There are many trees in the Bible. I once contemplated writing a book about the spiritual lessons to be learned from trees and the use of wood. It might still happen (the ark, sticks on Isaac’s back, the tabernacle, etc.). The thought came back to mind this week because we had an outdoor ‘forest/nature’ church service. The entire Watford church decamped to the woods at Ashridge. Joe Cronje illustrated the need for trees as a supplier of oxygen by the use of his scuba diving equipment. We searched for seed pods, built a mini-shelter and took time to listen to silence. A refreshing experience and one I expect we’ll repeat.
We took communion standing in a circle. Bread and wine were passed round after I’d shared about the tree of life from Revelation 22. But there was more I had planned to share about three key trees. Time did not permit on the day, but here are the remaining thoughts.
1. The Wrong Tree
A young lad was at our house recently. He spotted a juicy apple. My wife counselled him not to eat it. Why? Because it was a cooker, not an eater. Adam & Eve got a mouthful of sourness of a different sort when they ate from the wrong tree. “The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” (Genesis 2:9) There was plenty of good fruit around on a variety of trees. They ate from a forbidden tree and we’ve been suffering ever since.
2. The Healing Tree
Trees have medicinal properties. But our earth-bound trees have nothing on this particular tree: “On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse.” Revelation 22.2-3 A tree that can heal the nations? That’s quite some tree. People differ on the exact nature and location of this tree and the kind of healing mentioned. However, what is clear is that the healing is powerful and permanent. As the rest of Revelation indicates, the tree exists to do its work because of the sacrifice of the lamb – Jesus.
3. The Cursed Tree
Standing between the tree in Eden and the tree in Revelation, between the wrong tree and the healing tree, forming a tree-bridge between them, is another tree. This ‘tree’ is the one Jesus was hung on. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.”” (Galatians 3:13) His willingness to be ‘cursed’ on a tree removed the Genesis curse (Gen 3.17) and the sin-curse on me.
We took bread and wine to remember the one who hung on a tree so that we can enjoy the fruit of the tree of life and experience it’s healing power. I’m looking forward to seeing the tree of life on the banks of the river of the water of life, and I’ll be forever grateful that I’m healed by what Jesus did for me on another tree 2,000 years ago.
PS: if you’d like to see a short video on trees and how they communicate, click here to see something my wife sent me from the BBC web site.