"And the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Jeremiah, what do you see?” And I said, “I see an almond branch.” Then the Lord said to me, “You have seen well, for I am watching over my word to perform it.”" – Jeremiah 1:11-12 (MEV)
God had just called Jeremiah into the prophetic ministry. Then, he was just a young man, probably a teenager. The prospect of speaking to an entire nation rattled him. It is understandable since Jeremiah would be speaking not just to the ordinary folks but also to the kings and leaders. That must be intimidating!
It is significant that God chooses to use the almond branch as a prophetic symbol. The almond tree is also called the “awake” or “wakeful” tree because it is the first tree to blossom and produce fruit during springtime in Israel while other trees have yet to wake up from the cold winter. It puts out beautiful clusters of snow-white or pinkish-white flowers even before any foliage appears.
This conversation between God and Jeremiah has a pun – a wordplay – in it. The Hebrew words for “almond” and “watch” are almost identical sounding. Almond is “saqed” (pronounced sha-kade) whereas watch is “soqed” (pronounced sha-kart). Soqed means to keep watch in a vigilant manner, like a leopard watching its prey and getting ready to pounce on it at the opportune moment (Jeremiah 5:6).
God told Jeremiah, “You see the “saqed” (almond branch). It shall be a sign to you that I will “soqed” (watch) over my words to make sure that they come to pass.”
Such would be the certainty of God’s words and the power of Jeremiah’s prophecies. He did not have to worry about the reliability. God could be trusted, and His words would never return to Him void without accomplishing their purposes.
God told our church to expect 2018 to be a year of fruitfulness. It is a year of turning – from barrenness to fruitfulness; from sorrow to joy; from mourning to dancing. A guest speaker also released a similar prophetic word that we would experience a reversal of fortunes in 2018. Do you believe? Can God’s prophetic words be trusted? Certainly! Absolutely!
If we have heard God correctly, then it will surely come to pass because God will watch over His words to bring about their fulfilment. You can be confident of this.
Nevertheless, we must also play our part. We must be watchful and pray. An indifferent attitude is not helpful – since God says so, it will happen whether we do anything or not. No, it does not work this way. When the prophet, Daniel, learned about Jeremiah’s prophecy that Israel’s captivity in Babylon would last seventy years, he turned immediately to God and pleaded with Him in earnest prayer and fasting (Daniel 9:2-3). Daniel sensed the urgency. The end of the seventy-year captivity was near, and so he quickly set down to nurture the prophecy in prayer.
Daniel took a proactive and collaborative approach. He understood that in as much as it was God’s will, he had the responsibility to pray for the prophecy to come to fruition. In the same way, we must adopt the same attitude – watchful, prayerful, and wakeful like the almond tree.
Has it occurred to you that the almond blossom is part of the design of the golden lampstand in the Holy Place of the tabernacle? The cups that held the oil and wicks at the end of each of the seven branches were shaped like the almond flower, and the flames on these cups burned continually. This beautiful design is another symbol of wakefulness in the Presence of God.
In view of the promises, may God awaken those who are apathetic and in spiritual slumber! Watch and pray so that you will blossom and bear fruit. Blessed is the one who listens to me, watching daily at my gates, waiting beside my doors (Proverbs 8:34 – MEV).
Have a fruitful year!
Pastors Les & Adeline Chua