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THE PLANTING OF RENOWN
Many seek to make renown for themselves,
but this one, it had renown before the planting,
and that was the point of it:
but the renown after it, this was the result of it.
THE PLANTING OF RENOWN
Many seek to make renown for themselves,
but this one, it had renown before the planting,
and that was the point of it:
but the renown after it, this was the result of it.
Ezekiel 34:29 has this: "I will raise up for them a planting of renown". This is to be found in the context of the ultimate restoration of Israel to the Messiah, as evidenced and attested in detail in Ezekiel 36-39, and expounded for example in SMR Appendix A, Great Execrations, Great Enervations, Greater Faith Ch. 4 , It Bubbles ... Chs. 1, 10, Highway of Holiness Ch. 6, VICTORY 4.
WHO or WHAT is this planting of renown ? As to the translation, it varies in different versions from garden of renown, planting place of renown, to plant of renown; but as seen in Keil and Delitzsch’s Commentaries on the Old Testament, it appears that the desirable rendering is plantation. However, this is not to the point at all in Isaiah 60:21, where the same term is used in the rendering "a branch of My planting" relative to Israel. Indeed, here it is even a ‘branch’ or part of a tree, which is “of My planting”, a highly specific thing. It is the planting which is common to all.
In the Theological Word Book of the Old Testament of Harris, Archer and Waltke, the word appears both as 'planting' and as 'plantation' as distinct from allied and near words designating plant simply, or the same coupling of thought with the two options.
The root of this word is often used, the Word Book work states, of agricultural matters; vines and vineyards are mentioned as being planted. A vine out of Egypt in the notable reference of Psalm 80, was planted in Israel. They had to be plucked up in their sin (Jeremiah 45:4), but this was a merely temporary thing, since in II Samuel 7:10 we learn that ultimately they will be so planted as never to be plucked up. That of course becomes applicable to the believing remnant (Isaiah 11:10), whose Messiah is at last recognised (Romans 11, Ezekiel 36-37), when the period of blindness is over, and the whole integrity of the divine operations is vindicated. That, it is much to the delight of the apostle Paul, and who indeed would not delight in such a sweep and scope withy such majesty and mercy, such faithfulness (Ezekiel 36:22), reliability and yet purity! It is this which Paul outlines in the allegory of Romans 11.
This permanence and consummation of covenant is reflected in Jeremiah 31:28-34, as in the permanent mode in Ezekiel 37:28ff., with 39:28-29, where in the sequence from 34-39, there is intense characterisation in high detail of the specifics of Israel the nation, here past, present and future. In an interesting word study, Harris, Archer and Waltke point out that God plants not only Israel, but the root word from which our term in Ezekiel 29 is derived is used of the planting of nations (Jeremiah 1:10), 18:9, the heavens (Isaiah 51:16), and even the ear (Psalm 94:9). Moreover in Psalm 144:12, we find this: "May our sons in their youth be like plants full grown."
The term in view in Ezekiel 34:29, a planting or a plantation, a thing associated with plant, is therefore in its root and usage quite clear. To be sure, Keil in his commentary on Ezekiel uses 'plantation', in view not least of the fact that the RESULT in the context is to be that they will not hunger, but the question is this: What SORT of hunger is in view!
Alike with not hungering, we read in context that they are not to 'bear the shame of the Gentiles any more'. What is the shame of the Gentiles ? It is that a foolish nation should overlord them and control them or abase them or make them seem weak and miserable, afflict them and seem strong and stable while little foolish foibled Israel is allowed to be overcome, just as, by contrast, in the days of its glorious closeness (relatively) to God, it overcame and triumphed famously (cf. Deuteronomy 32:21-28).
What however is the basis of this strength, this dignity, this resolution, this determination, this wit, this wisdom and this overcoming, this NON-subjugation and this triumph which Israel once knew, and of which it is now deprived ? Is it food ? Is it this which is the criterion of power, or is food rather, as in the siege of Samaria by Assyria in the time of Hoshea, king of Israel, merely an expression of all the host of losses, and above all the Lord of hosts Himself, as not supporting them. He is bringing them “into the bond of the covenant” through their unbelief (Ezekiel 20:36).
