Have you ever seen palm trees just after sundown, silhouetted against the celestial, twinkling sky? How majestic they are. The sight of one, even in a photograph, makes me feel happy and at peace. Do you feel the same way? They even sound lovely: Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible says, they “whisper musically in the breeze.”
Did you know Scripture shows that God has special regard for palm trees? They were etched throughout Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:29-35; 7:36) and will be in God’s future temple. Ezekiel chapters 40 through 44 picture in vivid, riveting detail the temple Jesus Christ will rule from, along with all the firstfruit Christians who earn the Philadelphian reward. Chapters 40 and 41 have 13 references to palm trees throughout this future temple. Pause to read these passages in Ezekiel. It is a wonderful study that can dramatically increase your excitement about this temple.
Why are palm trees pictured in God’s temples? Consider this enigma: Real palm trees grew just outside Solomon’s temple—in fact, people could see real ones in their daily activities throughout much of ancient Israel. So why would God inspire common palms to be engraved inside Solomon’s temple?
God’s Word is deep and filled with meaningful symbols. God is the Creator and Master over every beautiful detail of His physical creation, with patterns and important overlapping detail arranged like a great symphony. Thus with every palm tree there is a vision that has special meaning to all of us. What does the palm tree represent? It must be important, or it wouldn’t be carved throughout His great headquarters temple.
Let’s consider some of the physical properties of palm trees. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, “Palms are of the greatest economic importance … next only to the grasses. They furnish food, clothing, shelter, fuel, fiber, paper, starch, oil, sugar, wax, wine, tannin, dying materials, resin and a host of minor products ….” Anciently, its trunk and leaves provided valuable timber and rigging for ships, which were critical to trade and commerce. Its sap even produces a pleasant wine.
Palm trees produce wealth, especially in ancient times. With this in mind, look at Psalm 92:12: “The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree ….” To flourish means to thrive, prosper, grow or be successful. God is saying prosperity, or “flourishing,” is an outcome of righteousness, and “all [God’s] commandments are righteousness” (Psalm 119:172). When the wonderful World Tomorrow begins, righteousness and prosperity will flow out from the temple to the whole world—from Christ and the king-priests who have a headquarters position (Isaiah 2:3). Palm trees are symbolic of righteous prosperity, flourishing and abundance.
Yet there is much more. Notice these incredible facts from Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible and notice the parallels to the true Christian life: “‘The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree’ suggests a world of illustration whether respect be had to the orderly and regular aspect of the tree, its fruitfulness … or the height at which the foliage grows, as far as possible from earth and as near as possible to heaven …. Perhaps no point is more worthy of mention, we wish to pursue the comparison, than the elasticity of the fiber of the palm and its determined growth upward even when loaded with weights. To these points of comparison may be added, its principle of growth: it is an endogen, and grows from within; its usefulness; the Syrians enumerating 360 different uses to which it may be put; and the statement that it bears its best fruit in old age.”
These attributes deep parallel the Christian life. Note that palms are “elastic”—bendable; we as Christians must be teachable, bendable. Just like palm trees take in water from the ground and grow from the inside, so our growth starts inside-out, from our thoughts, motivations and resolve—fueled and motivated by God’s Spirit, typed by water. We must be determined in our growth upward, even as downward pressure weighs against us, just like these magnificent trees do. We must bear abundant fruit—fruit that others may partake of and prosper by—just like the palms. What a wonderful picture. It carries right into the World Tomorrow.
These qualities of palm trees are the qualities of royalty. Consider that Christ, when He entered into Jerusalem for the last time as a man, was greeted as a king with the people laying out palm tree branches across His path (John 12:13). Palm branches are associated with the Feast of Tabernacles, and as such with the World Tomorrow (Leviticus 23:40).
Amazingly, Revelation 7:9-15 picture a huge group of people who repent, have their sins forgiven by Christ’s sacrifice, holding palm branches in their hands (verse 9). Note how these people will be serving in the temple (verse 15).
Palm trees are a symbol of righteousness, goodness, abundance and God Family royalty. Now that is true beauty! They are the qualities required of those who are to be in God’s headquarters temple forever. You have a royal destiny with God. Read Ezekiel 40 to 44 and you will be inspired beyond imagination. Work and build righteous character now, and you will flourish like the palm. Prepare to take your place at world headquarters—your royal, palm-adorned home.