I love God’s trees, even in the wilderness. Not sage brush and spiny cactus, but the ones that stand as sentinels of God Himself.
He began with one tree of import in Genesis – His ‘kindness and sternness’ (Romans 11:22) instructing Adam and Eve (and me and you) the single one to avoid in His glorious Garden, the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. (Genesis 2:17)
He ends His revelation to John with a vision of the Tree of Life standing in the middle of the river of the water of Life; that tree of twelve fruits, one fruit yielded each month and whose leaves are for the healing of the nations. (Revelation 22:2)
Today, while we’re treading in the middle of Time’s beginning and end, stands a solitary Tree that bridges His-story. The Cross of Christ: the platform for Love personified.
Not owning any of the older Bible translations from decades ago, it is great delight when in my study I come across one that causes me to experience God’s Word in a fresh way. About a month ago, the following scripture leaped off the page with the way it was written:
“Say to the peoples: the Lord reigneth from the tree.” (Psalm 96:10 – Latin)
In more familiar versions, it declares “the Lord reigns!” But with this phrasing of “the Lord reigneth from the tree,” several scriptures refreshed themselves in me; things eternally established for us believers at salvation, yet being worked out in our daily lives in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12b-13).
As the following truths of scripture came in the order listed, a definite word and Word pattern emerged: crucified to reign…
*The Cross of Christ secured Jesus’ right to seize and possess the keys to hell and of death that He may live and reign with all authority forevermore. (Revelation 1:18; Matthew 28:18)
* I am crucified with Christ. Crucifixion is terrible, but it is my certificate to new birth. Crucified, I live. (Galatians 2:20)
*If I am crucified with Him, then it is no longer my life but Christ’s life living within me.
*With His life living within me, I possess His eternal power that will bring to death the areas of my flesh that need to be crucified as I cooperate with Him.
*I am called to reign with Christ as an overcomer, conquering all that is of an opposite spirit from Christ and that would deny Him in my life. (II Timothy 2:11-12)
*In working out my salvation, I am not asked to ‘lay myself at the foot of the Cross’ where I can get up, dust myself off and trot away again just the same as I was before I came. Rather, I must ‘nail my flesh nature to the Cross’ if I desire to be a true expression of one belonging to Christ. (Galatians 5:24)
*When I actively submit to Holy Spirit’s conviction and crucify any part of my flesh that does not reflect Christ’s reign within me, my heart comes into alignment with His complete and finished work. I become free and ‘reign from the tree’ with Him in that area, resting in His ‘It is finished!’ My striving ceases. (Hebrews 4:3-12)
*Because Christ did not die on that Tree to remain dead in the tomb, but is Alive and Well, there is nothing in me that His blood on the Cross cannot heal, cleanse and bring to life – even abundant life!
*As I reckon dead (account for in specific transaction with Christ) those things that yet shout they’re ‘alive and unwell’ within my flesh nature for which Christ died once for all (Hebrews 9:12), I claim what He finished and make it my own. This is salvation through Christ’s life (Romans 5:10), and I am changed.
Lest you wonder, “what has this post got to do with desert days?” it was in the wilderness that God instructed Moses to make and lift up a serpent on a pole. Large numbers of Israelites had died after being bitten by snakes. When Moses sought God for help, he was told the only way for them to live and not succumb to the viper’s venom was to gaze upon the “fiery” (bronze) serpent Moses erected. (Numbers 21:8-9)
Believers on this side of the Cross understand this pointed to Christ’s being lifted up on the Tree, where He took the Serpent’s venom of sin into Himself to the point of becoming sin that we might be free from its deathly sting.
As today’s desert pilgrims, we can be encouraged knowing that even Jesus was led outside the walls of the city to a barren place to triumph over the Serpent. As we gaze upon Christ, Who ‘reigneth from the tree,’ we embrace the life that, as believers, is already eternally ours. Dying to self, painful as that crucifixion is, suffuses this natural life with our true, eternal life.
There’s nothing like a wilderness journey to expose which nature controls us and what is still very much alive that stands contrary to Christ. (Galations 5:17) If our hearts desire to exemplify the life of the Son of God, we desert sojourners will often come near the solitary Tree where confession and repentance beckons. Whether we appropriate Christ’s sacrifice to the specifics of our heart, or back away, is our choice – and consequence. Always He urges us, “choose (My) life.” His Cross stands immovable, His Blood still flows, so that our life may be consumed in His. (John 3:30)
This Holy Week, remember Christ ‘reigneth from the tree’ and forever sits with His Father in His Throne. To those who overcome as He did, He will grant likewise. (Revelation 3:21)
Pilgrimage to the Throne via the Tree,