Of course, it is this latter, the power of life which comes from its Provider: since the provision of food as in the case of Elisha, is a small matter by comparison; as indeed the days on the way to the Promised Land with manna, made overwhelmingly obvious.
Of course, famously, Ezekiel 17 has the massive parable of the eagle cropping off the highest twig of the cedar and carrying it to a city of merchants. This is later interpreted to show it means that the king who was taken to Babylon, the king of Israel, and his retinue, and why ? It was so that "that the kingdom might be brought low, and not lift itself up, but that by keeping of his covenant, it might stand." Rebellion however followed (Ezekiel 17:15), so that Babylon went further and ruin came on Jerusalem and Judah. Pharoah would be of no help (cf. Isaiah 31), for
"the Egyptians are men, and not God,
and their horses are flesh, and not spirit."
"when the LORD stretches out His hand, both he who helps
will fall, and he who is helped will fall down: they all will perish together."
Now we come to the part of the parable in Ezekiel 17 which currently concerns us.
will take also one of the highest branches of the high cedar
and set it out. I will crop off from the topmost of its young twigs
a tender one,
and will plant it on a high and prominent mountain.
“On the mountain height of Israel I will plant it,
and it will bring forth boughs, and bear fruit, and be a majestic cedar. Under it will dwell birds of every sort, in the shadow of its branches
they will dwell. And all trees of the field shall know that I the LORD,
have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree,
dried up the green tree and med the dry tree flourish:
”I, the LORD, have spoken and have done it."
Thus we are being compressed by context, constrained by perspective and enabled by scriptural emphasis to find the way to render, and more importantly perhaps, to understand the reference in Ezekiel 34:29.
There is an enormous play in Ezekiel on the image of planting, pride and the contrast with humility, obedience and the divine salvation which HE ALONE and HE BY HIMSELF without the aid of any, will bring to the sinfully cloistered kingdom of Israel. While it is in so much shut in to itself, its idols of political hope, of religious travesty, much like the world today, in its own vanity and futility, its little graspings, hopes and vast chasms of uncharity and confusion: yet its hope is in none of these, not in the slightest degree. This is the message constantly.
Thus when we come to the planting or plantation of renown in terms of which they shall be fed and never allowed to be desolate any more, it is at once apparent that this can only be the Messiah; for no food is enough for goodness, and no material is enough for security. Neither Israel nor any of its works, hopes or powers is even relevant to their security.
It is the LORD HIMSELF ALONE (cf. Isaiah 2:10-11, Ezekiel 36:22, Isaiah 19:19-25) who is going to be exalted, and Israel is always going to find that nothing that comes from itself, work or wit, is going to suffice for freeing or feeding its soul, finding its security or guaranteeing any grace. The covenant's POINT is this, that you do it by FAITH (cf. Deuteronomy 29:18ff.), and if you imagine it is YOU or your works, then you are as good as a cinder in the oven of hot pride.
Was it not for this, even in a temporary outburst of frustration, that Moses, although an earnest and blessed servant of the Lord then and now (cf. Matthew 17:3, 22:32)! You see this sad episode in Numbers 20:1-13, just as the principle is enunciated with divine emphasis in Deuteronomy 32:18,28ff.).
Hence it is a PLANTING of renown which is in view; and the renown which is their stay and buttress, it will be this which is divine.
But what precisely is it that is being planted ? It is a DIVINE ACTION of PLANTING which is to the point, but what is its object ? It is not hard to find this, since in this very chapter God is at pains to make it abundantly, crystallinely clear, that HE is dissatisfied with the works of folly which emanate from Israel, yes with its pastors and will HIMSELF come and DO what has to be DONE, and that it will be HE who will do it in the thoroughness and merciful lovingkindness which has been so conspicuously and iniquitously missing in the false 'shepherds' of the flock. It is HE who must do it, and it is HE who WILL do it.
