Isaiah had a message for King Hezekiah when it looked like Jerusalem and all of Judah with it was going to be extinguished by the Assyrians:
This will be the sign for you, O 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. Once more a remnant of the house of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 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.
2 Kings 19:29-31
Hezekiah had every right to be afraid and discouraged. Only a remnant of Judah as left in Jerusalem. The obstacles they faced where humanly insurmountable. And they were being offered an apparently reasonable way out, surrender and get moved to a different land as good as their own.
But God had a different solution. Trust in him. Wait patiently. Step out again when the time is right. And you will bear fruit. It will be the LORD God Almighty’s doing. Easy for Isaiah to say. Hard for Hezekiah and the people with him to do!
We have recently completed a community consultation where we concluded that the LORD God Almighty is directing us to ‘return to our roots’, to continue to pursue the mission and call he has given us with renewed intentionality. Easy to say, hard to do! In fact, we are not able to do it. Looking at our size, our age, our situations, it humanly possible. We need the ‘zeal of the Lord Almighty to accomplish this’.
We are not the nation of Israel under the leadership of Hezekiah and the threat of Assyria, but I believe Isaiah’s word still speak to us today. We have gone through a time of ‘eating what grows by itself’ and ‘what springs from that’, living off the Lord’s gracious provision in the past. As for Judah, there comes a time for action. Now is a time for stepping out in faith ‘to sow and reap, plant vineyards and eat their fruit’ -- acting in faith to plant/invest what we have been given and look to the Lord to cause it to bear fruit.
Isaiah describes this process as ‘take root below’ -- sink our roots into the Lord, the giver of life --, and to bear fruit above – be channels of his life going forth to others. This the promise that Jesus speaks of in John 7:37-38
On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.”
As we ‘return to our roots’, the Lord is calling us to let those roots drink thirstily from his water of life so that streams of his living water can flow from us bearing fruit for others.