Isaiah, the servant of the Lord, said God’s people were trees of righteousness. The reason they were called trees of righteousness is because they were the planting of the Lord. In the creation God created many natural trees – they were not all alike. They were alike in this respect that they all fulfilled God’s will. Since leaving our country, I have seen many many trees I have not seen before. When we were in Japan, one of our friends took us to a beautiful Japanese garden. In that garden there were many trees I had never seen before. Some of them had names on them, but we could not read the names, so we asked, “What is the name of those trees?” He told us the names of those trees, but we could not remember them, nor could we pronounce them. Since we came here, we have seen many trees we have not seen before and they have told us some of their names. We may not remember your names, but we will never forget your spirit of fellowship.
When the Lord planted the trees, He planted them for His enjoyment. When He planted those natural trees, He said, “It is good.” We are thankful God has His trees of righteousness in all countries. There is one thing that we as trees of the Lord’s planting have in common. We must all draw from the same source for fruitfulness. Our relationship with God will help us to fulfill the purpose for which we are created. Some trees were used in the Bible days for building purposes. When Solomon built the temple, he brought many trees from other lands for many reasons. Some of those trees were used for pillars in the temple; some of the wood was used for making harps and musical instruments. The pillars brought strength into the Kingdom. The musical instruments brought harmony into the Kingdom. These two things were very important in the temple. We are thankful today for those who are pillars in the building of God. Jesus was that great pillar of truth for all righteousness. Jesus was that great pillar that brought strength into the Kingdom of God in His day. People today who are the Lord’s planting can be like that also. The harps and the musical instruments were very necessary just like the pillars were necessary. We are very thankful for those who bring harmony into the Kingdom and preserve harmony in the Kingdom. We are thankful for the true foundation that we have in Christ to build upon. None of us know how long we have to build. Some may have many years, some may have only a few years. Because we do not know how many years we have, we want to do the best with the years that we have.
There was a man in our field who was building a house and he knew he had a terminal illness. He told us one day, “I may not have long to live, but I want to build in such a way my children can enjoy it.” We appreciate today people who think about the next generation and want to build well. We can so clearly see in the life of Jesus all the things we need to put into our building for eternity. Some trees are just used for food, like fruit and nuts. We think of Jesus, who came from heaven, who was the Bread of Life. Jesus also shared with many, many people that Bread from heaven. When we are aware that we are the Lord’s planting, we too would like to have bread to share with other people. We read about Joseph how in his day and generation he fed his brethren with bread. I am thankful for the many people who have been feeding me all these years.
Some trees are just shade trees – that is all the purpose for which they were created. We can think of many of the Lord’s people who are like that, shade trees. We read about Deborah who was a Mother in Israel. We read that she sat under her palm tree and people came for judgment or advice. We think of people today that are just like that – we need some advice or help, and we go to them in our need. Many years ago, my companion and I were very young in this Work. There were times when we just felt we had to have some advice, and we would go to a dear sister. Sometimes we just wanted to sit under her palm tree. Sometimes we walked many miles just to spend a few hours with her because we needed her help. She was the Lord’s servant, but she was not well and she was spending that year resting. We always felt thankful we could sit in the shade of her tree. There are many people who need that kind of fellowship today, also.
There are some trees just used for medicine. There is a certain tree that produces balm for healing. I think of people in the Bible, as well as in our day, that are like balm to us. These people just have a way of bringing healing to our soul. There was that experience about Naaman in the OT. He had a very distressed spirit; he was very angry because he did not want to follow the instructions of the Lord’s servant. Naaman had some wise servants who went to him and talked to him. He said, “Master, if the servant of God had asked you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? Wouldn’t it be better to just do what the servant of the Lord told you to do?” Those servants had the balm that quieted his spirit. We are glad that there are people God uses to calm our spirits, that is just like giving us that balm. I think we all remember that story about David and Abigail. David was going to avenge himself and take things into his own hands, and that would have brought him a great deal of regret and sorrow, but Abigail went to David with a little balm and the words she spoke to him caused him to change his plan and his mind. Later David thanked Abigail for her godly advice and help.
Some trees are used for a certain kind of perfume. I think of what Paul wrote to the Corinthians that they were unto God a sweet savour of Christ. When Mary broke the alabaster box, it was a very wonderful savour that went up to God. When she was in the presence of Jesus and others, she broke that box of ointment. When she was breaking the box, I am sure all eyes would have been upon her, but when she anointed Jesus, all eyes would be on Jesus. It is a wonderful thing when we just point people to Jesus in spite of ourselves.
When we were in Hawaii, I saw a tree I have never seen one like it in our country. You may have a tree like that here, I don’t know. There it is called “the traveler’s palm.” It is like a huge hand or fan. This tree always points in the same direction, east and west. In the old days, when travelers were lost, they would look for that palm and they could always depend on that tree for direction. We think about Jesus coming into the world to give direction to people and people could depend upon Him also for direction for their lives. Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, today, and forever. We can depend on His direction today just like the early travelers and the early disciples. We are thankful for people in the Kingdom that also are like that.
In our country in America where I labour, we often see trees that are only used for one purpose. There are rows of trees planted around a farm for a “wind break.” They are not fruit trees, they don’t produce anything for fragrance, and have not the purpose of other trees, but they make wonderful windbreaks. In the winter when the storms are raging, the fields are protected by these wind breaks. All of God’s people can be like that to their brethren. We all pass through storms in our experience in life. Many times people have been like that with us, they helped us in the storm. There are many experiences that our brethren go through which we have never been through, an experience we have never had like that. We cannot really understand because we have not had that experience, but everyone of us can say, “We care.” Sometimes it is just the fact of people standing by and helping us by their spirit. Storms are not forever, but friends in Christ are forever. We are just thankful for people who stand in their place that are just like those windbreak trees. It looks to me that every person that is a planting of the Lord has a place to fill. Whatever place God has given us, I hope we will appreciate it. We don’t know how many people are depending on us to fulfill the purpose of God.
In another place Isaiah said, “The trees of the field would clap their hands.” I have never seen trees clapping their hands, but I have seen the Lord’s people when they are happy. Isaiah said that these trees would clap their hands, they would go forth with peace and joy. I think of the Lord’s people here at convention and all the good things we are getting from heaven. We can all go forth with peace and joy in our hearts.