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Michmash 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[1] 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.

A Lead Happening

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 inauguration party.

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).

Miracle Weather

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” (Vs. 15-18).

It was the dry season when ordinarily there was not a drop of rain – and certainly no thunder and lightening!

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).

Chapter 13

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. Jonathan used 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 begun.

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). Sound familiar?

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.”

Spiritual Alert: 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).

Chapter 14

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.”

The 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.

Why Almonds?

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, wakeful.”

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.

Another Symbol

“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.”

Why Mountains?

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.)

So What?

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).

The trumpet calling watchmen-for-the-mountains has been blowing loud and clear, especially since the infamous handshake on the White House lawn. When the final blast of the trumpet comes, may we be found faithful in His kingdom (I Thess. 4:16).

Lost Tribes?

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 News.

[1] 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.