Saturday, June 7, 2014

Seeing the Forest from the Trees

Photo by Anna Anichkova

We often hear the expression, “Don’t miss the forest for the trees!” It is true that we need to get the big picture and not get bogged down in the details. But I often think there is much to be learned from the specifics. In the case of Jesus, the Bible tells us much about Him from the names of trees that refer to Him directly or indirectly.

Jesus, the True Vine, sustains us like the vine nourishes the branches. If the branches are cut off, they wither and die. But those branches connected to the vine grow grapes, symbolizing the spiritual fruit we will bear if we remain connected to Him (John 15:1-5). The grapevine is a symbol of peace and prosperity and a national emblem of Israel.

In the Millennial Kingdom, Christ the King and Judge will rule over the nation of Israel in righteousness as the Righteous Branch (Jerremiah 23:5). Jesus, the Messiah, King of Israel is anointed with His own royal perfume, described as the oil of gladness (Psalm 45:7), made of the myrrh shrub, aloe, and the cassia tree resembling a cinnamon tree (Psalm 45:7-8; Exodus 30:23-24).

When Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, the crowd broke off palm tree branches to worship Him (John 12:13). But the branches were not connected to the tree, and those who thought He would be King right away were not connected spiritually to Christ. Those branches withered, and the excitement of worshipping Him turned five days later to hatred and the demand that He be crucified (Mark 15:13-14), because they were not grounded in faith.

But the saints will eternally worship Christ with living palm branches (Revelation 7:9). To have eternal life, we need to have a heart relationship with Christ as Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9), and not just go through the motions of worshipping Him (Matthew 23:5).

Through that heart relationship we can inherit the kingdom of heaven, for we are saved by His grace through faith (Ephesians 2:6-9) in Christ, Who is the firstfruits. He was the first to rise from the dead to a glorified body that will never age, die, feel pain or sorrow. All who place their faith in His death, burial and resurrection as the only way to Heaven will also have eternal life with Him (1 Corinthians, 15:1-4; 20,23,42-57; John 3:16; 14:6).

The almond tree reminds me of Jesus as the firstfruits, because it is the first fruit tree to blossom in Israel, sometimes as early as January, with white or pale pink blossoms. The holy furniture for Old Testament worship, designed and ordained by God, was decorated lavishly with almond branches and flowers (Exodus 25:33,34; 37:19,20)

God used almond blossoms and almonds as a sign that Aaron, from the tribe of Levi, should be the first high priest. Each father of the twelve tribes had a rod or walking stick, but it was Aaron’s rod that bloomed with almond blossoms and produced fruit overnight. (Numbers 17:1-8).  God used the rod of the almond tree as a symbol to Jeremiah for how He would deal with Israel (Jeremiah 1:11).

The olive tree is of great Biblical significance, from its first appearance as an olive leaf confirming to Noah that the flood waters had receded from the earth (Genesis 8:11). Olive oil is a precious commodity representing God’s provision (Nehemiah 5:11), anointing, and Holy Spirit. It lit the lamps in the tabernacle (Exodus 27:20; Leviticus 24:2) and was part of the holy anointing oil (Exodus 30:24) and of the bountiful supply found in the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 8:8)

God’s temple built by King Solomon used olive wood for the doors, cherubim, and temple posts, and carved palm trees overlaid with gold embellished the doors (1 Kings 6:23,31-33). To commemorate the Feast of Tabernacles, representing God dwelling among His people on their wilderness journey, the Israelites used olive and palm branches to build booths, or temporary dwellings (Nehemiah 8:15).

David described himself as “like a green olive tree in the house of God,” trusting in His mercy (Psalm 52:8), and the blessing of children as “like olive plants round about thy table” (Psalm 128:3). The olive tree also symbolizes the nation of Israel (Jeremiah 11:16; Hosea 14:6)

It was on the Mount of Olives that Jesus told of the signs of the End Times (Matthew 24:3), where He began His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Luke 19:37), and where He went with the disciples after the Lord’s Supper (Matthew 26:30). Through God’s grace, Gentiles are grafted into the family tree of God, much as wild olive branches are grafted into good olive stock (Romans 11:17,24).

God’s two witnesses during the Tribulation are described as two olive trees (Revelation 11:4). Zechariah prophesied that when Christ comes again, He will split the Mount of Olives in two, with one of His feet on each side (Zechariah 14:4).

For us to get maximum benefit from the grape, almond, or olive, they must first be crushed to yield new wine, almond oil or milk, and olive oil. To make perfume, all the flowers we have studied must also be crushed. Jesus Christ was the most precious human flower ever to walk the earth, because He alone had no sin and was holy, and He gave Himself as a sweet-smelling sacrifice (Ephesians 5:2).

It pleased God the Father to bruise God the Son, on the cross, because only His suffering and death could pay the punishment owed for all our sins, past, present and future (Isaiah 53:10). Jesus faced the cross with joy because of our salvation to come (Hebrews 12:2). Only when the True Vine was crushed, shedding His blood like wine is pressed from grapes, could our sins be washed away in that blood, which alone can make peace between sinners and Holy God (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2;4:10).

Gethsemane, the garden on the Mount of Olives where Jesus prayed for us the night before He was crucified, means “olive press.” How fitting that the Son of God was pressed even that night, in such agony that He sweat blood (Mark 15:13), as a foretaste of How His body would be bruised on the cross. Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission or forgiveness of sins (Hebrews 9:22).  In our Christian walk, may we accept the bruising of trials and suffering as a way to become more like Him (Philippians 3:10).

