The tree that made history

The trees are coming alive here in Texas and we have the allergies to prove it. Walking the neighborhood is pure joy, except for the sneezing! I love that God created nature to sleep during the winter months and awaken again in the spring. 

Romans 1:20 tells us God’s “invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.” God created the world to give people knowledge of their Creator. To view the glorious aspects of spring is to know the existence of the One who imagined and created the beauty. That is why the verse above goes on to say people are “without excuse.” Everyone can glimpse God in his natural creation. 

If all we had was the spring season, we could know that God has the power and the plan to transform our earthly life into something greater. 

A famous tree

Peachtree Boulevard is a famous street in Atlanta. The church we pastored was on Peachtree, and it was beautiful, modeled after the first Baptist church ever established in the United States.  

We experienced a lot while living in Atlanta: the Olympic Games, the World Series, and Hurricane Opal. 

I remember the night the hurricane roared through the city. I watched the tall pine trees bending with the wind and was sure that one of them was going to fall on our house. Later, I learned the pine trees were created to bend and it was the oak trees that suffered the most damage in the winds. 

The next morning, there were power lines down, streets blocked by downed trees, homes that had been damaged, and debris scattered everywhere. We were without power for several days. 

One of the stories that led the news that week reported an ancient oak tree that was blocking several lanes on Peachtree. That oak tree predated the Civil War and was a landmark in front of the Piedmont Hospital. That tree marked the place where the Confederate army had camped for what would become known as the Battle of Peachtree Creek.  

Peachtree Boulevard needed to reopen, so the famous tree was cut into pieces and hauled to another location where it could be kept and studied. As the tree was examined, they found several bullets embedded from the Battle of Peachtree Creek. 

That ancient tree had stood through generations of people, and almost every era of American history. Many people made donations in order to receive a small piece of that special tree. 

The only tree that exists forever

Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree in the Garden and needed to be expelled as a result. I was recently studying the book of Revelation and ran across the verse that describes that tree now. John was recording the Revelation when he wrote, “The angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations” (Revelation 22:1–2). 

I wish I could say I fully understood the relationship between the Garden of Eden and the words above from Revelation. It’s a mystery because God wants it to be a mystery. What we do know for certain is that the fruit which was forbidden on earth is available in heaven. One day, God’s children will be invited to eat of the fruit in heaven, where we will live forever.  

But, how will the leaves of the tree provide “healing for the nations”? 

At this time of war and difficult news, that verse is an amazing blessing to consider. The tree in heaven will provide what no tree on earth ever could. I picture people of all nations, seated beneath the tree, enjoying its fruit, available during any season of the year. 

God is also the Creator of heaven, and it will be unlike anything we have experienced on earth. 

Another tree made all the difference

As we prepare our hearts for the Easter season, it’s good to remember the Bible often refers to the cross of Christ as a “tree.” Have you ever wondered why? 

We know Christ died on a cross, but the Greek word used is xu-lon, which can mean both wood and a tree. The same word, xu-lon, used for the tree in the book of Revelation is the same word Peter used when he wrote, “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). 

Woven throughout Scripture are miraculous messages from God. God created the tree in the Garden of Eden, but that tree produced the fruit that eventually would be linked to the fall of mankind. God created the tree that would eventually be used by the Romans to create the cross, that would forever be linked to his salvation offered to all. And, God has caused the tree of life to live eternally until it will shelter and feed his children for all eternity. 

The imperishable tree

We thought the ancient oak in Atlanta would be there forever. But nothing on this earth is eternal except those who have been born again. Our theme for the month of April is 1 Peter 1:23 which says, “You have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God.” 

God wanted his people to be reminded, every year, that his promise for us is life-eternal. He created this world as a window to his divine nature. He created trees to experience a type of death each winter, and then bud each spring, but none are created to live forever. 

Let’s consider the budding trees this spring with an eternal perspective. Let’s remember the cross as the tree of Easter. Let’s live confidently anticipating those first moments we taste the heavenly fruit of the tree that has been preserved for all eternity and rest in its shade. 

Imperishable glory

God’s divine nature is easily “perceived” each spring. How like God to give us our Easter celebration at that same time! He wants us to remember the reality of our rebirth in Christ so that we will live today with that perspective. 

That oak tree was considered ancient when it fell in Atlanta, and people flocked to get a glimpse of it before it was hauled away. Contrast that ancient tree with the eternal tree that waits for us in heaven and you will glimpse the greatness of God. 

He created spring and the budding trees for a reason. May the transformation of the trees around us cause us to know him and trust his ability to transform our lives. May we be encouraged to live for him now with the confidence that we will also live with him eternally.

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