Using the Humble

Thus says the Lord God:

I myself will take a sprig
    from the lofty top of a cedar;
    I will set it out.
I will break off a tender one
    from the topmost of its young twigs;
I myself will plant it
    on a high and lofty mountain.
23 On the mountain height of Israel
    I will plant it,
in order that it may produce boughs and bear fruit,
    and become a noble cedar.
Under it every kind of bird will live;
    in the shade of its branches will nest
    winged creatures of every kind.
24 All the trees of the field shall know
    that I am the Lord.
I bring low the high tree,
    I make high the low tree;
I dry up the green tree
    and make the dry tree flourish.
I the Lord have spoken;
    I will accomplish it. – Ezekiel 17:22-24

Ezekiel, like many of the prophets, was charged with bringing difficult news to Israel. God had revealed to Ezekiel His plan to allow Israel’s enemies to conquer them and capture the holy city of Jerusalem. This was the result of the people’s rebellion against God through idolatry, injustice, and other sins that violated the covenant God had made with them. However, despite all the dark days that were ahead of Israel, there was still a future hope for restoration. In today’s reading, we see Israel compared to a tiny cedar sprig that God will nurture and grow into a mighty tree once again, that it might bear fruit and provide a home for many. This, of course, parallels the Gospel reading for this week from Mark 4 where Jesus compares the Kingdom of God to a tiny mustard seed that grows into a great plant that provides shelter. The message of both metaphors is clear: God uses the small and humble to accomplish amazing things!

The lesson of the cedar sprig (or mustard seed) is particularly critical in our consumeristic, results-driven culture today. So often we are tempted to jump on board with whoever or whatever can meet our desires most quickly and efficiently. Anything or anyone that seems subpar or less than extraordinary is often cast aside and viewed as useless and unnecessary. In God’s economy, though, it is precisely those people and things that seem ordinary and unassuming that the Lord uses to accomplish amazing things for the Kingdom. When our lives seem broken and humbled (even by our own doing), it is then that God is ready to work powerfully in us for His glory. May we humble ourselves today and discover how God is moving in the most unexpected places!