by Grant Marshall
Once there was a man who had a beautiful house with well kept gardens, full of the most glorious ﬂowers and blossoms, with orchards all around. Surrounding the man’s garden were many high trees. On the other side of the trees was a beautiful valley leading to a mountain with snow topped peaks. It was a sight to behold. Oh how the man wanted to wake up each morning and see that awesome sight! To open up the vista before him, he decided to cut the row of trees down. The man was pleased. No longer would he wake up to see the trees blocking his view but he would now see the fabulous snow capped mountains each morning as he took in the fresh dewy air.
As the months went by the seasons changed and the winds would come and blow down from the slopes of the mountain and sweep across the valley. Soon the man realised that the orchard trees began to bend and the blossoms did not stay on the trees as long. What’s more, he noticed that the tiles on the roof of his house would come loose and often rattle. So every year he would climb up and ﬁx them. Soon the man grew old, and his son took over the running of the estate. Every year just like every year previously, he too had to climb up and repair the loose tiles after the winds came. One day he realised that there was a deﬁnite noise coming from the windows of the house. The wind would whistle through the loose window frames and rattle the glass between them. The noise was now very apparent. The son had never really noticed the sound before because he had grown up with it. And so he went to the task of repairing the window frames. The son found a wife and soon they had children, and just like the son, the grandchildren roamed around the estate enjoying the landscape, especially during the summer holidays when the fruit harvest would be brought in by the workers from the nearby villages.
As the son became older, he no longer felt like climbing up around the house, repairing windows and tiles, and so he trained his eldest son to do the job. Time went on, and one day the eldest son came up with an idea. ‘Why don’t we plant a row of trees at the bottom of the garden? In time it will create a barrier from the winds that come up from the valley,’ he told his father.
‘What a great idea my son,’ said the father, ’let’s get to work.’
They chose the best type of trees that would grow high and thick, and would make a perfect barrier from the winds. They began to dig and prepare the ground for the newly arriving saplings. They worked hard, but they began to unearth tree stumps that had obviously been chopped down with axes. Suddenly, the father remembered the time when as a very little boy, he saw his own father with the labourers from the village, chopping down the trees. He had never given it a second thought, and so he told his own son of the day it had all happened and how when all the trees had been felled, the grandfather sat all day looking at the mountains, until sunset.
“Oh dear, father” the eldest son said. “If grandfather had never chopped those trees down we would not have to keep repairing our house every year; our trees would not be bent and the blossom would stay much longer.”
“I know son; I realise that now. But now we can make it right again, just as it used to be in the old days,” the father continued. “These trees will take many years to grow. By the time they are high enough, you too will be an old man like me, and maybe then you will stand here with your children and tell of the day you planted them, and of the day grandfather cut them down.”
Exodus 34 tells us that the sins or actions of the parent’s aﬀect the children for generations.
5 Adonai descended in the cloud, stood with him there and pronounced the name of Adonai. 6 Adonai passed before him and proclaimed: “YUD-HEH-VAV-HEH!!! YudHeh-Vav-Heh [Adonai] is God, merciful and compassionate, slow to anger, rich in grace and truth; 7 showing grace to the thousandth generation, forgiving oﬀenses, crimes and sins; yet not exonerating the guilty, but causing the negative eﬀects of the parents’ oﬀenses to be experienced by their children and grandchildren, and even by the third and fourth generations.” CJB
V7 The Lord forgives our sins but causes the negative eﬀects of the parent’s oﬀences to be experienced by their children and grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.
The story above, touched three generations immediately, but the actions of the statement of the eldest son brought about a decision that would immediately change the circumstances of his family and of his children.
Though the story does not directly address any sinful or wicked state of a person against God, it shows us how unwise decisions have a long lasting and detrimental eﬀect. Of course as all parables do, the hidden message is to understand and look to the kingdom of God and seek out His ways and His righteousness.
