A Garden in the Mind - Part 2
The Olive, Vine and Fig Trees
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 20 July 2002
Brethren and sisters, we resume our study today of the garden of our minds which you will recall is an inward Garden of Eden. You will remember that in our inner gardens there are two trees - the Tree of Life, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the Tree of Death. And you will recall that they represent, respectively, divine love and self-love. In our own lives we can choose to make self, with its endless wants, the centre of our consciousness, or we can place Yahweh and love for our neighbour there. When we choose self, life becomes an endless quest for the ultimate "high". And when we do not obtain that ultimate "high" we keep searching for new knowledge and experience, and are rarely satisfied. This sense of hopelessness is captured in a prophecy through Amos who writes:
""Behold, the days are coming," says the Yahweh-Elohim,
"That I will send a famine on the land,
Nor a thirst for water,
But of hearing the words of Yahweh.
They shall wander from sea to sea,
And from north to east;<
They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of Yahweh,
But shall not find it"
(Amos 8:11-12, NKJV).
This incessant quest for solutions to problems through the process of human reason alone was likewise contrasted with the marvellous work of salvation, which is the partaking of the Tree of Life, and was conveyed through the prophet Isaiah who said:
"Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvellous work
Among this people,
A marvellous work and a wonder;
For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,
And the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden"
The Tree of Life functions along a completely different set of principles to the Tree of Death, the latter of which is the choice of the world system and all its philosophies and religions. The spirit of the Tree of Life - its source - is the pure love of Yahweh, whereas the spirit of the Tree of Knowledge, or the Tree of Death, is self-knowledge, whose moving power is the psyche rather than the Ruach haQodesh (Holy Spirit).
These are the two most important trees in the gardens of our mind. Our choice is to put one or the other in the centre of the Garden. If we place the Tree of Knowledge there, it will realign the garden of our thinking entirely so that instead of becoming the centre, the Tree of Life becomes displaced to the side, constantly in view, but inaccessible, for you cannot partake of both Trees simultaneously. And in such a location it can never be comprehended. Indeed, as Paul reminds us, to those who are partaking of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil the message of divine love with is the principle fruit of the Tree of Life will be meaningless. Or as the apostle worded it:
"For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe" (1 Cor.1:21-22, NKJV).
Or as he put it a few verses earlier:
"For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent" (Ibid., vv.18-19).
You cannot understand the Tree of Life until you have partaken of it, because the knowledge and wisdom which it confers is entirely different from the Tree of Death. It is a self-contained knowledge whose boundary is the infinite, whereas the boundary of the Tree of Death is that of human finiteness. It is limited and it can go no further. And no matter how energetically and diligently you pursue it, you never obtain the fullness, but always a pale shadow.
The Tree of Life is Eternal Life, and is a type of the life of the Perfect Man, Yah'shua (Jesus), who is the fountain of all holiness and wholeness. The Tree of Death is, of course, Lucifer, who claims to be the heavenly light-bearer but is not. He whets the appetite with the knowledge that never ultimately satisfies because it possesses no eternal life, like himself. That is why Satan is described as a restless lion, prowling around, in search of souls to devour (1 Pet.5:8). The Tree of Life brings inner rest and harmony, whereas the Tree of Knowledge brings restlessness and stimulates a nature within us that wishes always to consume, and which though it may delight in the short term, is never satisfied in the long.
To complete the picture of the human mind in proper balance and harmony as distinct from the one which is not, we need to look at some of the other symbolic trees mentioned in the Bible. I asked you last time to search the Scriptures to see if you could find some information on these. And I thought we might begin today by reading a passage from Ezekiel:
"And all the trees of the field shall know that I, Yahweh, have brought down the high tree and exalted the low tree, dried up the green tree and made the dry tree flourish" (Ezek.17:24, NKJV).
Now the symbol of the field can either represent the world or, in the context here, Israel, Yahweh's People, that is, the Church or Messianic Community. The trees are the men in this community: the high tree is the proud man, the low tree the humble man, the green tree is the man full of self-righteousness, and the dry tree is the man who feels there is no goodness at all in himself and who look for it to Yahweh. Indeed, did not Yah'shua (Jesus) Himself convey this selfsame thought when He said:
"He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
(Luke 1:52-53, NKJV).
