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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

An Almond Branch

The other day I stumbled upon one of those beautiful examples of symbolism in Scripture--only I'd somehow missed this one in all the times I'd read the passage.
"The word of the Lord came to me:'What do you see, Jeremiah?'
'I see a branch of an almond tree,' I replied.
The Lord said to me, 'You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.'(Jeremiah 1: 11-12)

My version of the NIV includes a little footnote that makes sense of the passage. Apparently, the Hebrew word for "almond tree" and the Hebrew word for "watching" are closely related and sound similar, because the almond tree blooms first and therefore "watches" for spring. It's one of those things my English reading of the passage fails to translate.
Thinking on it further, I noticed that the almond branch is a symbol for God's vigilance--not ours. Jesus warned us, long ago, to be ready when the end of all things comes. He even told us what to look for at the end of the age. Still, like the parable of the virgins (Matthew 25: 1-13), some of us are not ready for Him to return, and will be left out when it happens.
It's so important for Christians to understand why they are here and what they have to look forward to. When we accept Christ, we are not instantly "beamed up" into Heaven. That means Christians still have a job to do here on earth, and I'm pretty sure it's not just to improve ourselves. Our purpose here is to obey God and to be His witnesses to everyone who doesn't know Him.
However, we should not get so caught up in "being Christian" that we forget why we became Christians in the first place. We are Christians because we have a real, living relationship with Christ that will one day be fulfilled when this imperfect existence of ours is swept away and we are reunited with Him in person at His return. Eternal life with Christ is the hope to keep us going in dark times.
We, like the virgins in the wedding party, are gathered here to celebrate His soon return. We should be prepared to receive the bridegroom, or else all our waiting is for nothing!
I'm talking about prophecy because I don't hear many people doing so any more. It's as if we no longer think He is coming back. Why should we study prophecy when it doesn't apply to our daily lives? Well, because it does. Every day this generation moves closer to the time when all these prophecies will be fulfilled. We have already begun to see some of them coming true. Will we recognize Christ when He returns? Just as we learned as schoolchildren, if we don't study and prepare ourselves, how can we expect to pass the test?

The Lamps

The book of Revelation begins with letters from Christ to several of the early churches. In the letter to the church in Ephesus, Christ commends the Christians there for their dogged perseverance in doing what is right in the face of evil, but He warns them to repent, because they have abandoned their first love (Revelation 2: 1-4). In essence, they have turned their relationship with Christ into a ritual of righteous living. When trying times come to Christians with this attitude, they are more likely to abandon Christ altogether. Because of this, Christ told them He would remove their lampstand from its place if they didn't repent (Revelation 2:5). Their lampstand was a symbol of their testimony as Christians, and the vitality of their faith (Matthew 5: 14-16). If Christians lose faith, they lose everything they have. If we forget the future promised to us, and forget to look forward to Christ's promised return, we will be deceived, taken in, and destroyed by our enemies.
In these troubled times, don't forget why you chose to follow Christ. Study your Bible and watch vigilantly for His return, like the almond trees watch for spring, so that your love won't go cold, and you won't be taken in by deceivers and false christs who don't have your best interests at heart. If you are faithful and stand firm, you will be saved from every foe (Matthew 24: 9-13).


Anonymous said...

That IS a beautiful reminds me of the trees in C. S. Lewis's Narnia. If we truly love our King, we will wait for Him "more than the watchmen wait for morning" (Psalm 130:6).

Unknown said...

{post 1 of 2}…and the almond tree may hold more significance than what we are aware.

In the Word of God, people are compared to trees. Please read into the following parable: The almond tree is known as the watchful tree and is the first of the fruit trees to awaken from its winter slumber. Upon awakening, it clothes itself in white garments. Following pollination, firstfruits begin to emerge from the calyx and hastily grow over a course of weeks; in the Middle East a few of these firstfruits are handpicked (chosen) during this 1st harvest. The others remain on the tree to mature in the summer heat; the heat withers the flesh and exposes the seed inside. At the final harvest (2nd harvest), the tree is beaten causing the seed to fall to the ground. The almond tree is a humble tree; with the exception of the blossoming, it has no comeliness nor form nor greatness about it. There is nothing that makes this tree desirable except for what is gained at the final harvest - after it is beaten: a seed known as one of the world’s healthiest foods.

