“Trees in church! declared a Facebook friend, referring to the royal wedding between WIlliam and Catherine. Not having gotten up early to watch, I noticed in the film clips that, sure enough, Westminster Abbey was full of trees! Specifically, according to an online source, six field maples and two hornbeams.
Trees in church… what about trees in the Bible? It didn’t take me too long to realize that the Bible is arboreous. So in honor of springtime, and of Earth Day tomorrow, here is a lighthearted search form “woody” texts.
Then they came to Elim, where there were twelve springs of water and seventy palm trees; and they camped there by the water (Ex 15:27).
On the first day you shall take the fruit of majestic trees branches of palm trees, boughs of leafy trees, and willows of the brook; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God for seven days (Lev. 23:40).
You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil, for your olives shall drop off (Deut. 28:40)
When David inquired of the Lord, he said, “You shall not go up; go round to their rear, and come upon them opposite the balsam trees (2 Sam. 5:23).
He went after the man of God, and found him sitting under an oak tree. He said to him, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?” He answered, “I am.” (1 Kings 13:14).
But he himself went on a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree. He asked that he might die: “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.” (1 Kings 19:4).
Over the olive and sycamore trees in the Shephelah was Baal-hanan the Gederite. Over the stores of oil was Joash (1 Chr. 27:28).
[A]nd that they should publish and proclaim in all their towns and in Jerusalem as follows, “Go out to the hills and bring branches of olive, wild olive, myrtle, palm, and other leafy trees to make booths (“tabernacles,” in Hebrew succoth), as it is written” (Neh. 8:15).
The lotus trees cover it for shade; the willows of the wadi surround it (Job 40: )
As an apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among young men. With great delight I sat in his shadow, and his fruit was sweet to my taste (Song of Songs 2:3).
You are stately as a palm tree, and your breasts are like its clusters (Song of Songs 7:7).
He cuts down cedars or chooses a holm tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it (Isa. 44:14).
The cedars in the garden of God could not rival it, nor the fir trees equal its boughs; the plane trees were as nothing compared with its branches; no tree in the garden of God was like it in beauty (Ez. 31:8).
The vine withers, the fig tree droops. Pomegranate, palm, and apple—all the trees of the field are dried up; surely, joy withers away among the people (Joel 1:12).
In the night I saw a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses (Zech. 1:8).
Either make the tree good, and its fruit good; or make the tree bad, and its fruit bad; for the tree is known by its fruit (Matt. 12:33).
There are more references to trees in the BIble, but among other notable ones are: Abraham’s tamarisk tree in Beer-sheba (Gen. 21:33), Jonah’s leafy tree (John 4), Jesus’ illustrative mustard tree (Matt. 12:33, Luke 17:6), the doomed fig tree (Matt. 21:19), Zacchaeus’ sycamore (LUke 19:4), Paul’s figurative olive tree (Romans 11:17, 24), the palm trees that supplied branches for Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem (John 12:13), the olive trees that stand before the Lord (Rev. 11:4), and many others. Could you describe ways that trees function within the Bible’s sections: Torah, History, Writings, Prophets, Gospels, and Epistles? Write me a ten page paper, ha ha …
Most of all, trees are biblically connected with life and salvation. Bible texts are interconnected with trees, beginning middle and end: the Trees of Life and of Good and Evil in Eden, the cypress wood that formed the saving Ark, the acacia wood used for the Tabernacle and its various components (Ex. 25, 30, 36-39), the Lebanon cedar and other woods used in Solomon’s Temple (1 Kings 5-7, 2 Chr. 2-4), the wood of Christ’s manger, the cross (the “tree” on which Christ took our curse: Deut. 21:22-23; Gal. 3:3) and finally the restored tree of life of Revelation 22:2:
On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.