The Hebrews who wrote the Holy Bible came from a different mindset than we in the western world use today. The present western education system is based on the Greek logical thought process, while the biblical Hebraic writers all operated in pictorial mindsets where concepts are explained in common everyday word pictures and parables.
To see this in action, let’s look at a some examples, beginning Judges 9:7-15. The story to this point is that with Gideon dead, Abimelech wanted to take his father’s place and went to the city of Shechem, his mother’s hometown, with whom he felt kinship. They were Canaanites who would willingly unite against Israel as Shechem was an important city, a crossroads for trade routes and a natural link between the coastal plain and the Jordan Valley. Thus, whomever controlled Shechem, dominated the region:
“And when they told Jotham, he went and stood in the top of mount Gerizim. And he lifted up his voice and cried, and said to them, Listen to me, leaders of Shechem, so that God may listen to you.
The trees went forth to anoint a king over them. And they said to the olive tree, Reign over us.
But the olive tree said to them, Should I leave my fatness with which they honour God and man by me, and go to be promoted over the trees?
And the trees said to the fig tree, You come and reign over us.
But the fig tree said to them, Should I forsake my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
Then the trees said to the vine, You come and reign over us.
And the vine said to them, Should I leave my wine, which cheers God and man, and go to be promoted over the trees?
Then all the trees said to the bramble-bush, You come and reign over us.
And the bramble-bush said to the trees, If you truly anoint me king over you, come put your trust in my shadow. And if not, let fire come out of the bramble and burn up the cedars of Lebanon.”
In Jotham’s parable, the trees represent Gideon’s 70 sons, and the thornbush represented Abimelech. Jotham made three points here:
1) A productive person would be too busy doing good to want to bother with power politics.
2) A worthless person, would be glad to accept the honour – but would eventually destroy the people over whom he ruled.
3) Abimelech was like a thornbush and could offer Israel no real protection or security.
Jotham’s parable and prophetic words came true when Abimelech destroyed the city of Shechem (Judges 9:45), burned the tower of Shechem (the city of Beth-millo Judges 9:46-49) before being killed at Thebez (Judges 9:53-54).
Let us now review this passage from God’s view point.
The Olive Tree represents prosperity. Because of their prosperity and easy living, they had gown fat and were now apathetic and just couldn’t be bothered to do what needed to be done. How much of the Church and how many nominally Christian countries in the world have fallen into this Olive Tree worldliness today?
The Fig Tree represents comfortability. Because of their comfortability, their carnal enjoyment of satisfaction and their relish of the sweetness and good fruits which they had amassed, they just did not want to give it all up for the effort of doing something. Again, how much of the Church and how many nominally Christian countries in the world have fallen into this Fig Tree worldliness today?
The Grapevine represents a new move of God. God is constantly doing new things these days. However, many clamour to churches and vernues seeking the signs and the wonders, rather than He who provides the signs and wonders. Many do not recognise that signs and wonders follow God and the work of His disciples, rather than proceed God.
The Bramble Bush represents God. This is a no-nonsense statement from God:
“If you truly anoint me king over you, come put your trust in my shadow. And if not, let fire come out of the bramble and burn up the cedars of Lebanon.”
There is no negotiation with God. It is on His terms and on His terms alone!
What God is asking us here, or perhaps better rephrased as, what God is demanding of us here, is that we make a choice! With God, we cannot sit on the fence. You are either with God, or not. For those who are not with God, as Jesus said in Matthew 25:41“… Depart from Me, you cursed, into everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels.”
In Psalm 1:3, we read a description of one who is in Christ, a believer in God “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivulets of water that brings forth its fruit in its seasons, and its leaf shall not wither, and all which he does shall be blessed.“ But those who are not in Christ are described in the following verse, Psalm 1:4“The wicked are not so, but are like chaff which the wind drives away.” You can see that there is middle ground with God.
Christians are spiritual trees. In fact in Mark 8:23-25 as Jesus healed a blind man, the man “looked up and said, ‘I see men as trees, walking’.” Perhaps that man was just seeing into the spiritual as he regained his sight?
In John 15:16 we read these words of Jesus as he addressed His disciples and He addresses us saying:
“You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you and ordained you that you should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain; that whatever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it to you.”
Like trees, we as Christians are required to bear, or bring forth fruit. What happens to a tree which does not bear fruit? Jesus has the answer to that!
The story comes from Mark 11:12-4 and Mark11:19-22,
“And on the next day, they going out of Bethany, He was hungry.
And seeing a fig-tree with leaves afar off, He went to it, if perhaps He might find anything on it. And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season of figs.
And Jesus answered and said to it, ‘No one shall eat fruit of you forever.’ And His disciples heard … …. And when evening came, He went out of the city.
And passing on early, they saw the fig-tree dried up from the roots.
And Peter, remembering, said to Him, ‘Rabbi, behold, the fig tree which You cursed has withered away.’
And answering Jesus said to them, ‘Have faith of God’.”
Jesus cursed the fig-tree because it had no fruit. The fig-tree bore no fruit because it was not in alignment with the root purpose for its existence – to bear fruit. The fig-tree was acting contrary to the original will of God for its existence.
The fruit which we bear is important to God! Both the Bible and Jesus speak about the goodness of bearing fruit many times, saying:
Genesis 1:12 “And the earth brought forth tender sprouts, the herb yielding seed after its kind, and the tree producing fruit after its kind, whose seed was in itself. And God saw that it was good.”
Deuteronomy 1:25 “And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down to us, and brought us word again and said, It is a good land which Jehovah our God gives us.”
Deuteronomy30:9“And Jehovah your God will make you have plenty in every work of your hand, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your land, for good. For Jehovah will again rejoice over you for good, as He rejoiced over your fathers … “
Proverbs 12:14 “A man shall be satisfied with good by the fruit of his mouth, and the reward of a man’s hands shall be given to him.”
Ezekiel 17:8 “It was planted in a good soil by great waters, that it might bring out branches, and that it might bear fruit, to be a splendid vine.”
Luke 3:9“And now also the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bring forth good fruit is cut down and cast into the fire.”
Luke 6:43“For a good tree does not bring forth corrupt fruit, neither does a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.”
Luk 8:8“And other (seed) fell on good ground and sprang up, and bore fruit a hundredfold. And when He had said these things, He cried, He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Luke 8:15“But those (seeds)on the good ground are the ones who, in an honest and good heart, having heard the Word, keep it and bring forth fruit with patience.”
Christianity is a relational union with the Lord God who made all that which has been made; the sole creator of Heaven and earth and all that which we see in and beyond starry skies. As Christians, we are filled with His Holy Spirit and “the fruit of the Spirit is: love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, meekness, self-control …” (Galatians 5:22-23) are expected to be borne by us. Yes, by these we are judged.