Trusting the Branch

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD.

Isaiah 11:1-2

Morning walks, in the dawning sun, precious time alone with God and His creation. Strolling along the river bank, enjoying time in prayer by the often serene waters of the Tamar, is a true gift from heaven. And so, this was again my habit today, the birds calling, a gentle breeze rustling the tree leaves, lapping waters, and in the early light of the day. Suddenly I heard the sound of whistling wind, and a most definite swoop, and by reflex I duck my head only to see a Masked Lapwing go sailing by..way to close.

My place of bliss broken sharply by one of the people seeking missiles of the bird world. Also known as the spurred-winged plover, for good reason, this ‘enemy of my peace’ comes around again and makes another swoop, this time I wave my arms fervently in an endeavour to scare away my attacker. In truth, I had simply walked innocently in to the territory of a pair of nesting plovers, and the father was simply trying to protect the new born to come, for they lay their eggs on the ground!

As I walk back I pick up a branch to fend of this persistent defender, waving it as it comes again. But this does little to dissuade this protective parent, and in fact seems to intensity their mood. The next morning I use the same tactic, and again this great parent seems all the more focussed on keeping me from this usually peaceful path, even though their nest is in a nearby paddock and not where I am walking. The following morning I simply pickup a branch, and hold it aloft over my head. I do not wave it around, nor engage the bird in any way, and it to does the same for me, some cackling can be heard in the distance, but the bird stays its distance.

In that day the Branch of the LORD shall be beautiful and glorious; And the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped. (Isaiah 4:2)

The following morning the same tactic, the branch is held aloft above me, and I keep walking as usual, and while initially taking flight to make an advance against the threat I seem to present, the bird simply turns around and lands again. Slow to learn, I realise that God is actually speaking to me through His creation. So on my return trip, no stick is gathered, rather I thank the Lord that Christ, the Branch, is over me, and He is my Lord and refuge. I endeavour to keep my focus Him in prayer and praise, ignoring the apparent situation of peril around me, only to discover the bird obviously sees this march larger defender, and makes no effort to attack, despite the eggs now hatched and a completely adorable, but vulnerable, chick is now hiding nearby.

Masked Lapwing chick

So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and His glory from the rising of the sun; When the enemy comes in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD will lift up a standard against him. (Isaiah 59:19)

How quickly we seem to forget the amazing shelter that comes from simply acknowledging and trusting in the presence of Jesus Christ, over, and in, our lives. Simply by holding Him aloft over us, lifting up His name, the Branch becomes both our canopy and our refuge. Sure, at times, He may tells us to ‘take up the sword’ to deal with evil, or defend against the attacker, but first He simply asks us to keep our face on Him.

The angel of the LORD encamps all around those who fear Him, and delivers them. (Psalms 34:7)

This truth was perhaps better understood in biblical times, as they new that when the standard of the army was held aloft by its commander (or his aid), the troops would gather to it in order advance or defend as their leader directed. And so, as the Branch, the Standard of the Lord, is lifted up the angels of the Lord’s army come and encamp around, supporting the canopy of protection our Lord Jesus unfolds over our life.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1,14)

Bless the LORD, you His angels, who excel in strength, who do His word, heeding the voice of His word.

Psalms 103:20

These hosts of heaven harken to the word of God, and Christ is THE Word, so even the more do they come, joining with those assigned to your life, they enemy around cannot help but see that not only is greater is He that is with you, but there is also a troop encamped around you as your life upholds Jesus.

Importantly, in this simple illustration, God revealed another truth. Jesus is not someone to be used for our own gain, waving Him around for just a specific need, or temporal desire, rather it is our life that is to be given over to Him for His pleasure, lifting Jesus over our hearts, and in this place of trust, where we place our lives under His name, we receive the blessing. Often in life, if we are truthful, we will pull out the ‘in Jesus name’ card when needs arrive, but really then lead much of life in our own strength; Or, feel we need to battle with the enemy around us with our understanding of the sword of the Spirit, rather than trusting that the battle is God’s not ours.

So let us draw nearer to Christ, the Branch of God, knowing that as we do the Standard of the Lord rises up against the flood of the enemy. The Lord will then do battle against the seen and unseen things coming against us, and our position is to trust that He is our Deliverer, Defender, and Saviour, and the battle is His not ours[1]. He is more than a conqueror, and will have His victory in all things. This truth perhaps even the more important revelation now and in the coming days, and season, for much will unfold in the world around us, but in Him, and under His cover, we will see the Conqueror at hand.

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. (Romans 8:37)

Our Heavenly Father is calling us to come afresh to the Lord, to lift up our Lord Jesus Christ, the Branch of the Lord, over all aspect of our lives, placing our focus on Him, and trusting His presence and reign. For His is the Branch who has born our sin, and in whom we have healing[2]; He is the one who gives the Holy Spirit, wisdom, understanding, counsel, might, knowledge, and the fear of the Lord[3]; In Him we have access to such beautiful excellence[4]; And, He is our shelter[5], our refuge[6], conqueror, and defender[7].


Notes:

[1] 2 Chronicles 20:15-17

[2] 1 Peter 2:24

[3] Isaiah 11:1,2

[4] Isaiah 4:2

[5] 2 Samuel 22:3

[6] Psalm 9:9

[7] Isaiah 59:19


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