And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth to the mount…
It is a grand festival. It is the Feast of Tabernacles. The people celebrate the deliverance of their fathers from desert travel, where they lived in tents. And it is also typical of our march to heaven — pilgrims in a temporary booth on the way to Canaan. So that I say to you in a figurative sense what was said to the Jews in a literal sense, "Go forth into the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths."
I. THE "OLIVE" BRANCH IS ALWAYS USED AS A SIGN OF PEACE. The olive-tree grows in warm climates to the height of about twenty-five feet, has an upright stem, and many out-shooting branches which can easily be stripped off. If a twig of this tree, in time of war, is handed from one general to another, it means the unsaddling of cavalry horses and the hanging up of the war knapsacks. After hostilities have ceased, these branches are placed over doorways, and they are built into triumphal arches, and they are waved in processions. They spell out in verdurous letters that heaven-born word of "Peace!" Now in this gospel arbour which God sends us to build we must have two of these olive branches.
1. Peace with God.
2. Peace with each other.
II. My text, in the next place, suggests that in this arbour for our soul, on the way toward glory, WE OUGHT TO HAVE A GOOD MANY "PINE BRANCHES." Now, pine is healthful, aromatic, and an evergreen. It has often been the case that invalids have been sent into the regions where the pine grows, and they have come back thoroughly well. It is a frequent prescription, on the part of physicians, to say, "Go for a few weeks amid the pines, and you will be better." Now we want in this gospel arbour pine branches. We want something that means health, aroma, and evergreen. This is a very healthy religion. I have known an old Christian, with no capital of physical health, and carrying about him all the respectable diseases that one can carry, and yet kept alive by nothing at all but his religion. But this gospel is evergreen. What does the pine forest care for the snow on its brow? It merely considers it a crown of glory. You cannot freeze out the pine forest, and this grace of God is just as good in the winter of trouble as it is in the summer of prosperity. It is the religion you want — not dependent upon weather or upon change.
III. My text suggests still further that this arbour of Christian grace ought to have in it A GOOD MANY "PALM BRANCHES." You know that it is a favourite tree at the East. The ancients used to make it into three hundred and sixty uses. The fruit is conserved. The sap becomes a beverage. The stones are ground up as food for camels. The base of the leaves is twisted into rope. Baskets and mats are made out of it, and from the root to the tip-top of the palm it is all usefulness. It grows eighty-five feet in height, is columnar, its fringed leaves sometimes four or five yards long, and the ancients used to carry it in processions as a symbol of victory. Oh, for more palm branches in our gospel arbour! Usefulness and victory! Head, heart, tongue, pen, money, social position — all employed for God. Counsel is often given on worldly matters — about investments — that you must not put all the eggs in one basket; but in this matter of religion I wish that we might give all to God, and get in ourselves. "Oh," says some man, "my business is to sell silks and calicoes." Then sell silks and calicoes for the glory of God. Says another man, "My business is to edit a newspaper." Then edit a newspaper for the glory of God. Anything that a man cannot do for the glory of God he has no right to do. The vast majority of professed Christians in this day do not amount to anything. You have to shovel them off the track before the chariot of God's grace can advance. What we want in the Church now is not weeping willows, sighing and weeping by the Water-courses, admiring their long fringes in the glass of the stream; not hickories full of knots; not wild cherry, dropping bitter fruits; but palm-trees, adapted to three hundred and sixty purposes — root, trunk, branch, leaf, producing something for God and man and angels.
IV. My text demands that in the making of this gospel arbour we shall get "BRANCHES OF THICK TREES." You know that a booth or arbour is of little worth unless there be stout poles at the corners, or the wind will upset the booth; and you will be worse off than without shelter unless you have strong branches of thick trees. A gospel that is all mellowness and sweetness will have no strength to withstand the blast of temptation and trial and trouble. We want a brawny Christianity. We want a gospel with warnings as well as with invitations. While olive branches are good in their places, and the palm branches, and the myrtle branches, we want the stout branches of thick trees. The tempest of temptation will come down after a while; the hurricane of death will blow; and alas! for that man who has not his soul sheltered under the stout branches of the thick trees.
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.
WEB: and that they should publish and proclaim in all their cities, and in Jerusalem, saying, "Go out to the mountain, and get olive branches, and branches of wild olive, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written."