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PARABLE OF THE TREE AND THE STORM
Authored By : Bill Kochman (aka The WordWeaver)
Published On : September 16, 1999
Last Updated : March 8, 2012
Scripture Interprets Scripture, Backslidden Leadership Of Ephraim And Judah, Lessons From Old Testament Stories, The Danger Of False Doctrines, Put Your Faith In The Word, Study The Word Diligently, The Bereans' Example, Inspiration And Power Of The Word, Rejection By Workers Of Darkness, Fruit Of The Word, Made Accountable By The Word, Tree Ravaged By The Storm, Faith Founded Upon Rock Of God's Word, Stand Fast And Resist Satan's Temptations, Mature Fruit-Bearing Trees, Flexibility, Life From Death, Firstfruits Of Resurrection, Lightning Fires, Purged In The Fires Of God's Afflictions
As is my personal custom regarding any doctrinal issue, I always encourage my readers to look to the Holy Scriptures in order to gain a proper understanding of what is true, and what is not. As I point out in quite o few of my articles, I hold firmly to the belief that in many, if not in all cases, the Bible is self-interpreting; that is, Scripture explains Scripture. One set of verses which I often use in order to explain this simple concept, is the following, found in the Book of the Prophet Isaiah:
"Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:"
Isaiah 28:9-10, KJV
Sadly, if you read the verses which surround those which I have quoted here, you will see that these words were spoken in judgment against the drunk false prophets and wayward priests of Ephraim, or the northern kingdom of Israel, who were not adhering to the precepts of the Lord as they were supposed to do. Rather than teaching the Israelites sound doctrine, these false shepherds were speaking lies, deceit, and false promises of peace and safety for their own profit. They were politically-correct menpleasers who were tickling the ears of the political leadership and the people, because this is precisely what they wanted to hear. As I explain in other articles such as in "The Children of God and Politics" and "The Fruits of Disobedience", it was not long afterward, that Ephraim was invaded by the forces of Assyria.
In spite of the Lord's harsh chastisements brought about by the Assyrian invasions, approximately one hundred and fifty years later, we find the Prophet Jeremiah issuing the exact same somber warnings to the backslidden leadership of the southern kingdom of Judah which ruled from Jerusalem. After exactly forty years of warning by the Prophet, they too fell under the heavy hand of the Lord's chastisements by way of the Babylonian invasions. In the years prior to the final invasion, which resulted in the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, Jeremiah proclaimed to them:
"The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
Jeremiah 5:31, KJV
"For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 29:9, KJV
While some people find Old Testament history boring, and may feel that it is not nearly as important as the New Testament history, the truth of the matter is that all of these things are written for our edification and admonition, in order that we might learn from the serious mistakes made by those rebellious Jews. It is for this reason, that in speaking of the backslidden state of the Israelites who murmured in the wilderness during those forty years, the Apostle Paul was inspired to write:
"Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come."
1 Corinthians 10:11, KJV
So the important lesson that we can all learn from some of these Old Testament stories, is that we should never become so complacent in our spiritual lives and walk with the Lord, that we rely solely upon the teachings of modern, secular theologians and the oft times self-serving priests of the modern religious establishment; as some of the doctrines they teach are either partially, or completely wrong and contrary to the Scriptures. Being as I have written quite extensively on this topic in some of my other articles and series, such as in "Have You Read the New Scriptures Yet?", "In Defense of the KJV", and "Modern False Prophets and Worldly Ecumenism", I won't belabor the point here. Suffice it to say that the Apostle Paul warns us:
"Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."
Colossians 2:8, KJV
It is because of this ever-present danger of leading people astray through false man-made doctrines, that I personally do my best to support my views with as many Scriptures as I possibly can. I don't want my readers to accept something I teach simply because I say so; I want them to believe it because God's Word says so; and because they are convinced that my views are fully backed by the Scriptures. I want to place my readers' faith in the Word of God, and not in me, because I could be wrong; after all, I am only human. As the Apostle Paul tells us in several of his Epistles, we must all personally labour and study to know and to understand God's Word; and once we have done this, we must be fully convinced in our own minds and hearts what is true and what is not. Consider the following verses:
"Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
2 Timothy 2:15, KJV
"Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honour, especially they who labour in the word and doctrine."
1 Timothy 5:17, KJV
"One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind."
