The Root of Bitterness by Joy Pollard
Isaiah 5:24 (AMP) Therefore, as the tongue of fire devours the stubble, and as the dry grass sinks down in the flame, so their root shall be like rottenness and their blossom shall go up like fine dust–because they have rejected and cast away the law and the teaching of the Lord of hosts and have not believed but have treated scornfully and have despised the word of the Holy One of Israel.
Joy told us she grew up in Iowa where people were farmers. So often there are examples in the Bible about growing things, seed time, harvest, pruning. The principles of gardening were used as an example because the people were familiar with the images. Gardening images are great examples of God’s principles because God invented the Garden and gardening.
When the root is bitter it doesn’t matter how much you feed or water the plant, the fruit will be bitter. No amount of work on the plant will correct the root of bitterness – the root is the whole foundation of the plant.
Hebrews 12:15 (AMP) Exercise foresight and be on the watch to look [after one another], to see that no one falls back from and fails to secure God’s grace (His unmerited favor and spiritual blessing), in order that no root of resentment (rancor, bitterness, or hatred) shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment, and the many become contaminated and defiled by it–
The root of bitterness shoots forth and causes trouble and bitter torment. It can defile many as it spreads around.
Even after a tree is cut down, the root continues to grow. Unless you kill the root, the tree will not die. It will continue to bear bad fruit. You have to destroy the root of bitterness.
Bitterness = gall, poison, poisonous plants, like the poppy. Poppy and bitterness – the poppy is self medication. The root of bitterness is self medicating. You become numb, and then nothing affects you.
(Heather’s note – as I was taking notes I abbreviated root of bitterness as ROB – and that is what the root of bitterness does, robs us of so much.)
The root of bitterness clouds perception and judgment, dulls pain and numbs you. The root of bitterness always finds someone else to blame.
In Hebrew “rosh” – venom, Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her Offspring; He will bruise and tread your head underfoot, and you will lie in wait and bruise His heel.
Crush the serpent’s head, but it will bruise the heel – the heel is a vulnerable and hidden spot that can keep us from walking the walk. It interferes with our walk and we can’t walk with strength.
The root of bitterness always includes unforgiveness. Unforgiveness usually is paired with judgment – we find ourselves saying things like “he deserves it,” etc.
Deuteronomy 29:18-19 (AMP) Beware lest there should be among you a man or woman, or family or tribe, whose [mind and] heart turns away this day from the Lord our God to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a [poisonous] root that bears gall and wormwood, And lest, when he hears the words of this curse and oath, he flatters and congratulates himself in his [mind and] heart, saying, I shall have peace and safety, though I walk in the stubbornness of my [mind and] heart [bringing down a hurricane of destruction] and sweep away the watered land with the dry.
The root of bitterness bears gall and wormwood, it flatters and congratulates self, holds pain and suffering, people walk in stubbornness of mind, and it causes a hurricane of destruction. Self satisfaction wipes out everything good and never bears good fruit.
The root of bitterness is always angry. Choler, fuming, explosions, muttering, cooked in its own juices. When you see a person who is angry you often ask, “what’s eating you?”
The root of bitterness always presumes the source is external. Passive. they did it to me, they did it. And often it adds justification. I am right to feel this way, look at what they did to me.
The truth is, nobody can give you offense if you don’t take it.
It can free you if you back up one step and put your hands down. Don’t take offense, and it will change your life.
The root of bitterness refuses to let God judge.
Deuteronomy 32:43 (AMP) Rejoice [with] His people, O you nations, for He avenges the blood of His servants, and vengeance He inflicts on His foes and clears guilt from the land of His people.
Psalm 94:1-2 (AMP) O LORD God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, O God, You to Whom vengeance belongs, shine forth! Rise up, O Judge of the earth; render to the proud a fit compensation!
When God says the same thing twice, it means it is important to God. We need to keep reminding ourselves that vengeance belongs to the Lord. He will bring righteous vengeance, but not if you try to get your own vengeance. God is not a bully, and when you are seeking vengeance yourself, you tie God’s hands.
We are called to judge – righteous from unrighteous, but we are the jury, not the Judge. We do not get to give a sentence (25 to life with no parole, etc.). God will do a better judgement for God knows the content of a person’s heart, and He knows the end from the beginning.
God has a day of vengeance.
Isaiah 34:8 For the Lord has a day of vengeance, a year of recompense, for the cause of Zion.
It is often really long after we think it was to be.
Isaiah 35:4 Say to those who are of a fearful and hasty heart, Be strong, fear not! Behold, your God will come with vengeance; with the recompense of God He will come and save you
Fearful & hasty when we are anxious, fearful we want God to do what we want to do and to do it yesterday. He doesn’t listen to it. It is good that He doesn’t listen to us in this because if he did, a lot of innocent people would be hurt.
Jeremiah 11:20 But, O Lord of hosts, Who judges rightly and justly, Who tests the heart and the mind, let me see Your vengeance on them, for to You I have revealed and committed my cause [rolling it upon You].
Rolling it upon You (God), not seeking revenge for ourselves. Roll it over onto Him for He will bring righteous judgment. Only God tests the mind and the heart.
