What is the significance of olive wood in the Bible?
The oil from the olive tree is a common staple and food ingredient for the people of the land of the Bible today and has been for millennia. However, we are going to see that this tree was chosen by God for even more important functions.
When Solomon was building the Temple, God’s house, he carved two cherubim out of olive wood to be in the holy of holies.
“In the inner sanctuary he made two cherubim of olivewood, each ten cubits high.” (1 Kings 6:23) Then later in this chapter we read:
“He put the cherubim in the innermost part of the house. And the wings of the cherubim were spread out so that a wing of one touched the one wall, and a wing of the other cherub touched the other wall; their other wings touched each other in the middle of the house.”
The cherubim of olive wood where thus in the center of the house of God. In a way, the centrality of these olive wood carvings in the Temple reflects the central role the olive tree played in the lives of the people of the Bible.
God chose the simple, common olive tree as the ornament in the most sacred part of His house. In the same way, He has chosen us, the simple and common people to ornament His palace in Heaven.
In Romans 11, the Apostle Paul writes that the Gentiles are wild olive branches which have been grafted into a good and nourishing olive tree. It easy to see the picture of the cross of Christ in this passage! In this manner, we can boldly claim the promises of the Bible. He came to earth to live with us. His nativity and cross made us part of Him.
Before, only the high priest would see the carved cherubim once a year on the day of atonement. Now, as children of God we have the right to enter that sacred place.
Why? Because in 1 Kings 6 we read that the door to the holy of holies was also made of olive wood. “For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors of olivewood; the lintel and the doorposts were five-sided.”
As Gentile believers in Jesus we can enter through the door to the holy of holies and worship God because we have been grafted in, and in the words of Jesus in John 10 “I am the door.” By His cross, Jesus opened the door for us to enter.