Paradise Lost

Mark Fackler

READ : Zechariah 11:1-3

The cedar has fallen. (v. 2)

Sometimes a child says something “out of the blue,” unpredictable. The comedian Art Linkletter rode to fame on children’s spontaneity. We all laughed and learned too.

Sometimes the writers of the Scriptures do this as well; “Prophets Say the Darndest Things,” to paraphrase Linkletter. But their business was to see and write things no one else was thinking about. Here Zechariah laments the destruction of trees; cedars and oaks ruined, their glory gone. The impact is felt everywhere. Even lions roar at the loss of thicket. Is this a sad poem about environmental degradation, maybe a natural disaster or deforestation due to human activity?

One way to read the poem is symbolic. Tall trees are prideful leaders whose arrogance needs trimming. Their pride is tenacious and prone to overgrowth, but God lays them low.

Another way to read this poem is quite literally. Something terrible has happened to a beautiful forested region. We feel great loss. A cycle of life has been wiped out. Once stately trunks are lying weakly horizontal. Majestic nature is now a pitiful mess. A generation will pass before the forest renews. We cry over it, and ask why it happened.

Let the prophet speak. Let the poem work God’s lessons—whatever they are—into your heart.


Comfort my heart, Lord, with the promise of all things made new.