In common parlance, ideas “take root” or cultural movements “take root”. But in the bible it’s people who “take root.” In fact there is a whole theme of “uprooting” and “taking root” that bears examination.
In Deuteronomy, Moses warned the people, even before they entered the promised land, that they faced exile for disobedience. And this is how he described it – the people would be “rooted… out of their land… and cast… into another land.” (Deuteronomy 29:28)
Both Israel and Judah are warned of this fate as their disobedience manifests:
“For the LORD shall smite Israel, as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them beyond the river.” (1 Kings 14:15)
“But if ye turn away, and forsake my statutes and my commandments, which I have set before you, and shall go and serve other gods, and worship them; Then will I pluck them up by the roots out of my land which I have given them; and this house, which I have sanctified for my name, will I cast out of my sight, and will make it to be a proverb and a byword among all nations.” (2 Chronicles 7:19-20)
Can you picture the scene? The people are like a plant, wrenched from the land, the roots dangling in the air, and then tossed to the wind.
Perhaps you have felt a physical upheaval when you have had to move home. Many times I have switched hemispheres and it can feel like being plucked and scattered.
But that physical and social experience is just a picture of the spiritual upheaval which the whole human race has experienced. We have already said that Adam is presented in Scripture as a plant – a plant who reproduces after his kind. Through disobedience, he and his “cutting” Eve were uprooted from God’s place and cast off. This is the decisive uprooting that has shaped the whole crop. And it’s an uprooting that was re-enacted by Israel thousands of years later.
Therefore, there is a deep sense in all the race of Adam that we are rootless, plucked up, not at home spiritually speaking. Yet Isaiah gives hope. In chapter 37:31 he speaks of a re-planting that will occur after the horrors of exile. The people…
shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward.
Here is what we need. We need to be planted again in God’s presence – that’s our true habitat. But how will it happen?
Well Isaiah has already spoken of Christ as “the holy Seed” and as “the Branch“. And in chapter 53 Isaiah will call Him a “Root out of dry ground.” Jesus comes as the true Adam, the true Israel, the true Seed, the true Vine.
He is planted into the ground on Good Friday and sprouts up again on Easter Sunday to immortal, resurrection life. And He says to us scattered, rootless drifters: “Come, get grafted into Me.”
We long to “take root” spiritually speaking – to be secure and fruitful in God’s presence. Well Jesus is rooted in the very life of God, filled with the nourishing sap of the Spirit. And in Him we take root, now and eternally:
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)
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