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Trees Are Important

It is an awesome experience to walk into a forest and touch trees so large and so high that the wood from only one of them is sufficient to build two four bedroomed houses.

There is concern, however, that the denuding of our forests might ultimately have a detrimental affect on our environment. Trees are important for the survival of humanity, we are told. Nations have learned through the centuries the therapeutic value of trees, particularly in their bark, roots, and leaves. Remarkably, too, the Lord has decreed that in the eternal state, the leaves of the tree of life shall be for the maintaining of the health of the nations (Rev. 22:2).

Israel learned in a miraculous way that, under God, a tree could change acrid water into pleasant drinking water. After the triumph of the Red Sea they had journeyed three days in the desert without water; then they encountered the bitterness of Marah. We are not told the species of tree which Moses cast into the water to make it drinkable. We do know, however, that the Christ of Calvary's tree has changed the bitterness we once knew because of sin into the sweetness of a new life in which we live and serve Him.

Fruitfulness is important in the Christian's life and there are at least two trees which typify this truth; the fig tree and the olive tree. Nathanael could remain unseen under the fig tree except by the Lord, because the branches became so laden with fruit that they were bent over to form a canopy. Such prolific growth of fruit is highly valued for food locally and for export. The spiritual lessons of fruitfulness, protection, and contemplation learned from this tree, are invaluable to us in Christian living.

The olive tree, too, was, and is valuable for home use and export purposes. Pure olive oil is a staple food and has medicinal qualities; while the olives themselves are a staple diet for many nations. The olive wood is valued most highly and was used, for example, in Solomon's temple for doors, the door to the holies, and the cherubim. Olive oil is linked spiritually with the Holy Spirit and sanctification, indicating the importance of both truths in our lives. In our links with the divine dwelling place today we can appreciate this word of David: "But as for me, I am like a green olive tree in the house of God" (Ps. 52:8).

The oak tree was a landmark with Abraham. Rest and fellowship seem to be linked with the oaks of Marure, where Abrabam's family tent was pitched. On that memorable day when the three heavenly visitors appeared, Abraham, the gracious host, invited them to rest under the oak after the ritual of washing their feet. There he graciously provided them with a meal, "and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat" (Gen. 18:8). Here Abraham received the promise of a son, Isaac. After the angels had left to inflict judgement on Sodom, Abraham "stood yet before the LORD", pleading for the deliverance of Lot and his family. What a gracious, thoughtful man was Abraham! His hours of quiet contemplation under the oaks, no doubt, shaped his life, and "in quietness and in confidence" was his strength ('s. 30:15). Mamre's trees would take on added importance to Abraham, the friend of God, after the place had been honoured by the Lord and his angels.

The value of trees in God's sight is emphasized by the injunction to Israel not to destroy the fruit trees of a city they besieged, "for the tree of the field is man's life" (Deut. 20:19 AV). Deborah used the palm tree for judicial purposes (Judges 4:5); rebellious Absalom suffered his demise in a forest oak, possibly caught up by his long hair (2 Sam. 18:9); depressed Elijah slept under a juniper (1 Kings 19:5); in the millennium the beloved Israel will "sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree and none shall make them afraid" (Micah 4:4).

Yes, trees are important to God, and to us naturally and spiritually.