17 They made the lampstand of pure gold. They hammered out its base and shaft, and made its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them. 18 Six branches extended from the sides of the lampstand—three on one side and three on the other. 19 Three cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms were on one branch, three on the next branch and the same for all six branches extending from the lampstand. 20 And on the lampstand were four cups shaped like almond flowers with buds and blossoms. 21 One bud was under the first pair of branches extending from the lampstand, a second bud under the second pair, and a third bud under the third pair—six branches in all. 22 The buds and the branches were all of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold. 23 They made its seven lamps, as well as its wick trimmers and trays, of pure gold.
The Almond Tree – First Tree to Blossom in Spring
Calyx – The outermost group of floral parts, the protective part
שָׁקַד (shaqad) – Hebrew word for “almond.” comes from the root “watch” or “wake”
The furnishings of the tabernacle had great significant and purpose. And in the case of the lampstand, it was all about the almond blossom. But why?
First off the word “almond” means to watch or wake. Which the tree is appropriately named as it is the first one to “awaken” in the springtime.
We also see this sense in Jeremiah where there is a play on words (Jer 1:11-12):
11 The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
“I see the branch of an almond tree,” I replied.
12 The Lord said to me, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled.”
When we think of “watching” in our vernacular it typically has a slightly disciplinary connotation to it. Our parents are “watching” us as children or a boss is “watching” what we’re doing. But this isn’t the Hebrew connotation.
The word almost always means almond, but its connotation of is one that is coming alive and coming to pass to fulfillment. After a long winter of dormancy the blossom is the first sign of awakening and life. It is that feeling we get in February when we are “watching” for a flicker of spring to come in a green blade of grass, the first sign of a crocus, or the buds on a tree. That is the kind of watching.
And when it begins to come it comes with extraordinary beauty, fragrance and life. It’s rather spectacular especially after a lengthy time of dormancy.
So when God has the lampstand designed, he has Bezalel design it in the shape of almond blossoms at the very first of spring. Each stem of the lampstand had a calyx at its base. I did have to look up the word calyx and it appears this is the outermost part of the flowering part that protects it. In this picture below it is the red part.
What the Lord is saying with the lampstand is that his fire is lit and burning. But also that he is watching and anticipating and eagerly seeing that his Word will be fulfilled. It’s not a promise without signs, but there is the sighting of the beauty of the springtime blossoms. It is that of eager anticipation that God will see his word fulfilled.
Have you ever waiting for something for a loooong time? Somewhat like winter? And then you begin to see the first signs of spring and hope floods the heart?
This is the meaning of the lampstand made in the shape of almond blossoms.
Wait for It
Sometimes winter can seem like a really, really long time without any signs of change or new life. Yet great things are done in the winter. A hard freeze at least where I’m from means less ticks and bugs in the summer. But more than that is that the trees are preparing themselves for fruitfulness.
So we don’t lost heart but encourage ourselves that springtime is coming. Anna in the temple waited perhaps almost 70 years for her almond blossoms to bloom (Lk 2:21-24). Simeon also waiting a long time. And for that matter the Israelites waited over a millenium for their almond blossom to fully bear fruit with the Messiah.
So be of good courage. The Lord is looking and anticipating the fulfillment of His Word. And maybe one day you’ll wake up and see the first sign of the almond blossom.