In Genesis, God speaks of two trees in His garden: the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Two philosophies of life are summed up in the names of the two trees. One advocates that the learning and living God’s word is life, while the second tree advocates that knowing both good and evil is life.
On the surface, it would appear a logical argument. The problem, Paul—the Apostle wrote, is that babes in Christ, that is, those who are only just beginning to receive God’s Holy Spirit and are in the early stages of learning to live the way of God, cannot differentiate between good and evil and that it takes a mature and highly trained Christian to know the difference and choose right over wrong.
“Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil” (Hebrews 5:13-14).
With this being the case, those eating only from the tree of knowledge of good and evil cannot distinguish between good and evil. Satan’s philosophy is flawed.
Satan, the serpent in Genesis knew that in order for mankind to be able to distinguish between good and evil, they would have to eat from the tree of life—God’s way. His plan was not eternal life for mankind, but rather to spoil God’s newest creation and keep them mortal and under his thumb, to keep them confused, constantly walking down the roads going nowhere and sneering as they intellectually reason between right and wrong. Satan is the tree –the leader, the teacher of the knowledge of good and evil in God’s government called Eden. He introduced the philosophy of individual reasoning without God.
God uses imagery, mirroring, parallels, parables and stories to reveal the deep things that He has carefully woven into scripture. His uses the imagery of trees to describe different leaders in His government. Ezekiel 31 is a key chapter that identifies some of God’s greatest leaders who recently fell.
THE CEDARS OF LEBANON
“Son of man, say to Pharaoh king of Egypt and to his hordes: ‘Who can be compared with you in majesty? Consider Assyria, once a cedar in Lebanon, with beautiful branches overshadowing the forest; it towered on high, its top above the thick foliage’” (Ezekiel 31:2-3).
In these two verses, one leader is identified to have been a cedar in Lebanon. This is the heavenly leader over Assyria. The use of the past tense, indicates a dethroning, “once a cedar in Lebanon”. This leader “towered on high” surpassing the tallest of all the other leaders. He must have been at one time the greatest leader under God in God’s headquarters—called Lebanon.
“The waters nourished it, deep springs made it grow tall; their streams flowed all around its base and sent their channels to all the trees of the field. So it towered higher than all the trees of the field… all the great nations lived in its shade. It was majestic in beauty, with its spreading boughs… The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor could the pine trees equal its boughs, nor could the plane trees compare with its branches—no tree in the garden of God could match its beauty. I made it beautiful with abundant branches, the envy of all the trees of Eden in the garden of God (Ezekiel 31:4-5, 6b-9).
The waters image God’s Holy Spirit. This leader was filled with God’s Holy Spirit and he excelled growing in God’s knowledge, wisdom and understanding beyond all the other leaders. He was admired and respected—no other leader in God’s government could rival this leader. He was God’s best of the best; the tallest great cedar—an evergreen, eternal being that God trusted and loved.
But—what happened that God would say, “I handed it over to the ruler of the nations, for him to deal with according to its wickedness. I cast it aside” (Ezekiel 31:11). The leader had become “proud of its height” (Ezekiel 31:10b). In his pride, he became arrogant and grew to despise his Creator as he plotted with Satan, to dethrone their Creator.
While God can know the end from the beginning, when the actual event occurs He feels excruciating pain. “On the day it was brought down to the grave I covered the deep springs with mourning for it; I held back its streams, and its abundant waters were restrained. Because of it I clothed Lebanon with gloom, and all the trees of the field withered away. I made the nations tremble at the sound of its fall when I brought it down to the grave with those who go down to the pit” (Ezekiel 31:15-16).
God added, “Assyria will fall by a sword that is not of man, a sword, not of mortals, will devour them [this prince has his own army]” (Isaiah 31:8).
God wept for this son who was once a dear companion. He held back His Holy Spirit and watched him wither into a dithering fool. The desire to revel in self-reliance, self-direction and self-glory is the poison of the fallen. The fear of God is wisdom to shun evil is understanding (Job 28:28).
This fallen son was not alone, for Ezekiel recorded the story to show Pharaoh that he too, will fall and wither. “‘Which of the trees of Eden can be compared with you in splendor and majesty? Yet you, too, will be brought down with the trees of Eden to the earth below; you will lie among the uncircumcised, with those killed by the sword. This is Pharaoh and all his hordes,’ declares the Sovereign LORD” (Ezekiel 31:18).
