The Olive Branch

In the same way the ocean’s waves don’t make it new but they drastically change the way we experience the waters, God’s word is never changing but it is always moving. That’s the amazing thing about God’s word, it is actually His living, breathing Word. God is always giving us something new to see and as I am rereading through Genesis, the beginning, I am experiencing a new beginning for myself and as much as this kind of terrifies my introverted, human heart to say, I cannot walk this journey alone. I am understanding things I never understood before. I’m seeing one God move throughout time and space, never contained and never changing but always moving.

I just read through the story of Noah’s ark, a story I thought I knew backward and forward. I mean, this is basic Sunday school stuff, right? Yet God still found something new to show me. I don’t know why I’m surprised when He does this anymore. I am like some of the smalls I work with – He could write my name over and over and I would still be amazed at the sight of the letters. In fact, God has written my name over and over. It has been written in His heart, in Heaven, in the book of life. And that will amaze me every time I think about it. It’s not that I see myself in this story, it’s that I see God working in my life. It’s that I see God caring about my name, about who I am.

Today, as a I read this passage, God kept bringing me back to one verse – Genesis 8:11:

When the dove returned to him in the evening, there in its beak was a freshly plucked olive leaf! Then Noah knew that the water had receded from the earth.

Have you ever seen a tsunami? The way the waters are carried in and everything in its path is destroyed. Entire trees are knocked over. The floods in this story were great enough to destroy every human and animal on earth. It is greater than any tsunami we could ever imagine which means this: The amount of water that covered the earth should have destroyed plants along with everything else. I think it’s important to note the exclamation point in this verse because this truly is something worth exclaiming: That olive branch was impossible, yet there it was!

Hebrews 5:7 says this:

In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence.

The word supplication in its Greek form, ικεσίες, carries with it the meaning of extending an olive branch. I don’t think God would have used the same symbolism in both of these verses if they were not somehow related, so I have to assume that they are.

The olive branch symbolizes peace, specifically the peace offered to us by God. In the story of Noah it represents the mercy God had on Noah. It tells him that he is safe, that he can be at peace. It foreshadows what Jesus did on the cross for us and in Hebrews it reminds us of who we are in Him: An heir to the Kingdom, a child of God. He died so that we may have peace with the Father. He, the Prince of Peace, became the olive branch that extends between the heavens and the earth – between our brokenness and His perfection. The olive branch is there, waiting where the waters have receded for us to find enough faith to pluck it and know that we are safe.

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