““I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree…a tree looks to God all day, And lifts her leafy arms to pray… Poems are made by fools like me, But only God can make a tree.” Alfred Joyce Kilmer, American writer and poet, penned these well-known words published in 1914.
Only God can make a tree. Maybe that’s why trees teach us lessons about faith.
We read about trees all through the Bible. Matthew Sleeth, a medical doctor and carpenter, wrote a book in recent years titled “Reforesting Faith” that “reveals how God used trees from Genesis to Revelation to link the spiritual and natural worlds,” according to one book reviewer.
Beginning in the book of Genesis, God created trees and “God saw that it was good” (chapter one, verse 12). There’s a tree in the first chapter of Psalms, in the first page of the New Testament, and the last page of Revelation.
In the Garden of Eden, God commanded Adam and Eve, “Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat” (Gen. 2:16 NKJ). When Satan tempted Eve, she ate of that tree and Adam did, too, causing them and everyone since then to have a sinful human nature that separates us from God.
Psalms 1:3 says the righteous “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in his season” (NKJ). Isaiah wrote, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me…to give… the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified” (61:3).
The types of trees mentioned in the Bible include cypress, fig, pomegranate, almond, oaks, apple and palm trees. Cedar trees were used to construct the Temple in Jerusalem.
Many Biblical characters are associated with one tree or another. God told Noah to build the Ark with gopher wood. Moses heard God speaking to him through a burning bush. Moses led the people of Israel with a wooden staff. Zaccheus , a short man, climbed a sycamore tree to see Jesus, who was surrounded by a crowd of people (Luke 19:1- 4).
Christ died on a tree to cure the curse of our sinful human nature. The Apostle Paul compares our relationship with Christ to trees planted in soil, “That Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able ….to know the love of Christ” (Ephesians 3:17-19 NKJ).
The Bible concludes in the book of Revelation with the disciple John seeing a pure river, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God along with a tree of life” (22:1-2 NKJ).
It’s amazing to think that God created the type of tree on which His son died, so that we could have a personal relationship with God. Author Max Lucado has written, “In Eden, Satan led Adam to a tree that led to his death. From Gethsemane, Jesus went to a tree that led to our life.””
Jan White is a wife, mother, and freelance writer who lives in Andalusia.
This Guest Column originally appeared in The Southeast Sun