Resting in the Shade of the Noble Cedar
“‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: ‘I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar. Birds of every kind will nest in it; they will find shelter in the shade of its branches. All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish. I the Lord have spoken, and I will do it’” (Ezekiel 17:22-24)
According to the Bible, what makes a ruler good or bad can pretty much be determined by answering one question: do they fear the Lord?
In Ezekiel 17, the rulers of Judah are portrayed as anything but God-fearing. They dishonor God by making promises in His name (which they plan on breaking), they form alliances with the sworn enemies of God’s people, and they refuse to abide by the statutes of God’s covenant with His people.
Amid this bleak scene, the prophet declares a word of Messianic hope to the people of Judah about a noble and just ruler whom God will raise up from among His people. A ruler who will be likened to a cedar tree, under which the birds of the air and creatures of the earth will come to find rest, shade, and refuge.
The amazing thing about this prophecy, like so many throughout the Bible, is that it carries a two-fold fulfillment.
Christ is indeed the noble cedar under whom people from every tribe, nation and tongue are now invited to come for rest and refuge. The rest that we currently enjoy is not necessarily an outward rest, but an inward rest of the soul and spirit. A peace that passes understanding; a contentment that endures through every season of life.
With Christ, the King of Righteousness, as our Lord and Noble Cedar, we find our sense of rest not in our external circumstances or in person-to-person relationships (although they can be so life-giving!). We find it not in our social status or popularity, in our good deeds or church attendance.
We find our rest in Christ and Christ alone. The one who took away our sins through His death on the cross promises that He will see to completion the work that He began in each one of us (Philippians 1:6).
As if that weren’t enough, we can rest assured that the day is coming when Christ will return to earth and rule victoriously in much the way the prophet Ezekiel, and even Jesus’ own disciples, imagined. The prophecy of the Noble Cedar will indeed find its fulfillment not just in the spiritual realm, but in the natural realm as well.
Until then, we wait patiently under the shade of the Noble Cedar, enjoying the spiritual rest that transcends all of life’s circumstances, and waiting expectantly for the day when the King will return to earth and rule with righteousness and justice.
We are all at times tempted to find our sense of rest from something other than the Lord. Have you been looking to something else to provide you with contentment, purpose, and a sense of meaning in life? Ask God to help you experience the deep and incomparable satisfaction that comes from resting in him.