© 2014 Laurie Collett

Photo by Chez Loulou

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Nadwrażliwiec said...

All Bible is full of Christ. Without that perspective we have all these divisions in Christian world. For example - I disagree with the Seventh Day Adventists in many things, but I love them.
The most important is Jesus, God, not little things.
Greetings from warm Poland :)

Joy said...

Thank you for deeper teaching of the trees in the Bible. God has really purpose in every little and big things.

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Zim! What matters is that we place our faith in Christ's death, burial and resurrection as the only Way to Heaven.
Greetings to you too! Enjoy the summer!

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Denise! God bless!

Laurie Collett said...

You're very welcome, Joy, and thanks for your comment! It's amazing how God fits all things together, large and small, for His glory.
God bless,

Frank E. Blasi said...

Dear Laurie,
I can identify with many of the trees you mention in your latest blog, having spent time in the Old City of Jerusalem before I married, and even for our first wedding anniversary, I took Alex to Jerusalem. She was particularly impressed with the Garden of Gethsemane, where she gave thanks to God for her first pregnancy.
As you are aware, the Old City is overlooked by the Mount of Olives, which rises to the east of the city, where at the summit a stunning panorama of the city can be enjoyed. Also one interesting fact is that geologists have discovered a faultline running across the mount, from east to west. With hindsight, the Israelis have avoided building any structures on the summit near that spot, and despite the presence of a lavish hotel and other buildings nearby, this spot remains undeveloped.
There were plenty of Olive trees at the base of the hill, and Gethsemane itself consist of an enclosure with ancient gnarled olive trees thriving. The garden adjoins the Church of All Nations, a beautiful structure dominating the valley in between.
Again, an excellent post. God bless.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Frank,
I didn't know about the discovery of the faultline! It's always exciting when science corroborates what's in the Bible, especially prophesy, even though we believe it by faith, and not based on physical evidence.
I always love hearing about your travels, and especially to the Holy Land where I would love to go someday. But if that's not meant to be, I look forward to the New Jerusalem!
God bless,

Jen said...

Laurie - O.K. Something just really struck me from your post....everything God made must be crushed to produce something excellent...useful. Flowers, grapes, nuts...Wow! I have never thought of that before in the way that God uses these things as a model for our lives! I was on a walk today and God shared how all of nature reflects His glory...yet, even here, the "new wine" is a model for us walking in the fullness of God and His Spirit! Thanks for opening my eyes in a new way today! ~ Jen

Holley Gerth said...

Thank you so much for linking up with Coffee for Your Heart! I’m so grateful for your words. XO

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Jen,
I am so blessed by your comment, and to hear that this post was helpful to you. Walking in nature truly is a wonderful way to appreciate not only His blessings, but His infinite power and creativity. The heavens and earth declare and reveal His glory.
Blessings to you,

Ceil said...

Hi Laurie! I love the image of the olive plant/tree. You can get so much goodness from just this one plant. Medicine, oil, reminds me of how much I can be for God if I only let him.
Great study as usual :)

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Holley, for your sweet comment and visit and for hosting!
God bless,

Jennifer Dougan said...

Hi Laurie,

You enjoy studying and researching, I can tell. :) It's fun to see how God is so specific and precise in his choice of words, plants and trees, huh?

Re your comment on my post "Why I'm Praying for Your Church," Hi Laurie,

"We should love and pray for one another, not compete with each other." -- yes! I agree. Thanks for stopping in. So encouraging and unifying that way, huh?

Jennifer Dougan

Laurie Collett said...

Thanks, Ceil! Olive oil truly is a staple and has so many valuable uses. May we offer ourselves to Him as a living sacrifice, to be used in whatever way He sees fit.
May you have a blessed week in Him,

Laurie Collett said...

Amen, Jennifer! Christ loves the church so much that He gave Himself for it. May we therefore encourage and uplift one another, for all who trust Him are members of His church!
Love in Him,

Unknown said...


You are truly a SPECIAL LADY... You have touched my life through Sisters in Grace, more than you know. I knew you were special the minute we met, and I know God has placed me in your path for a reason. I had given up on people and on being able to trust anyone, therefore I had shut the door as far as friends because I could no longer trust my judgement and, actually, felt that I could trust no one to he who they said. Until I met you. You have, and are, showing me what a TRUE CHRISTIAN is, just by your life and who you are and the example you lead. I look forward to Sunday mornings, because I felt a connection to you. I truly believe God had placed me in your life for a reason. I look forward to finding out his purpose.

One of your sister's in Grace.


Laurie Collett said...

Dear Anita,
I am touched and humbled by your lovely words and sweet spirit. It is truly a blessing to have you in the Sisters-in-Grace class and a privilege to know and pray for you and your family. I believe that God has a unique purpose for each of His children, which He had since the beginning of time, and that He places people and circumstances in our path to help us in fulfilling that purpose. With God there are no coincidences or accidents -- He works all things together for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28). I appreciate the trust you have placed in me, and although I can do nothing on my own merits apart from God, I pray daily that He will use me in whatever ways He sees fit and that His love and light will flow through me to others. Please don't hesitate to ask if you have any questions or prayer requests or if I can help you in any other way. Praying for you and your family.
Love in Christ,

Wanda said...

Laurie, you have shared such a wealth of knowledge about all the trees of the Bible. Your love and dedication of the study of God's Word shines through your in your writing. Such a pleasure to have our paths cross.

Laurie Collett said...

Dear Wanda,
Thank you so much for your kind comment -- I appreciate your uplifting words of support! It is a pleasure and blessing to "meet" you too!
God bless,