This is extensively revealed in Ezekiel 34:11-22, and indeed in great detail till 34:31.
"Therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey, and I will judge between sheep and sheep. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them ... and I the LORD will be their God ... I will make a covenant of peace among them ... and they shall no longer be a prey for the nations ... I will raise up a planting of renown..."
It is not that a crop will save them, that is themselves, for this was so often their condemned and inglorious, not to say spurious pre-occupation; nor is it some rotation or a continuation of crops; not at all. That has precisely nothing to do with it. It is in essence the coming Saviour who will make ALL the difference and the ONLY difference to the point. The whole chapter 34 of Ezekiel is all about this coming Shepherd, God as man, who will have all that is required. As to His being man, metonymically he takes the name "David", but of course it is the promised Messiah who, of his lineage (through Mary in fact), is to perform and fulfil the divine promise of II Samuel 7, Isaiah 4,7,9,11,12,22,32, 40, 42,49-55, 59, 61.
THIS is the entire context of Ezekiel 34:29.
Hence it is the planting, and not some ‘plantation’, just as it is in Isaiah 53:2, in the context of Ezekiel 34.
In Isaiah we learn this, in answer to its question:
"Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
"For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
"He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted."
The most relevant part for our survey is of course that made bold, above. Just as in Ezekiel 17, there is to be planted a tender twig which shall grow into a stately and protective tree of comfort and safety, so here we see it in the ground, but not very wonderful ground at that, for it is a 'dry ground', since Israel was exceedingly parched in spirit at that time.
This was so, even to the point that the ruling junta (for they were not legitimate any more than those false shepherds of Ezekiel 34, whom the Lord dragooned and exposed so thoroughly, just as He did when He became flesh and dwelt among us, as shown by His words in Matthew 23).
He who “by His knowledge will justify many” (Isaiah 53:11) is a tender plant, as in Ezekiel 17, and the terms of that chapter are quite incontestably personal, to the point that the former twig was in fact the contextually defined symbol for the king! Here however, in this planting, is another king, one who HIMSELF will DO ALL that it takes, with NO help from ANYONE, since HE AS GOD will act as only HE has the power to pardon, or the power to secure. Indeed, we see that in HIS VERY COMING, the action is in view of the utter default of help from man. Such are the words of Ezekiel 34:1-10, which thunder from lightning strikes showing up the CURSED condition of those who fail to help where help is required.
It is just the same in Isaiah, in two passages of like intensity. The first is to be found in Isaiah 41:28-29, the negation, flowing on to the Messiah who is to BE the covenant in Isaiah 42, the One in whom, by starkest possible and even conceivable contrast, God delights. The second in complete parallel is seen in Isaiah 51:18-20, leading on to 52:13 - 53:12. It is the LORD ALONE who is singular in saving Person, who is to be found in this action to bear sin, to bear glory and to complete the covenant in Himself, for HE it is who finds it too small to be the restorer of the elect of Israel, it is HE who will be a LIGHT TO THE GENTILES (Isaiah 49).
It is therefore beyond any question not a plantation of renown, that thing planted, but a PLANTING of renown*1. It is a setting forth in INCARNATION which is to be renowned; it is after that, as we see in Isaiah 49:7, 50 and 53, an execration of the incarnation by the people who act in the name of the Lord to be despised, that follows. This is all part of the assiduity and comprehensive coverage which the LORD assigns to Himself as HIS OWN WORK without help from ANY, in Ezekiel 34. It is precisely this same work which was attested in Hosea 13:14, where the Lord GOD Himself will constitute the plagues of death and destruction of the grave.
“I gave you a king in My anger,
And took him away in My wrath.
“The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;
His sin is stored up.
The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him.
He is an unwise son,
For he should not stay long where children are born.
“I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
O Death, I will be your plagues!
O Grave, I will be your destruction!