Romans 14:5, KJV
This is precisely what the Jews of Berea did after Paul and Silas had preached the Word to them in the synagogue. Rather than just blindly accept the Apostles' words as being true, the Berean Jews took upon themselves the task of carefully studying the Scriptures in order to see if this new doctrine concerning Jesus Christ and the Resurrection from the Dead was really true or not, as we see in the following verses. Please notice that after they had confirmed Paul and Silas' words with the Holy Scriptures, many of them accepted Christ into their lives as their Lord and Saviour. So the preaching of the Word of God resulted in faith; and faith resulted in Salvation and new Disciples; which also resulted in the next phase of God's Plan; that is, in persecution by the ungodly unbelieving Jews:
"And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people."
Acts 17:10-13, KJV
So you see, I am fully convinced that God's Eternal Word, from His Holy Book, written by His inspired writers, is much more powerful, much more effective, and certainly much more convincing that anything I could ever possibly say or write. It inspires faith, it results in Salvation, and it promotes spiritual growth for everyone who takes heed to its counsel. As the Apostle Paul informs us, God's Word is a sharp sword which cuts people to the heart, and convicts their hardened spirits; and as Jesus also tells us, it is only His Words which are Spirit and Life. It is for this same reason that we are also told that God has magnified His Word above His very Name. Consider the following verses which confirm all of these points:
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
2 Timothy 3:16, KJV
"For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
2 Peter 1:21, KJV
"For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart."
Hebrews 4:12, KJV
"It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life."
John 6:63, KJV
". . . for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name."
Psalms 138:2b, KJV
Ironically, despite the Truth and the Life which the Bible offers us, it is these very words which the evil workers of darkness hate the most. How often have we heard such people complain "Why do you always quote from that Book? Why can't you speak with your own words? You Christians are just a bunch of brainwashed parrots! You have no thoughts of your own!"; and on and on they go with their silly accusations. They hate the Word; they hate the truth that it reveals to them; and most of all, they hate the fact that it thoroughly exposes the darkness and the state of sin in which they dwell. The Word cuts them to the heart, and they don't like it one bit; and thus they flee into the darkness in order to try to escape its blinding light. This is why Jesus and Paul said such things as the following:
"And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved."
John 3:19-20, KJV
"If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin."
John 15:22, KJV
"In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them."
2 Corinthians 4:4, KJV
"But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
1 Corinthians 2:14, KJV
Contrary to those people, who in their foolish pride, and in their stubborn arrogance, resist God's Word, and who try to flee from the truth that it reveals, if we humbly allow the precious seed of God's Word to be planted in the fertile ground of our hearts, just as Jesus taught, we can grow into strong trees which bear fruit for the Lord's Kingdom. You may recall that in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus taught:
"But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold . . . But he that received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the word, and understandeth it; which also beareth fruit, and bringeth forth, some an hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty."
Matthew 13:8, 23, KJV
Almost eight hundred years earlier, the Lord inspired the Prophet Isaiah to write the following lines, which perfectly describe how the seed of God's Word always accomplishes the purpose for which it was sent out by the Lord:
"For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it."
Isaiah 55:10-11, KJV
Isaiah was not the only one whom the Lord inspired with such thoughts. The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes, who many people assume was David's son, King Solomon, also had this to say:
"He that goeth forth and weepeth, bearing precious seed, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him."
Psalms 126:6, KJV
Perhaps not all of the seed will fall on good ground, but in His Wisdom, the Lord knows that it will still accomplish His purposes; because simply by hearing the Word, whether they choose to receive it or else to reject it, everyone is made accountable for the truth; as we saw earlier by the verse from the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John. In another one of His instructive Parables, which Jesus may have shared shortly after the previous one, being as they are found in the very same chapter, the Lord discusses the issue of faith and the Kingdom of God. In this Parable, Jesus made the following interesting comparison:
"Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field: Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof."
Matthew 13:31-32, KJV
Allow me to share an interesting story with you, which is directly related to this topic of the seed of God's Word and spiritual growth. Where we live, just outside of our kitchen window, there is a large, beautiful, old tree. I do not know what kind of a tree it is, or even its precise age, but I would venture to say that it is more than likely at least a few decades old. Perhaps someday I will be able to discover its exact age from some of our neighbors. Whenever I stand there washing the dishes, I always look out the window and admire this wonderful creation of the Lord. Its beautiful branches filled with dense green foliage which reach towards the blue heavens, truly inspire my heart. Unless one closely examines this tree, he would never even begin to realize how many battles the tree has been through during its lifetime. He would never even notice the many battle scars which mark its thick trunk and most of its elegantly-clothed branches.
