Monday, October 18, 2010

Almond Joy

Recently I've started studying through Jeremiah. He is a very interesting man to study in his work, his personality and how he deals with the troubles his work for the Lord brings. The book begins with the Lord charging Jeremiah to take the message to Judah that they would be taken into captivity. Jeremiah's character was known by God, so along with the charge to preach, God gave Jeremiah the encouragement he needed. Even with this direct encouragement from God, Jeremiah would still later become discouraged, but that might be a post for another time. One source of encouragement Jeremiah was given is recorded in the well known verse five that even before he was formed in the womb, God wanted Jeremiah to speak for Him. The second encouragement is found in verses seven through ten where God speaks to Jeremiah concerning his fear, and why Jeremiah has no need to be fearful as God stands behind him. The third encouraging word is found in verse eleven and twelve and this is what I want to focus.

These verses have recorded for us the following: "Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, Jeremiah, what seest thou? And I said, I see a rod of an almond tree. Then said the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to perform it." Reading this through the first time, I had to wonder what an almond tree had to do with this, how it meant God would hasten to His word, and why that would encourage Jeremiah.

To understand this encouragement, it is necessary to look at the Hebrew language. God uses a pun here, as well as a lesson from nature. In Hebrew the word for almond tree was pronounced as "shaw-ked." The root word in shawked also has a meaning of hastening. This is to be compared to God stating that He would hasten which is pronounced as "show-ked." You can see the subtle difference in the word, so God gives the almond tree as a visual symbol to Jeremiah that His word will come to pass and that it will come quickly. The fact that an almond tree was used is important to the encouragement as well.

The almond was known as the "hastening tree." It is the first to bloom, usually in mid-winter, but it is the last to give forth its fruit, around the time of late fall. No matter how long it seems to take, the almond is true to its promise to deliver. God uses this fact of nature to encourage Jeremiah. What He promises to happen is going to happen. Jeremiah had no reason to be afraid because what he would preach was coming to soon pass was going to pass. Too often we forget God's promises or wonder if He will stay true to them. Using the almond tree, God gave a reminder that He is true to what He says. Let us always remember that.

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