Observe therefore all the commands I am giving you today, so that you may have the strength to go in and take over the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, and so that you may live long in the land the Lord swore to your ancestors to give to them and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. The land you are entering to take over is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you planted your seed and irrigated it by foot as in a vegetable garden. But the land you are crossing the Jordan to take possession of is a land of mountains and valleys that drinks rain from heaven. It is a land the Lord your God cares for; the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it from the beginning of the year to its end.
- Deuteronomy 11:8-12
The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, set forth an allegory and tell it to the Israelites as a parable. Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: A great eagle with powerful wings, long feathers and full plumage of varied colors came to Lebanon. Taking hold of the top of a cedar, he broke off its topmost shoot and carried it away to a land of merchants, where he planted it in a city of traders.
“‘He took one of the seedlings of the land and put it in fertile soil. He planted it like a willow by abundant water, and it sprouted and became a low, spreading vine. Its branches turned toward him, but its roots remained under it. So it became a vine and produced branches and put out leafy boughs.
“‘But there was another great eagle with powerful wings and full plumage. The vine now sent out its roots toward him from the plot where it was planted and stretched out its branches to him for water. It had been planted in good soil by abundant water so that it would produce branches, bear fruit and become a splendid vine.’
“Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?’”
- Ezekiel 17:1-10
The train wreck of a photo is a work in progress. The water stained boxes have stereo speakers inside that can also act as end tables, not water-stained at all. The box of folders is what my wife says to never throw away, but she never touches it either. But this is a mess because our “storage space” is almost empty.
In the two Scriptures, the people of Israel are not where God promised them. In the first Scripture, Moses is telling the people what God has said about the land that they are about to enter when they cross the Jordan. He describes how they had to irrigate the land while in Egypt, but they would get water from Heaven in the Promised Land to bear great fruit.
But also in Deuteronomy, Moses prophesies that they will be sent into exile if the people worship other Gods. Before getting to that point, God allowed famines, long stretches of time in draught, what would be considered a mega-draught, one lasting years. Draught and famine are not found in the Deuteronomy passage above, because Moses is describing what happens with a people that worships God.
Then in the second passage, the parable has two eagles. The first eagle plucks a branch that grows into a vine. It has been removed from the land of its origin, but it is thriving. Yet, a second eagle comes along. God is telling the people that the governor that was left in Judah had bargained with Egypt for protection, although Babylon had established the governor and was protecting him. The governor wanted protection from his protectors, but since he failed to uphold his oath, he too would be exiled, and Egypt would be powerless to prevent it.
Although both stories provide bookends to the people of Judah regarding their time in the Promised Land, prior to the remnant returning, they both talk about bearing fruit where planted.
You hear that phrase used in Christian circles all the time. Regardless of your success or lack of success, regardless of what neighborhood you live in, regardless of persecution, lack of freedom of speech, or whatever government interference there might be, we are to “bloom where planted.”
But Europeans came to what is now the United States and to Canada to escape religious persecution. Just like the Israelites, they flourished as long as they kept their eyes of Jesus. Even with the problems that they caused along the way, they were blessed. But to a great extent, that is past tense.
The term “Bible Belt” was coined by H. L. Mencken in 1924. He referred to the deep South of the USA, Texas to the Carolinas. But as time has gone on for roughly 100 years, the Bible Belt looks more like Jeremiah’s Linen Belt, rotten with a lot of holes (Jeremiah 13). The people of the Bible Belt may talk a good story, but is there much faith to back it up?
And as for the part of the country not in the original “Bible Belt?” The “northern tribes” had already started worshipping other gods, and in even some “southern” states, by latitude only, they have gone so far from God’s truth that a strange form of insanity seems to reign.
So, what happens to the phrase “bloom where planted” when a form of spiritual Agent Orange has been sprayed over the countryside, inhospitable to the Word being preached? Do you stay and try to save the one, if there is the one? Do you move to greener pastures and prosper?
I ask these questions because I have talked to many who have either recently moved, want to move, or are wondering if moving is a good option. And long and short distances.
I was told by someone much wiser than I, only move when you have prayed enough to know why you are moving to a location and why you are leaving where you are. As one who recently moved said, moving is hard and you wonder if it is worth it.
But will you bear more fruit for the Lord where you are moving? Are you trying to leave a bad situation, not knowing if the situation will be any better where you are going?
My wife has one hope in this life, to be with her grandchildren in Tennessee. The other hope is a certainty that she will one day be with Jesus. With the dialysis schedule, however, that is hard work just visiting. We would like to move, but I insist that one room in the home where we move must be a walk-in freezer. I may never leave that room. I think Pittsburgh, PA is far too hot. But I miss the grandchildren too.
And at times, it seems that where we are presently planted, there must be tons of irrigation to gain very little fruit, but it can be done.
And God can produce fruit from a rock. Anyone can bloom where planted when God blesses that planting.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.