Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Dear Pilgrim, have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good?

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Dear Pilgrim, have you tasted and seen that the Lord is good?

Have you passed through the Valley of Eshkol? Do you recall seeing the results of the exploration of the land of Canaan, the land of promise into which the Lord God was bringing His chosen people? Do you remember how it took two men to carry a branch bearing a single cluster of grapes from this land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:23)? A single cluster of grapes, carried by two men! Oh, it was in the Valley of Eshkol, the Valley of cluster, that you first tasted and saw that the Lord is good!

You have discovered that the One you love is like an apple tree amongst the trees of the forest, and you delight to sit in His shade, for His fruit is sweet to your taste (Song of Songs 2:3). You have tasted His words, the words of the One who tasted death for you (Hebrews 2:9), and you have found them to be sweeter than honey to your mouth (Psalm 119:103). You have discovered that His fruit is better than fine gold, that what He yields surpasses choice silver (Proverbs 8:19). You have tasted that He is good, and you crave to be filled with more so that you may grow up in your salvation. You have dwelt in His garden, and you have seen that it is good. You have taken the time to browse amongst the trees and the plants in this glorious garden of His, flowing with streams of water, that have produced the choicest of fruits, foliage in abundance, richness of colour and a fragrance beyond compare. This is a garden set atop a mountain, for it is the mountains that bring prosperity to the peoples, and the hills the fruit of righteousness (Psalm 72:3). This well-watered garden has a river flowing through it which separates into four headwaters. The Pishon river gives the increase and is full-flowing. The Gihon river bursts forth and gushes through the garden. The Tigris is a swift, rapid darting river, whilst the Euphrates is sweet and fruitful. When the garden is so abundantly provided for, dear Pilgrim, is it any wonder that the fruit that comes forth from this garden is as rich and sweet as it is?

As you have delighted in His shade, your own mustard seed of faith has been planted in the fertile soil of His garden. As you have eaten with joy all He has provided for you, your roots have grown and stretched further and further into these flowing streams of life-giving water. Without your even noticing, the Vine has been wrapping itself tightly around your branches and bearing more and more fruit. For your Father is the Gardener.  How He patiently tends and cares for His plants in His garden! He loves to walk in His garden in the cool of the day, examining the growth that He sees, pruning those branches which are bearing fruit that they might produce an abundance, digging around and fertilizing those trees that are not yet bearing fruit, patiently giving time for growth to occur.

He is also a Jealous Gardener. You are a garden locked-up, a spring enclosed, a sealed fountain (Song of Songs 4:12). He is Jealous that the fruit which comes from you is pure, holy and righteous, rich to the taste and lacking in no good thing. Oh, how important it is that your roots reach out to Him alone! Pilgrim, resist the temptation to seek out any other fruitless source of water, which will cause a failure to thrive and new growth to wither. Send out your roots to Him alone and you will bear the fruit of light which consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth (Ephesians 5:9). Lift up your branches for His eyes alone, not seeking the approval of men, and you will find yourself standing firm and strong before Him, an oak of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendour (Isaiah 61:3).

And you will find that He will breathe upon you that your fragrance might spread everywhere. For the fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives (Proverbs 11:30). It is His desire that there be many plants in His garden, that it be teeming with all kinds of trees, trees that are pleasing to the eye and good to the taste, bearing the fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

For it is He who will come into His own garden and taste of its choice fruits (Song of Songs 4:16)! The One who was betrayed by a kiss in a garden will come into His own garden to gather its fruit which has faithfully been growing in Him. The One whose body was laid in a new tomb in a garden, the One who was mistaken for the gardener when He arose, He is the True Vine and His Father is the Gardener. Oh, abide in Him, dear Pilgrim! Abide in Him, and you will bear much fruit, to your Father’s glory! For as the soil makes the young plant come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations (Isaiah 61:11)!

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