Bible Study Tools / Personal Growth

Trees of Righteousness

by Rainer Salomaa

The Bible has a fair amount to say about trees. It begins with the two trees in the Garden of Eden and ends with the Tree of Life alongside the river of the water of life, which bears 12 types of fruit for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22:1-2). Christ taught a parable about a fig tree. Instructions were given to Israel about the cutting down of trees during the time of sieges (Deuteronomy 20:19-20). Pagan practices of worshiping in groves are denounced. So are idolatrous customs that use trees (Jeremiah 10:1-5).

The scriptures contain many analogies likening Christians to trees. In the book of Psalms, David wrote, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:1-3, emphasis mine). The prophet Isaiah wrote, “… That they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified” (Isaiah 61:3, emphasis mine).

In another passage, a wife is called a fruitful vine in the very heart of her house and the children are called olive plants (Psalm 128:3). If we carry through with the analogy, then there has to be growth (represented by tree rings). There also is some pruning and getting rid of dead growth. There also has to be useable fruit. Sometimes there is even grafting.

The Passover season can be a wonderful time of growth. Just as trees grow rapidly in the springtime, drawing moisture from the wet soil, so can we, during this season, grow more into the stature and fullness of Christ, as we focus on Him, feasting on the bread of life (John 6:32-58). We are asked to examine ourselves in this growth process as we look to the Son of God and the light of His word to direct our ways. Our spiritual tree rings reveal the times of growth; some seasons, perhaps, being better than others.

Major pruning is also done at that time of year. Sucker growth is cut off . Fruit trees are trimmed back to make them more productive. Dead branches are cut off and burned or taken away as refuse, paralleling what Christ stated when He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit” (John 15:1-2).

Pruning can make it appear that there is negative growth, but in the long run, it produces more and better fruit. Fruit is guaranteed if we abide in Christ. On the Passover evening in 31 AD, he told His followers, “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples” (John 15:5-8). God’s people have all been grafted into spiritual Israel, which is a good olive tree that is nourished by Jesus Christ through the roots (Romans 11:16-24). Good fruit is being born. The world is enriched. Just as trees help make this planet so beautiful by providing shade, oxygen, fuel, paper, food, furniture and countless manufactured products, God’s planting of His first-fruits harvest that He is cultivating will save and serve mankind.

It will all have begun so small, but the process of growth will ultimately encompass the entire earth. Even the largest tree in the world, General Sherman in California’s Sequoia National Park, which towers more than 274 feet high and is over 100 feet around the base, began with a tiny seed that weighed 1/6,000th of an ounce.

In Matthew 13: 31-32, Christ said, “…The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and sowed in his field, which indeed is the least of all the seeds; but when it is grown it is greater than the herbs and becomes a tree, so that the birds of the air come and nest in its branches.”

At this season of the year, let us grow and flourish, enduring the pruning, drinking deeply of God’s word and His Holy Spirit in order to bring forth fruits of righteousness, standing tall and looking up to our elder brother and Captain of our Salvation, as trees of righteousness.

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