The Word of the Lord: The first time the almond tree is named in Genesis, the setting is Paddan Aram. There, Jacob used almond branches to attempt to influence the color of animals in his flock. Genesis 30.37-40: Jacob, however, took fresh-cut branches from poplar, almond and plane trees and made white stripes on them by peeling the bark and exposing the white inner wood of the branches. Then he placed the peeled branches in all the watering troughs, so that they would be directly in front of the flocks when they came to drink. When the flocks were in heat and came to drink, they mated in front of the branches. And they bore young that were streaked or speckled or spotted. Jacob set apart the young of the flock by themselves, but made the rest face the streaked and dark-colored animals that belonged to Laban. Thus he made separate flocks for himself and did not put them with Laban’s animals.
The second time the almond tree is named the setting is Canaan. Jacob directs his sons to take almonds, one of the best products of Canaan, as a gift to the Egyptian in charge of selling grain. Genesis 44.11: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.
Meditation: Few plants have the important symbolism of almond trees in the Old Testament. Almond trees encompass buds, flowers, and fruit (almond nut). In addition to the two Genesis examples, almond tree products appeared elsewhere in the Bible. In the Tent of Meeting, the original menorah had almond buds carved on its branches and central stem. Aaron’s staff budded, bloomed, and produced almonds after a night in in front of the Ark of the Covenant.
When Jeremiah was called to be God’s prophet, God showed Jeremiah an almond branch and asked Jeremiah what he saw. Jeremiah answered God that he saw an almond branch. God commended Jeremiah’s response and said that he was watching to see that his word is fulfilled (Jeremiah 1.12); thus, almonds are associated with God watching mankind. Job called God a “watcher of mankind” (Job 7.20)
Application: Daily new events bombard our world. Currently, a worldwide viral pandemic is occurring. How rapidly the virus spread over the globe. Each day, there are more diagnosed cases and deaths in the world and in my country. Hopefully, we have all read Revelation sufficiently to not be surprised. Pandemics, reduced commerce, and collapsed economic systems are signals God gives us so we repent and turn to him.
As the almond tree demonstrated in biblical times, God is watching to verify that his word is fulfilled on earth. What occurs now in the world is an example of God word being fulfilled.
One part of Jesus’ message causes me sadness: “Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold” (Matthew 24.12-13). Each of us must work so that our love for others—regardless of country, race, gender, sexual preference, etc., doesn’t grow cold.
We need to monitor our hearts and evaluate how we behave. About 30 years ago, I realized that I had a hard, even callous, heart. I prayed that God would soften my heart. Since that time God changed my heart of stone to a heart filled with compassion. My husband often comments on what a compassionate person I am. Yet, decades ago he never made that comment about me. You can offer God the same prayer— to soften our hearts—God answer that prayer.
Reflection: How are you keeping your love for others warm? How do you continually evaluate your love for others?
Copyright 10/25/2020; Carolyn A. Roth