During the course of our previous two visits, we learned two important things: that God, for some reason, has chosen to use trees to tell His story of redemption; and, that God, for some reason, has chosen to use me, a very reluctant prophet, to give you an explanation for that choice. But that presents something of a challenge, doesn’t it; I mean, how is it possible for any of us to know the mind of God concerning issues of this or any other kind? After all, God is Big and we are small, God is Spirit and we are flesh, God is Infinite and we are finite, and God is Holy and we are not. How, then, can we—the small, fleshly, finite, and sinful ever begin to understand Him—the Big, the Spiritual, the Infinite, and the Holy?
Amazingly, God has made that possible for us through:
- The gift of His Spirit…
The Spirit of Truth who comes to live within us when we are born again; and,
The Spirit of Truth who, according to Jesus in John 16:13, 14, will guide you into all truth…for He will take what is mine and declare it to you.”
- The provision of His Word…
…which was in the beginning with God, and was God (John 1:1);
…which was breathed out by God, and…”profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3:16);”
…whose unfolding gives light and imparts understanding to the simple (Ps. 119:130); and,
…the sum of which is Truth (Ps. 119:160).
- The wisdom that has been made available to us through prayer, for…
If any of you lacks wisdom let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given to him (James 1:5);” and,
Yes, if you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding; if you seek it like silver and search for it as hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord [for, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.” (Prov. 1:7)] and find the knowledge of God. For the Lord gives wisdom; from His mouth comes knowledge and understanding; He stores up sound wisdom for the upright; He is a shield to those who walk in integrity… (Prov. 2:3-7).
Therefore, when the time comes for us to try and plumb the depths of God’s reasoning about anything, the first thing we must do is pray for wisdom and expect the Holy Spirit to be ready, willing, and able to guide us into the truth that we are seeking. Next, we need to get out our picks and shovels, or the tools which will help us as we begin digging for the treasures of truth that are hidden in God’s Word. Two such tools are: an understanding of the way that God reveals Himself to us; and, an understanding of the way that God teaches us about spiritual things.
Of course, the most obvious way that God reveals Himself to us is through the things that He says—after all, His Word isn’t called His Word for no reason. However, an equally revealing way, and one that is often overlooked, is through the things that He does—that is, in the way that He acts in a given situation, as well as in the way that He relates to the people involved in those situations.
For instance, from the very beginning of the Bible, we are introduced to a God who purposefully separates things, repeatedly making divisions or distinctions between them, before passing judgments upon them. We see this taking place throughout the creation story, where, in Genesis 1:1, we learn that God’s intentions were to create two separate and distinct realms of existence, the heavens and the earth; while in the verses that follow, we learn how He went about doing that. The process was simple: He spoke, His Word was activated by the hovering Holy Spirit, then that which was spoken became reality; the results, on the other hand, were beyond impressive:
- God spoke light into darkness, separated the light from the darkness, and then He gave them distinctive names;
- God commanded the waters to be divided by an expanse or an atmosphere, with this resulting in the creation of the heavens;
- God commanded the waters under the heavens to be collected and set apart so that dry land could emerge, thus creating the earth;
- God called vegetation to come forth from the newly created earth, separating it into distinct kinds;
- God then went on to separate day from night, season from season, fish from fowl, and one kind of living creature from another;
- Then, God created man, separate and distinct from all the other living creatures, and gave him dominion over all of His other works;
- Finally, God separated the woman from the man in order to provide him with the companion and helper that he would need in life; and,
- All of this God judged to be good and very good.
This revelation of a God who divides, separates, and then judges, is an extremely important one for us to remember; for it will be a recurring theme throughout scripture, one eventually leading us to the final division and judgment of humanity at the Great White Throne spoken of in Revelation 20:11ff, but it will also prove to be essential to our eventual understanding of the part that trees play in God’s story of redemption.
Now, as for discovering how to use the second tool in our treasure hunting arsenal—that is, an understanding of the way that God teaches us about spiritual truths–let’s look at Romans 1:19-20 to see what insights the Apostle Paul can give us on that subject. There, he says…
For what can be known about God is plain to them [men], because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they [men] are without excuse.
To me, this is one of the most profound and enlightening verses in scripture because in just fifty-two words, we learn:
- That God has manifested or made known to us such otherwise inexplicable concepts as His eternal power and divine nature (some translations say “His eternal power and godhead”) through the things that He has made; and,
- That, in order to do so, God intentionally incorporated things into the natural world that could later be used as living illustrations or object lessons for some spiritual truth or reality.
This is just another way of informing us that God’s method of teaching has always been to take the known and use it to explain the unknown; or, in other words, to use the things that we can see and are familiar with to explain those things that are beyond the reach of our normal comprehension.
As you may recall, this was the same method that Jesus used when teaching His disciples the spiritual truths that they needed to know. When Jesus wanted His disciples to understand the spiritual realities of who He was, He used such common ordinary things as bread, water, light, darkness, birth and death to make those things known to them. And when He wanted to teach them what the kingdom of heaven was like, He used parables, or stories about events in everyday life—such as sowing, reaping, marriage, feasts and celebrations—to explain what life would be like in the coming kingdom of God. Teaching in this way certainly wasn’t new, nor did it originate during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry; in reality, Jesus was just doing what He had seen His Father do since the dawn of time—use the known to explain the unknown.
Now that we have been equipped with a rudimentary knowledge of the tools of that we will be using for the job, it is time for us to begin digging for the treasures of truth that God has hidden for us in the trees–a task which we will undertake when we meet together the next time.
Searching for truth isn’t always easy, as Sanctus Real reminds us in “These Things Take Time…”