Why do the trees clap their hands (2)?
Ezekiel 36 said, “Son of man, prophesy to the mountains of Israel and say, ‘O mountains of Israel, hear the word of the Lord...Because they ravaged and hounded you from every side so that you became the possession of the rest of the nations and the object of people’s malicious talk and slander...This is what the Sovereign Lord says...because you have suffered the scorn of the nations...I swear with uplifted hand that the nations around you will suffer scorn. But you, O mountains of Israel, will produce branches and fruit...I am concerned for you and will look on you with favor; you will be plowed and sown, and I will multiply the number of people on you...I will increase the number of men and animals upon you...I will settle people on you as in the past. I will cause people, my people Israel, to walk upon you. They will posses you, and you will be their inheritance; you will never again deprive them of their children. Because people say to you, ‘You devour men and deprive your nation of its children,’ therefore you will no longer devour or make your nation childless.”
The prophets know that the land of Israel has suffered famine and drought, that foreign nations had cut down her trees to make siege engines and salted the land in malicious delight. The people who should have rejoiced in her were taken off into captivity and she was left desolate. She had had her share in “vomiting” the people out of the land and so she had gained a reputation as a devourer of her people. All that would change when God would deliver Israel after her long night of purgatory.
When the day of deliverance arrives for the repentant people the land will share in their deliverance. Isaiah 55:12-13 speaks of that coming day when God says of the people, “You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will bust into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thornbush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the Lord’s renown, for an everlasting sign, which will not be destroyed.”
We’re supposed to picture the redeemed people of God coming out of their Babylonian captivity and entering the land of Israel. This is indeed like a second Exodus (see Isaiah 11:10-16) and the land will be thrilled at their coming. In the image of a husband and wife God says of Zion’s land it will be taken in marriage again and will have many happy children running around. The land will no longer be named “Desolate” but will be called “Beulah” (married) Isaiah 62:1-5.
A remnant of Israel arrived back in the land after Babylonian captivity but this was only a shadow of what God had in mind in the coming of Jesus Christ. (Note that Daniel foretold of three more kingdoms to rise over Israel after Babylon.)
The return from Babylon no more filled up God’s promises that come to their completion in Jesus Christ than the Canaan rest that Joshua gave to Israel completed God's promise of rest. See what the Hebrew writer did with the Canaan rest brought to Israel under Joshua (the whole of Hebrews 4). A greater than Joshua was coming and a rest greater than Canaan was coming in the “true” Joshua (which would have been the Hebrew name of Jesus).
The promise to Abraham that he would inherit the land of Canaan was only a shadow of the full inheritance—the entire world (see Romans 4:13). That will be inherited by the “seed of Abraham,” which is all who are embraced in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ (Romans 4, the entire chapter, and see Galatians 3:26-28).
Why do the trees clap their hands? Because they see that in a day coming, under the last Adam, the Lord Jesus Christ, the creation will be redeemed from futility and bondage and share in the blessings that come to and through the glorified children of God (see Romans 8:18-22).
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.