection of Jesus, the spotlight leaves them, and spreads over to those that carry the name of Jesus. It is this focus on Jesus that determines the contours and principles of the book.

I call the theme of this ancient book ‘THE GREAT ENTERPRISE’ of the earth. Ephesians 1:10 sums it up thus: ‘That in the dispensation of the fullness of times, he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth: even in him’.

In sum, there is a reason/focus/objective for the seeming random arrangement of human life. From base to top of the pyramid, there is a personality called Jesus Christ who draws us all from every corner of the globe into the equation.

Paul goes on in verse 11 to say

11: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will

No human is an accident of nature. Or force of nature, as we may wish to flatter ourselves. The sober reality is that each of us has been honored with a part in this enterprise of earth life. Paul, the author of the letter to Ephesians, calls it an inheritance obtained in Christ. We have an inheritance in time, and into eternity, if we will confront the challenges of our environment with values, purposeful living, and faith in Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, if we fail to respond appropriately to this honor, we lose our inheritance in eternity.

So why do we find it difficult to accept that there is a unique territory designed for each of us? A territory that contains our inheritance in Christ? Why do we often choose the path of least resistance, hiding behind others, like children behind the skirt of their mother, instead of reaching out for that unique place that is ours?

I think that it is the challenges we are met with when we try to put aside the wickedness, perversion and laziness that invite wrong methods to achieve our goals, that make us decide to forget the push. Add to this the strain placed on every part of life when we try to employ patient faith in Jesus, hope in the worthiness of humanity, and love in order to hand over a world that is better than we met it, and most people just recoil from confronting and conquering territories.

The Bible makes clear to us that we are surrounded by vain idols of ‘power, money and lusts’ in the world around us, and these demand vain worship in order to sustain selfish, destructive life styles. They relentlessly tempt, and will intimidate you with Gordian knots in the forms of traditions, cultures and all sorts of dire consequences if you dare refuse to halt in the march to your inheritance. Even Jesus was taken to a high mountain and tempted to stop His mission by taking short cuts. So can we win over them? So much so that we even take territory from them?

That is the essence of the Gospel! The good news that we do not reach out for any place or thing for its own sake, but so we can join in Jesus’ ministry to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound. We take territories so we can build the old wastes, raise up the former desolations, repair the waste cities, and the desolations of many generations.

What a reason to put on the full armor of God, and take the territories placed before us. And we know that every territory we step on can be conquered by faith, and with the strength given from a personal relationship with Jesus. He is called ‘counselor, mighty God, everlasting father’, ‘the great shepherd’. We can halt the rot, and win the battles – because our Captain has already won the war. He promised never to leave us or forsake us. In all the strain of the journey, He is only a prayer away. Remember that every territory we conquer is an inheritance for eternity. Make it good territory. Not that which hurts others. Soldier on.

Prayer: Lord, I am tempted to veer off when it comes to the matter of achievement. To succumb to intimidation by those who do not fear God, and live beaten by the harsh waves of the environment, or choose to join in avarice and fail to win by the rules. But I know that it is your way to uproot wrong, so if I remain in you, I have the strength with which to spread roots of right to all I can impact. Help me to remember that Jesus saved me to make me a part of his work of salvation, and that I am blessed to be a blessing. Amen

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