During the recent storms in the south of England many trees were uprooted, causing damage and chaos. Most of the ones that came down near our home were trees that had some rotten timber on the inside or had shallow roots, which meant that they were unable to withstand the force of the winds. The sturdier trees, which were sound on the inside and had deep roots, were not affected by the storms. Oaks were among those that were left standing. I have even heard it said that an oak tree will withstand a forest fire.
In today’s verse Isaiah writes of some people being called oaks of righteousness. To whom is he referring? The verses preceding this describe what Jesus came to do:
‘He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners …
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve …
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair’ (Isaiah 61:1-3).
Isaiah goes on to say that these people will be called oaks of righteousness – those who have had their broken hearts mended by Jesus, who have been set free, healed and comforted by Him, and who’ve had inner beauty restored to their lives. They will then be able to stand strong in the Lord, and in the certainty of His promises for them, whatever storms come their way. Those who haven’t received such healing may not be able to stand firm in the same way. They may still be broken on the inside, held captive by fear or addictions, be in a dark prison of resentment or unforgiveness, or be suffering pain and grief from past hurts, which make it difficult for them to experience the abundant life that Jesus came to bring and to remain firmly rooted in Him.
Isaiah says that these oaks of righteousness are to be a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendour. God has a place prepared for each one of us, with unique opportunities to shine for Him and display His splendour, but we’re more likely to be able to do this effectively if we’ve first received the freedom and healing that Jesus was sent to bring.
Prayer: Lord, thank You for what Jesus was sent to do. Please help me to come into more of the healing that You have for me, so that I can be like an oak of righteousness, firmly planted in the place You’ve prepared for me, able to withstand any storms and to display Your splendour. Amen.
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