Trees have been mentioned several times in the Bible in different perspectives depending on the theme in question. Whether it is in the Old Testament or New Testament, trees have held significant meanings. Together with trees have been the mention of leaves. Of course, without trees, you can’t possibly have leaves.
In this article, we are diving deeper into the sphere of trees and leaves to bring out exactly what the Bible means when it talks about leaves. What significance does that have to the life of a Catholic or any follower of the Bible teachings? What does a leaf symbolize in the Bible?
What You'll Learn Today
The life of a godly person is ordered by God. He orders and directs every path the person takes and his destiny. The Bible has in several places alluded to the fact that God is always in control to make his people successful. He is the one who protects them from all dangers and provides for them even while they are asleep.
In Psalm 1:3, the Bible speaks out on this sustenance. It says:
“He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”
Withering of the leaf is a sign that God has cut his supply and is no longer the person sustaining.
However, the assurance here is that God is after the people who do what is right. In them, God creates a sustenance mechanism, providing for them and ensuring that they don’t luck.
In Jeremiah 17:8, the prophet says something similar. He says:
“He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
The Healing Power of God
When God created the universe as narrated in the book of Genesis, there are trees that he placed in the middle of the garden of Eden -the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and the tree of life. Apart from us reading that Adam and Eve ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, we dot here much about the tree of life.
However, in the book of Revelation, the Bible revisits the creation story and tells us about the tree of life. In Revelation 22:2 the Bible says:
“Through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
God deposited the healing power in the leaves of the tree of life. In part, it is not surprising because leaves were used in the ancient world for healing purposes. For instance, olive leaves were used to cure fevers and skin problems.
However, the kind of healing that is spoken of here is spiritual healing. the nations that were to be healed were the gentile nations tainted with sin. The leaves have spiritual healing power in them.
Surprisingly and of course not coincidentally the prophet Ezekiel in Ezekiel 47:12 sees the same thing. It means truly in the spiritual realm; the tree of life is there and is watered by the river of God.
Signs of the End
Just like what we would do if we were with Jesus today, the disciples kept on asking Jesus when the end will be. In short, they were asking Jesus when he would come back and fold up this earth.
While probably they expected a definite day and date, Jesus, sort of dodged the questions for a long time in his ministry until the tail end. In Mathew 24:32, the Bible says:
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.”
The leaves of the fig tree were common to the followers of Jesus and everyone else living in the land yet they had such a great lesson. They held the key to the signs of the end.
If people remained observant and attentive, they could almost tell when the end times were near in the same way they could tell the sprouting of the leaves.
The Deceit and Temporal Nature of Human Dominion
In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about this massive tree that towers over the world and provides food and shelter to all people and other creatures, the shock comes in when the tree must be cut. While the stump remains, the giant tree is gone.
In Daniel 4:21 the Bible records:
“whose leaves were beautiful, and its fruit much, and in it was food for all; under which the animals of the field lived, and on whose branches the birds of the sky had their habitation.”
To the ordinary eye, such kind of a tree with those kinds of leaves is arguably healthy and vibrant.
However, in this case, the dream as Daniel interprets it represents a temporal human dominion where the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, which appears mighty now, would later suffer but be preserved for him.
God is all-mighty. He owns the supreme kingdom and can give it to anyone he so desires. Irrespective of how healthy the leaves appeared, God can end the vibrancy in a flash and destroy all kingdoms.
The Symbol of Hope
In the world today, hope seems to be in short supply. However, it is not just today, even in the Old Testament during the time of Job, hope was also a treasured commodity and in times of suffering it became scarce.
In the book of Job 14:7-9, the Bible reads:
“At least there is hope for a tree: If it is cut down, it will sprout again, and its new shoots will not fail. Its roots may grow old in the ground and its stump dies in the soil, yet at the scent of water it will bud and put forth shoots like a plant.”
The leaves or shoots in this case were a symbol of hope of revival and renewal.
The sign of a leaf carries with it a lot of significance. When you see a leaf withering, it means that life is being snuffed out, but on the other hand, a green healthy leaf is a sign of vibrancy, sustenance, productivity, and hope.
The Bible portrays this in different ways and each verse is connected to a divine significance.