Glimpses of Israel - Trees, Symbol of Hope

"But you, O mountains of Israel, you shall shoot forth your branches and yield your fruit to my people Israel, for they are about to come." (Ezekiel 36:8)

After centuries of invading armies and occupation by foreigners, the Land of Israel lay desolate, stripped of its many trees. In contrast, the Land has begun to revive since the reestablishment of the State in 1948, and the return of the Jewish people.

Many of Israel's mountains and valleys, formerly barren, are today covered with trees because of the efforts of hard-working pioneers, combined with numerous reafforestation projects and regular tree-planting ceremonies.

The Jewish Nation Fund (JNF) is one organization that facilitates and offers to plant trees in memory of a loved one or in celebration of a friend. (see New Jewish arrivals are likewise encouraged to plant a tree to mark their return home to Israel.

Tu B'Shevat, the 15th day of the Hebrew month Shevat, this year 3rd February, is an annual event celebrating the new year of the trees, and when many Israelis plant trees, with a focus of thanksgiving to the Creator of the heavens and the earth, Who made the trees.

A tree is many things. A tree is symbolic of man. The Scripture says that the man who meditates on God's instruction to life, day and night, is like a tree planted by a refreshing stream. His inner being, like the roots of a tree in search of nourishment, finds nourishment in God's word, and who, in due time, will bring forth the fruits of righteousness and justice. Like a tree, he is able to withstand the seasons of change, resisting the pressures to conform to the ways of the world. (Psalm 1)

When considering a tree planted in good soil, there is even a greater appreciation of the significance of the Jewish people returning home to Israel. The Lord says through His prophet, Amos, "'I will bring back the captivity of my people Israel . . . I will plant them in their land. . . '" (Amos 9:14-15) They are like trees planted in the good soil of the Promised Land. And where better for a tree of the Lord to grow than in His Land.

A tree in Israel can also be a picture of hope. A story is told of a young man watching an old man planting a tree. The younger man questioned the older, saying, "Why are you planting that tree; you will not be around to eat its fruit." The old man agreed, "Yes, but my children will be."

Israel is a picture of hope, today. God is faithful to His people, and the tree is a visible reminder that He will fulfil His promises, and will bring salvation in its season.