This morning I was reading Isaiah 19 and was struck by verses 19-25 (especially 25). I think sometimes it is easy to read the prophets in this way: either they are only ever prophesying doom and gloom for enemy nations or unfaithful Israel, or healing for Israel if the repent and turn again to the LORD. However, this verse struck me precisely because it upsets the only in these readings. Even thought there is MUCH judgement in the prophets, the judgement is always eclipsed by visions of restoration. And not just a restoration for Israel, but a cosmic restoration. In a previous post, we explored the image of the tree stump with a root coming out of it as one such glimmer of what restoration looks like. Of course in that image the root is the remnant of God’s people Israel who await the day of the LORD where restoration will reach its fullness. In continuity with that image, as Christians, we must not forget that there is yet another image that causes us to hope for the day of the LORD:
In the book of Revelation we are told that the Holy City “coming down out of heaven from God” (21:2) will have a tree in it and that this tree will have leaves that are for the healing of the nations (22:2). This tree, rather than being a stump among a barren wasteland of conflict, strife, and violence, will rather be a tree of healing that fulfills Isaiah’s claim in Isaiah 19:22 that the LORD will “heal them” (the nations). May these twin images, of the stump with the root of Jesse and of the Tree with leaves for the healing of the nations, provoke in us a joy and a hope in the coming LORD. May it also inspire in us a desire to anticipate, in our words and in our deeds towards others (especially those who are enemies or “strangers” to us), the scope of this healing.