Isaiah 38:1-5 IN THOSE days King Hezekiah of Judah became ill and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet, the son of Amoz, came to him and said, Thus says the Lord: Set your house in order, for you shall die and not live. Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the Lord and said, Remember [earnestly] now, O Lord, I beseech You, how I have walked before You in faithfulness and in truth, with a whole heart [absolutely devoted to You], and have done what is good in Your sight. And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then came the word of the Lord to Isaiah, saying, go, and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the Lord, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer, I have seen your tears; behold, I will add to your life fifteen years.
The root of bitterness results in calamity, destruction and disqualification.
Isaiah told Hezekiah to get his house in order, but it was not Hezekiah’s plan to line up with God’s will. He wept and pled with God, saying basically, “I want, I want…” God gave him what he asked for, and that resulted in having a son named Manasseh who did worse than all the kings before. It would have been better if Hezekiah had no children. It would have been better for Hezekiah to have listened to what God said and shut up rather than weep bitterly and plead.
It was told to Hezekiah that the time after he died would be a mess and Hezekiah said he didn’t care as long as his life was peaceful.
Isaiah 38:15-17 But what can I say? For He has both spoken to me and He Himself has done it. I must go softly [as in solemn procession] all my years and my sleep has fled because of the bitterness of my soul. O Lord, by these things men live; and in all these is the life of my spirit. O give me back my health and make me live! Behold, it was for my peace that I had intense bitterness; but You have loved back my life from the pit of corruption and nothingness, for You have cast all my sins behind Your back.
Isaiah 39:5-8 Then said Isaiah to Hezekiah, Hear the word of the Lord of hosts: Behold, the days are coming when all that is in your house, and that which your predecessors have stored up till this day, shall be carried to Babylon. Nothing shall be left, says the Lord. And some of your own sons who are born to you shall be taken away, and they shall be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon. Then said Hezekiah to Isaiah, The word of the Lord which you have spoken is good. And he added, For there will be peace and faithfulness [to His promises to us] in my days.
God’s plan is the best plan, even though we may not like it.
Joy shared with us how she wanted a 1865 Victorian house in Kingston, she loved that house, prayed for that house and claimed that house. But the house was a disaster, it was not God’s plan, and 2 1/2 years later the owners asked for $27,000 above the original asking price, and they were given 72 hours to vacate. They got all their stuff into a 4 room apartment, and then had a vision of Elijah by the brook. By that time she was a mature enough Christian to let God give her the desires of her heart, and ended up in the perfect house for her family. She wanted the desire of the Victorian house, but that did not glorify God. When she held onto her desires she got burned.
Because Hezekiah pled with God, God gave him his way, but that ended up producing Manasseh, who was so evil.
Ezekiel 25:12-17 Thus says the Lord God: Because Edom has dealt against the house of Judah by taking vengeance and has greatly offended and has become doubly guilty by taking revenge upon them, therefore thus says the Lord God: I will also stretch out My hand against Edom and will cut off and root out man and beast from it, and I will make it desolate; from Teman even to Dedan they shall fall by the sword. And I will lay My vengeance upon Edom by the hand of My people Israel, and they shall do upon Edom according to My anger and according to My wrath, and they shall know My vengeance, says the Lord God. Thus says the Lord God: Because the Philistines have dealt revengefully and have taken vengeance contemptuously, with malice and spite in their hearts, to destroy in perpetual enmity, therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold, I will stretch out My hand against the Philistines, and I will cut off the Cherethites [an immigration in Philistia] and destroy the remainder of the seacoast. And I will execute great vengeance upon them with wrathful rebukes and chastisements, and they shall know (understand and realize) that I am the Lord, when I lay My vengeance upon them.
The root of bitterness plots revenge.
Jacob and Esau. Esau did not esteem his birthright, he gave them up for a bowl of pottage. Yet he hated Jacob for “stealing” it.
Genesis 27:42 AMP These words of Esau her elder son were repeated to Rebekah. She sent for Jacob her younger son and said to him, See here, your brother Esau comforts himself concerning you [by intending] to kill you.
Rebekah was sad, she knew of Esau plotting to kill Jacob. Esau is comforted by the revenge plot and is happy about it. This animosity will continue through the generations for Herod was an Edomite, and he killed the baby boys in his demonic attempt to destroy the Messiah.
God knows what happens if you don’t kill the root of bitterness. Little trees, little plants grow bigger, if the root is not destroyed they will never go away.
The root of bitterness makes you sick.
Long term disability can be the fruit of it. Choler, the eating way of the lining of the stomach, high blood pressure, cancer, headaches, gall bladder, and many other diseases can be the result of a root of bitterness.
Acts 8:10 AMP They all paid earnest attention to him, from the least to the greatest, saying, This man is that exhibition of the power of God which is called great (intense).
Simon the Sorcerer formerly practiced the magic arts, and was seen to be an extraordinary and distinguished person, but he did not give all the glory to God.