Pity is hidden from My eyes.”
HOW, in detail, He did this is assigned to the Psalms and Isaiah magnificently to depict; but that it would involve labour, and industry and effort and conscientious assiduity on the part of the Almighty Himself, this is clear in Ezekiel 34.
The translation then is PLANTING OF RENOWN, and the point is the PLANT OF RENOWN which is thereby PLANTED. What an amazing planting this is, not of seed, not of forest, not of crop, but of a divine seed in human format, that the bread of life might be found. It is precisely as in Jeremiah 31:22. Indeed, there it comes in just this same milieu of the utter and entire failure of Israel before God, its tragedies, its mournings, its loss, its chastisement, and in the same plateau of divine mercy. It is then that we find this new thing, which corresponds to the planting of renown in Ezekiel, and the strange and wondrous matter of Isaiah 28-29.
One may yet ask, HOW do you raise up a planting ? First note that it is entirely in parallel with Ezekiel 34:21, where God will 'set up' one shepherd over them, the pulse moving from that, to this botanical and scripturally common preciousness in the renowned action, the wonderful work, the strange action in 34:29, the planting which He will 'raise up'.
The thing moreover is normal ideational idiom. If you plant, it is with the intention of raising up what you plant. If you wish to concentrate for some reason on the ACT of planting, relative to the plant, then you raise up a planting. There is enormous concentration in this case on the INSTITUTION of what is to be so raised.
Why is this ? It is because it is a STRANGE ACT which the Lord performs, and one of amazing and staggering scope and love! It is strange as Paul shows, in quoting Isaiah 29:14, in I Corinthians 1. This remarkable and wondrous divine deed, not only in power but in heart, it is reflected in the movements of history to it and from it, in Isaiah 28:21 and 29:14, where in similar vein He excoriates hypocrisy and focusses what He and ONLY HE will do (Isaiah 28:9, 29:13). As always, it leads to what is to be done, planted or provided, what has the criteria of divinity itself.
Thus in 28:16 we see the same masterful Master to come, for
"Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation: Whoever believes will not hasten."
There is rest there! (cf. Matthew 11:28ff.). To believe in man is accursed, but to trust in the Lord is entirely blessed, as in Jeremiah 17:5-8, and the latter is like a tree planted by streams of water. But THIS planting, it is the one which brings safety and security, that is defined to be in God alone, who alone has the renown, which is denied expressly to Israel, who are instead heaped with the emblems of duress for indiscipline, and condemnation for falsity, even fraud in dealings with deity, who alone can and will help them.
You see in Isaiah 28, there the emphasis on the LAYING in Zion of the stone. It is a staggering action of incalculable, indeed infinite grace. You see in Isaiah 61:3, the very same term as in Ezekiel 34:29, in a combination of phrases which puts beyond all question, the connection between plant and planting in such terms. The bold print is to facilitate the seeing of this.
Thus we there read this:
"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."
Here the PLANTING of the Lord is a parallel phrase to the TREES of righteousness, and BOTH are what those concerned may be called. BOTH are personal, each is emphatic in kind, and all blends into the planting and the plants in collaborative consensus. You see it before you, the action of planting and the result in the plants, and it is all one to the thought, which there is stretched out as tissue, to show its meaning; and just as Ezekiel dwells on the planting, so does Isaiah 28:16 and Isaiah 7, on the institution of this glorious salvation and personal rule of the Almighty God*2.
It is ALL a strange, a wonderful, a marvellous thing as Isaiah 28-29 declares, and Paul re-echoes in divinely inspired wonder, in I Timothy 3:16:
"And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness:
God was manifested in the flesh,
Justified in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Preached among the Gentiles,
Believed on in the world,
Received up in glory."
In one phase, you see the concentration on His coming (as also in Isaiah 7), in another, on His rule (as in Isaiah 11), in another on the covenant which He constitutes (as in Ezekiel 34:24-25, Isaiah 42:6, Luke 2:29-32), where He will constitute the covenant in Himself, the focus of the prophecy and the worker of all blessing as Person to people.