And exalted the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty"
This symbolism of the tree as used to represent people is very common in the Scriptures, and continues to be used by Yahweh even today in our own revelations and visions. Many of the visions in the Olive Branch use this symbolism and indeed only yesterday as we were discussing one of our relatives I was shown a vision of her clutching a tree stump that rose about a meter above ground. In this Yahweh was showing us that she had cut down a person important in her life but to whom she was still bound by covenant and soul-bonds.
Yah'shua (Jesus) frequently speaks in this manner about trees in the Gospel. He told His disciples about good trees and evil trees, and good fruit and evil fruit; and He likened the good trees to good men, and the evil trees to evil men. This divine symbolism runs through the entire Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, and is a key to understanding many of the more mysterious passages. For when we say that trees are the symbols of men, we are also saying that they are the symbols of principles. They are emblematical of men in New Covenant Israel (the Church or Assembly), or of principles of the mind.
A good man is a man in whose mind is rooted and growing the principles of goodness. A man is as his mind is. He is therefore, in the language of Scripture, "a good tree" if the principle of goodness is really established in his soul. Thus a prophetic symbol can have meanings on many different levels, from an abstract mental principle to a literal human being who represents that principle.
But let us move on to specific trees. You will recall that I mentioned several trees to you last time, and in particular the olive-tree, the vine-tree, and the fig-tree. In addition we may mention oaks and cedars.
Now the first of these - the olive-, the vine-, and the fig-tree are emblems of the three kinds of people one finds in the Church or Assembly. I am going to suggest to you today that the olive tree is the emblem of those who excel in love; the vine of those who excel in wisdom; and the fig-tree of those who are neither very loving nor very wise, but who, nevertheless, are obedient. In other words, the olive-tree is the type of the principle of love, the vine of wisdom, and the fig-tree of obedience.
Before I give my reasons for saying this, may I briefly turn to the oaks and cedars for you will observe that unlike the olive, vine and fig they are not fruit trees. They are, however, far mightier and more magnificent in appearance than the former. The three fruit trees are symbols of humbly loving, of the wise, and of the obedient in the Church (Assembly); but in contrast the oaks and cedars represent the mighty and magnificent minds which attract the admiration and wonder of mankind. Some of them are great poets, orators, philosophers, and men of science. They, like the fruit trees, have their place and use, though they don't bear olives, grapes, or figs. If those oaks and cedars dedicate their powers to useful purposes, they praise Yahweh and accomplish His work. For it is written in Psalm 148:
Praise Yahweh from the earth...
Fruitful trees and all cedars;
Thus those who are humble Christians and who bear the fruits of the Ruach (Spirit), as well as those who are great and mighty and astonish us by their greatness, should correctly use the powers that Yahweh has given them, and so "praise Yahweh". When they do this, they are, like the apostle Paul who was an intellectual genius, able to accomplish mighty works for heaven. But when they reject Yahweh, as men like Charles Darwin, George Bernard Shaw, and others have done, they become the cause of much spiritual destruction and earn for themselves a terrible judgement. And there are many of them today, especially in the scientific community, who ridicule God and in their foolishness and try to persuade people that the universe we live in made itself and that we have neither purpose nor hope. Then mighty cedars like the historian and philosopher Arthur Koestler give full expression to their intellctual folly by committing suicide.
Now let me give an illustration to those of you who are school-goers, of the application of the olive, vine and fig tree principles in action. Do you know, for instance, of anyone who goes to school because he loves to learn? There are probably not too many nowadays. Then there are those who learn not because they particularly like learning but because they are wise enough to see that it is for their good to get an education. And then, finally, do you know of anyone who neither likes learning nor is wise enough to know that such is good for them, but simply gain an education out of obedience to their parents or because the state requires it? If we are honest we will admit that nearly everyone gets an education not because they love to learn or because they are wise, but because they are forced to be obedient. They probably think it to be a waste of time and, given the free choice, would probably quit school altogether.
