Thursday, August 19, 2010

Olive trees

Back to Zechariah...
I was re-reading and drawing a blank... nothing more to write about.
Then in other ares of life, as I was drawing ideas for a tattoo, I was thinking of eschatological symbolism that I wanted to incorporate in the feathers of my phoenix. The idea to put an olive branch in his mouth or talons popped into my head. I was remembering Zechariah chapter 4 about the golden lamp stand and the two olive trees, and getting it a bit mixed up with Chapter 1 where Jesus is standing among the myrtle trees.
I knew that in chapter one the trees represented God's people Israel. I just had it confused thinking that they were olive trees too, not myrtle trees. I got all excited thinking about what other verses I could now go to looking for the symbolism of Israel and Olive trees.  My mind went immediately to Noah's ark. I thought of how the dove came back with an olive branch.
Well, before I go too far with the 'wrong' turn my mind took, I must say that when I went to look it all up to share it with you, I was pleasantly surprised by my mistake. All of my conclusions are just as exciting (if not more) with the correct information as they were with the wrong information.
Myrtle trees represent the people of Israel, but olive trees represent God's anointed.
The two olive trees in chapter 4, are the two witnesses (I would guess). The olive branch in the story of Noah is the anointed 'branch' of his family, saved from the flood.
So now we can look at both trees in stories we know.
Off the top of my head, I think of Esther.  Her real name, Hadassah, means Myrtle. She was chosen to represent all of the Jews, not just the anointed ones.
In Romans 11 he talks about the gentiles being grafted into the olive tree. He doesn't say the Myrtle tree...  We don't become Jews, but we are part of the tree that is God's true family. Not all Jews are part of the olive tree. The olive tree consists only of believers in the Messiah.
In the Bible olive oil was used for light. Myrtle trees don't make oil for lamps... only "anointed" olive trees do.
The manna from heaven in Numbers 11 tasted like "something made with olive oil." :-)
Deuteronomy 28 talks about curses for the disobedient; In verse 40 it says, "You will have olive trees throughout your country but you will not use the oil, because the olives will drop off." Sure, this may have been literal, but think of the symbolism of that too.
There are at least a handful of other verses that I think have a (not-so-hidden) symbolism concerning the olive tree, but I'll let you look those up for yourself if you want.
As for the myrtle tree and how it relates to Jews...  Myrtle trees are strong; they start as a shrub with many stems that wrap around each other forming the trunk. It takes them a long time to grow, but they have deep roots. When you "bruise" the leaves they give off an aroma.
Anyway... interesting stuff.