O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit. (Hosea 14:8)
As the prophet Hosea wrote this, the nation of Israel was in a state of disobedience to God. They had once again gone after idols, forsaking the one and only true God. As God speaks directly to the tribe of Ephraim, pointing out that He is not like the idols, He is alive, responding and looking after His people, He then uses a simile that can get easily overlooked: “I am like an evergreen cypress; from me comes your fruit.”
The Mediterranean evergreen cypress trees are an incredibly interesting tree species.
- They grow in hilly or mountain areas
- They are extremely drought tolerant
- They are impervious to long, hot summers
- They can live for thousands of years
- They are practically fireproof – able to withstand days of burning wildfire without being burned up
- While they don’t have edible fruit, the fruit is technically the seeds which are held in cones and aren’t released until the parent dies – in which they develop in bare, burnt ground.
Like an Evergreen Cypress
Our God, who had gone before us in all things, likens Himself to an evergreen cypress and in which our fruit comes from Him. He is our stronghold, our tower, that we can be safe within, and while we will go through trials by fire, we will not be burned. There may be seasons of drought, feeling parched in a spiritual wilderness but we will continue to grow steadily in Christ, and it was through the death of Him that the gospel seed is able to go out into all the world.
We are one with God as we abide in Him, and if we are to take part in glory one day, we also take part in His suffering (Philippians 3:10). But “as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.” (2 Corinthians 1:5)
Our God is like an evergreen cypress, and from Him comes our fruit. The fruit of the Spirit is love and God is love; and it was the demonstration of His love for us that Christ died for us while we were still sinners (Galatians 5:22; 1 John 4:8; Romans 5:8).
What Have I to do with Idols?
When we contemplate all this, it’s hard to think of ever having any idols in life, because our God is incredible – He’s faithful, just, merciful, gracious, loving, long-suffering – and yet, how easily like Israel do we “forget” Him and heap up things to make as a great importance in our lives.
The idols of the ancient days were things made with hands, consumable by fire. But our God likens Himself to an evergreen cypress in which fire doesn’t burn up and destroy, the fire instead provides the perfect environment for the seed to germinate and grow. We serve the God who has joined us to Himself by His Spirit and who tries us by fire, not to consume us but to help us grow; and the fruit comes from Him. Apart from Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5).
Have you heaped up modern day idols in your life? Allow any conviction by God to spur you into action and purge them from your midst. It’s far better to be refined by fire than be baptized by fire.
Have you been searching for answers, purpose, meaning? It is God who answers and looks after you. Seek His face and read His word today.
Are you in a fiery trial? Be found in God who, like an evergreen cypress, withstands even the hottest fires and provides growth in them.
I’ll leave you with these encouraging verses:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. (Isaiah 43:2-3)
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season. (Psalm 1:1-3)
Just as our God likens Himself to an evergreen cypress, so you can be, like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season.