Wreaths of leaves, fruit, wheat or vines were worn as crowns by Etruscan rulers, ancient symbolism of some mythological concept. Roman magistrates wore golden wreaths to symbolize their lineage went back to the Etruscan days. Today we use wreaths to commemorate certain seasons or memorial events.
The term is used in scriptures nine times, often synonymous with the word crown. For example in Revelation 4:10 the twenty-four elders worshipping the One sitting on the throne cast their wreaths/crowns at His feet. Wreaths also were a significant part of the decoration of the temple. Isaiah uses the word wreath under inspiration of the Holy Spirit to describe Samaria, the capital of Ephraim.
To understand what Isaiah is talking about in chapter 28 we need to go back in history. In blessing his sons on his deathbed, Jacob raised Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh to the level of sons, perhaps as a tribute to his favourite wife, Rachel. Their history in the Promised Land was checkered by the notion they had tribal supremacy because of that blessing. They were competitive and uncooperative, earning for themselves a divisive reputation among their brethren.
At one point the tabernacle was located in the city of Shiloh, in Ephraim. However, it was captured by the Philistines when the Israelites brought it into battle. Shiloh itself was destroyed. This brought the morale of the people to an all-time low. When the Ark of the Covenant was recovered, tribal supremacy was centered in Benjamin, where it was relocated. After that the tribe of Ephraim fell into idol worship.
Isaiah twice pronounces a woe upon Samaria “Woe to that wreath, the pride of Ephraim’s drunkards.” (28:1,3). Through Isaiah, the Lord reviews the former advantages of Ephraim – a flower of glorious beauty, set at the head of a fertile valley. Now the Lord will crush it. They will recognize His mighty power, as the Lord tramples them under foot. Judgment will fall! (28:2, 3)
In contrast, the Lord Himself “the Lord Almighty will be a glorious crown, a beautiful wreath for the remnant of His people!” (28:5) The remnant will celebrate the fact that God is their crown, blessing them in a spirit of justice. He will be their source of strength! Imagine a world when the plumbline is righteousness! (28:17)
Recognizing the helpless condition of His people, the Lord comes to their rescue by promising to lay a cornerstone, one that is tested, that is precious, that forms a sure foundation – trustworthy, dependable! (:16) Here will be a new beginning! Isaiah looked forward to that day when Jesus would come – the precious only begotten Son of God, tested in the crucible of suffering for the sins of His people. Paul writes about this very foundation: “For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11). God’s purpose, foretold by Isaiah, has been accomplished!
Are you part of that glorious circle which will celebrate eternity in the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Figuratively speaking the wreath, in a never-ending circle, will remind us that He brings to His people eternal life.
by Marilyn Daniels (MarilynDaniels.net)