Many times at the beginning of a new year The Lord calls our congregation to focus on a verse or phrase from scripture. For example, in 2016 He commanded us to “Pursue Holiness” from Hebrews 12:14 and last year He spoke of ‘perfecting, establishing, strengthening and settling’ from 1 Peter 5:10.
This year is no different as right after Christmas The Spirit led me to the phrase ‘strong and very courageous’ from The Lord’s personal charge to Joshua before he led Israel into the promised land. The Lord said
Not only did God lead me to this passage, but He also directed my thinking towards a Biblical symbol of the straight and flourishing strength that the verse above describes.
The symbol is the date palm tree. As recently as 6 weeks ago I did not know much about this tree, but the more I learn about this fruitful tree, the more I understand why The Lord mentions it throughout the Scriptures and even allowed King Solomon to use it as one of the main design motifs in His house (see 1 Kings 6:29, 32, 35 and 7:36). Today I would like to share with you 4 Biblical qualities that are connected with the date palm tree.
Those that live around the Mediterranean know that the the date palm’s fruit and shade sustains life in harsh climates. Palms require a regular supply of water, so where there are palm trees water is also found. We see examples of this in Scripture, specifically Exodus 15:27. In this passage Israel has literally encountered a 3 day long dry spell in the wilderness when they come to an oasis called Elim where they camp near 12 wells and 70 palm trees. I’ll admit that I don’t have a lot of desert experience, but I can picture the stark contrast between the cool shade and abundant water of the oasis and the harsh, dusty wilderness. The date palm communicates to the weary traveller “Come. There is life here. There is food, water, shade and nourishment. Come to be sustained—stay to be refreshed!” In addition to this account of Elim, in Deuteronomy 34:3 and 2 Chronicles 28:15 the ancient Middle Eastern city of Jericho is called “the city of palm trees”. Cities of antiquity are continually inhabited because their setting fosters life and in the case of Jericho there is a correlation between the city and an enviroment that sustains life and contains the date palm.
In addition to relating to life, the date palm also signifies prosperity. Although there isn’t a Bible verse that specifically states this, as I mentioned earlier, 1 Kings 6 tells us that images of palm trees were used prolifically in Solomon’s temple. Palm trees were carved into the wood paneling of the inner and outer sanctuaries as well as being carved in the doors that led into the inner and outer sanctuary. In his time Solomon was the most prosperous king in the world and it’s likely he is one of the most wealthy people ever to live. This very prosperous and most wise king had much knowledge of trees and plants (see 1 Kings 4:30-34) and built a temple for The One and Only, Lord of lords Who has unlimited resources. Because King Solomon included palm trees throughout the design of The Temple, you can be sure that this tree symbolizes prosperity!
Consider this vein of thinking and read
The word for flourishing here is related to prosperity in that it means to break forth or to grow or spread or blossom abundantly. In God’s economy, abundance and prosperity go hand-in-hand!
Victory and Rejoicing
The 3rd and 4th qualities of victory and rejoicing are not just related to the date palm tree, they are related to one another, for after victory there is rejoicing!
Revelation 7 contains an interlude between the 6th and 7th seals including the sealing of 144,000 of Israel and the appearance of a great multitude from The Tribulation (see Revelation 7:9-10, 13-17). These saints from The Tribulation have overcome and rejoice in victory with part of their celebration including palm fronds and the food, cool shade, living water and satisfaction that accompanies these trees.
Also, see John 12:12-15 which details Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Saturday. As He enters the city, the people meet Him with palm branches shouting Hosanna or “save I pray”! The crowd rejoiced at Christ’s entrance and He was making preparations to begin His defeat of death! So again we see a passage of victory and rejoicing that includes the presence of palm fronds.
As you can see, the date palm tree is symbolic of multiple good Biblical qualities. As I discover more about this unique tree, I hope to share more about it with you!