It is difficult for 21st century Judo-Christians to understand the full meaning of scriptures that refer to the “gods” and who the rulers over the nations were in ancient times, for they have accepted the logic of their “educators” who have mythicized the gods of old. The silence, since the gods have been overthrown has become the evidence that converted fact into fiction.
Egypt with its magnificent pyramids and megalithic structures has amazed mankind well into the 21st century. Yet, God saw the fall of that son, too—a cedar of Lebanon—a great and wise leader who was at one time filled with God’s Holy Spirit withered into a dithering fool. Worst still, God’s heart sank as He said, “Then all the trees of Eden, the choicest and best of Lebanon, ALL the trees that were well-watered, were consoled in the earth below” (Ezekiel 31:16b). This is a tragedy of immeasurable size.
21st century mankind has forgotten the fear and trembling their ancestors felt. “I made the nations tremble at the sound of its fall when I brought it down to the grave” (Ezekiel 31:16). The heavenly world in our ancient time was closely connected with the nations on earth. All of the sons in God’s heavenly court who were given rulership over the nations in our ancient past have been overthrown. A future event lies on our horizon when ten sons who were promised a kingdom will receive rulership for a short time (Revelation 17:12). God is not finished. They are the ten horns on the beast that came out of the sea.
The inheritance the nations received in Deuteronomy 32:8 “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of his heavenly court” were these great cedars of Lebanon—His Holy Spirit filled members of his heavenly court. Tragedy upon tragedy, these members ALL fell into sin. There is no redemption for them.
These rogue rulers formed coalitions referred to in Daniel as beasts that resemble a lion with wings of an eagle, a bear raised up on one side and three ribs in its mouth, a leopard with four wings on its back like a bird, and a fourth beast with ten horns on its head—terrifying and frightening with large iron teeth that crushed and devoured (Daniel 7).
Click here to read more about the battles fought to take the kingdom.
THE BIBLE DECODES ITSELF.
King Nebuchadnezzar had a dream of a tree that “grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth” (Daniel 4:11), which in his dream was cut down, branches trimmed, leaves stripped and fruit scattered (Daniel 4:14). Troubled, he asked Daniel to interpret the dream. Daniel identified the tree as King Nebuchadnezzar, “you, O king are that tree!” (Daniel 4:22)
The lesson King Nebuchadnezzar learned was the lesson the members of God’s heavenly court ruling over the nations should have known. “The Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of men” (Daniel 4:17).
No matter what rulership is given:
King David understood. “For you, LORD, are the Most High over all the earth; you are exalted far above all gods” (Psalm 97:9).
The ancient Israelites understood the imagery of Lebanon. Amaziah, a young king of Judah defeated 10,000 men of Edom in the Valley of Salt; he was proud of his conquest. In his pride, he sent a message to the king of Israel with an invitation. The king of Israel declined and responded with a comparison of their rulership. The king of Israel viewed his own rulership as strong and accomplished compared to the young Jewish king who he considered to be rough-around-the-edges and inexperienced. “So King Jehoash of Israel sent this message to King Amaziah of Judah: ‘The thorn bush in Lebanon sent this message to the cedar in Lebanon: "Give your daughter to my son in marriage.” But just then a wild beast from Lebanon wandered by and trampled down the thorn bush. You have indeed defeated Edom and now you are arrogant. Glory in your victory, but stay at home. Why ask for trouble and cause your own downfall and that of Judah also?” (II Kings 14:9-10).
Notice, both houses were considered by the king of Israel to be in Lebanon—in the core of God’s government. Common knowledge in ancient times is long forgotten in the 21st century.
WHAT HAPPENED IN LEBANON?
“Open your doors, O LEBANON, that the fire may devour your cedars! Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the glorious trees have been destroyed; Wail, O oaks of Bashan, for the impenetrable forest has come down” (Zechariah 11:2).
“See, the Lord, the LORD Almighty, will lop off the boughs with great power. The lofty trees will be felled; the tall ones will be brought low. He will cut down the forest thickets with an ax; LEBANON WILL FALL BEFORE THE MIGHTY ONE” (Isaiah 10:33-34).
God’s headquarters in heaven was comprised of the great eternal leaders. What seemed impenetrable has come down. For our God will not force His Way on anyone. God wants His creation to choose freely—without force, His Way of love and humble selflessness. When God’s creation chooses selfishness, they bring suffering on others and eventually, they bring their own destruction.
