By Bruce James
The Old Testament prophets wrote of the Messiah in many forms: by directly referring to His person and glory; by figurative connotations to His character and works. The metaphor was used a great deal in communicating the Christ to Israel. Isaiah referred to the Messiah as a Rock, a Foundation, and Precious Stone; Zechariah alluded to Him as a Fountain opened; and Malachi as the Sun of Righteousness (Isa. 8:14; 32:2; 28:16; Zech.13:1; Mal. 4:2).
But, to me, one of the more interesting metaphorical allusions to Jesus is found in Ezekiel 34:29: “I will raise up for them a plant of renown . . . .” The same figure is used by Isaiah (11:1) and Jeremiah (23:5). At first, I thought the Messiah should be alluded to as a towering cedar or a mighty oak, instead of a plant or “a root out of dry ground.” But when you read the accounts of the life of Christ in consideration of His lowly appearance (His parents, birthplace, appearance, occupation, a servant of servants, friend of fishermen) and in consideration of His hidden character (Phil. 2:6, 7), you begin to understand why He is referred to as a plant.
On the other hand, Ezekiel said this plant would be one of renown. The term “renown” means fame, celebrity and distinction. Truly, this Plant is renown. Some plants yield no fruit but this Plant yields in abundance the most precious kind. Jesus is full of grace and truth (John 1:17). Many plants are medicinal. This is so of Jesus in the greatest degree-a balm for the sin-sick family of man. This Plant would also be “as the shadow of a great rock in a weary land.” It is represented as “a refuge from the storm, and a shadow from the heat” (Isa. 25:4; 32:2). The obedient believer sits under this Plant with great comfort and delight.
When the prophet said, “I will raise up for them a plant” he was undoubtedly referring to the Savior’s exaltation. This prophecy was fulfilled in many ways: in Jesus’ incarnation (Lk. 1:67; 2:29); at His baptism- “This is my beloved son”; when He was raised up on the cross (John 12:32); by His resurrection from the dead; and by His exaltation to His Father’s throne and glory (Eph. 1:2223). But, more than anything else, Jesus is exalted through the teaching of the cross and the praises of the redeemed forever and ever.
What does this Plant mean to us? Do we admire It? Have we received Its healing virtues? The church must exalt this Plant. In all things may He have the preeminence that the lost may obtain life and salvation.
Truth Magazine XXII: 10, p. 173
March 9, 1978