Altamonte Springs Seventh-day Adventist Church

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He Is Like A Tree
I have always appreciated trees. Around our house we have number of large live oak trees that provide shade in our backyard most of the time. They truly are majestic and beautiful. When we lived in Belleview, we had over 30 various kinds of trees in our yard that ranged from large oaks and pines to smaller ornamental trees. We even had a fig tree. I have not always been blessed to live in places where there were lots of trees. We spent the first ten or so years of our ministry in West Texas and New Mexico where large trees were scarce. The landscape was rather barren and desolate without them. About the only trees that grew on the planes were cottonwoods that mainly grew by rivers and streams. However in New Mexico there were mountains near where we lived and we would take every opportunity we could get to escape the desert heat and go camping among the cool pines and aspens in Cloud Croft or Ruidoso. There’s nothing like a natural forest for peace and serenity as well as healthful fresh air. We are fortunate enough to live near Wekiva Springs and I have learned to love the trails there with their many types of foliage and trees.  It’s great not to have to make those long drives to the mountains to find a little green but to have trees all around.
The Bible speaks of trees frequently. We first hear of trees in the Garden of Eden and they played a significant role in the fate of the earth. We are all probably familiar with the two trees mentioned there: The Tree of Life whose fruit sustained Adam and Eve in their state of immortality; and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil which contained the forbidden fruit that would bring sin and death into the world. How sad that it was through a tree that Satan worked to deceive Adam and Eve.
After sin entered the world through the forbidden fruit of the tree in Eden, other trees also were significant. Noah’s ark was made of gofer wood which we are told was strong, water resistant and also resistant to decay. It literally had a leading role is saving the human race. The Bible also states that Abraham often pitched his tents under oak trees and made his altars and worshiped God amongst trees. Jacob used poplar branches to help determine the markings on the animals of his herds. Moses used a tree to sweeten the waters at Mara and Gideon met an angel under a tree. Absalom got caught in an oak tree. Solomon paid large amounts of money to purchase cedars from Lebanon to build the temple. They were also said to be some of the finest wood available with close grain a sweet smell.
We also read about many trees in the New Testament. Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus. Jesus talked about fig trees in several of His parables and even cursed a fig tree to illustrate the hypocrisy of the Jewish nation. People cut palm branches to wave before Jesus during His triumphal entry. And Jesus spent the night before His death praying among the olive trees on the Mount of Olives. I have seen these trees with the massive gnarled trunks. They claim some of them you see today date from the time of Christ. Olive wood has a soft delicate texture and is easily carved yet it also is strongly resistant to decay. The most important tree in the New Testament was the tree or cross where Jesus died. Without that tree man would have no salvation. And so it’s interesting that a tree played a major role in bringing sin and death into the world and another tree played a major role delivering the world from sin and death and providing a way to eternal life and salvation.
Trees have symbolic significance as well in the Bible. Nebuchadnezzar was represented by a tree that was cut down in Daniel 4 as a result of his pride. Israel was also represented as various trees such as an olive tree, a cypress tree and a fig tree. Jesus compared people in general to trees stating that just as trees are known by the kind of fruit the produce, people can also be judged by the “fruit” they produce. Good trees produce good fruit or works and bad or evil trees produce evil fruit or works (for example see Matthew 7:18, 19). As mentioned earlier Jesus compared Israel to a fig tree and warned that if it did not produce good fruit it would be in danger of being cut down (Luke 13:1-9). A number of Bible passages compare the righteous to healthy trees growing in fertile soil often by streams of water, such as Psalm 1:3, Isaiah 65:22, and Jeremiah 17:7, 8. Trees are an apt symbol of the righteous since they are some of the longest lived organisms on earth, with some species such as the bristle cone pine tree of California living thousands of years.
Some have compared different parts of a tree to areas of the Christian experience. The root system for example absorbs nutrients that support and nourish the tree. Christians also need to sink their “roots” into God’s word to get the spiritual food they need. The trunk is the support system of the tree. It determines what the tree will look like. It is important that it well supported kept straight when the tree is young or the tree will become lopsided and may eventually topple over. So with the Christian: the trunk is like the character and the will. It must be developed in the right direction early in life for one to be successful. Daily we must look to Jesus and decide to live for and follow Him so that we can be strong Christians
The branches support the leaves and fruit of the tree. They represent the attitude of service and support reaching out to others. The leaves and blossoms cover the tree and create beauty and fragrance to all around. They represent a spirit of gratitude and praise. In them we see reflected words of encouragement and the shade of acceptance and love. The seeds and fruit are the good works of the Christian and they also can be thought of as the souls who are brought to Christ through the witness of the gospel.
Most trees live many years. As mentioned before some can live centuries—even millennia. However there are things that can cut the life of a tree short just as there are things that can cause the Christian to go astray. Insects and disease may get inside of the tree and cause it to decay from the inside out. So in the Christian life, cherished and hidden sin can eventually cause and believer to fail. He or she may look good on the outside but may be full of unfaithfulness corruption on the inside. Lightning, wind and storms also take their toll on trees. If the tree is not rooted and grounded well, these storms can bring it down. So likewise the trials and difficulties of life also can cause the Christian who is not well founded in God to also fail. We can only endure as we are strongly rooted in Christ.
I once heard a story about the giant sequoias that grow in California. They are another species of tree that lives thousands of years. It seems they never die from “natural” causes. About the only way they fall and die is their trunks get burned in a forest fire which makes them become unbalanced so that they fall down. Satan wants us to get burned by the church or other people so we become unbalanced and critical of others and stumble and fall.  Let dig our roots in Jesus, bask in the sunshine of His love, nourish ourselves with His Word and become trees that never die in His kingdom.


Pastor Dan