By Julia Prins Vanderveen

Isaiah 55:13 “Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.”

Several passages in Isaiah warn God’s people about the destruction that will come upon them because they have rejected the Lord and been unfaithful. And yet, as we find in our passage for today, God also declares that he will reverse the situation and bring about healing and restoration.

When Isaiah writes that the juniper will grow instead of the thornbush, I think of the thorny, invasive plants that grow near our house and are very hard to get rid of. What a gift it would be to have those rooted out for good! Thornbushes and ¬briers make places inhospitable to people and many animals, so to have those harsh plants replaced by junipers and myrtle would be wonderful. This means not only that the situation would be more bearable, but also that the shrubs and trees replacing the unwanted plants would be edible and medicinal. Junipers and myrtles are beautiful as well as functional: junipers have anti¬septic properties, and myrtles provide delicious, nutrient-rich berries and have leaves that can be used for medicine.

juniper-berries

Isn’t it wonderful to know that our amazing God would replace thorns with shrubs and trees that are both pleasant to the sight and good for food? This demonstrates God’s attentive care for his people.

In what ways do you see God at work in your life, replacing thorns and briers with things that are both pleasant and good?