Thus says the says the Lord of hosts:
Here is a man whose name is Branch:
for he shall branch out in this place,
and he shall build the temple of the Lord;
he shall bear royal honour,
and shall sit and rule on his throne.
Trees and Branch
My mum had a rowan tree which she grew in a pot. Following a period of maternal neglect, the tree trunk withered and died. However, closer inspection revealed two small branches at the base, bravely hanging on. So, using some horticultural advice, the branches were re-trained, and one finally became the trunk. The tree has since been nicknamed ‘Jesse’ and is a lesson in survival. Many of the Old Testament prophecies use the imagery of stumps, roots, shoots and branches to identify the ‘one’ who will save Israel and restore a nation to God, the Messiah. Here the prophet Zechariah is writing post-exile when the national focus is to rebuild the temple and he identifies that this will fall to a man nicknamed ‘Branch’. However, prophecy often has an element of both the ‘now’ and ‘not yet’ and, whilst his word had meaning for the contemporary listener, the complete fulfilment is somewhere in the future. So, this Advent we look forward to the birth of Jesus, but await his future glory when he ‘shall sit and rule on his throne.’ May our roots go deep in him.