Thought for the Month

Trees provide us with ample material in the Bible. They were used in the Feast of Tabernacles with the branches and leaves to make temporary shelters at the third and final feast of the year marking the end of the harvests as well as the time when the Hebrews dwelt in tents during the forty years they wandered in the wilderness after exiting Egypt. This is no doubt why Zechariah used this feast to bring to a close the prophecy he wrote under divine guidance.

Psalm One describes the blessed condition a person is in, who meditates on the word of God, like being a tree planted by a river. Onesimus and Philemon were two such Christians of the early church, one a master the other a slave. (Greek doulos) One can only conjecture why the former fled his master. Was the master a good one? Nevertheless the Christian message sees reform and redemption of the individual a probability and so it seems this was the case that both were like a tree by a river.

Water is fundamental to the growth of trees, which use their roots to absorb moisture and nutrients to grow strong and healthy. This is of concern at present to the inhabitants of Egypt. They rely on the Nile for its water for drinking and agriculture. Ethiopia is building the Great Renaissance dam on the Blue Nile which provides 85% of the water for the Nile. It will be Africa’s biggest hydroelectric power plant. The reservoir will cover an area equivalent to the size of Greater London. Egypt, and to a lesser extent Sudan, fear that filling it up over just six years will have a great impact on their countries and are asking for the time to be extended to limit the impact on their residents and farmers. How dependent one country is on another!

Amos was a rural man and gatherer of wild figs and clearly familiar with harvests, fruit and the agricultural season in that climate. The end of the harvests is seen as a time of plenty from the trees and the fields. Once the harvest is complete the fields are then ploughed to make ready for the next crop and next season’s harvest. So it will be at the end of this age when the harvest of this age will end at last and the ploughman can again prepare the way for the next millennial age crop.

What rejoicing then to those who will walk amid the trees by the rivers when in that millennial day they will walk once more with their friends. This is poignant with the large loss of life due to COVID-19 in the U.K. and other countries.

Pondering the feast of tabernacles also reminds us of the Day of Atonement which is just five days earlier in the month when the sin offerings were made by Aaron for himself and his house and the nation at large. It cannot be without note that this time of year would have been when our Lord Jesus was baptised at Jordan and began his work at the age of thirty.