Here in Ezekiel 34:29, in the chapter of the advent of God as Saviour to this earth, the amazing revelation is stressed, that it is God HIMSELF who will come into the very fouled pastures, and act in the very spoiled tissue, or to vary the image further, move in the midst of the torrid pollution, or again to move to the image in view, be PLANTED in this field! The field is the world, as Christ pointed out, and it is HE who is the treasure in it (Matthew 13:44).
The TRUE GOD indeed has go, for He came! and in coming, He had to go from heaven His home, to be enlisted in the Person of His eternal Word to become man; and He shows growth, for His kingdom has grown with the basis of the royal seed and the royal tree as a centre and site for all the birds; and He has glory and that to give, as in Isaiah 60:1-2. It is to be "seen upon you", for it is He who covers, as in Isaiah 61:10, as a bride is covered with the costumery of marriage, or a bridegroom with his preparations. These to the bride are GIVEN, a fact the pompous servant in Matthew 22's parable overlooked to his destruction. Salvation is FREE (as in Isaiah 55, repeatedly), and it contrasts with all purchases in this.
So has the Lord multiplied images, as Hosea 12:10 protested, if by any means people might be alerted to the facts. It is not like opera, a matter of images, but it is like opera, the Latin plural of opus, WORKS, and as to these, they are DONE BY GOD (Romans 3:23ff.). It is HIS planting, and as to the plant, it is HIS resource which feeds, for it is HE who is the bread of life (John 6:50ff.). If the image is bread, the history is blood. Thus is the planting of holiness, of the divine, of deity as sacrifice; and thus is the plant, to be cut down, but to be raise up, inviolate, the pure promise to spiritual promiscuity, the potent answer to sin, the dismissal of death and the detailer of cleanliness (cf. Isaiah 52:11-12, I John 1:7ff., Romans 6).
The reality is thus exposed, the Lord’s wonderful and marvellous action exhibited. And why is it so ?
It is that they might see the incarnation, the planting, the salvation, the axing, and the glory of the Lord, the resurrection, ascension and return to come, and it is near. It is that in seeing Him so lifted up in cruelty, as a sin sacrifice, Him who in glory was before this earth, but then came to it and to this gallows for our salvation, they should then come to Him (John 12:32).
The denominative of the relevant Hebrew verb, formed with the m prefix, signifies
or something in general connected with the idea of the verb, Davidson's Hebrew Grammar informs us.
As Baumgartner points out in his lexicon, this term, here translated 'planting', is in fact a derivative of the verb 'to plant'. Obviously, there is little more closely connected with the verb, 'to plant', than 'planting', and this term constitutes one of the translations of Harris, Archer and Waltke in the work noted.
Thus, in Isaiah 60:21, we see that "your people shall be all righteous", and that they "will inherit the land forever." Indeed, they are "the branch of My planting." Here is the same Hebrew word.
It is clear that the divine action is in view, and that this action is seen in dynamic procedure. God is at work doing things of a categorical nature. Thus not only are they to be the branch of His planting, but in the parallel phrase to follow, we find they are "the work of My hands, that I may be glorified."
Thus in this text in Isaiah, a branch is seen associated with planting, and this is seen in terms of the work of His hands, so that He may be glorified. It is the personal emphasis beyond doubt, that is found, and with it the manner in which the people as one are designated back in their land, busily, indeed laboriously, being planted by HIM, whose work it is. It is in this way and atmosphere that the branch finds here its focus. Thus the branch brings all into one; and the planting with it proceeds as bringing that one into the ground of their emplacement, that He may be glorified.
Thus do we actually SEE vividly the work of planting, this branch and not at all a plantation being in view. What is this something connected with the verb 'to plant', in terms of this branch which is being subjected before our eyes to an action from the Lord's hand, yes to His WORK! It is a singular action for a singular branch.
