Take ROOT downward and bear FRUIT upward: "And the remnant who have escaped of the house of Judah shall again take root downward, and bear fruit upward. For out of Jerusalem shall go a remnant, and those who escape from Mount Zion. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will do this." (2 Kings 19:30-31)
The essence of the above passage is that God reassures King Hezekiah of Jerusalem’s survival by giving him a sign that the Assyrian would not conquer Jerusalem. For two years the people of Judah would not be able to raise normal crops because of the Assyrian presence, but would eat things that grew without cultivation. Then, in the third year, they would be safe enough from the threat of assault that they could carry on their normal activities. No more than two harvests would be lost, after which the remnant would again see normal growth of field and family. Not only would the remnant of Jerusalem survive but they would thrive and flourish as well.
However, the phrase ‘taking root downwards and bearing fruit upwards’ take on an entirely new meaning for us in the New Testament. In John 15:1-5, our Lord Jesus says that He is the true vine, God the Father is the vinedresser and we are the branches. We need to abide in Christ in order to bear fruit. God will sometimes prune us so that we can bear more fruit. When we abide in Christ, we can bear much fruit. But in order to bear fruit, we must take root in God’s Word, which is our strong foundation (Matt. 7:24-27).
We can make our foundation strong by strengthening our doctrinal root. This can be done only through the church, which is the pillar and ground of that truth (1 Tim. 3:15). The areas of doctrinal purity (Gal. 1:6-9); biblical authority (2 Tim. 3:16); worship (John 4:24); and the biblical doctrine of salvation (Eph. 2:8) are very important. We should take root downward so that our Christian doctrine will not be perverted in our generation.
We can make our foundation strong by strengthening our moral root as well. We must not be conformed to the world (Rom. 12:2) at any cost, nor participate in the moral decline prevalent among the majority in our local community. The grace of God in our lives demands that we live moral lives (Titus 2:11-12). We should be willing to wrestle with our carnal nature, taking root downward and bringing every thought into captivity (2 Cor. 10:5). There are three ways in which we can develop a strong root:
- We must be rooted in the Lord Jesus Christ: "As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving" (Col. 2:6-7). This rooting can be strengthened through a growing fellowship with Jesus Christ on a daily basis that will enable us to be strong and fruit-bearing Christians.
- We must be rooted in our local church: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching" (Heb. 10:25). We will grow and be fruitful by serving others (Gal. 5:13) along with bearing their burdens (Gal. 6:2).
- We must be rooted in God’s Word. The Psalmist speaks about the righteous man as "…his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night" (Psalms 1:2). We should rely on God’s Word daily as our instructions for righteous living, and receive it with all readiness of mind (Acts 17:11). Let us read, reflect, study, memorize and respond positively to God’s Word on a daily basis. As we act on God’s Word, our lives will be radically changed!