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A Refuge for God’s People

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Promises, Salvation

Thus says the Lord GOD: ‘I Myself will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and will set it out. I will break off from the topmost of its young twigs a tender one, and I Myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain height of Israel will I plant it, that it may bear branches and produce fruit and become a noble cedar. And under it will dwell every kind of bird; in the shade of its branches birds of every sort will nest. And all the trees of the field shall know that I am the LORD; I bring low the high tree, and make high the low tree, dry up the green tree, and make the dry tree flourish. I am the LORD; I have spoken, and I will do it.'”

(Ezekiel 17:22-24 ESV)

It’s hard to figure out what’s going on in this passage unless you read the rest of the chapter. That makes it clear that God is talking about the royal family here—the family of King David. That is what the first tall cedar stands for. And God says He will take a cutting from that cedar and plant it in Israel, where it will grow to give shelter to every kind of bird.

It’s a lovely image. But it becomes sort of heart-breaking when you realize that God said these things when the people of Judah were on the brink of losing their country completely. They had turned away from the Lord for far too long. They had worshipped false gods and done all kinds of evil. And now their king—a descendant of King David!—had broken his oath to the king of Babylon. Babylon was about to invade for the last time and take the people away.

So at this darkest hour, God gives them a promise: He will take a tender shoot from the house of David and plant it in Israel, the land they are losing. And that shoot will become great and bring glory to God, and give shelter to many, many people. Who is He talking about? Of course it’s Jesus.

Just as God promised, a new King was born of David’s family—but this King would be different. Jesus would wear a crown of thorns, not a crown of gold; and His throne would be a cross. Jesus came not to break promises and scatter His people from their land, but to keep God’s promise to save us and bring us to Himself. And now that He has died and risen from the dead in order to save us, He gathers us together like birds taking shelter under His branches. We are safe in His care forever.

We Pray: Lord, keep me safe under Your branches—and bring many more people to You, too. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on June 11, 2024
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights

Reflection Questions:
1. Why do birds like trees? Give as many reasons as you can think of.
2. How does Jesus provide for us? Name specific ways.
3. Where is our homeland? How does Jesus bring us there?