One of the things we teach in survival and wild camping, is never to cut the bark of a living tree. Cuts and axe blows harm the tree and in some instances will accelerate the death of it. Our own lives can be harmed in the same way. The cuts that come to us, can come through the harsh and hurtful deeds and words of others. Negative words that attack our abilities and character, can have life-long consequences. We can often feel rejected, and so we seek belonging. We can feel inadequate, and so perhaps we learn skills and increase our education. In our world, the internet and the media play an important part. Social networks allow us to feel that we belong to a bigger family and so users try to build followers. Personal pictures and events are paraded before the thousands. We are lulled into a false realty, and so we continue on, seeking the way that we should go. We look to the lifestyle gurus, the quacks and pedlars who can sell you a better way of living and a change of life for a ﬁne sum. It makes us better to hand over the cash —that’s our investment, after all. The course we pay for, or the sessions of analysis are only short lived because they never truly attend to the foundation of our soul. They deal with the mind and thus we ultimately get only light relief, because we feel that we have paid for it and are going to get the beneﬁts.
When we as believers, begin to feel the harsh winds blow across the valley, into our lives, our antidote is to call out to God, because He cares for us as a loving father. He wants us to know that all good things come from Him. He is the healer and author of our lives and faith. Our problems, and we all have them, do not come and begin with us. They come at the hands of others. God was careful in choosing the lineage of our Christ, and though we had no choice in the problems that come to us, we can make changes. We can choose to allow the past paths and decisions of our own ancestors to aﬀect our future, or we can choose another lineage — the seed of Abraham. God therefore, allows us to see the actions of our ancestors and the eﬀects their decisions have on us. Their way is not our way. Our way is the way our Lord and Saviour, Messiah Yeshua, has shown us.
We can turn to God as our Father, and to the family we now belong to, but ﬁrst our instruction is to repent. In doing so, we choose and resolve not to walk in the same way as our ancestors. So long as we maintain a life of repentance and pass the way down to our children, the winds will not come to destroy what we have. The Holy Spirit will walk with us and though we will indeed be buﬀeted, we will continue to walk the straight path that is now made for us. Repentance, however, has a caveat; situations must be put right and recompense made.
Repentance must be done on several levels — personal, corporate and national. However, though national wickedness can aﬀect us personally, in making the wrong and unrighteous decisions, the choice to commit wickedness is still our choice. Personal sin will rarely aﬀect a nation. In a nation that lives by the rule and laws of God, wickedness can be addressed at every level quickly. King David addresses these levels in his laments in the psalms. He came to God with his personal wrongs and was responsible enough to see the causal eﬀects upon himself. He also saw the wickedness of the nation he ruled, and we are often shown the wickedness that pervaded the priesthood. When a nation disobeys the commandments of God, they are sent into exile, away from His divine presence. Judgement comes upon them. They become alienated from God, strangers in foreign lands, lamenting over what they had and crying to return to the way that once was.
On a side note — there has been a move from our nation acknowledging that what the British government did to Israel through the Balfour declaration and the policies set out in San Remo in
1917 were wrong, and did not go according to plan. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt acknowledged his regret and called the moment we let the Jewish people down after WW2 a ‘black moment’ in history. Restoration is part of the forgiveness process, so what is our course now? Britain reneged on her agreement, setting the basis for 70 years of catastrophic damage to the Middle East and to the global relationship between Israel and the nations. Those decisions were made ultimately by men who believed those were the right decisions and that they had the power to manipulate the hand of God. Those decisions had consequences for our nation. The United Kingdom began to die just as if an axe had been put to its tree. Instead of allowing Israel, this beautiful olive tree to grow, instead of grafting in the precious branches of the nations returning to her after the wars, we took the axe to her base. Our nation cut down the perimeter of its orchard. Our nation along with the designers of modern Israel, looked at what was around her, that could be of beneﬁt and in possession. In time people will come to see the error, and will want to make it right. How this will happen, I do not know, but repentance in making these mistakes must be taken to both God and the people to which the crime was committed.
If we can work on that repentance, and help restore what we took from her, then maybe the Lord will restore His favour to us again, and maybe we might be able to tell the story of this great restoration to our children.
Finally, the story of the Edenic garden and this real estate is one that opens up the whole narrative of scripture. The story tells of a time of return and restoration that comes from us remembering what we once had, and what God can do for us. The premise of the good news is that there is a hope and that hope will be realised when all things come together, and the garden landscape if restored, will create the dwelling place of God. Right at the very beginning He placed human beings in it, and told them to look after it. It would seem that we have not done a very good job. Now with centuries of hindsight, do you think we can look at making what’s wrong right?