Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
July 28, 1966
NUMBER 12, PAGE 7b-8a

Let The Earth Bring Forth...The...Tree

Robert E. Speer

The dictionary on my desk states that the tree is a "woody perennial plant having a single main axis or stem (trunk)." By way of definition, little more is given. I find this disappointing on two counts: 1. I love trees, and 2. each tree bears silent, reassuring testimony; God is.

From Genesis 1:9-12 one may read of the third day of creation: "And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good." Thus, in Genesis, the Book of Beginnings, is recorded the beginning of the tree.

The Bible names not less than 28 trees, perhaps more. It is interesting to note the scriptural settings in which these trees are mentioned. There are the "miracle" trees of the Garden of Eden, the tree of life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:9). Trees are used figuratively: "And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper" (Psalms 1:3). Trees are sometimes used to illustrate strength; as, "they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified" (Isaiah 61:3). On occasion, trees were used symbolically, as in the case of Nebuchadnezzar's dream: "Thus were the visions of mine head in my bed; I saw, and behold, a tree in the midst of the earth, and the height thereof was great. The tree grew, and was strong, and the height thereof reached into heaven, and the sight thereof to the end of the earth:..." (Daniel 4:10-12). Jesus also used the tree to make his points clear and the lesson plain. "Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.... Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them" (Matthew 7:15-20). Thus, one sees that trees play a prominent role in Holy Writ.

In the United States, I have done most of my preaching in the States of Minnesota and Wisconsin, both of which can boast great forests. I have walked the floors of the great forests all times of the year, and the effect is always the same; while inhaling the aroma of the wooded acres and listening to the wind as it whispers through the lofty boughs I feel as one walking with God.

In Nigeria, I have travelled well over 18,000 miles in the past year. In travelling, I have been impressed by the trees that line the roads, most of which are new to me. I especially marvel at the large trees, some of which reach nearly 200 feet, toward the sky and measure 20 to 30 feet in circumference. Again, whether in the northern United States or in southern Nigeria, I find myself awed with the majesty of the forest, for in each tree is a testimony true and sure: God is.

Man has learned to make use of these trees in many ways for many purposes: for both fruit and shade, lumber and building materials, furniture and various household articles, and for conversion into paper products which in turn take on many forms, such as the newsprint from which you are now reading, radio and television parts, and even some clothing. Indeed the list is long.

Man, then, can very well congratulate himself for all the things he can do with a tree. However, man must not become too proud, for while the art of science has devised countless uses for the tree, the art of science has not, will not, can not make a tree. The scientists may be able to make the tree grow faster, or slower, or taller, or thicker, or not at all; but, his profession has not, will not, can not produce a living tree, except by planting the seed of another tree.

The most learned agnostic, the most intelligent atheist (like the most humble Christian), may well enjoy the beauty of a tree, its shade or its many wood products. He may take it apart from its most lofty leaf to its lowest rambling root, from the most outer bark to the most inner heart, for the purpose of its ultimate use or its utter destruction; but, all the king's horses and all the king's men can not put it back together again! Plant it, yes; make it, no.

Who can make a tree? God said, "Let the earth bring forth... the... tree."

-P. O. Box 4064-UCI Ibadan, Nigeria, WA