The flowering trees in the Great Pacific Northwest dazzled Hubby and me when we made our first trip west of the Rockies. It was April 2007, just in time for the rhododendrons to explode with color, and Roy had been chosen to interview for a faculty position at Multnomah University (Multnomah Bible College at the time). Huge blossoms of pink and white lined the sidewalks from one side of campus to the other. We were hooked–accepting the job then–and still awed today by the Northwest’s beauty.
The Pacific NW boasts lots of flowering trees, and I look forward each year to spring’s startling pinks, satin whites, and crimson reds splashed across the landscape. But one blossom in particular is missing from our neighborhoods—the almond tree.
Though I could travel south to California and find a healthy crop of them, almond trees are native to the Middle East and East Asia. Almonds are actually pretty famous, having been found in ancient Egyptian tombs dating back to the New Kingdom (ca. 1550-1070 BCE).
Why do I care about almond trees? Because God cares about almond trees—enough to mention them repeatedly in His Word…
The Bible’s Almond Trees
Remember the story of Jacob’s father-in-law (also uncle), Laban, cheating him? Not only did Laban give Jacob the older daughter Leah, when Jacob had worked seven years to earn Rachel’s hand in marriage, but sneaky Laban also changed Jacob’s wages repeatedly while he worked off the debt for his wives.
In order to out-play his deceitful father-in-law, Genesis 30:37-39 tells us that Jacob—presumably under God’s inspiration—peeled away the bark from poplar, almond and plane trees, to make white stripes on them. He then let the best sheep mate in front of the striped branches to produce the finest speckled, spotted, and striped stock as his own—the stipulated color of sheep for his wages.
Later in Jacob’s life, during a great famine, he tells his ten sons to return to Egypt to get more grain for their drought-starved family but to take a hearty offering to the grouchy vizier (unknown to them as Joseph). The gift Jacob suggests in Genesis 43:11 consists of: a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds.
Almond buds and blossoms have great significance in the instructions for building the Tabernacle and while Moses and Aaron led the Children of Israel through the Wilderness:
“Make a lampstand of pure gold and hammer it out, base and shaft; its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms shall be of one piece with it. Six branches are to extend from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms are to be on one branch, three on the next branch…and on the lampstand there are to be four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms.” Ex. 25:31–34
“The next day Moses entered the Tent of the Testimony and saw that Aaron’s staff, which represented the house of Levi, had not only sprouted but had budded, blossomed and produced almonds…The Lord said to Moses, ‘Put back Aaron’s staff in front of the ark of the covenant law, to be kept as a sign to the rebellious. This will put an end to their grumbling against me, so that they will not die.’” Nu 17:8,10
So, What’s Up With Almonds?
“The word of the LORD came to me: ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ ‘I see the branch of an almond tree,’ I replied. The LORD said to me, ‘You have seen correctly, for I am watching* to see that my word is fulfilled.’” Jer. 1:11–12
*The Hebrew for watching sounds like the Hebrew for almond tree.
Apply Watching to Almond Scriptures
Let’s go back to those mentions of almonds or almond trees in God’s Word and consider how God’s watching affects their meaning:
- When Jacob felt betrayed and alone by his uncle/father-in-law in a foreign land, God was watching and blessed him with two wives, ten sons, and a growing crop of speckled, spotted, and striped sheep and goats.
- When Jacob was afraid to send his beloved son Benjamin to Egypt at the command of the grouchy vizier, God was watching, and had already prepared Joseph as the vizier to provide for them all during the famine.
- The lampstand in the Tabernacle was the ONLY source of light—God was watching as His newly appointed priests learned to worship Him in the beauty of holiness.
- God was watching the Israelites grumble and grouse against Aaron’s leadership as High Priest. He budded, blossomed, and produced fruit from Aaron’s staff to prove His favor for the man He’d chosen to serve Him and lead His people.
God’s Still Watching
Most of us don’t have an almond tree to remind us God is watching. But each time I see any kind of blossoming tree, I try to remember the almond blossoms—and think of my watching God.
And as a follower of Christ, my God does so much more than watch. His Holy Spirit lives, breathes, and moves inside me, giving peace and direction from within. I have access to the perpetual springtime of His constant presence.
Revel in the buds and blossoms of spring, and remember your God is watching over you!
- Discover why ALMONDS mentioned in Scripture are significant.
- Did you know the Hebrew word for watching sounds like the Hebrew for almond tree?
- Experience the perpetual Spring-time of God’s presence through the Holy Spirit.
- What is it about spring that makes you especially joyful?