Acts 8:13 AMP Even Simon himself believed [he adhered to, trusted in, and relied on the teaching of Philip], and after being baptized, devoted himself constantly to him. And seeing signs and miracles of great power which were being performed, he was utterly amazed.
Simon got saved and baptized, trying to get closer to God, but he was disqualified from being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Acts 8:20-23 AMP But Peter said to him, Destruction overtake your money and you, because you imagined you could obtain the [free] gift of God with money! You have neither part nor lot in this matter, for your heart is all wrong in God’s sight [it is not straightforward or right or true before God]. So repent of this depravity and wickedness of yours and pray to the Lord that, if possible, this contriving thought and purpose of your heart may be removed and disregarded and forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in a bond forged by iniquity [to fetter souls].
Peter saw a yoke of bitterness on Simon. You cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit and still have a root of bitterness. The Holy Spirit will reveal the root of bitterness to you and if you repent, you can be free of it. they call it sweet revenge.
The root of bitterness disqualifies us from the power of God, signs and wonders because the root of bitterness cannot bear good fruit. The Holy Spirit will not come alongside us because we will have bad fruit.
Luke 3:8-9 Bear fruits that are deserving and consistent with [your] repentance [that is, conduct worthy of a heart changed, a heart abhorring sin]. And do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father; for I tell you that God is able from these stones to raise up descendants for Abraham. Even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees, so that every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.
We have to lay an ax to the root. The roots can be deep and entangled. For example, with crab grass, is difficult to pull it out, and if you leave even the tiniest root, it sends up another shoot. You pull the root out in one place, but a shoot has been sent out across to the other side of the lawn.
God reveals what you are able to be free of in the process, and gives us the strength to trust in the Word and let it go. Trust God for He is a righteous judge, so you can give up your right to revenge.
You are in the position of Father God to your children, and as a parent, how you deal with them will affect how they think about God. If they learn you are trustworthy, they can more easily learn to trust God. If you are not trustworthy, reliable and faithful, it makes it difficult for them to trust Father God.
With righteousness, if you are making harsh judgments it is not from a relationship with God. You can say things in a sweet way, but your face may show condemning. If the messages are mixed it disrupts trust.
Joy, who works with children, told us about how sometimes parents put their children in impossible situations and expect reactions from them that are inappropriate. She gave the example of a parent trying to tell a hungry toddler that in 30 minutes or so they can eat, the child is crying and upset and hungry, and the parent is frustrated that the child can’t wait. It is inappropriate to punish the hungry child, when the parent could have just brought a snack to tide the child over. She said that detachment occurs when the expressed need of a child and the response of the parent are incongruent in time. The response needs to be specific to the needs of the child. For example a Barbie Jeep is not suitable for lack of the attention a child needs. A child needs to feel secure in his dependency in order to be free to move towards independence. If he knows we will respond to the need in a timely and appropriate manner, then the child will feel secure.
The root of bitterness stemming from our experiences with our parents can cause us not to trust that God is righteous. We need to trust God to bring the appropriate vengeance for our mistreatment, not to take it in our own hands.
Luke 3:10-14 AMP And the multitudes asked him, Then what shall we do? And he replied to them, He who has two tunics (undergarments), let him share with him who has none; and he who has food, let him do it the same way. Even tax collectors came to be baptized, and they said to him, Teacher, what shall we do? And he said to them, Exact and collect no more than the fixed amount appointed you. Those serving as soldiers also asked him, And we, what shall we do? And he replied to them, Never demand or enforce by terrifying people or by accusing wrongfully, and always be satisfied with your rations (supplies) and with your allowance (wages).
Romans 12:19 AMP Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave the way open for [God’s] wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay (requite), says the Lord.
God promises He will make things right.
Hebrews 10:30 AMP For we know Him Who said, Vengeance is Mine [retribution and the meting out of full justice rest with Me]; I will repay [I will exact the compensation], says the Lord. And again, The Lord will judge and determine and solve and settle the cause and the cases of His people.
We know Him. If we know Him, we know His faithfulness. He will not fail us.
We need to cast all our roots of bitterness into the fire, so we can begin to bear good fruit. Lay our roots of bitterness on the altar of sacrifice. There will be pain, but the nerves that feel pain are peripheral, and the longer you stay, the less it will hurt. So often we want to get off the altar of sacrifice too quickly. But what we want is that everything not of God is burnt off.
Romans 12:1-2 AMP I APPEAL to you therefore, brethren, and beg of you in view of [all] the mercies of God, to make a decisive dedication of your bodies [presenting all your members and faculties] as a living sacrifice, holy (devoted, consecrated) and well pleasing to God, which is your reasonable (rational, intelligent) service and spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world (this age), [fashioned after and adapted to its external, superficial customs], but be transformed (changed) by the [entire] renewal of your mind [by its new ideals and its new attitude], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God, even the thing which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His sight for you].
It hurts worst at the beginning. The more you burn up, the easier it is to continue. God does not want medium rare, He wants to look at us and say, “Well done, good and faithful servants.”
I hope this study blesses you. It is funny how easily a root of bitterness can escape my notice, and yet, I am glad that God shows us the roots and helps us to deal with them.
Have a blessed day!
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