We see in this simple illustration the three classes of people described in scripture. And it is easy to tell what class of person they are from a simple illustration such as this: whether they are loving, wise, or just plain obedient. Moreover, Yah'shua (Jesus) taught us a parable about these three types of human being in the story of the talents - the one who had 5 talents given to him, the other 2, and another only 1. These three types of people are supposed to use the gifts Yahweh has given to them - their love, wisdom, and obedience - according to their several abilities.
And so it is we find that there are three types of soul living on this planet, and what is interesting about this revelation of Yah'shua, is that the first type of soul - the one who loves - has 5 talents; the second type of soul - the one who has wisdom - has 2 talents; and the third - the one who is obedient - has only 1. Moreover, we understand from Yah'shua's (Jesus') parable that the third type has enormous problems with obedience - indeed, are we not told that he buries his talent in the ground and does nothing about it? And are we not told that this talent is finally given to the one who already has 5 and doubles it to 10 - the one who loves?
What we learn from this parable is that every soul must first of all learn obedience. If he does not, he can never acquire wisdom, let alone attain to love. The fruit of obedience properly applied is wisdom, and the fruit of wisdom properly applied is love.
This threefold division of souls is reflected within the Church (Assembly) as the servant class (the Deacons) who are called to obediently serve the saints, the class of those who are wise (the Elders) who are called to counsel, and the class of those who are filled with divine love (the Apostles) who are called to love the Churches (Assemblies) as Christ loves us all. All three types are living parables. Moreover, as we know every Elder is also a Deacon, because he cannot otherwise be a wise man until he has first learned the lesson of obedience; and by the same token, every Apostle is also an Elder and a Deacon, because he cannot love until he has learned obedience and wisdom.
As we carefully study scripture we learn, moreover, that the Spirit of Yahweh is described in three different ways - the Neshamah haQodesh, the Ruach haQodesh, and the Nefesh haQodesh, each ministering on the three different levels of the human soul.
Finally, the apostle Paul tells us that there are three resurrection glories that correspond in their brightness to the light we see in the heavenly bodies - in the sun, moon and stars, respectively. The glory of obedience is as the stars, the glory of wisdom is as the moon, and the glory of divine love is as the brilliance of the noon day sun (1 Cor.15:41).
Are we surprised, therefore, to find the majority of mankind struggling on the level of obedience? Most people are in open rebellion against God. They simply refuse to trust Him or obey His commandments. And what, are we told, is their fate? To put it symbolically, their talent will be removed from them and given instead to the sons and daughters of love. And what is love? God is love (1 Jn.4:8,16).
These three classes of people, who are defined by the possession of gifts of varied value, are, in other parts of the Bible, defined as trees of varied quality. The servant with the 5 talents is the olive tree; he with the 2 talents is the vine; and he with the 1 talent is the fig-tree. And this should remind us of a very striking fact. What kind of a servant was that who had the 1 talent? Yah'shua (Jesus) said:
"Therefore take the talent from him, and give it to him who has ten talents. For to everyone who has [love], more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have [love], even what he has will be taken away. And cast the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness. There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matt.25:28-30, NKJV).
Yes, he is called an "unprofitable servant". And then, let me ask you another question: what kind of a fig-tree was that which a certain man planted, and then came three years later seeking fruit and finding none? Yes, you all know - the man with the 1 talent and the fig-tree mean precisely the same thing. They were emblems of those who have the power to obey the truth, and who do not exercise that power, and are therefore barren. Is this not, then, the meaning of the living parable wherein Yah'shua (Jesus) cursed the fig-tree because it had no fruit, but only leaves? (Mark 11:12-14,20ff.)
The whole point of this series of parables is to set forth the state of the man with 1 talent - with the one capacity of obedience (and everybody has that ability). And it is to warn us of what happens to the soul who does not use that talent.
Now the reason that the man with only 1 talent often buries it away and refuses to do anything about it is because he lusts after the 5 talents of the olive-tree, or the 2 talents of the vine-tree. He desires their fruits but refuses to learn the lesson of obedience first by which such fruits are obtained. And what he does is disastrous both for him and for those who are of his acquaintance, for as Yah'shua (Jesus) warned:
"...the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and the violent take it by force" (Matt.11:12, NKJV).
