To everyone who prayed for my hand surgery last week, deep down thanks! The operation went well. I trust God for total healing and can already type for short periods. And so with only three weeks left till Christmas, I hope you’ll be inspired by this short meditation.
Seven hundred years before Yeshua’s birth, the prophet Isaiah spoke of a mystery to be revealed in our time. We could call it the mystery of the Jewish Christmas tree or Messiah Tree. Now, I don’t mean to offend or spoil anyone’s fun, but most traditional Christmas tree celebrations are rooted in pagan folk lore (as you probably know). To be sure, God can redeem anything to His glory. But what of the real Messiah Tree referenced in Scripture? Just what is it—and what might Christmas look like if we opened our hearts and homes to it?
Isaiah 10:33-11:5 compares God’s people to a tree forest and declares, “The Lord Almighty will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled, the tall ones brought down low….A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from His roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him….”
Sadly, in Israel’s ancient history, there came a time when God razed His forest due to the sin of His people. But from a leftover “stump” in the lineage of Jesse (King David), a holy and fruitful “Branch” would bud and grow. The Spirit of God would rest on Him. Isaiah 11:1-5 speaks, of course, of Yeshua.
The Tree of Messiah is biblically Hebraic. Its root is holy—and “if the root is holy, so too are the branches [note small, not capital “b”]. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.” (Romans 11:16-18).
The Tree of Messiah is not an evergreen decked with bling. It is an olive tree bearing eternal, living fruit. Rooted in the Word of Truth, it results from loving unity of Jew and Gentile in Yeshua (Ephesians 2:14-15). “This MYSTERY is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6).
The Tree of Messiah is the planting of heaven’s kingdom on earth. Materialistic, commercial, pagan and other anti-God trappings don’t hang from its branches. Instead, it expresses divine love for God and His people. It provokes Israel to jealousy for her Savior- King. This I know personally, as I gave my own life to Yeshua 38 years ago today, on December 8, 1975. I couldn’t resist the manifest power of His love through a grafted-in Gentile branch—named Ann. In her He showed me the true meaning of Christmas, the mystery of the Tree of Messiah.
This Christmas season, let’s ask God to “lop off” those things about December 25 which aren’t of Him. Let’s share our gratitude for His gift of redemption by loving and praying for Israel’s re-grafting into the Tree of Messiah. Let’s join in Miriam’s (Mary’s) everlasting song: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior…He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He said to our fathers” (Luke 1:47, 54-55). To those who celebrate Jesus on December 25, Merry Christmas and hallelujah!