Taking Root Below – Bearing Fruit Above

ubr0008.jpgLet’s just jump right into 2 Kings 19. Here we read about:

— Hezekiah’s quandary: What to do in the day of distress?

— Hezekiah’s reaction: Send word to Isaiah to pray for us.

— Isaiah’s response: Tell Hezekiah that God says, “Do not be afraid…”

— God’s promise: Tell Hezekiah that I will make Sennacherib want to return to his own country.

— Sennacherib’s taunt: Do not let the god you depend on deceive you…

— Hezekiah’s prayer: 14Hezekiah received the letter from the messengers and read it. Then he went up to the temple of the LORD and spread it out before the LORD. 15 And Hezekiah prayed to the LORD: “LORD, the God of Israel, enthroned between the cherubim, you alone are God over all the kingdoms of the earth. You have made heaven and earth. 16 Give ear, LORD, and hear; open your eyes, LORD, and see; listen to the words Sennacherib has sent to ridicule the living God. 17 “It is true, LORD, that the Assyrian kings have laid waste these nations and their lands. 18 They have thrown their gods into the fire and destroyed them, for they were not gods but only wood and stone, fashioned by human hands. 19 Now, LORD our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone, LORD, are God.”

— Isaiah’s Prophecy of Sennacherib’s Fall: 20Then Isaiah son of Amoz sent a message to Hezekiah: “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him:
“‘Virgin Daughter Zion
despises you and mocks you.
Daughter Jerusalem
tosses her head as you flee.

22 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed?
Against whom have you raised your voice
and lifted your eyes in pride?
Against the Holy One of Israel!

23 By your messengers
you have ridiculed the Lord.
And you have said,
“With my many chariots
I have ascended the heights of the mountains,
the utmost heights of Lebanon.
I have cut down its tallest cedars,
the choicest of its junipers.
I have reached its remotest parts,
the finest of its forests.

24 I have dug wells in foreign lands
and drunk the water there.
With the soles of my feet
I have dried up all the streams of Egypt.”

25 ” ‘Have you not heard?
Long ago I ordained it.
In days of old I planned it;
now I have brought it to pass,
that you have turned fortified cities
into piles of stone.

26 Their people, drained of power,
are dismayed and put to shame.
They are like plants in the field,
like tender green shoots,
like grass sprouting on the roof,
scorched before it grows up.

27 ” ‘But I know where you are
and when you come and go
and how you rage against me.

28 Because you rage against me
and because your insolence has reached my ears,
I will put my hook in your nose
and my bit in your mouth,
and I will make you return
by the way you came.’

29 “This will be the sign for you, Hezekiah:
“This year you will eat what grows by itself,
and the second year what springs from that.
But in the third year sow and reap,
plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

30 Once more a remnant of the house of Judah
will take root below and bear fruit above.

31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
“The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

32 “Therefore this is what the LORD says concerning the king of Assyria:
” ‘He will not enter this city
or shoot an arrow here.
He will not come before it with shield
or build a siege ramp against it.

33 By the way that he came he will return;
he will not enter this city,
declares the LORD.

34 I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.'”

— God’s deliverance:

34 I will defend this city and save it,
for my sake and for the sake of David my servant.’ ”

35 That night the angel of the LORD went out and put to death a hundred and eighty-five thousand in the Assyrian camp. When the people got up the next morning—there were all the dead bodies! 36 So Sennacherib king of Assyria broke camp and withdrew. He returned to Nineveh and stayed there.

37 One day, while he was worshiping in the temple of his god Nisrok, his sons Adrammelek and Sharezer killed him with the sword, and they escaped to the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son succeeded him as king.

 

— Some may wonder: What is the point of bringing this story to light?

First, it is heartening to note that in the face of seemingly insurmountable opposition God provided words of comfort to His children.

Second, it is faith-building to note that God did more than send His people an encouraging message. He backed it up with strong deliverance!

Third (and this is point that I want to focus on today), in the midst of Isaiah’s prophecy regarding Sennacherib’s fate, God succinctly articulated a grand vision of the future for His children.

— God’s plan: Restore Israel’s vitality within three years, with the ultimate goal, simply stated in verse 30, being: Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above.

— What an astounding image this is! By God’s grace a day of distress is transformed into a season of renewal. A people living in fear of a marauding military menace witness their enemy’s army reduced to a field of corpses in one night and their God-defying leader skedaddle back to his homeland where he thought he was secure. However, death at the hand of his own sons in the temple of his own (little “g”) god awaited him.

