and Almonds in the Bible
By Chris Josephson
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under
the shadow of the Almighty” (Psalm 91:1).
Ma’ale Michmash is the settlement in the Benjamin mountain region of Israel where we have begun an Almond Orchard in memory of the founder of Bible Light, Elmer Josephson. Many years ago, Elmer himself suggested this name for a settlement in the area. Michmash is to the north and a little east of Jerusalem. During the time of King Saul some interesting events transpired there. It will be helpful for you to find First Samuel chapters 12-14 in your Bible and follow along in this study.
In the preceding chapter (12),
Saul had just been proclaimed king with a gala celebration at Gilgal. The
Prophet Samuel was the keynote speaker, but he threw a wet blanket on the
He reminded the people of their
miraculous deliverance from Egypt and that the Lord had continued to
deliver them by the judges and prophets. But the people wanted to be like
all the other nations and have a king. They said, “Nay, but a king shall reign over us,” though Samuel
said, “The LORD your God was your King” (I Sam. 12:12).
Samuel said, “If
you will not obey the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the commandment
of the LORD, then shall the hand of the LORD be against you, as it was
against your fathers. Now therefore stand and see this great thing, which
the LORD will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will
call unto the LORD, and He shall send thunder and rain that you may
perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the
sight of the LORD, in asking you a king.
“So Samuel called unto the LORD: and the LORD sent thunder and rain that
day: and all the people greatly feared the LORD and Samuel”
It was the dry season when
ordinarily there was not a drop of rain – and certainly no thunder and
Yet Samuel went on to promise: “God
forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but
I will teach you the good and the right way; Only fear the LORD, and serve
him in Truth with all your heart: for consider how great things He hath
done for you. But if you shall still do wickedly, you shall be consumed,
both you and your king” (verses 23-25).
Now Saul was finally settled in his role as king and it was time to flex his muscles. The Philistines were Israel’s immediate and entrenched enemy. They had taken over “the West Bank” to the point the Israelis had to go to them to get their instruments sharpened (Vs. 19-23): “So it came to pass in the day of battle that there was neither sword nor spear found in the hand of any of the people that were with Saul and Jonathan: but with Saul and with Jonathan his son was there found. And the garrison of the Philistines went out to the passage of Michmash” (Vs. 22&23).
Let’s go back now to the
first part of chapter 13 and learn that prior to this, King Saul was
actually in possession of the camp at Michmash with 2,000 of his
“IDF” troops, while Jonathan was not far away with 1,000 men at Gibeah.
his potential and made a preemptive
strike, defeating the Philistines at Geba (one of the nearby
hills). The war for restoration of the land (and economy) to Israel had
King Saul took the credit for
Jonathan’s success and blew the trumpet, “And
all Israel heard say that Saul had smitten a garrison of the Philistines,
and that Israel was had in abomination with the Philistines” (V.4).
King Saul retreated from
Michmash to Gilgal, and “the
Philistines gathered themselves together to fight Israel . . . they came
up and pitched in Michmash, eastward from Bethaven” (V. 6).
Scripture Names have meaning:
Michmash – “Hidden
Treasures of the Most High”; Bethel – “House of God”; Bethaven –
“House of Nothingness, of idolatry.”
while in the neighborhood of the House-of-God, and
Hidden-Treasures-of-the-Most-High watch out for the House- of-Nothingness
– idolatry. It’s not far away and disguises in religious garments.
When King Saul left “Hidden
Treasure of the Most High” he went to Gilgal – “Wheel” or
“Circle”, and the people went in circles! They were distressed,
scattered and hid wherever they could (V.6). They trembled in fear.
They’d lost confidence in their king who was “head
and shoulders” above the people in physical height, but had a
rebellious and disobedient heart toward Him who is King of Kings. His
self-will habits had gotten him into real trouble with Samuel, when he
impatiently took upon himself the role of priest and sacrificed the burnt
offering – even claiming to ‘force’ himself to break God’s law (Vs. 9&10).
Meanwhile back at the Jonathan
camp: while Saul dilly-dallied ‘tarrying
in the uttermost part of Gibeah [at home] under a pomegranate tree’ with only about 600 loyal troops (V.
2), Jonathan again took the initiative and this time with only his young
but very brave and loyal armor-bearer, he smote the Philistines and retook
Michmash – the “Hidden Treasures of the Most High.”
Here is a very interesting side-note:
There were two passages by which Michmas could be reached. They
were on either side of the sharp rocky terrain. One was named Bozez –
“shining” (reflected light), and the other passage was called Seneh
– “prickly thorn,
bramble.” Which did Jonathan chose? Bozez, of course, the “light”
which was “northward over against
Michmash”. Faith reigned in Jonathan’s heart. His knowledge
of God caused him to say, “There
is no restraint to the LORD to save by many or by few.”
Rest of the Story
Read all of chapter 14 to see
the exciting great victory, as “the
LORD saved Israel that day” (V. 23). The battle pushed the
Philistines out of Michmash, on past Bethaven, clear to Ajalon (the valley
where the sun and moon stood still – Joshua 10:12-14). The people saved
Jonathan from being put to death by his own father. Saul had commanded
them to fast that day. His order had sounded very religious, but was very
impractical (Vs. 29,30).
