A promised canopy of giant branches
Bill Boyd, Senior Pastor
At one time the forests of the eastern United States included between three and four billion American chestnut trees. These trees accounted for three-fourths of the eastern forest canopy and a quarter of the total hardwood population in the continental U.S. A blight that began around the turn of the 20th century had, by the 1950s, decimated the adult population of chestnut trees. To this day, when young chestnut shoots sprout upward, their days are numbered due to the same fungus that killed their ancestors. Arborists continue to work toward a disease-resistant strain, with visions of repopulated swaths of the majestic grey and green giants.
In chapter 33, Jeremiah proclaims the awaited day: the sprouting of a disease-free Branch that will grow tall and straight and produce fruit only imagined by the present and previous generations. The forest produced of this Branch will be called Justice and Righteousness. Generations later, the Apostle Paul, reflecting upon the church in Thessalonica, would declare, “For what thanksgiving can we return to God for you, for all the joy that we feel for your sake before our God, as we pray most earnestly night and day that we may see you face to face and supply what is lacking in your faith?” Paul and his friends in Christ yearn to see the young outcroppings so they may shore them up for further growth and strength. Thus he prays, “May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.”
Our love for one another in the context of the church is nothing other than Jeremiah’s prophecy fulfilled. We are yet another branch that our forefathers, carried along by God’s Spirit, prayed and gave of themselves for because they saw us with the eyes of faith. The people of God are just that—God’s fulfillment of His promise made to Israel and Judah; a promised canopy of giant branches for the gathering and sheltering and beautification of the nations.