I have written about some odd things over the years but today I wanted to write about a tree listed in the Bible. As many times as I have read my Bible, I didn’t pay attention to this tree listed there. Everything God put into the Bible is there for a reason. What is this tree? Why is it listed in the Bible by name? What does it do?
The broom tree in the Bible is a symbol of humility and service. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples with water from a broom tree. Even though I don’t fully understand this part…what it represented I do understand. Jesus’ self-humiliation in washing His disciples’ feet symbolized His self-humiliation in accepting death upon the cross to bring about their cleansing from sin. He took on a servant’s role here in doing the foot washing to show them that serving others is a good thing. You might write this differently and that is okay. I am putting down what I got out of it. I don’t understand yet…the part about it being from the water from a broom tree.
The desert is a hostile wilderness. When Elijah told his servant to wait in the town of Beersheba, he continued, deliberately walking a full day’s journey into the desert when he saw a broom tree. The low branches make shade where the sun is unrelenting. They also provide visual shelter. This tree is not very big/tall. Yet, it will provide shelter amid the desert to protect you from the sun during the day. It is not a beautiful tree in my opinion, but if I am in the desert and need shade it would become the most beautiful thing out there to keep me alive.
I wonder how many people back then, and now, find that when they come through a spiritual battle they are exhausted and feeling even some despair? Maybe you even had a great victory and then you feel a total let-down. Just because we make it through one, or many, great battles in our life, we need to understand that God’s purpose for our life is not yet over. We still have work to be done.
So what does all this have to do with the title…The Broom Tree? The broom tree is stated in the Bible as something that provided shelter and nourishment on occasion. The plant mentioned in the Bible is a type of flowering desert shrub usually around 6 to 8 feet tall and can provide enough shade to shelter someone from the scorching desert heat.
The broom tree is a shelter. Elijah sought shelter and rest under a broom tree once. After learning that Jezebel meant to kill him in revenge for the death of the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel, Elijah fled for his life into the desert (1 Kings 19:1–3). Far out into the wilderness, he came to a broom tree, and he sat down under the shade of the bush and prayed for his death: “‘I have had enough, LORD,’ he said. ‘Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors” (1 Kings 19:4). Being spiritually, emotionally, and physically exhausted, Elijah quickly fell asleep in the shade of the bush (1 Kings 19:5). An angel appeared to Elijah twice, bringing him food and water (1 King 19:5–7). God allowed Elijah to rest under the broom tree, giving the prophet much-needed strength before continuing his journey to Mount Horeb (1 Kings 19:8–9). As you read that…what do you think? First Elijah had just had success, but then fear of Jezebel had set in. Why? He was working for God and God can do anything…yet he feared Jezebel. Anyway, God allows Elijah to rest and nourishes him in the process.
During the Israelites’ time in the desert with Moses, they camped at a place known for broom trees. Rithmah, one location where the Israelites made camp, was named after the broom tree since Rithmah means “the place of the broom” (Numbers 33:18–19). Broom trees were plentiful in the area, and the location served as a suitable camp for the children of Israel. I also see this part as encouragement. They were in the desert and these were the trees around. They were not huge nor did they give great shade, but they gave shade to the Israelites, and what a blessing that was. Everything God has put into the Bible for a reason…means something. I know that the desert is a hard place to live and very little shade is out there if you are in it to protect and shade yourself from the harsh desert. I live in the desert. I know if I was out there I would hunt for whatever shade I could find, and I would be so happy to find the shade of this broom tree. I might not get God to send an angel to give me nourishment, but that shade could save my life or the life of my loved ones.
What else could that broom tree be used for out there? The broom tree as fuel. What if you are out there and night comes and we know the desert can also be very cold at night? Would you take some of the branches and build a fire to keep yourself warm? It is said that the branches on the broom tree burn hot so most likely you could also cook over it. Also, read 1 Kings 19:6.
What else could this tree provide to those in the desert? The broom tree is food. Now we might hate the taste…I don’t know that, but the thick root of the broom tree was good fuel for the fire, and in desperate conditions, it could also be eaten. Job speaks of men who, in extreme conditions, resorted to eating broom tree roots. Sure might not be an ideal situation…but it is your life and would preserve you.
“Haggard from want and hunger, they roamed the parched land
in desolate wastelands at night. In the brush, they gathered salt herbs,
and their food was the root of the broom bush” (Job 30:3–4).
A broom tree’s roots are bitter and unappetizing but can provide some nourishment to a starving person. I am sure that most of us would hope to get rescued first, but if we weren’t we could stay alive by eating the roots of the tree. How they got the roots out is another story. If you find yourself out in the desert and you find yourself a broom bush to get under you are greatly blessed, to begin with.
The broom tree is not just a desert shrub, for in the Bible it serves as an important reminder of God’s provision. God sustained and sheltered Elijah under a broom tree. He also promises to give us rest and meet our needs (Matthew 11:28; Philippians 4:19). Providing shelter from difficult situations is something that God is good at doing; He is “our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). We might never need to rest in the shade of a broom tree, but we sure need to rest in the shade of the Almighty. God gives us strength, He gives us rest, and He provides for us all the time in ways we don’t even know or understand. He is like a “Broom Tree” for us in the desert of our life.
Maybe this lesson was not exciting to you…after all, it is just a bush, right? No, it I so much more. It is a place you can go in the desert to give you relief for a time. It can keep you from getting burned by the son, and it can give you food. Yet, I know that I can go to God 24/7 and find what He offers to me. However, if I am in the desert and the sun is beating down and I need rest I also know that God provided that broom tree…or any tree to give me shade to protect me. I’ll take it anyway God gives it to me. Will you?