Saturday, May 31, 2014

Flowers in a Lei – Strung Together with Love

Photo by Janine, Hawaii, 2007

At our lovely Ladies’ Fellowship Luau I described last week, I spoke about the symbolism of the luau and the lei, and their parallels to Christian symbolism. As members of the church, or body of Christ, we can be thought of as a lei, bound together in love as a family (Romans 12: 5).

My devotional continued on the theme of the lei, which is made from various kinds of decorative plants . Some of the names of Christ refer to plants that are highly valued for their fragrance, taste, or medicinal qualities, and that reflect different aspects of His character. Jesus is our role model, and in our Christian walk we should become more like Him (Galatians 5:25; Ephesians 5:2,8).. So, ideally, plants that describe Him should also describe us.

Each born-again believer is like a flower, each different, but more beautiful and fragrant to God when we come to together in unity of spirit than we would be separately. To illustrate this, I made a flower arrangement and a lei of different plants representing different names of Christ, as well as other plants with special meanings in Scripture.

Lily of the Valleys (Song of Solomon 2:1) Jesus is the Lily and Lord of the valley, because His most beautiful fragrance is in the valley of sadness or trials (Psalm 23:4). The Syrians, enemies of Israel, knew that the God of Israel was the God of the mountain top, but they thought He would abandon them in the valley. But God proved them wrong, giving the victory to Israel, and showing that He was not only God of the hills but also of the valleys (1 Kings 20:28).

Although the Lily of the valleys is a delicate flower, the Day Lily, or Easter Lily, which grows in sunny places such as the mountain top, is showy, and we use it at Easter as a symbol of Christ rising from the dead. It is even more stunning than the royal robes of King Solomon (Matthew 6: 28-33), just as Christ outshines any earthly King.

God designed and maintained the lily like this without the lily having to work for its beauty in any way. Similarly, in Christ, we are saved by His grace and clothed in His righteousness without having to work for it (Isaiah. 61:10; Ephesians. 2:8-9).

Like the Lily of the Valleys, the Rose of Sharon described in Song of Solomon (2:1) may refer either to Christ as the Bridegroom or His beloved, the Church. The Hebrew flower is more like a crocus or a tulip than a typical rose. Nonetheless, the rose is the most glorious flower, just as Christ in His second coming will be the most majestic Being ever seen (2 Peter 1:16).

The most popular colors for the rose are red, symbolizing His blood, shed for us to wash away our sins, and white, symbolizing His purity and holiness (Revelation 1:5; Matthew 28:3). The rose is also a symbol for God’s chosen nation of Israel, which will bloom joyfully like a rose when Jesus Christ, Lord and Savior, rules over it in the Millennial Kingdom (Isaiah 35:1).

But the rose not only has a gorgeous blossom, it also has cruel thorns. The thorns in Christ’s crown were much longer and sharper than those of the garden rose, and pierced far deeper than His skin. He is the true King Who will rule over Israel in His second coming, but in His first coming, the Jews rejected Him as Messiah and King and gave Him a crown of thorns to humiliate and torture Him (Mark 15:17).

Flax, a plant bearing a blue flower with five petals, is of great Biblical significance. The prostitute Rahab used flax stalks to hide Joshua’s men (Joshua 2:6), once she realized they served the only true God, and her faith earned her not only salvation for her household but a place in Hebrews’ “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11:31) Burning flax is a symbol of tenderness and weakness, as when the ropes chaining Samson gave way like flax that was burnt with fire (Judges 15:14) It also describes Christ’s mercy to those who realize their helplessness and need of Him: the smoking flax shall He not quench: He shall bring forth judgment unto truth (Isaiah 42:3).

Fibers in the flax stem are spun into thread used to weave linen (Proverbs 31:13), one of the finest fabrics and a symbol of great wealth (Ezekiel 27:7; Proverbs 7:16; Luke 16:19; Revelation 18:12,16, etc.). Linen fabric was used to adorn the temple (Exodus 26:1,31.36, etc.), to clothe the priests (Leviticus 16:4, 20, 32, etc.), and to wrap the precious body of Jesus Christ after He suffered and died to pay the price for all our sins (Matthew 27:59; Mark 15:46, John 19:40).

In Heaven, linen clothes the angels (Revelation 15:6); the army of saints accompanying Christ in His triumphant second coming (Revelation 19:14); and the bride of Christ (Revelation 19:8), for it symbolizes the righteousness of saints imparted to them by Christ Himself.

Spikenard, a small blue flower that looks like forget-me-not, was made into very expensive ointment used by Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, in a great example of true worship (John 4:23). She lavishly poured out her heartfelt adoration for Jesus by anointing His feet with this precious ointment and wiping His feet with her hair (John 12:3-8). The spikenard ointment may have represented her most valuable treasure in the world – it may even have been her dowry.