GOD HAS A PLAN.
The creation of mankind is part of God’s plan. We are lucky, if that word can be used to describe an opportunity that resulted from the wrong choices by once great and admired eternal leaders. King David certainly tried to sway them into repentance, "All worshipers of images are put to shame, who make their boast in worthless idols; worship him, all you gods!” (Psalm 97:7).
The gods ruling over the nations were delighted in the worship they received from mankind. People made images of them, though poorly crafted and worshiped them, too. The poison of self-glory has destroyed many great leaders.
MANKIND’S POTENTIAL IN GOD’S GRAND PLAN, IS A MYSTERY TO MANY.
Satan certainly doesn’t want mankind to know their potential; he wants them to fail too. The rogue gods despise mankind. The captured gods during the Great Tribulation will be released to show mankind that the gods they worshiped in ancient times were not their friends.
“The locusts looked like horses prepared for battle. On their heads they were wore something like crowns of gold, and their faces resembled human faces. Their hair was like women’s hair, and their teeth were like lion’s teeth. They had breastplates like breastplates of iron, and the sound of their wings was like the thundering of many horses and chariots rushing into battle. They had tails and stings like scorpions, and in their tails they had power to torment people for five months. They had a king over them the angel of Abyss, whose name in Hebrew is Abaddon, and in Greek, Apollyon” (Revelation 9:7-11).
These fallen gods have withered into exoskeleton creatures with embedded and twisted golden crowns. They have human faces, unkept hair and lion’s teeth that will tear at mankind given the chance. They are dressed for war and they will torture mankind for five months. They have lost all of their majesty and glory.
These rogue entities operate in the shadows devising a secret plan, likely multiple plans as each one fails, never to be shared with mankind not even their mortal followers. “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12). Anyone who stumbles onto just a tidbit of their plan, their story becomes a conspiracy theory. Such is the weapon used to keep their secrets from being believed.
Mankind will play a significant role in God’s new government. Beginning with the Saints who will be given the kingdom with Christ.
“The four great beasts are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth.” There is a quest for the kingdom that the heavenly rulers, powers and authorities are aware of and are fighting to take, but mankind in general has no idea. But, a remnant of humble, God-fearing and God-serving people know. They are “the saints of the Most High who will receive the kingdom and will possess it forever—yes, for ever and ever” (Daniel 7:17-18). The kingdom that they will receive is the one the men and women of faith longed for. For they were “looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God… They were longing for a better country—a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them” (Hebrews 11:10, 16).
Jesus Christ will go ahead of them for he has already been anointed King of kings and Lord of lords. The kingdom will be given to them. “Before me was one like the son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed” (Daniel 7:13-14).
So, that’s that.
HOW DID CHRIST RISE UP AND WIN THE KINGDOM?
When the great cedars—the renown leaders in God’s headquarters failed. God, himself chose the next potential leader. “I myself will take a shoot from the very top of a cedar and plant it; I will break off a tender sprig from its topmost shoots and plant it on a high and lofty mountain. On the mountain heights of Israel, I will plant it; it will produce branches and bear fruit and become a splendid cedar” (Ezekiel 17:22-23).
The key to identifying this leader is in verse 23, “On the mountain heights of Israel, I will plant it.” The only son of God to be anointed as king in the government of Israel is Jesus Christ, the second Adam after the first one failed. This leader became a splendid cedar and proved his loyalty to God by suffering and winning many battles resulting in “the many crowns on his head” (Revelation 19:12).
Christ is a splendid cedar—an evergreen, eternal ruler in God’s headquarters who is “Faithful and True.”
The key that great leaders need to remember is the power of the ALMIGHTY God. All of the sons of God in heaven witnessed the fall of what seemed impossible. They witnessed the overthrow of powerful sons of God in God’s heavenly court. “All the trees of the field will know that I the LORD bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish” (Ezekiel 17:24). God is totally in charge.
Woe to the great heavenly rulers of Assyria, Egypt and Babylon. Eternal destruction is coming their way. “On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon… The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked, the scepter of the rulers, which in anger struck down peoples with unceasing blows, and in fury subdued nations with relentless aggression. All the lands are at rest and at peace; they break into singing. Even the pine tree and the cedars of Lebanon exult over you and say, ‘Now that you have been laid low, no woodsman comes to cut us down’” (Isaiah 14:3, 5-8).
