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  • Bethany Riley

Lessons from a Cedar Tree

By Bethany Riley



Ezekiel 31:10, "Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Because thou hast lifted up thyself in height, and he hath shut up his top amoung the thick boughs, and his heart is lifted up in his height;..."

(For context, I encourage you to read the whole chapter)


In Ezekiel 31, God is warning Pharoah, the King of Egypt, through Ezekiel by comparing him to a cedar tree in Lebanon. He describes a magnificent tree with beautiful, full, and fruitful branches. In my mind’s eye, I’m picturing a giant tree where all you can do is stand in awe of its beauty. 

This tree was a Psalms 1:3 kind of tree. It was planted by great waters and established.

Standing a great height above all the other trees, its branches served as a haven for birds and all kinds of creatures. Full of life, this tree was powerful, prosperous, and purposeful. Verse 9 says God made it so beautiful that even the trees of the Garden of Eden envied it.

 

Yet in verse 10, we see the tree developed a problem. He lifted up himself in height; he shut up his top; his heart was lifted up in his height. Those phrases mean, “to soar, to be lofty; to be haughty.” He allowed prideful thoughts to settle in his heart. He began to think, “Look at all I’ve been able to do; I really am all that (plus a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos chips!).” 

And as Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goeth before destruction and an haughty spirit before a fall,” that’s exactly what happened to this beautiful tree. The rest of the chapter describes how the Lord utterly destroyed it and brought it to nothing.

As I was reading, my heart broke over the waste of a beautiful thing that the Lord had made and flourished.

John 15:5-6 says, “I [Jesus] am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” A fruitful Christian faithfully serving God, being “planted by the waters,” is such a beautiful sight to see, but how sad it is when we see that same Christian become dried up and spiritually destroyed because they started lifting themselves up. 

How many times have I allowed those prideful thoughts in my heart? 

Sure, we would never say them aloud, right? I mean, we’ve had Proverbs 27:2 memorized since we were kids, but still, it can be so easy (at least for me it is) to start thinking that we’re pretty great despite the fact the Lord is doing all the work through us. Saul, the first King of Israel, came to my mind. He started out so well. He was head and shoulders above everybody else, but his pride caused him to disobey God. As a result, God took away his throne, his mental stability, and his family. 

When those thoughts start to sneak their way in, I encourage you to read Philippians 2. Christ is the perfect picture of humility. James 4:10 is another great reminder of how God honors humility. I pray the Lord will give me His mindset, so I won’t lift myself up. 

I pray the Lord will find me to be a faithful, humble servant not a haughty cedar tree that can’t be used by God anymore.

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