Before continuing on the theme, “a lesson from the olive tree,” here is a comment that was made by one of my readers:
“...Togetherness seems elusive, and fear of the furnace paralyzes many. Plus, we have continued to cherish things we learned in our youth; things that are deeply embedded in our hearts and minds - so deeply we do not recognize their unclean nature. Only submission to the fiery furnace can strip us of these foreign objects - worldviews, perspectives, interpretations, convictions, prejudices, ignorance, etc - and set us free to be one as He is one; to be transformed. Truth and renewal. May we see it in our day”.
The reader’s last remark, “be one as He is one” seems to be one of the greatest challenges that are before us. In Ephesians 4 Paul states that we already are “one body”, just as the olive tree has only one all-inclusive root, while the branches form an inseparable part of the one tree. In addition to the olive tree imagery, and parallel to it, is the metaphor of the “body of Messiah”, which although made up of many parts is still one; One “body”; One “tree”. Paul’s exhortation to the members of the body cum grafted-in branches is very strong: “I beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling” (Ephesians 4:1-4). Notice the nature of this tree/body and the fruit that it bears, so why not bear with one another in love, keeping the unity in the bond of peace? This is the nature, characteristic of the “olive tree” of Romans 11, which is the evidence of “life from the dead” (see v. 15).
The reader above mentions some of what is holding us back from achieving our corporate calling as the body of the Redeemer, the restored olive tree of Israel. Perhaps as he pointed out: “we have continued to cherish things we learned in our youth; things that are deeply embedded in our hearts and minds - so deeply we do not recognize their unclean nature”. I believe that James puts his apostolic finger on the reason: “But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own lusts and enticed. Then, when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:14-15). Comparing this passage with the one cited above (from Ephesians), let us ask, isn’t this excitant duality curious? We are joined to a tree; or a body that is supposed to exemplify life from the dead, but yet we, as individuals, are still susceptible to being enticed by sin, and if we continue to cooperate with it, the result will bring forth death. Hence the warning to the branches that have been grafted into the holy shoot of Jesse, “you are only here by grace through faith”. Because sin will always result in death and disease, any sick branch is likely to be cut off, so that its illness will not spread to other branches.
The solution to the above situation is obviously “repentance” from a sincere heart, which must be accompanied by humility, by confession, and by going ‘outside the camp/gates’, so to speak, to receive the forgiveness from a crucified Messiah (see Hebrews 13:12-13). This, however, cannot take place before addressing one’s sin by asking forgiveness from the injured party or in other cases confessing one’s sin to trustworthy brother/s or sister/s and granting forgiveness, just as the Father has forgiven us “…lest Satan should take advantage of us; for we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Corinthians 2:11).
One very important point to understand about Satan’s devices, is that he can only tempt us, enticing the flesh. He knows, along with his demonic forces, that He has no legal right over us. However, if we listen to the allurement of the tempter and give in to the lusts of the flesh, it throws out a welcome mat for the unclean spirits (power of sin) to manifest through us, which produces death and more importantly grieves or makes sorrowful the body of Messiah. “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:12).
The Romans 11 olive tree of Israel is being restored as a tree of righteousness and peace. When its fruit (the olive) is pressed, the flowing oil may be used for healing, deliverance, and life from the dead, as well as for the light of revelation. The nature or the character of this light in its varying hues is described in Colossians as “tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with others, and forgiving …but above all these things is love, which is the bond of perfection” (Colossians 3:12-14 alterations mine). If we are truly bonded/grafted to the olive tree, the clear evidence will be our love for one another, as Yeshua loves us.