“And though a tenth remains in the land, it will again be laid waste. But as the terebinth and oak leave stumps when they are cut down, so the holy seed will be the stump in the land .”
At this time of year spring comes as a welcome relief. Although winter in the UK has not been too cold (although I’m aware there’s still time!), the gradual lengthening of the days is welcome relief from the darkness of deepest winter. So too a glimpse of colourful crocus blooms, pure white snow drops, and the yellow heads of early daffodils is enough to lift the spirits, a promise that the warmer days of spring and summer are just around the corner.
I’ve been reading through the book of Isaiah recently, a book that I will concede that I find very difficult. In places it is a bleak read. Throughout, however, there are green shoots of encouragement. Like a long, unremitting winter, it speaks of God’s anger at the people that he chose to call his own, and the total destruction he wreaks upon them. Like the colourful crocuses that peek through the soil at this time of year, however, there are sections in Isaiah that promise that all is not lost, that there is hope for the future, that someday there will be a spring that bursts forth from the winter of destruction. Isaiah 6:13 is one of those verses.
The verse does not get off to a particularly promising start. The Lord tells Isaiah in his commissioning that he is to take a message of God’s judgement to Israel. Isaiah asks how long this judgement will last, and the Lord replies, “until the cities lie ruined and without inhabitant, until the houses are left deserted and the fields ruined and ravaged” (Isaiah 6:11). Only a tenth of the people will remain, but even they will be destroyed. All looks pretty bleak.
Yet all is not lost. A “holy seed” will remain that will be “the stump in the land.” God gives Isaiah hope that once those unfaithful to him are swept away, God’s kingdom will be rebuilt, seed by seed, sapling by sapling. And just as a tree has to be pruned to experience new growth, the Lord gives Isaiah hope that from this seed a stronger, more faithful people will grow.
A read through the pages of the Bible shows time and time again of people turning their backs on God, but we also see, in the pages of the New Testament, the hope of forgiveness of sins and new life brought about through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is the ultimate manifestation of the “holy seed” of this passage. And it is Jesus that brings light, love, peace and hope to the world. We, his people, are privileged to bask in this radiant light, but we’re also called to shine forth in the world as beacons of hope to others.
So whilst the world may at times seem to be a dark and depressing place, full of war, disease, death, and hatred, we are the saplings that represent the new spring’s arrival. The winter of sin is drawing to a close, and through the blood of Jesus, God’s son and our saviour, a bright summer lies ahead for all who truly believe-the brightest summer of all time.