The Majestic Tree
In August I was able to show some of my grandchildren where my wife, Mary, and I first met on Word of Life Island, a mile out in the middle of Schroon Lake. When you arrive on the island, you are faced immediately by “Cardiac Hill.” It’s named this because when my dad and mom lived on the island this climb almost did in my fragile mom.
My grandkids hardly noticed the climb, but they did notice the gigantic pine trees. Some of the only virgin pines in the entire Adirondack Park are still majestically stretching for the heavens on that hill, and though they’re not the Redwoods of San Francisco, they definitely confront us with the wonder and awe a gigantic tree can inspire. And that’s the reason rulers and their all-encompassing empires love to use the symbol of a flourishing tree to represent the protection and nourishment they suggest they are providing for their subjects. It also leads us into wrestling with why the King of Kings used the image of a flourishing tree to represent Nebuchadnezzar and then confront him in another dream sequence.
“I (Nebuchadnezzar) said, ‘Belteshazzar, chief of magicians (court advisers), I know that the spirit of the holy gods is in you and that no secret is too difficult for you. Here is my dream. Interpret it for me.
This is my vision pictured in my mind while lying in bed. I looked and there was a tree in the middle of the land incredibly high. The tree became great and prevailed. It’s height reached to the heavens, and you could see it from anywhere on earth. Its foliage was beautiful, filled with abundant fruit; the animals of the field took shelter under its branches. The birds of the sky nested in its branches, and from it all creatures were fed.
In the vision while lying in my bed, I looked and there before me was an observant messenger, a holy one, who came down from the heaven. With a powerful voice he said, ‘Cut down the tree, cut off its branches, strip off its foliage, and disperse its fruit. Let the animals flee from under the tree and the birds from its branches. But let the stump and its roots bound with iron and bronze remain in the ground, in the grass of the earth. Let him be drenched with the dew of heaven, and let him live with the animals among the plants of the earth. Let his mind be changed from that of a man to that of an animal, till seven times passes by upon him. The decree announced by the heavenly messengers, the holy ones giving the verdict, is given so that everyone living may know that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men.’” Daniel 4:9-17
We humans strut around and boast about our abilities, plans, and achievements. When it looks like our success is impregnable, watch out. This pride convicts us in the court of heaven, and instead of being human, we lose our humanity and our sanity.For Nebuchadnezzar this wasn’t a Beauty And The Beast fairy tale. It became the story of his life.
LORD, drive home the reality that it’s the lowliest of men and women that you put into positions of leadership and that humility not pride is the character trait most needed in a leader.
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