They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour. ( Isaiah 61)
There are many beautiful verses that we come across in scripture that cause something inside us to rise up in expectation and longing when we read them. A good example is the one above. God is calling us to be oaks of righteousness, and it’s that call that resonates in our spirits. But, what does it actually mean to be an oak of righteousness? It can help to have a deeper look at the words ‘oak’ and ‘righteous’.
Throughout history, oak trees have been considered a symbol of strength, magnificence and beauty. Many grow to over 100ft in height and they can even live for over 200 years!! It is no surprise then, that the oak is a popular national symbol in countries all round the world, including Cyprus, England, Germany, Ireland, Lithuania, Moldova and many others. Even one of the Scottish clans has the oak as it’s clan symbol. I am personally delighted about this because it happens to be the Anderson clan!!
In addition to this, the ancient Greeks associated the oak with Zeus, their most powerful ‘god’, and one author pointed out that, "Rulers and kings have used the oaks as an emblem to symbolise their authority and sovereignty throughout history. This has associated the oak with nobility, dignity and honour.”*
Righteousness simply means that we live our lives in such a way that we have a right relationship with God and a right relationship with man. This means obeying God, even when we feel His plan for our life is clashing with ours. It means trusting Him when difficulties and disappointments come knocking at our door. It means reacting with love and not seeking revenge when others treat us badly. It means forgiving others who gossip about us and speak ill of us and misunderstand us. It sometimes means giving up the idea of how we wanted to spend our day, in order to help someone in need.
God’s desire is to transform us into noble, dignified, honourable and strong, individuals who obey, trust, and love God, and demonstrate this in how we relate to others. However, it’s not in hothouses where oak trees grow. Spurgeon once observed:
“You are a tree that never would have rooted so well if the wind had not rocked you to and fro, and made you take firm hold upon the precious truths of the covenant grace.”
He realised that oaks of righteousness grow strong when God, in his loving kindness does not always shield us “from those trials by which faith is strengthened.”
May these thoughts stir the hearts of many with a desire to be an oak of righteousness.
* Dani Rhys https://symbolsage.com/oak-tree-symbolism-and-meaning/
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