Christine Wilkens: EAC Director of Counseling, Azimuth Executive Director
I think the one of the coolest things about reading the entire Bible is getting to see the consistent and interconnected message! Additionally, we get to see that God’s plans are always accomplished, regardless of what the circumstances may look or feel like. And finally, that God has a way for all of us to participate in this plan– even if we have been in, are now in, or are just coming out of an “exile.” How important it is for me, and maybe you too, to be reminded of this, especially, when going through discouraging times!
In Ezra 5 we find the people of Israel right at the end of an exile. They are learning how to live as a nation once again. It’s wonderful to read how God brought two prophets, Zechariah and Haggai to teach and encourage God’s people! It is always exciting to read of God raising up prophets to bring His truth to people and to know that God is still doing this today!
Often there is such vivid imagery used in prophesies. Yet, the image of a tree is what came to me as I meditated on this scripture. Let me explain. In Zechariah 6:11 we begin to understand that the exiles were to give authority to Joshua, the son of a high priest. Then, Joshua would be joined by a man called the “Branch” to rebuild the temple, and that then God would “branch out” from that place. From our vantage point, we can see the connections between the Old and New Testament and how this prophesy has been realized! We read about the root of this “family tree” back in Isaiah 11:1. And last year, in the New Testament SOLID reading, we read Romans 15:12 which told us that one will come from the “root” of Jesse who will be raised up to lead all the nations. That connected to our reading in John 15 which was that we too, have an opportunity to be grafted into this “family tree” when we believe in Christ as our Messiah: Jesus says…”I am the vine, you are (to be) the branches…”
Today in Ezra 5:2, we met Zerubbabel, whose name literally means “seed of Babylon.” He was born into King David’s family during Israel’s exile in Babylon. As I researched this man I found he had been appointed a governor of the province by King Darius just prior to his joining Joshua Zerubbabel was the “seed,“ planted while in Babylon, who grew into “the Branch,” ordained by God to help lead the rebuilding of the temple. This “Branch” of God’s “family tree” brought us Christ, whose sacrifice on another tree fulfilled the truth of God’s love for all mankind. Our Messiah, and those who accept Him and walk in His ways have “branched out” from that place bringing the “Good News” to all nations– fulfilling Zechariah’s prophesies!
For me, a final take-away from today’s reading is that all who have been grafted into God’s family tree have a role to play in accomplishing God’s will on earth. Some of us will be prophets like Haggai and Zechariah, and some will be government officials like Zerubbabel. Others will be laborers, craftsmen and artisans, like those that helped to rebuild the temple. Yet, all of us will, due to the sacrifice of our Messiah, enter into this royal priesthood (1Peter 2)– not just those who were born into it, like Joshua.
Lord, thank you for reminding me today that I, through faith in Christ, have been grafted in, becoming a “branch” of your family tree. Help me to be a fruitful branch bringing the “Good News” of your great love to those I meet. Thank you for allowing us to have access to your word and to see the connections between the Old and New Testament and thank you for reminding me that what, you, God, want done… gets done… period!