By Norman E. Fultz
By midweek, it was being reported that the eight-part, twelve-hour television novel, Roots, the Saga of An American Family, was the most watched television show of all time. Shown the last week of January, 1977, it ran for eight consecutive nights with the audience reportedly growing from night to night as viewers from the previous night told others and they joined the audience. Admitting a certain degree of intrigue with the chapters, I saw, and confessing an empathy with the plight of the hapless slaves, I nonetheless wondered if all owners and other “whites” were so cruel and devoid of the milk of human kindness, and all slaves so meek and mild as portrayed. But this article is not really intended as a review of what was apparently a “smash.” We have another thought in mind.
The Bible has much to say about roots, and there are some worthwhile lessons for us in what it says. The television series had to do with ancestral and geographical roots of the characters who were the subject of the story. Ancestral roots are given some attention in scripture as well. The prophetess Deborah was a root “out of Ephraim” whom God raised “against Amalek” (Judges 5:14; 4:5). Every genealogy is a tracing of one’s roots, and Jesus was a branch growing out of the root of Jesse (Isa. 11:1, 10; 53:2; Rom. 15:12; Rev. 5:5; 22:16). But let us turn our attention to our own roots, not of the fleshly ancestral, but of the spiritual.
The root is immensely important. A plant whose root is diseased will wither, become fruitless and die. Jesus impressed the importance of a good root in good soil in the parable of the sower. Of the man who receives the seed into stony places, though he hears and receives the word with joy, Jesus said, “Yet hath he not root in himself, but dureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended” (Mat. 13:21).
As the parable of the sower also illustrates, where the root is planted is important. Spiritually speaking, every man has roots. The wicked or evil person has roots (Job 18:5, 16). His roots are in the Devil (John 8:44), and the fruit he bears redounds to iniquity (Rom. 6:19-21). On the other hand, the root of the righteous (Prov. 12:3) is in Christ (Col. 2:6-7). He becomes as a tree planted by the rivers of water whose roots spread out broadly and deeply to take in nourishment and drink in the moisture (Psa. 1:1-3; Job 20:19). Not only does “the root of the righteous yield fruit” (Prov. 12:12), but he is able to stand while others wither in the heat and drought of adversity and misfortune. Jeremiah put it beautifully. “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit” (17:7-8).
The root of the wicked will dry up and his light will be put out (Job 18:5, 16). Those who cast away the law of the Lord, “their root shall be a rottenness, and their blossom shall go up as dust” for they were of those “that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter” (Isa. 5:24, 20).
But, friend, the plants of God will not be rooted up (Mat. 15:13). Where are your roots, in Christ or in the Devil? You can partake of the joy of hope of those who are rooted and grounded in Christ. In your faith, put Him on in baptism (Gal. 3:26-27). Become “rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith” (Col. 2:7).
Truth Magazine XXI: 48, pp. 762-763
December 8, 1977