“Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and there he called upon the name of the Lord, the Eternal God.”Genesis 21:33
The verse from Genesis may seem to be a rather obscure verse to select for theme of an annual celebration of Christian education. It is not. The implications of this act of Abraham were profound. Abraham was demonstrating faith in our God. Abraham was demonstrating faithfulness to God and to the generations to come.
Beersheba is a region in the southern part of Israel. It is in the region of the Negev. The Negev is desert. Unlike the Wilderness of Tzin and Sinai Desert which are farther south, the Negev is habitable. There are wadis in the Negev where the runoff from mountain rains water the land in the short period of the rainy season.
There are very few trees in the deserts of Israel. The only locations where a few scrub bushes and trees are found are near the wadis. Trees require some moisture to grow. Why would Abraham plant a tree in a desert place? Why is that significant in the narrative of God’s plan and unfolding story as recorded in Genesis?
The significance is found in this. A tamarisk tree grows slowly. It grows so slowly that it would be reasonable to say that Abraham knew that he would never enjoy the shade of the tamarisk tree that he was planting. The tree was not for Abraham. The tree was a testimony to God and a testimony to his descendants, who were yet unborn.
Christian education is like that too. For many schools in the Christian Schools International family founders sacrificed, stepped forward in faith, and built Christian schools not only for their own children but for the next generation. They heard the marching order in Psalm 78, “we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of our Lord, his power, and the wonders he has done”, and acted. Today Christian schools stand throughout North America and across the globe as tamarisk trees.
Christian Education Week 2014 calls us to remember. Remember Abraham and his faith and his faithfulness. Remember those who sacrificed yesterday so that children today are experiencing a Christian education which is firmly rooted in the Word and which biblical worldview is imbedded in care values and curriculum of our schools. Commit today, as believers in Christian education, to insure that these Christian schools are sustainable for the generations to come.
Believers in Christian education: We are called by God to plant trees under whose shade we never intend to sit. (quote from Nelson Henderson). Christian education is an opportunity for us to give testimony to the faithfulness of our God. What better gift is there to celebrate? What better gift could we leave as our testimony to this generation and to the generations yet unborn.