When God creates all things good for human beings, a specific tree is mentioned: the Tree of Life (Gen 2. 9). It is put in the middle of the Garden of Eden: this garden planted by God (Gen 2. 8).
At the pivot point in the history of humanity is the Tree of the Cross, the life-giving tree.
History comes to an end as the Tree of Life is again mentioned. At the very end of time, it flourishes, perhaps as a group of trees, on both sides of the River of the Water of Life which flows from the Throne of God (Rev 22. 1 – 3). This is in the Holy City of the New Creation.
All through the Bible there is mention of trees and they are often used in familiar stories and events, in poetry and prophesy. They play a part in the story of redemption. In this set of reflections various aspects of trees (some admittedly fairly tenuous) will be examined. Hopefully this will lead to further thought or investigation on the part of the reader.
In general a chronological or historical approach will be used but some freedom and flexibility may also be applied if deemed appropriate or expedient.
This theme has been chosen to take us through the Trinity season because the liturgical colour for this season is green, evoking thoughts of new life, flourishing and hope.
Trees that sing
‘Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy’ [Ps96. 12]
In the last study we thought about being too sad to sing but there are trees that sing.
May we soon be able to sing with them.
When David arrives at Jerusalem and pitches the Tent for the Ark of the Covenant there is great rejoicing. The leaders of singing are appointed and they sing in praise of the Lord: ‘then shall the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes to judge the earth’ [1 Chron 16. 8 – 36; Ps 96. 12].
In a hymn of praise in which all creation is mentioned the trees praise the Lord [Ps 148. 9].
The prophesy of Isaiah in speaking of redemption describes how the ‘forest and every tree in it‘ [Isa 44. 23] will break forth into singing. In the final section of the song he portrays a time of peace and joy: ‘For you shall go out in joy and be led back in peace; and the mountains and the hills before you shall burst into song, and the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle’ [Isaiah 55. 12 – 13].
All these text speak of singing and joy in the context of judgement:
God’s righteousness; his glory; his steadfast love; and our redemption.