>These are notes for a message I preached today at Blue Goose Pentecostal Church. It is about doing righteousness and justice.
The Parable of the Palms
The Bible tells the story of three palm trees.
These palm trees have a story for us to hear and understand.
The first is found in Genesis chapter 38. Tamar was a woman given by the patriarch Judah to his oldest son. When the son died without leaving children by Tamar, Judah gave Tamar to the next son. After he did wickedness in God’s sight and died, Judah asked Tamar to live as a widow in her father’s house until his third son came of age to be married.
Tamar lived as an exile in her own father’s house awaiting the day that Judah would make good on a promise that was made to her; the day never came. Tamar had to take action to obtain what was rightfully hers.
If Judah was unwilling to provide a husband of his sons, then he would be responsible for providing an heir. It was his obligation. As unorthodox as it was, Tamar was more righteous than Judah when she dressed herself like a harlot and enticed Judah into a tent. Judah said so in verse 26.
Tamar stood up for what was rightfully hers. She was righteous.
The next palm tree is found in 2 Samuel 13. David’s son Amnon fell in love with his half-sister. Her name was Tamar.
Amnon made himself sick and sent for Tamar to come make him food in his sight. After making the food and presenting it to him, Amnon took hold of Tamar so he could have her for himself. She beg him to do the right thing by asking her father David for her; she said she would not resist him if he would just do things properly.
Amnon would not hearken to her voice, and forced himself on her. For his actions, the Bible says he hated her with hate that was greater than his former love. He commanded Tamar to leave him. Tamar again begged for justice. But Amnon forced her away, shamed and afflicted, to mourn her virginity in ashes.
The third palm tree is found just one chapter further in 2 Samuel 14:27. Absalom avenged his sister Tamar’s defilement by killing Amnon. After being in exile in the land of Geshur for three years, king David was convinced to bring him back to Jerusalem. It was a day of redemption for Absalom. After returning to Jerusalem, Absalom had four children, three sons and a daughter. Sons were greatly valued in OT times, but it was the daughter that was the child of redemption for Absalom and his shamed sister. He named the daughter Tamar.
The parable of three Tamar’s- three palm trees.
The Hebrew word “tamar” literally means “palm tree.” The name Tamar indicates a person that carries the best qualities represented in the tree itself.
• Intergrity- As a plant, the palm tree is extremely flexible. Winds do not easily break the palm tree. South Carolina is known as the Palmetto State, after the palmetto palm. The nickname came about because of the tree’s use in building Fort Moultrie, a fort built on the coast and used during the Revolutionary War. The fort’s palmetto walls absorbed and deflected the cannonballs that collided with them rather than breaking. They maintained their INTEGRITY no matter what came against them.
• Uprightness- The quality most associated with the date palms of the Middle East was the uprightness of the tree indicates strength to stand tall come what may.
Righteousness is a misunderstood term that we like to use a lot. It is important to understand this word because we are commanded to seek first God’s righteousness (Mat. 6:33) and that he that does righteousness is righteous (1 John 3:7.)
Righteousness is interchangeable with justice. Not vigilante justice, retributive justice, equality of pay or treatment, or even fairness.
Justice in the sense of “rightness”. A state of being right.
Justice was the reason Christ went to the cross. Things had been wrong for a very long time- God and man were separated and could not be put back together.
Christ’s actions were then, and are now, about making the wrong right again!
You see, the Holy Spirit comes into your life to give you the power to be righteous, but it does not do the job for you. It is still a choice to do what is right and not do what is wrong!
The true concept of justice is lost on today’s generation. Justice is not perceived as a process of making broke things whole or wrong things right today. Justice is perceived as something that makes the one that is “right” feel better or justified and the one that is “wrong” feel punished.
No one was more righteous than Jesus, but he suffered the death of the unrighteous, so that we who are broken and sinful could be well and whole again.
If we are to be Christ-like, if we are to be like the Bible’s three palm trees, then we have to be resilient in the face of unrighteousness and stand up for what is right.
If we are to forever stand in the house of the Lord, then we have to stand strong here and now.
Revelation 3:12- Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out…
Ezekiel 40:16- (speaking of the future temple of the Lord) And there were little windows to the little chambers, and to there posts within the gates round about… and upon each post were palm trees.
If we are to stand as pillars in God’s house, we have to have the upright and stedfast qualities of the palm tree; the posts of God’s house bear the emblem of the palm.
What better incentive do we have to stand for what is right?