It was beautiful in its greatness, in the length of its limbs, for its roots extended to abundant waters.
I. GREAT STRENGTH. The greatness of Assyria was the greatness of national power. We are accustomed to speak of the greater nations of the earth as the great powers." As history has shown us, such "powers" have often proved to be little better than weakness when the hour of trial came; still, in appearance, in size, in equipment, in eminence, or in reputation, they have been comparatively great and strong. Greatness, as we recognize it, is seen in national position, in physical strength and skill, in mental grasp and literary accomplishment, in art and science, in social rank, in statesmanship, in character and moral weight. In any one of these spheres a community or a man may be "great" in the sight of its (his) contemporaries.
II. GREATNESS SHOWING ITSELF FAIN. "He was fair [or, 'beautiful'] in his greatness." Greatness may be either
(1) imposing, compelling the homage of all who behold it, instantly commanding their regard and their tribute; or it may be
(2) admirable, such that the longer it is watched by observant and critical eyes the more it is esteemed and the higher it is prized; or it may be
(3) attractive, of such gracious and winning mien that every one is drawn towards it and desires to come into closer association with it. There is much "greatness," or what commonly passes for such, that is distinctly unbeautiful. Possibly, indeed, it may be imposing or attractive to minds that are easily imposed upon or readily captivated; but it is devoid of all that is really excellent, and no true eye, that can distinguish the good from the pretentious, would call it fair. All beauty that is worthy of the name, and the only excellency that will last, is that which commends itself to the mind of the heart-searching Truth - beauty on which purity can look with pleasure, and which love can regard with genuine delight.
III. EXTENDING ITS INFLUENCE. One of its characteristics is "the length of its branches." It is the province of greatness to make itself felt on every hand, just as a noble tree throws out its branches far around its stem. This it may do deliberately and determinately; or it may do this unconsciously, as the simple and inevitable result of its own nature and life. The extension of our influence should be regarded by us, not as a right, but as a duty and a privilege. So far as we can make ourselves felt, and inasmuch as we believe ourselves to be the possessors and exponents of what is right and true, we should seek, even diligently, to "spread the branches" of our power as far as they will go. We should therefore shun all acts and extirpate all habits that tend to dwarf these branches, to diminish the influence we might be and should be exerting.
IV. THE SOURCE OF STRENGTH AND BEAUTY. This great cedar was what it was because "its root was by great [many] waters." It was always nourished from below. It drew its strength from its roots, and its roots found their resources in the abundant streams that never failed to water and to refresh them. Strength and beauty grow out of character, moral and spiritual, as the leaves and the branches and the stem grow out of the roots of the tree. And character must be fed by the living streams of truth that flow in the garden of God; not any one truth, nor yet one set or class of truths, but "all the truth" (John 16:13) which we are able to receive: our root is to be "by many waters." We must, if we would be the symmetrical and fruit-bearing tree we should aspire to become, take care that mind and heart are well nourished by all the truth we can gather from the great Teacher, or glean from those who spoke in his Name. Nor must we forget that, beside the root drinking in the moisture below, there are the myriad leaves drinking in the air and sunshine above. We must open all the leaves of our nature to receive the warm sunshine of the love of God, and to admit all the direct Divine influences which the Spirit of God will breathe upon us. - C.
They...that dwelt under His shadow in the midst of the heathen.
(F. B. Meyer, B. A.).
PlacesAssyria, Babylon, Egypt, Lebanon, Tigris-Euphrates Region
TopicsAbundant, Beautiful, Beauty, Boughs, Branches, Extended, Fair, Greatness, Length, Root, Roots, Shoots, Spreading, Tall, Thin, Thus, Waters
Outline1. A relation unto Pharaoh
3. of the glory of Assyria
10. and the fall thereof for pride
18. The like destruction of Egypt
Dictionary of Bible ThemesEzekiel 31:2-9
To a modern taste, Ezekiel does not appeal anything like so powerfully as Isaiah or Jeremiah. He has neither the majesty of the one nor the tenderness and passion of the other. There is much in him that is fantastic, and much that is ritualistic. His imaginations border sometimes on the grotesque and sometimes on the mechanical. Yet he is a historical figure of the first importance; it was very largely from him that Judaism received the ecclesiastical impulse by which for centuries it was powerfully …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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