— What does this have to do with us? As I reflect on this account it makes me think of the way we live in relationship with God today. At the core of God’s vision of life for people living in a kingdom relationship with Him we see the image of a God’s people, the house of Judah, industriously taking root downward and bearing fruit upward. The abundance of their crops and rich fruit from their vineyards seem to serve as a metaphor of what God intends for His children to do.

Since this is how God characterizes their lives, it stands to reason that those wishing to live in a vital relationship with God today should ask: How do we go about taking root downward and bearing fruit upward? I’m thinking that there might be a few readers that have some suggestions to share. So, I’ll leave the end of this post open, for now.

What do you think? How do we go about taking root downward and bearing fruit upward? Please share your thoughts.

© Bill Williams

August 11, 2006

About a fellow sojourner

a sojourner in life, trying to follow in the steps of Jesus.
This entry was posted in Blogroll, Christian Living, Christianity, Discipleship Training, Kingdom Living, Leadership, Life, Preaching Notes, Spiritual Renewal. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Taking Root Below – Bearing Fruit Above

  1. Greg England says:

    Tag! You’re it … sorry, that was yesterday. Just hard to get it out of my system.
    This passage has been one of my favorites. Years ago when I finished grad school and started a counseling practice, the first year was not very fruitful as far as clients was concerned. Several times I would look at my appointment book and look at the bills coming due and it just wasn’t going to work out. My wife and I would spread out the bills and pray over them just as Hezekiah did the letter and God was always faithful to provide. Never made a lot of money in the six years I kept it going, but God was ever faithful and eventually pointed me in a different direction altogether.

  2. Kathy says:

    Just like Hezekiah did, it has to be a willful ‘spreading out before the LORD’ those things that cause us to wonder and wander. And as Max Lucado says, anchor deep, real deep In the LORD so the boat of life won’t be blown out of the water.
    The only place we CAN anchor deep, root downward is through communication, constant communication with God, with Jesus. Prayer, His Word, time with other Believers, quiet meditation on Him, fully immersing ourselves in Him. God will bring the fruit bearing when we are totally and constantly anchored deep in Him.
    But it takes determination of mind, heart, spirit and strength to allow Jesus to be fully in residence in our being. It doesn’t happen by accident, nor against our will. Just meditating on the thought that it is JESUS and the HOLY SPIRIT that are living IN me is enough to drive me to my knees. I just can’t fully realize this great truth and promise, but just a glimpse of it brings me to tears, confession and petiton.
    Hezekiah didn’t hesitate, he didn’t doubt, he went right to God showing what his question was all about, and was fully trusting that God would give him the answer. That 100% trust is something that was slow in coming in my walk with my LORD, but once it became firmly implanted, it has not budged, PTL!

  3. Dee Andrews says:

    In these awful days and recent times world-wise, but based on my sometimes errant in path, but also constant awareness of and abiding love for God in His tender mercies, I would answer your question to us:

    “How do we go about taking root downward and bearing fruit upward?”

    This way –

    By being totally immersed IN the Word, OF the Word and spreading the Word to all we meet day by day, in all situations, in all faithfulness and steadfastness, in all affirmation of God’s great love and grace for us all, and in all confidence that in the end, His might will prevail, His love will conquer, all wickedness will perish eternally and all who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose will live eternally with Him.

    Thanks for the reminder, Bill, of God’s faithfulness and care for His children in all times, all places, throughout the entire history of this world we live in.

  4. ksreyes says:

    Hi Bill,

    I’m glad to be back and am glad to once again be refreshed by your posts. We’ve been through a lot lately in this earthly realm – haven’t we?

    I suppose for me, I focus on sending my roots downward:

    “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose confidence is in him.
    He will be like a tree planted by the water
    that sends out its roots by the stream.
    It does not fear when heat comes;
    its leaves are always green.
    It has no worries in a year of drought
    and never fails to bear fruit.”
    Jer. 17:7,8

    I love that image of being planted by water: the refreshing Holy Spirit of God and sending my roots out to the stream: in His Word; in fellowship with other believers; in solitude and prayer; keeping my eyes on Him and not on my circumstances (difficult to do……) I allow God to be in charge of the fruit bearing. I know that pruning is necessary to bear much fruit and submit – even if it is kicking, screaming, crying and or by whining – to it. I let the Master Gardener tend to me. I just try to hold fast and firm in the soil of my faith…..Thank you for the beautiful scripture. It is one that I do not know.

    peace+
    kreyes

    ps. You are still tagged…..!

  5. Dee Andrews says:

    Hope all is well with you, Bill. For someone who is “normally” such a prolific blogger, you’ve been awfully quiet the past couple of days.

    Just checking in here with you. We’ve been extraordinarily busy here, too, so I certainly understand.

    Just wanted to let you know we’re thinking of you.

    Cheers! Dee

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