According to the Word of God, the almond tree is associated with the priesthood and righteousness: Aaron’s rod (branch), the lampstand in the holy place (menorah), Jeremiah's vision, Mountain of Almonds (Mt. Sinai in Midian).

Visualize Moses and Aaron (the ones sent to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt) holding onto a rod (branch). As long as they were holding on to the branch, they were able to perform signs and wonders (Aaron's branch is later revealed as a blossoming almond branch). As long as they were holding onto the branch, the waters obeyed them. Through the branch in their hand, salvation was brought to the children of Israel. They were brought to Mt. Sinai in Midian also known as Mountain of Almonds (Jabal al-Lawz). There are prophecies of a Righteous Branch who would come forth (Isa 11, Jer 23, 33, Zec 3, 6). When the Righteous Branch walked on the earth, He performed signs and wonders. The waters obeyed Him. He brought salvation. If we hold on to the Righteous Branch, then we receive salvation and shall also be able to perform signs and wonders.
Regarding the timing of the exodus…something we were to remember for generations to come forever: It is interesting to note that the time that the dead and the living (dead bones of Joseph and the living children of Israel) were brought out of Egypt was on the 1st Day of Unleavened Bread during the month of Abib. Abib may indeed correspond to the awakening & blossoming of the almond tree. There is mention of another time the dead and living will be brought up. (Remember that our Heavenly Father follows cycles and patterns.)


Link to presentation detailing the cycle of the almond tree:

Unknown said...

{post 2 of 2} Consider the menorah: a golden blossoming almond tree. However, instead of producing the fruit of an almond, the menorah produced the fruit of light. The Righteous Branch said that He is the light of the world. Like the center branch on the menorah, if we are a branch that is grafted into Him, then we shall also produce the fruit of light. (Thy Word is a lamp to my feet and a light unto my path.)

Consider Aaron's rod (branch): it budded, blossomed and yielded ripening almonds. This signified who the Most High chose to come near and serve Him. The almond tree can produce sweet or bitter almonds. Sweet almonds are known as one of the world's healthiest foods. Bitter almonds contain poison that may produce death if too many are ingested. In the Word of God, rebellion (unfaithfulness, disobedience) is associated with bitterness (see Strong's H4784, H4805). Faithfulness and obedience seems to be associated with sweetness as "Thy Word is sweet as honey". If the priesthood is sweet or faithful, they will lead the people to walk in faithfulness to the commands. If the priesthood is bitter, they will lead the people astray and cause spiritual death. As King & High Priest in the order of Melchizedek, the Righteous Branch will establish the kingdom of God on the earth…a government administered in justice and righteousness.

It seems that the blossoming of the almond tree marks the beginning of the cycle of a year as the light of dawn marks the beginning of the cycle of a day. Everything in the Word of God revolves around agricultural cycles. The timing of the awakening or blossoming of the almond tree is towards the end of the winter season (the night season). The Bridegroom comes like a thief in the "night". Like the almond tree, we are to remain alert and watchful...which is what the word for almond means in the Hebrew. And the shape of our eyes gives us a hint as to what we are to be watching! Also consider that the Righteous Branch is called the Prince of Peace. As the white blossoms fall to the ground 5-14 days after awakening, it is as if they are laying down a white carpet for the coming of a Righteous King. (the season of winter is a season of peace.)

May each of us continue to grow in grace and knowledge of The Righteous Branch...remain watchful and alert…and produce the fruit of light!

Link to presentation detailing the cycle of the almond tree:

Rachel said...

Thank you for your insightful comments! I enjoyed reading them. :)