A few years ago my wife and I got into gardening. Or, to put it more accurately, she got into the gardening, and I got into the physical labour!
We had moved into a new house in Melbourne right before my son was born. Its garden was overrun, but we saw loads of potential, and with some work the veggie garden boomed.
However, one thing we just couldn’t master was the apple tree.
Firstly, it's amazing how you can hack a tree back down to its bare bones and yet within a year it would start to bud, transforming from withered branches to full bloom. It’s such a beautiful scene isn’t it?
Despite this, we could never grow any apples. The tree never bore fruit. Although it looked healthy on the outside, it was ridden with disease on the inside.
In Isaiah chapters 2-3, Isaiah paints a grim picture of judgment. Judgment upon a broken and barren city. A city ridden with disease, full of sin and idolatry.
Yet despite the judgement looming upon Israel, in chapter 4 verse 2, Isaiah paints a picture of hope. Hope of a beautiful and glorious branch. A healthy tree, loaded with an abundance of fruit. A branch that would bring about transformation and renewal to the broken city.
The phrase “beautiful branch” really has a twofold meaning.
On the one hand it points to a future messiah; a Saviour. We read again of this a few chapters later in Isaiah 11, as well as Jeremiah 23, and Zechariah 3. These passages speak of a promise that someone from the line of David would come, a Righteous Branch who would reign over God’s people in God’s place.
But, on the other hand, this phrase also points to God’s people. Isaiah 4 contains an additional promise that those who grow from this beautiful tree will also be made beautiful. No longer will Jerusalem be a desolate, destroyed, or devoured by the nations. They will be glorious and abundant! A beautiful and fruitful branch.
And do you know what the good news is? This promise applies to those of us who believe in Jesus, too!
In John’s gospel, Jesus says that he is the vine and we are the branches. In other words, Jesus is the beautiful tree, the beautiful branch. And he promises that those who abide in him, who are united to him, will bear an abundance of fruit. They too will become a beautiful branch.
Because of Jesus’ death on a tree, on the cross, and his glorious resurrection over sin, satan and death, we can experience an abundance of life, fruitfulness and joy. The beautiful branch promises to restore the broken city of our lives. He promises to renew his people and to dwell with them for all eternity.
One year, our apple tree did bear some fruit. There were probably three or so apples and they weren’t that great but the moment I saw them I was a proud gardener. It brought me great joy to see these apples grow and to be able to pick them and eat them.
In a similar way, this feeling of pride and joy is what God’s people will experience. No longer will our pride be in ourselves and our idolatry, but our pride and honour will be in him - in the fruit we bear.
So enjoy God’s promises now, and long for the day when he will return and you experience these blessings in full for eternity.
Dave is the Communications Director for City on a Hill. He is passionate about seeing creatives serve Christ with their craft and using media to communicate the gospel. He has a Diploma in Graphic Design and Bachelor of Theology at Ridley College. Prior to City on a Hill he designed album artworks and myspace layouts for a living. He is married to Lauren and they have three kids, Zoe, Levi and Freya. To unwind he enjoys baking sourdough, brewing beer, and making coffee.