(Consider: God’s laws can’t
be merely designated “religious” for they ARE practical. They are
life-giving. They are not grievous, nor do they gender bondage. Selfish
leaders, such as Saul who seek to enhance themselves in the kingdom,
sanctimoniously misapply and add to God’s laws, causing their followers
to get so stressed out they transgress the more by “eating
the blood” -vs. 31-32).
Let us stand strong on God’s Word – the “hidden
treasures of the Most High,” – live it and DO it. A very practical
application is to plant an almond tree or help on the purchase of the
ambulance for Ma’aleh Michmash.
In chapter 1 of the Book of
Jeremiah, the prophet received a vision that clearly likens God’s Word
to the almond tree. “...Jeremiah,
what seest thou? And I said, I see the rod of an almond tree. Then said
the LORD unto me, Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten my word to
perform it” (Jeremiah 1:11-12).
“I will hasten” can be translated “watch over”. He watches
over what He has promised to do “to
perform it.” And He will hasten
– it will come suddenly.
The almond, then, represents
the Word of God and especially what He has to say about this land, this
people, and at this time in history.
The almond is a very
nutritional food. It is an excellent source of protein. Protein literally
means that which is first – that of primary importance to our physical
bodies. In putting God’s Word FIRST at the top of our day, we find our
source of strength
spiritually, emotionally and mentally. The word in Hebrew for almond is sheked which means “industrious, to guard and watch over,
diligence, studious, perseverance, take good care, to be alert, zealous,
You may recall from your Bible
reading that the bowls of olive oil in the seven-branch candlestick in the Holy
Place (in the Tabernacle, and later in the Temple) were shaped like
almonds. These two symbols – almond bowl and oil – speak of God’s two agents: His Word and His Spirit.
“Behold the rod of Aaron [the High Priest]...was
budded and brought forth buds and bloomed blossoms, and yielded almonds”
(Numbers 17:8). The almond and the rod are both symbolic of God’s Word.
Buds, blossoms and the almond fruit
speak of all the seasons of the almond tree. God’s Word is
operative in every season.
Are YOU going through a special
‘season’ in your life right now? His Word is not only your guide, but
your comfort and strength. Spend choice priority time there and
you’ll discover the secret: “Seek
FIRST the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these [personal
needs] will be added unto you”
(Matt. 6:33). Elmer’s life was a striking example of this passage. The
almond grove is a witness to his
dedicated life of not only preaching and publishing God’s Word, but
DOING it. This was especially true as it concerned God’s people Israel
and the Land of Israel. His definition of wisdom was, “knowing what God is doing in the world and going with Him.”
The battle for the mountains is
symbolic of the spiritual warfare going on worldwide right now. All
nations, especially in the UN, vent their displeasure in some manner
against Jewish settlements in these mountains. Satanic forces would
destroy Jerusalem and her mountains if it were possible, and turn them
into an enemy concentration camp. But “As
the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about His
people from henceforth even FOR EVER” (Psalm 125:2 – Read the
whole Psalm to see who wins!).
And Jewish Israelis are not the
only ones hurting. Innocent Arabs with their women and children also
greatly suffer. They live in daily terror of their own countrymen. Many
are murdered because they might be cooperating with Israel! The PA
chairman, Yasser Arafat, is not a “president” of a democracy.
Let us cry with the Psalmist, “Defend
the poor and fatherless: do justice to the afflicted and needy” (Psa.
82:3), and then DO what He lays on our hearts to do. Time is running out.
We must learn instant obedience and sacrificial giving. We are living in a
“ME” generation and are entirely too selfish.
Why the Mountains? Because they represent God’s
promises of deliverance. “How
beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth GOOD
tidings, that publisheth PEACE; that bringeth GOOD TIDINGS OF GOOD, that
publisheth SALVATION [deliverance of every kind to all nations]; that
saith unto Zion, Thy GOD REIGNETH.” (Isaiah 52:7 – read the WHOLE
chapter. It throws a lot of light on present day developments.)
Where do we stand on this issue
of war between light and darkness? None of us can be neutral. If we are
not for these settlers, we are against them. They are giving their lives
in RESTORATION. The least we, as believers from the nations, can do is put
some of our dollars where our mouth is! Let us put action to our prayers
– and invest in this settlement of “From the Heights [there is] Hidden
Treasure” – Ma’aleh Michmash. And in so doing we are giving witness
and testimony that we believe God when He said, “I
will hasten my word to PERFORM it” (Jeremiah 1:12).
Are some of the tribes of Israel “lost”?
If not, who and where are they? In a recent weekend conference at BLI
Headquarters, there were many interesting discussions on this subject
which we’ll share with you in upcoming editions of Bible Light On The
 Sometimes spelled Michmas (without the “h”) in the Bible and in Israel as well. Either spelling will do because transliteration is done according to the way it sounds to the one transposing it from the Hebrew alphabet to the English. Ma’ale, also is sometimes spelled Ma’aley.