(Genesis 43.11 & 45.9)
Almond (Prunus communis)
It is profoundly significant that "almond" is the last mentioned item on Jacobs list of best fruits. The tree to which Scripture refers as the almond is different in type to the new and cultivated varieties of today. The native almond of the Middle East still grows freely throughout the wild and rocky places of Palestine. A shrubby tree, about 5-8m (17-26 ft) high, it is the first of all trees to burst into flower after a long, hard winter, flowering before the leaves appear. The white five-petal flowers are borne in great profusion, transforming a barren landscape into a scene of hope, awakening, and glory.
The Hebrew name for the almond is SHAQED, meaning life out of death, resurrection, awakening, to be alert, watching. There are many examples in Scripture to confirm the meaning of SHAQED. We have in Exodus 25.31-37, the making of the Candlestick/Lampstand. Each of its branches carried fashioned forms of bursting almond fruits. The Lampstand stood over against the Table of Shewbread to cast light upon it and watch over it.
Again, the Lord said to Jeremiah, "What seest thou?", and Jeremiah replied, "I see a rod of an almond tree". The Lord said, "Thou hast well seen: for I will hasten (am watchful over) my word to perform it" (Jer 1.11-12).
The narrative of Aarons rod that budded (Num 17.1-11) embraces all the definitions of the Hebrew word for almond. All twelve rods appeared as dead branches, but only one inherently possessed life. Within one day, Aarons rod was full of swelling buds, flowers, and fruits. Never in nature would you get swelling buds, flowers, and fruits together, but then, the miracle of life, resurrection life, is in Gods hand. Of the Lord Jesus it is said, "In him was life; and the life was the light of men" (Jn 1.4). The living, fruitful rod was in figure evidence that the office of our blessed Lord is one of a continuing priesthood after the order of Melchisedec (Heb 5.6; 6.20; & 7.17), "seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (us)" (Heb 7.25). So, today, the Lord Jesus continues ever to watch over His own as we walk here in the power of resurrection life His life.
How wonderful then to see the Spirit of God moving behind the scenes to influence the composition of Jacobs gift to the ruler of all Egypt. Jacob had for 22 years believed his son Joseph to be dead. Now he was going to see and rejoice in a glorious and unexpected resurrection. He would again see alive the long lost "son of his love"; not a shepherd boy or messenger, but one exercising power and authority surrounded with glory (Gen 45.13). In a coming day, the nation of Israel "shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory" (Mt 24.30); not as a lowly Galilean or a despised Nazarene, but as the executor of justice, the King of glory with healing in His wings.
During Josephs 13 years as a prisoner in Egypt, he was faithful and true in all his works and with all men. Consequent upon his faithful testimony, he suffered greatly, being falsely accused and unjustly imprisoned. Notwithstanding his darkest hours and protracted sufferings in prison, Josephs living faith was confirmation to him that there would be a bright resurrection morn. In the fourteenth year of his separation from his family, God crowned Joseph with power and glory. He was made "ruler of all the land of Egypt". Pharaoh was just the instrument God used to fulfil His purposes.
In so many ways, Joseph is a lovely figure of our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord was the perfect witness of the love of God to man. His moral glory shone brightly to show that man was in moral darkness and therefore under the sentence of death. Some 500 years earlier, Zechariah had prophesied that the Messiah would suffer at the hands of His own and be wounded in the house of His friends (Zech 13.6-7). However, in the purposes of God, "Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit" (1 Pet 3.18). Now He is the "One out of death" and the One who alone is the source of all that is vital to life eternal life. He is exalted and enveloped in glory with power, might, and majesty. He has a name that is above every name, and the One before whom every knee shall one day bow (Phil 2.9-11). Meanwhile, just as Joseph watched over his family once they had settled in the land of Goshen, so our Lord watches over us while we journey as "pilgrims and strangers" in a foreign land.
Let us, as Gods children, rejoice in the prospect of an imminent, bright and glorious translation into the likeness of our Saviour (1 Cor 15.52 & Phil 3.20-21). In line with the meaning of SHAQED, we too should be awake, watching, and alert, expecting the rapture to occur at any moment (1 Jn 3.2-3).