Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
and it shall be to the Lord,
for a name,
for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off
~ Isaiah 55:13
The life of faith believes beyond itself. It reaches beyond our own human ability to clasp into the revealed depth and grandeur of who God is, and anchor our anxieties and fears into His unfailing promises and love for us.
The Holy Scriptures reveal His character, contain His promises, and His expressed love for us all. However certain passages become personal anchors to hold onto, during the tumultuous stormy seasons of our lives. This is the story of one of my anchors – the promise of Myrtle and Cypress instead of thorns and briers.
I was in a really tough spiritual battle and thought that I was failing God. And right there, in that messy place of fear and anxiety, three friends gave me the same verse on the same day:
“For you shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace”
~ Isaiah 55:12a.
I believed God let me know that the battle was over, and that He was going to move me through a new open door. I just needed to trust Him and wait! Oh, that’s a tough one for me.
Miraculously seven days after He moved me, He opened that new door, and placed me beside green pastures and still waters. I was hurting and in deep emotional pain. I kept reading Isaiah Ch. 55, then one day it hit me – the promise in verse 13! “Instead of the thorn the cypress tree will come up! Instead of the brier the myrtle tree will come up!”
I had to dig a little deeper and looked up the meaning of the natural symbols found in this passage. What I found is so rich and beautiful, here is a list:
- Thorn(s): The Apostle Paul’s thorn in his side, a “messenger of satan,” to buffet him from pride and self dependence. A dry wilderness. A thorny personality. Volatile reactions. The crown of thorns on Jesus head.
- Cypress: In ancient Israel cypress represented healing, uprightness, evergreen, eternal life. They are long living trees that are able to endure harsh climates and poor soil.
- Brier(s): symbolize dearth and drought.
- Myrtle: a slow growing fragrant tree, that is always green, with big beautiful blossoms and a strong root system. Even when it is cut to a stump, it’s roots cause it to sprout again.
Ultimately this verse symbolizes the replacement of God’s judgements with salvation. But it’s a salvation that nourishes us! Thorns and briers hurt. They are brittle, dry and sharp. They symbolize pain that we have endured and pain that we have inflicted on others. Whereas Myrtle and Cypress actually point to Jesus and all that we have in Him. We are growing in Him with a strong root system that He causes to sprout and bloom. I actually call it fierce flourishing! He is making us strong and able to withstand harsh battles and spaces with dry and parched soil. The key is that He causes the growth! It’s who He is and each blog post on myrtleandcypress.com will focus on those wonderful blessings of healing, and restoration promises, given to us from a lavishly graceful God.