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The Oaks of Righteousness

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion – to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)

When we talk about missions, it is often cast in the light of a particular calling that involves going. Of course, there is an element to that. Just before Paul tells us that “faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of God” (Rom. 10:17), he askes a series of questions related to the saving faith in Christ. “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Rom. 10:14-15).

So it is important that there are some who are called to preach, and it is a wonderful thing to participate in supporting them as they go through our prayers and financial gifts. But it can also cause us to be complacent in our own calling as a follower of Christ.

This Sunday we are going to be talking a lot about seeds and sowing. It is tempting for us to immediately think of this as “doing.” But the Bible does not begin with doing. Rather, it starts with being. Even in a state of perfection, Adam’s relationship with God was the driving force in his “being fruitful…” We saw that yesterday, too. Jesus calls us first so that we might be with him. Out of that union with Christ, we do.

God is making us his planting for the display of himself. He wants us to be a showcase of his beauty and character and to give evidence of his glory. And so our passage reminds us that we are “a planting of the Lord.” In the parallel passage of the parable of the sower in Matthew, Jesus makes a startling statement: “The one who sows the good seed is the Son of Man” (Matt. 13:37). We are not the originators of the seed – Jesus is.

We are planted by God when we born again, and are to bear the fruit of his righteousness. And in another place Jesus reminds us, “Every good tree bears good fruit…” If we are united with Christ, we will produce fruit.

We often think of the pleasing nature of fruit, especially when we are enjoying its delectable flavors. But the first purpose of a fruit is not food, but seed production. We are to be a tree that reproduces.

John 15 says that God has chosen us for fruitful seed-planting for fruit that remains. Be blessed as you are faithful to plant in fertile soil and let God multiply. The oak does not strive to produce acorns. It stands and does its “oak thing,” and God provides the increase from the oak. As the Lord to allow the seed his is growing in you to fall in fertile soil, that it might produce an abundant harvest.