Trees are often mentioned in the bible. They remind us of God’s creation; they are used as a picture of the mature Christian, and we read about how the Jews used them with care.
1. Read Genesis 2:9. How does God regard trees?
At the other end of the bible, we find it is a tree which is used to picture eternal life and to restore God’s people. Read Revelation 22:2. Why do you think God chose a tree to illustrate eternal life?
This tree symbolises the completion of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ. How grateful we are that it was on another tree, the Cross, that our sin – begun with Adam and Eve disobeying and picking the fruit from the one forbidden tree – was atoned for. (Read 1 Peter 2:24)
2. Read Psalm 1:1-4 and Jeremiah 17:7-8.
How can Christians be compared to trees? What do these verses teach about the Christian’s faith and what happens to it in times of difficulty?
3. Our Stewardship includes caring for trees and using them for good. In the bible we find the perfect balance. For example, Noah built an enormous ark of wood to save life (Genesis 6 and 7); Solomon traded with King Hiram of Tyre to buy cedar of Lebanon to build the holy temple (1Kings 5).
Read Deuteronomy 20:19-20. What commands are given here about the use of frees during war? Here is plain teaching that we have no right to destroy trees and forests without a real need. Indeed we find the bible goes further. The reclamation of waste-land, to clothe it with useful trees, is prophesied by Isaiah (55:13) for the Lord’s glory. The joy of God’s people, whom he has redeemed, described in the previous verse (55:12), is shared by creation itself – even the trees of the field “clap their hands”. God likes trees!
4. Read Isaiah 53:2 What picture of our Lord Jesus Christ does this verse give you? How unexpected, and how marvellous in our sight, is the blooming of the desert; how much more astonishing is the coming of Jesus and the unfolding of God’s plan of salvation!
By Dr Julian Evans