There are men who ought to be Deacons learning discipline who have appointed themselves Elders and Apostles and who, because they lack both wisdom and love, are causing much destruction in the Churches. We remember Diotrephes in the third epistle of John, of the false apostles in Paul's writings and in the Book of Revelation, and of the coup d'état in the Corinthian Church/Assembly in the days of Clement when young hotheads dismissed the Elders and took control, reminding us of the great modern charismatic delusion of which this is also a symbol. The grand reason the Churches/Assemblies are in such a mess these last days is because they refuse to teach or receive discipline. They don't want discipleship. They refuse to be obedient and have become lawless like Satan himself.
I am going to end today by reminding you of a prophecy in the Old Testament which describes this very condition I have been speaking about. Pay close attention to it as I read it to you and see if you can discern the meaning of the symbols:
"The trees once 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,
With which they honour God and men,
And go to sway over trees?'
"Then the trees said to the fig tree,
'You come and reign over us!'
But the fig tree said to them,
F'Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit,
And go to sway over trees?'
'You come and reign over us!'
But the vine said to them,
'Should I cease my new wine,
Which cheers both God and men,
And go to sway over trees?'
"Then all the trees said to the bramble,
'You come and reign over us!'
You see, the olive-tree declined to be king. The reason for this is because the loving man delights in serving rather than in ruling; and because it is the nature of love to minister rather than to govern. The olive tree said: "'Should I cease giving my oil, with which they honour God and men, and go to sway over trees?" Love, if it were to exercise dominion and authority, would leave all its preciousness and richness, and become changed in its very essence and nature.
Yah'shua (Jesus) teaches us that whoever would be chief among His disciples should be their servant. Simply translated, the Apostle or Elder must first be a Deacon, and always remain one. Or again, to be filled with love you must first learn the lessons of obedience. Yah'shua (Jesus) said that He Himself came not to be ministered to, but to minister. He who seeks to rule has entirely missed the point of the Christian imperative - our ambition must always be to serve, and to serve first.
Now the other fruit trees said the same thing as the olive tree, did they not? What was the answer of the fig-tree to the invitation given it to be king? "'Should I cease my sweetness and my good fruit, and go to sway over trees?" The fig-tree would lose its sweetness and good fruit if it were made king. Obedience would entirely lose its sweet character, if it were changed to authority and command.
The vine-tree gives the same response. Wisdom, as Yah'shua (Jesus) teaches us, consists in serving and not in ruling; and where the desire to rule exists, there is not wisdom, but folly.
And finally we come to the bramble, a prickly shrub, who was quite anxious to be king, and to do great things. And the answer of the bramble was that of a selfish, false, and useless mind - the mind that desires to rule and spread its shadow over everything. If, however, its desire is thwarted, it seeks to destroy. The fire of its lust consumed everything good and useful. The Hitlers, Stalins, Muhammeds, and other tyrants fit perfectly into this symbol of the bramble. They are fruitless, egotistic, ambitious and violent.
Our world is today ruled by brambles, and the majority of the Churches too. They are described in Isaiah as "thorns and briers":
"Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree,
And instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree;
For an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off"
The spiritual character of the change there spoken of, is shown by the fact that it is prophesied that it shall be to Yahweh "an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off". It means, therefore, that instead of spiritual thorns and briers, which are principles of evil and falsehood, there shall spring up in the Church (Assembly) cypress-trees and myrtle-trees, which are the stately and lovely principles of goodness and truth.
Next week I shall have more to tell you about trees. You will by now, I hope, have begun to appreciate the harmony that is biblical symbology. There are important principles contain within them. If we will but learn that there must first be obedience before we can obtain divine wisdom and love, perhaps many who are hesitating to trust in Yah'shua (Jesus) as their Lord and Saviour will step forward in faith and allow Him to unfold the revelation they have for so long been yearning for. For you cannot obtain an understanding of the Tree of Life until you have eaten of it and tasted it for yourself. And that means trusting. Amen.
Click here for Part 3
This page was created on 19 July 2002
Last updated on 19 July 2002
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