The pine trees and cedars of Lebanon exult over the overthrow of Babylon, no longer fearing their own destruction by the ruthless, rogue son of God ruling over Babylon. These rogue sons rage against their Creator, but soon they will be silenced. “In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; and be punished after many days” (Isaiah 24:21-22).
Christ is God’s beloved Son and only heir. Christ, together with his Bride—the saints will rule the kingdom awarded to them in humility, fearing God and loving Him with all their heart, mind, soul and strength.
“After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life, and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will give him a portion among the GREAT, and he will divide the spoils with the strong [the saints will rule with him], because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:11-12).
Jesus Christ is the tree of life—the leader the saints follow. He is the Word; he knows and understands God’s way. Lean on him and you won’t lose your way.
GOD IS ASSEMBLING A NEW GOVERNMENT.
“In a very short time, will not Lebanon be turned into a fertile field and the fertile field seem like a forest?” (Isaiah 29:17).
Quickly, this new government of God’s is forming.
“The righteous man will flourish like the palm tree; he will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. PLANTED IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD, they will flourish in the COURTS OF OUR GOD. They will still yield fruit in old age; They shall be full of sap and very green” (Psalm 92:12-15).
The righteous will be blessed and take positions of leadership in God’s house. They will be the leaders that people will seek, respect and honor.
JERUSALEM WILL BE ADORNED WITH THE GLORY OF LEBANON.
“‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,’ declares the LORD… Though in anger I struck you, in favor I will show you compassion… THE GLORY OF LEBANON WILL COME TO YOU, the PINE, the FIR and the CYPRESS together, to adorn the place of my sanctuary and I will glorify the place of my feet… all who despise you will bow down at your feet and will call you The City of the LORD, Zion of the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 59:20, 60:10, 60:13, 14).
God is planting leaders with differing abilities and strengths in His new headquarters and holy courts. He describes them as cedars, acacia, myrtle, olive, pine, fir, poplar and cypress trees. The places void of truth and righteousness will be populated with people who are filled with God’s Holy Spirit and people will live righteously.
“I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the CEDAR and the ACACIA, the MYRTLE and the OLIVE. I will set PINES in the wasteland, the FIR and the CYPRESS together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the LORD has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it” (Isaiah 41:19-20).
THE RIGHTEOUS WILL BE PART OF THIS NEW GOVERNMENT.
“I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants. They will spring up like grass in a meadow, like POPLAR TREES by flowing streams. One will say, ‘I belong to the LORD,’ another will call himself by the name of Jacob; still another will write on his hand, ‘The LORD’s,’ and will take the name Israel” (Isaiah 44:3-5).
“He has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release for the prisoners… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called OAKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor” (Isaiah 61:1-3).
PEOPLE FROM THE KINGDOM OF ISRAEL WILL BE STRONG, RIGHTEOUS LEADERS.
Wonders never cease! “How fair are your tents, O Jacob, Your dwellings, O Israel! ‘Like valleys that stretch out, like GARDENS beside the river, like ALOES planted by the LORD, like CEDARS beside the waters” (Numbers 24:5-6).
“I [God] will be like the dew to Israel; he will blossom like the lily, and he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon. His shoots will sprout, and his beauty will be like the olive tree [priestly] and his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon [full of wisdom and understanding]” (Hosea 14:5-6).
God’s new government is sprouting and it will grow into a thick forest in Lebanon full of faithful and loyal leaders with many beautiful gifts and wonderful qualities. God doesn’t want war. Repent and He will gladly take you into His arms—MAKE PEACE WITH HIM.
“In that day—sing about a fruitful vineyard: I, the LORD, am its keeper; I water it every moment. So that no one will damage it, I guard it night and day. I am not angry. If only there were briars and thorns confronting me! I would march against them in battle; I would set them all on fire. Or else let them come to me for refuge; LET THEM MAKE PEACE WITH ME, YES, LET THEM MAKE PEACE WITH ME" (Isaiah 27:3-5).
Click here to read more about becoming a new creation, God's prisoners of hope, a kingdom of people humble and lowly, I will be their God and they will be my people, the new heaven and earth will have no sea, God is in absolute control, a house of prayer for all nations.
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