The Lesson of the Almond TreePublished on: 1.4.2011
A reminder that God is watching our lives
Dr. Juergen Buehler
It is amazing to see beautiful almond trees blossoming all over Israel every winter. They are the first tree to blossom and yet the last to bear fruit.
The almond tree is associated with one of the earliest prophecies of a young Jeremiah. “Moreover the word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Jeremiah, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree.’ Then the Lord said to me, ‘You have seen well, for I am watching to perform My word.’” (Jeremiah 1:11-12)
This prophecy uses a play on words that carries a vital truth for Israel as well as for us. The Hebrew word for almond, shaked, is also translated “to watch”. By seeing the almond branch, God assured Jeremiah that He is watching over His word to bring it to pass, no matter the passage of time.
In context, God had just given Israel a warning. “I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out and to pull down, to destroy and to throw down, to build and to plant.” (Jeremiah 1:9-10) Then after Jeremiah sees the almond tree, God shows him a boiling pot over Jerusalem which portends “calamity”. (Jeremiah 1:13-14) While the almond is a sign of hope that God will eventually fulfill His wonderful promises to Israel (or to us), the context is more ominous.
Later, God repeated the warning through Jeremiah: “Behold, I will watch (shaked) over them for evil, and not for good…” (Jeremiah 44:27). God’s message to Israel was that sin has consequences and there will come a time of reckoning – namely the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity of Israel.
Years later, Daniel would pray: “Therefore has the Lord watched (shaked) upon the evil, and brought it upon us: for the Lord our God is righteous in all His works which He does: for we obeyed not His voice.” (Daniel 9:14)
The lesson of the almond tree, therefore, is that God in heaven watches a sinful nation walking away from Him and declares it will have consequences. His message to humanity today is still the same: God is watching! He will watch over His word either for curse or for blessing. When sin and immorality engulf nations and even penetrate the Church, we should remember: God is watching! When nations assail Israel and seek to divide her land, we can be sure: God is watching!
Still, the message of the “almond” does carry a strong encouragement. Jeremiah also foresees a miraculous restoration for Israel. “And it shall come to pass, that as I have watched over them, to destroy, and to afflict… so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 31:28)
If we decide to consecrate our lives to God, then He promises to watch over us for good. Even with our weaknesses and frailties, His eyes are always upon us!
Dr. Juergen Buehler serves as ICEJ Executive Director in Jerusalem