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God Is like an Evergreen Cypress

The message of Hosea is a hard one for us to wrap our heads around. God is saying that because of their long and stubborn persistence in sin, he is resolved to punish them severely – though not finally. He will undertake a drastic pruning – but not so as to END Israel, but actually, so as to save them.

Human beings cannot flourish on their own. Apart from God, they can do nothing. This theme runs throughout the length and breadth of the Bible. In Genesis 3 just before God sent Adam out of the garden and into an extended period of exile he said:

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17–19 ESV)

The lessons in this text lie fairly close to the surface.

Lesson one: You can’t live with God unless you are content to live under his authority.

Lesson two: Apart from God human beings know only frustration, barrenness and futility.

When Adam made an idol of his wife, he effectively disconnected from his source of Divine power and blessing.

We see the pattern repeated in the Book of Hosea. Hosea 14:8 says:

“O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.” (Hosea 14:8 ESV)

Get rid of your idols and I will make you flourish. God does not mingle his blessings with our blasphemy.

We see the same thing in the New Testament. Jesus says:

“I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5 ESV)

If we are connected to Jesus we will flourish! But just like in Hosea, being connected means being obedient. In verses 10-11 Jesus says:

“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10–11 ESV)

Old Testament and New – one cannot abide if one will not obey. For what does the Lord have to do with idols?

God is like a tree.

He has SAP, ENERGY and POWER for all the branches.

Therefore, my friends – put away your idols. Abide in him – and he in you. For from him comes your fruit and flourishing.

Thanks be to God!

Pastor Paul Carter

To listen to the most recent episodes of Pastor Paul’s Into The Word devotional podcast on the TGC Canada website see here. You can also find it on iTunes. To access the entire library of available episodes see here.

N.B. The author released an earlier version of this article as a devotional for Promise Keepers’ Canada.