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Bible studies

The purpose and meaning of trees

God has given us trees to use and appreciate, enriching our lives

2011 Available in English, French, Portuguese and Spanish

Man wearing a light khaki shirt and pink 'Hello kitty' shoulder bag, picks fruit from his cocoa tree as he smiles at the camera

Ballo Koffi Frederic, a participant LLB's food security project, is checking his cocoa trees and their fruit in his farm at Kimoukro, Kokumbo, Ivory Coast. Photo: Jonas Yameogo/Tearfund

Footsteps magazine issues on a wooden desk.

From: Trees – Footsteps 85

How to look after trees and make the most of the many benefits they bring

Read Genesis 1:11-12

Very early on in the Bible, in the book of Genesis, we find that trees are mentioned. Not just one variety of tree, but various kinds.

They are not mentioned just for their beauty, but because each gave fruit with seeds in it. They were given for us to use. This shows God’s generosity to us in abundance and variety. Some seeds produced oil that could be used for cooking and lighting, medicinal purposes, and for beauty treatments. Fruit and seeds provided food. We can add to this list: shade, wind breaks, habitats for animals, building and construction materials, sweet perfumed trees and incense. And God saw that it was good!

Read Genesis 1:29-30

God gave seed-bearing plants and trees to us for our use, and for food for animals.

God made the trees with seed-bearing fruit. He gave us the possibility to increase their number by planting the seeds. We needed to learn to do this to continue receiving their benefits.

In Genesis 2:8-9, we see that God planted a garden, and in Genesis 2:15, he gave Adam the responsibility to tend it – which means to manage it properly. Adam was ‘to care for it’. Trees need caring for so that they bear fruit and benefit mankind, contributing to our overall welfare. With our care, trees could greatly help to reduce global poverty.

In Genesis 2:16-17, God gave both man and woman his first command, and it referred to the fruit of the tree, but they disobeyed.

We see in the gospels that Christ died on a tree for the forgiveness of our sins. We can start again.

In the Book of Revelation, at the other end of the Bible, we find more references to trees. We will have the right to eat of the tree of life (Revelation 2:7), if we overcome as the Spirit of God shows us. Trees are in the paradise of God.

In Revelation 22, we learn that the tree of life bears fruit crops 12 times a year, and its leaves are for the healing of the nations. There are many trees with healing powers at our disposal now, which is a sign of God’s provision for us.

  • What part do trees play in God’s plan for people, for animals and for the world?
  • What different meanings do trees have in the Bible?


Chris Hawksbee works as a development consultant. He specialises in a number of subjects including forestry. He lives in Paraguay.

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