I began painting this piece after being drawn months ago by the imagery seen in Numbers 17 as Moses placed the staffs of the 12 tribes of Israel in the tent of meeting, including the staff of Aaron. After being in the presence of God overnight, Aaron’s rod was the only one that burst into bloom and fruited with almonds. The symbolism of this scene gripped me even though I was unaware of the deeper meaning. Even so, I began to sketch it out on this much larger than usual canvas as piece by piece God began to reveal His purposes for the timing of this painting.
Shortly into the first layer on the canvas the miraculous nature of this incredible event began to hit me. Aaron’s rod was literally dead. It had been dead for probably quite a long time. And though God had used the rod in many instances to display His power to the Egyptians, the branch had not yet come to life in this way before. Overnight, this once dry and dead almond tree branch became a living symbol of God’s resurrection power!
Suddenly I was in awe of the timeliness of this portion of Scripture being brought to life in front of me as I finished this piece the week of Good Friday and our celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead – what had taken me months to getting around to painting, was in fact, planned perfectly in God’s schedule!
After this realization, I once again began asking the Lord which of His names was He revealing in this painting? It took until I was almost done to finally stumble upon the Messianic title which appears in the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah 23:5 speaks of a “Righteous Branch for David,” and all of a sudden I had the Name for this image: Tsemach.
Tsemach is a promise. A very precious promise. This promise is a Person and He has come and is to come. He was once dead and is alive again! He is the “righteous branch” who came to save us through His death and resurrection! What better title for this once dead almond branch that is suddenly brought back to life in the Presence of God!
In this discovery, I was also reminded of Jeremiah’s initial call from the Lord and the answer he was given. The Lord begins by showing Jeremiah His plans and purpose for him and then one by one He reveals visions to him and asks him what he sees. Can you guess what his first vision holds?
“Again Yahweh spoke to me and asked, ‘Jeremiah what do you see?’ I answered, ‘I see a branch of an almond tree.’ Then Yahweh said to me, ‘Right. I am watching to make sure that my words come true.’” Jeremiah 1:11-12
Did you know Almond trees are renowned for being the first deciduous tree to wake up again in spring? In fact, the Hebrew word for almond means ‘awake’ or ‘to watch’. So basically God is saying, that just like the almond tree hastens to blossom before all the other trees, so He will also hasten to perform His words!
Of course this being an almond branch, the same as Aaron’s staff, I had to ask the Lord how this all was connected to the timeliness and significance of this painting. In the middle of it all felt His excitement as I sensed Him saying:
"This is a season where I am watching over My words to perform them. It won’t be a slow process. Just like Aaron’s rod burst into bloom from a dead branch overnight, so I will resurrect dead hearts, dying dreams, hope deferred that has made your heart sick and bring answers to your prayers speedily. The bitterness of past seasons will become sweet, just as the almond starts off bitter, yet becomes sweet as it grows. Do not grow weary! You are at the threshold of breakthrough! Nothing is impossible for Me! Where the enemy came to steal, kill and destroy, I will bring new life. The very place you feel you are drowning, I will lift you up like I did Peter from the stormy seas. In a moment you will feel my everlasting arms giving the wind beneath your wings and you will fly! Only trust and believe and you will see mountains thrown into the sea and every difficulty turned into a pathway for my Glory. Taste and see that I am good. All who look to Me will be radiant.”