Judas was critical of her because he thought this was wasteful, but Jesus praised her, saying that she was anointing Him in preparation for His burial. He said that wherever the Gospel was preached, she would be remembered for her complete devotion, holding nothing back from her Lord (Matthew 26:13). We should never forget to give our very best to Jesus – our time, treasure and talents – for He gave His all for us.

We can worship from the heart, giving back to Him what He has given us, only if we have faith that God is Who He says He is and will do what He has said He will do (Hebrews 11:6). The mustard plant, which has a very tiny seed and grows into a huge bush with yellow flowers, reminds me of faith.

Jesus said that if we have faith as small as a mustard seed, we would able to move mountains and uproot huge trees just by asking them to move (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:6). He compared the kingdom of heaven to a mustard seed, grown from a tiny seed into a huge tree that shelters all the birds (Matthew 13:31-32).

God will grow even the tiniest seed of our faith, but without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6). We can inherit the kingdom of heaven, because we are saved by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:6-9) in His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6).

All these flowers representing different qualities of Christ remind me that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27), so we can be like flowers also, growing in God’s garden to encourage one another and glorify Him. The Bible tells us that our prayers rise up to Him like a sweet-smelling incense (Psalm 141:2; Revelation 8:3-4).

But in our earthly bodies, we will not last forever – our time on earth is short to glorify God with our lives (Job 14:1; James 4:14). Flowers fade, yet our eternal soul lasts forever, like God and His Word, which are unchanging (Isaiah 40:7-8). By spreading the Good News of the Gospel, we will bring the sweet fragrance of salvation to those who accept it, but those who reject Christ will be reminded of the eternal death they face (2 Corinthians 2:14-16).

We honor and remember Christ’s sacrifice every time we celebrate the communion of the Lord’s Supper. And whenever we notice the sweet fragrance of flowers in our garden, may we also remember the beautiful, perfect sacrifice Christ made to save us and to give us eternal life.

© 2014 Laurie Collett
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Denise said...

Bless you dear.

Ceil said...

Hi Laurie! The lily of the valley were my mom's favorite flower. So small, and so delicate in form and scent. I liked reading about the flowers used by Rahab to hide the soldiers...small facts that we can study and learn so much from. God just uses everything doesn't he?
Good to see you again!
June Blessings,

Laurie Collett said...

God bless you too, Denise!

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Ceil! Missed you! Hope you had a wonderful time!
The lily of the valley is the birth flower for May, when both my mother and I were born. We always enjoyed them in the spring when they blossomed under the shade trees.
It is always such a blessing to discover the great meaning in the tiny details God uses in His Word!
May you have a blessed month in Him!

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
Often I have wondered why Jesus said that although the flowers in the field are here today and gone tomorrow, yet not even Solomon with all his splendour was arrayed as one of these (Matthew 6:28-30) -your blog provides a significant insight of the connection between horticulture and the life and meaning of Jesus Christ.
An excellent post. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
Thank you for your encouragement and kind words. Next week I plan to expand the discussion of horticulture, as it reflects Christ, to trees, which also have great significance in Scripture.
God bless,

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Laurie,

I'm hopping over from Ann's link up. Wow, you have done some research here into the various flowers and plants used in these Bible sections. Interesting.

Have a great week,
Jennifer Dougan

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Jennifer,
Thanks so much for your visit & comment!
Many blessings,

Live Well, Laugh Often, Love Much said...

I can smell the beautiful smell of those leis now! Nothing like wearing one and taking in the beauty of Hawai'i.

~stopping by from The Jenny Evolution WW

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks so much for your visit & comment! My husband and I were blessed to spend our honeymoon in Kauai.
May you have a blessed week in Him,

Janis Cox said...

Too funny that I follow you from Weekend Brew. I haven't had a moment to read any blog posts lately. My daughter is due today - but no signs yet. I am visiting here to watch over 2 year old when the time comes. He has been sick all week, then I caught it, and my daughter too. We all seem well on the mend now. Grandson has ear infection as well. Cranky.
But I love your writing.
loved learning the symbolism of the flowers. Will mark this for further study.

Laurie Collett said...

Hi Janis,
Praying for your daughter and family, and the latest addition! I'm honored that you came here and left such a lovely comment at such a busy time. You are a blessing.
Love in Him,

Anonymous said...

Hopping over from Hazel's blog hop. Love these insights into the Lovely and not so lovely aspects of 'common' Flowers.

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Shandra, for your visit & lovely comment!
God bless,