“Sycamores and Cedars” by Paula Yingst

“What is a foundation? It is that upon which something else stands, rests, or is built.”

— Jonathan Cahn


“The sycamores have been cut down,

but we will plant cedars in their place.”

Chuck and I stared at the sorry-looking palm tree, planted at the corner of our property. It had been standing proud and lofty with a full head of fronds blowing gracefully with the breeze. Now it looked like it had been beheaded!

A tree trimming service had come along on behalf of the County when we weren’t home and whacked it off about midway down the trunk. Chuck had been actively protecting the palm for a couple of years, so seeing it in such a sorry state was painful.

The tree had been planted too close to the power lines, which was considered a fire hazard. But while the County wanted it cut down because the fronds would “eventually touch the wires,” the power company was telling us that they would be taking the lines out … “eventually.”

What must it have been like for the remaining Israelites who surveyed the damage in mid-730 B.C. after brutal Assyrians had ravaged their land? The clay bricks had fallen … the beautiful sycamores had been cut down. I envision women weeping, children picking through the rubble, and men shaking their fists in frustration and anger, vowing: “We won’t allow our enemies to get the best of us! We’ll rebuild with gazit stone and plant cedars where the sycamores stood. We will return, stronger than before!”

The sycamore tree was common in the Middle East. It was feeble in comparison to the cedar, or “erez,” tree. So the nation vowed that they would plant a stronger version — and evergreen conifer — a symbol of renewed strength and defiance.

On the morning of 9/11, as the Twin Towers were in the process of crumbling, St. Peter’s Chapel stood at the very edge of the chaos. As I mentioned earlier, the little stone church was the only building unharmed on the rectangular plot of real estate that’s now known as Ground Zero. A miracle? Of course, but there’s much more to the story.

The sycamore specifically named in Isaiah 9:10 is foreign to the American Northeast. But a version of the tree does exist in New York City, called the English sycamore. And one of those English sycamores was planted around 65 years ago next to the little stone church where President George Washington and the first American Congress gathered to pray for God’s protection over our nation.

When the dust cleared after the terrorist attack on 9/11, it was discovered that the sycamore tree next to St. Peter’s Chapel had been felled by debris and wreckage, hurled through the air as the towers fell. But it had protected the little church during all of the horrific destruction! The gnarled remains of the tree was dubbed “the Sycamore of Ground Zero” and placed on display as a tourist attraction … along with the small object found entwined in its roots — a brick.

No one had any idea of its connection to the Isaiah 9:10 prophecy. Nor did they have any clue about the unfathomable “coincidence” that would occur two years after the sycamore fell.

In November 2003, a fully-grown tree, transported by crane, appeared in the sky at the corner of Ground Zero. It was carefully lowered into the exact spot where the sycamore tree had stood, next to St, Peter’s Chapel. The tree is a “pincea,” sister to the Cedar of Lebanon, and just like with the gazit “Freedom Stone,” a public ceremony of dedication followed. The cedar was labeled “The Tree of Hope.”

I’m thinking that maybe we should gather family and friends for a dedication of our decapitated palm tree and label it “The Tree of Hopelessness.”

“Meaningless! Meaningless!”

says the Teacher.

“Everything is meaningless!”

— Solomon (Ecclesiastes 12:8)

THINK ABOUT IT: Judging from the personal observations recorded in the book of Ecclesiastes, could it be that King Solomon suffered from undiagnosed chronic depression? Beware of “bumper sticker Christianity” where verses are often taken out of context and applied to random situations … and coffee mugs.

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