Thought for the Month

"Everyone will live in peace and prosperity, enjoying their own grapevines and fig trees, for there will be nothing to fear. The LORD...has made this promise!" (Micah 4:4 NLT)

Trees and fruit are things which we all know and like. In these islands we are familiar with the oaks and many other deciduous trees and fruit trees commonly the apple, pear, plum and some less well known ones. There is a definite season from the winter where there are no leaves when there are frosts and sometimes snow, to the spring with fresh green shoots and blossoms. In the summer the fruit grows in size and ripens ready for the harvesting in autumn before the leaves fall. Then the process begins again.

The fig, olive and vine are rare in these climes although there are some vineyards in the south of England and fig trees do grow but don’t fruit or fruit less unless they are well managed. The cold winters are quite unlike the conditions in Israel and countries with similar climates. It is not surprising the Old Testament and New Testament use these plants to illustrate spiritual things as they grow well there and are suited to the climate. Jesus likened Israel to a barren fig tree. In other places it uses the olive tree and the vineyard to describe the nation of Israel.

The point of using these trees was that they provided fruit. The trouble with Israel was there was either no fruit or very little fruit. When there was fruit it was often in idol worship not to the one true God. Abraham was an exception. He showed the fruit of faithfulness when offering up Isaac, trusting God could raise the dead. So were Joseph and Joshua. There were others such as Jeremiah who was faithful and used of God. There was not enough faith in the nation to prevent the Babylonian captivity where Daniel got taken against his will. But God in his mercy brought them back after 70 years in captivity and hence we find Jesus being born in Israel.

The nation as a whole rejected Jesus and God turned to the Gentiles to add to the remnant of Israel who believed. This is where we get the grafting illustration. Grafting is often used in trees where a branch from another tree is placed into the trunk of an original tree. This branch can bear fruit. These new branches still have to be fruit‑bearing. This is a lesson to us in our day to bear fruit.

Jesus told us to bear much fruit. (John 15:8) James advises us to bring forth "fruit of righteousness." (James 3:18) Paul says we should be "fruitful in every good work." (Col.1:10) His special message was to have that fruit among the Gentiles and listed them in his letter to the Galatians in chapter 5 verses 22 and 23 which gives us a definitive list of them.

God is also able to graft back in the branches that have been cut off. God’s mercy is great. But there is more to the plan when the kingdom is set up. As it promises in Micah 4:4 everyone will live in peace with their own vine and fig tree in the kingdom. What a promise to the world! What a picture of food in plentiful supply that God has in store for all people.

God has a plan and everyone is in it.