It is a beautiful, but brisk, evening here on Manitoulin Island in northern Ontario, as I am writing. In contemplation, I am sitting in our parlour in front of our wood-burning fireplace. In the fireplace, a maple log is burning brightly and radiating its welcome warmth to offset the evening chill that so often creeps in after the sun sets.
This started me considering how incredibly useful and important trees really are. The maple tree, for example, which is represented as the central object in the Canadian national flag, can yield sap in the spring which can be boiled down into delicious and nourishing syrup for food and energy. The roots help stabilize the soil, and retain moisture for other plants and animals. The spreading boughs and broad leaves provide shade from the summer's sun, and places for birds and animals to build their nests. Judiciously culled, so as not to threaten the forests, the strong and beautiful wood is used for our floors and to build furniture for our homes. Fibre from the wood can be made into the paper I am writing on. All of the tree can be recycled to enrich the earth for future generations to enjoy.
Fruit and nut trees of many kinds provide us with healthy and nutritious foods. The jungles of the equatorial tropics produce ninety percent of our life-giving oxygen which all creatures need in order to survive. Trees are indeed essential to our very being!
Sitting here with my thoughts about trees, I checked my concordance and discovered that trees are referred to in the Bible more than 130 times.
Genesis 1:29 – And look! I have given you the seed-bearing plants throughout the earth, and all the fruit trees for your food. (TLB)
Revelation 22:2b – On each side of the river grew Trees of Life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month; the leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations. (TLB)
So important are trees that they are written about in the first and last books of the Bible!
Then, my thoughts turned to the most important tree of all time. As far as I know, we have absolutely no idea which kind or species the tree was. It may have been a palm tree, a fig tree, an olive tree, an oak tree, or a cedar tree. But, from that unknown tree, the cross was made upon which our Lord was crucified! Why Jehovah chose that manner of death for His only Son, I cannot possibly imagine: I can only be eternally thankful!
Galatians 3:13 – Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree"). (NKJV)
Had the cross of Christ been used before? Was it ever used again? We do not know. We know only that when it was used to end our Saviour's earthly life, history and eternity changed forever! Because of Christ's death on that unknown tree, my many sins have been forgiven, and my soul has faith in the promise of a never-ending relationship with Jesus Christ, His heavenly Father, the Holy Spirit, and an eternal home with God.
Prayer: Father God, we thank You for providing us with trees, especially the tree from which Christ's cross was made. Thank You, Father, that Your grace was so immense that that You sent Your only Son to die for all who believe in You, and for what You have done for all humankind. We pray that we may live, now and for evermore, with Your forgiveness for our sins, Your peace in our hearts, and Your promise of an eternal heavenly home. Amen.