Tag Archives: majesty

Trees

“Then Abram moved his tent, and went and dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an alter there to the Lord” (Genesis 13:18Genesis 13:18
English: World English Bible - WEB

18 Abram moved his tent, and came and lived by the oaks of Mamre, which are in Hebron, and built an altar there to Yahweh.

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As one treks into the remote villages of Dhading district in Nepal he must travel through several forested areas of the Himalaya Mountains. In some of those areas there are huge evergreen trees which four or five men could not reach around with their arms linked together.

Throughout South Asia there are numerous “holy” banyan trees which are often encircled with protective concrete rings. Locals sit under these trees visiting together or simply relaxing and resting. Some religious practitioners meditate there. Many of these trees are of huge size and obviously of great antiquity.

In the U.S. attention was recently given to one of the giant sequoias which fell. The upper surface of its trunk, parallel to the ground, was reportedly 17 feet above the earth. Some estimated its age to be as much as 3,000 years.

It is fascinating to consider that a living thing can be large enough and old enough to attain the status of a landmark. Perhaps nothing alive does this as regularly as do trees.

Abram made his home under the terebinth trees of Mamre. The text of Genesis 13 suggests that when Moses wrote this record (more than 400 years after Abram’s death) the trees of Mamre were still living and known to the people of Canaan.

A casual reading of the Old Testament shows that trees were often considered sacred by pagan peoples and used as sites of worship, and sometimes even as a type of idol.

In other cases, idols were carved from wooden poles and erected before altars. Isaiah ridicules the people for cutting down a tree, using it for firewood or lumber, then making an idol of the residue and calling it “god” (Isaiah 44:9-20Isaiah 44:9-20
English: World English Bible - WEB

9 Those who fashion an engraved image are all of them vanity; and the things that they delight in shall not profit; and their own witnesses don’t see, nor know: that they may be disappointed. 10 Who has fashioned a god, or molten an image that is profitable for nothing? 11 Behold, all his fellows shall be disappointed; and the workmen, they are of men: let them all be gathered together, let them stand up; they shall fear, they shall be put to shame together. 12 The smith makes an axe, and works in the coals, and fashions it with hammers, and works it with his strong arm: yes, he is hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water, and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches out a line; he marks it out with a pencil; he shapes it with planes, and he marks it out with the compasses, and shapes it after the figure of a man, according to the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak, and strengthens for himself one among the trees of the forest: he plants a fir tree, and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then shall it be for a man to burn; and he takes of it, and warms himself; yes, he kindles it, and bakes bread: yes, he makes a god, and worships it; he makes it an engraved image, and falls down to it. 16 He burns part of it in the fire; with part of it he eats flesh; he roasts roast, and is satisfied; yes, he warms himself, and says, Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire. 17 The residue of it he makes a god, even his engraved image; he falls down to it and worships, and prays to it, and says, Deliver me; for you are my god. 18 They don’t know, neither do they consider: for he has shut their eyes, that they can’t see; and their hearts, that they can’t understand. 19 None calls to mind, neither is there knowledge nor understanding to say, I have burned part of it in the fire; yes, also I have baked bread on the coals of it; I have roasted flesh and eaten it: and shall I make the residue of it an abomination? shall I fall down to the stock of a tree? 20 He feeds on ashes; a deceived heart has turned him aside; and he can’t deliver his soul, nor say, Is there not a lie in my right hand?

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Though such idolatrous associations are obviously condemned in Scripture, the Bible does recognize trees as having positive spiritual significance.

The righteous man is said to endure and prosper “like a tree planted by the rivers of water” (Psalm 1:3Psalm 1:3
English: World English Bible - WEB

3 He will be like a tree planted by the streams of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also does not wither. Whatever he does shall prosper.

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). Heaven is endowed with the tree of life, bearing its twelve fruits throughout the year (i.e., perpetually). Trees were created by God and serve as symbols of his love and bountifulness.

The popular poem declares, “Only God can make a tree.” To that we add, only God can truly create any living thing. As we recognize the autumnal beauty of the forests around us, and the majesty of each large oak or pine, let us be thankful for the power, wisdom and goodness of God who made them. And let us see his hand in all the wonders of this world in which we live.