What then is the work for a branch, relating in some way to the action, to plant ? why it is a putting, an emplacement, and as it is here a working: and what is that except it be a PLANTING. So it is wisely translated in the AV and the NKJV. You do not make a plantation by taking action on a branch! The planting is in view, a firm, sure and enduring planting which God WORKS. Before our envisagement is His labour as He works and settles things to His satisfaction with the branch.
Similarly in Ezekiel 34:29, the focus is on the power, purity and reliability that is deity's alone, and it is this time distinguished in that the work is a PLANTING of RENOWN; for what is more connected with the verb 'to plant', than a 'planting'! He works, He plants and it is done.
Renown attaches to THIS planting for THIS branch is the advent and coming of God Himself (as in Zechariah 6), alone able uniquely to meld the work of prophet and prince (6:13). This is the sublime work which ONLY the Messiah can do, since in normal procedure the two had to be so separate that King Uzziah became leprous for trying to act as priests did (II Chronicles 26). Accordingly do find that this Branch will “bear the glory".
It is as in Isaiah 41-42, and in 52, where in both cases anything in the nation is OUT, INADEQUATE, irrelevant, and it is the pure and perfect sin-bearing servant ALONE who can act as a COVENANT and become the salvation as further specified in Isaiah 53. In contrast, Behold MY Servant! we find in Isaiah 42, the One in whom by contrast is the delight of the Sender (as in Isaiah 48:16).
Far is this exaltation from being the lot of a people who return to their land, for whom as Zephaniah 3:11-16 tells us, pride is vacated and in whom meekness has lair:
“For then I will take away from your midst
Those who rejoice in your pride,
And you shall no longer be haughty
In My holy mountain.
“I will leave in your midst
A meek and humble people,
And they shall trust in the name of the Lord.
The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness
And speak no lies,
Nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth;
For they shall feed their flocks and lie down,
And no one shall make them afraid.”
“Sing, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O Israel!
Be glad and rejoice with all your heart,
O daughter of Jerusalem!
“The Lord has taken away your judgments,
He has cast out your enemy.
The King of Israel, the Lord, is in your midst;
You shall see disaster no more.
In that day it shall be said to Jerusalem:
'Do not fear;
Zion, let not your hands be weak.
The Lord your God in your midst,
The Mighty One, will save;
He will rejoice over you with gladness,
He will quiet you with His love,
He will rejoice over you with singing.' ”
Indeed, it is a planting of 'NAME' we find in Ezekiel 34:29, and the name ? It is the name of Him who is born to us, who is “mighty to save” (Isaiah 63:1, the King) who is planted on this earth, firmly and surely, just as He is laid (Isaiah 28:16) a foundation stone, in another image, the One in who to BELIEVE! As to His name: It shall be called wonderful, counsellor, the mighty God, the everlasting Father and the Prince of Peace! as in *2 below, and seen in Isaiah 9. He is both the Prince of Peace and the Priest whose unique sacrifice was that of Himself, not to help, but to atone, for “He shall bear their iniquities”. Renown indeed is His and renowned His name, for there is NO OTHER NAME, declared Peter, by which we MUST be saved. There, that is something to plant!
There is but one Gospel (Ephesians 4, Galatians 1, Isaiah 65:13-15), and His is the only name which is to have categorical renown in Israel (Ezekiel 36:22), or indeed in any heart which glorifies God (Galatians 6:14, Philippians 2).
HIS PLANTING has been part of the most wonderful marvel ever wrought, and it is in Him alone that safety is to be found. It is, this incarnation of the Lord Himself, as envisaged in Hosea 13:14, indeed a Name of Renown. Without it, this world would be dregs only; and with it, there is hope for any, but not for all, for not all will come to this Name!
Indeed, except for Him, the Redeemer, the universe would never have been planted at all! (Isaiah 51:16, 49:2,6).
Repent or Perish Ch. 7, pp. 174ff.,
cf. SMR p. 773-774;
Divine Agenda Ch. 5