But you see, I know; because for years now, I have watched as that tree has endured severe storm after severe storm. In the aftermath of such powerful events, I have watched as our neighbors have had to clean up the fallen leaves, and haul away the broken and destroyed branches which have come crashing down to the ground during the height of some of these storms. At times, the wall of rain is so thick, that the tree is not even visible during the daylight hours; even though it is only situated perhaps a hundred feet away from our window. In fact, some of these meteorological monsters have been so tremendous, that not only have many homes been heavily damaged or completely destroyed, but there have been times when we have been without electricity in our home for up to several weeks following the storm's passage. On many occasions, this tree has been left completely barren of its leaves, so that its bleak, storm-ravaged skeletal structure stands out quite noticeably after such an awesome assault by these visitors. Those leaves which are not blown away, more often than not will eventually dry up and fall to the ground due to the fact that they are wind-burned.
Yet, regardless of how many storms it has been through, this wonderful tree endures. It always manages to bounce back to life, and to heal its open scars. Within a few weeks, it is clothed once again in its verdant glory given to it by the Lord; and new branches begin to grow where others have been violently ripped off. What is the secret of its endurance? Basically, it is due to two reasons; and both of them have clear spiritual applications in our lives as Christians. The first reason why this majestic tree endures, is because it is firmly rooted in the rock and soil, thus enabling it to endure the strong winds of adversity. In a similar manner, if the the roots of our faith are firmly anchored in the Rock of the Lord Jesus Christ, and if we are obedient to His Holy Word, we too will be able to endure the spiritual winds of adversity which may come our way; as we see by the following verses:
"As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."
Colossians 2:6-7, KJV
"Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep, and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was founded upon a rock."
Luke 6:47-48, KJV
"And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ."
1 Corinthians 10:4, KJV
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
1 Corinthians 3:11, KJV
"For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock."
Psalms 27:5, KJV
"He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings."
Psalms 40:2, KJV
To reiterate this important point, if our spiritual roots are deeply embedded in God's Holy Word, the Bible, we too will be nourished and watered by the spiritual nutrients which it provides; thus enabling us to grow into strong Christians for the Lord, who will be able to endure, and to stand fast against the subtle temptations and onslaughts of our spiritual adversary, the Devil. Consider the following verses in which Paul, James and Jude encourage us to do this very thing:
"Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong."
1 Corinthians 16:13, KJV
"Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."
Galatians 5:1, KJV
"Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;"
Philippians 1:27, KJV
"Therefore, my brethren dearly beloved and longed for, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, my dearly beloved."
Philippians 4:1, KJV
"Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:"
Ephesians 6:13-17, KJV
"For now we live, if ye stand fast in the Lord."
1 Thessalonians 3:8, KJV
"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle."
2 Thessalonians 2:15, KJV
"Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."
Jude 1:3, KJV
"Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you."
James 4:7, KJV
In the case of the tree, because its strong root system has enabled it to mature, and not be destroyed by each passing storm, it has persevered long enough to become a productive seed-bearing tree, which will result in the birth of young new trees. In similar fashion, if we persevere as Christians and don't allow Satan to steal the faith from our hearts, we too can reach an age of spiritual maturity, where we will also patiently bear fruit for the Lord, as we see by the following verses:
"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper."
Psalms 1:3, KJV
"The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise."
Proverbs 11:30, KJV
"But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
Luke 8:15, KJV
"I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned . . . Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you."
John 15:1-6, 16, KJV
"Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God."
Romans 7:4, KJV
The second main reason why this grand old tree has been able to survive so many years of harsh abuse by these rapists of nature, is because God has designed it in such a way, that it possesses a certain degree of flexibility. Similar to the vast, golden wheat fields which bend and yield themselves to the roaming prairie winds, it too can bend in the direction of these mighty tempests; thus reducing some of the pressure on its branches. If the tree didn't possess this quality, it would definitely suffer much more severe damage with each passing storm. It is even quite possible that it might have completely perished many years ago. As I mentioned earlier, it is rather encouraging to know though, that even when some branches no longer possess this flexibility due to old age, and are thus ripped off during a powerful storm, quite often the tree will eventually replace the broken limb with a new one, or possibly even with several new ones. Thus, as Jesus also teaches us in His Word, death makes room for new life, as we see in this verse:
"Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit."
John 12:24, KJV
As you may already know from reading the surrounding verses, it is easily understood that the Lord was referring to His own coming Sacrifice, and how it would result in New Life; not only for Himself, but for the millions of other adopted Sons and Daughters of God who would be born into the Kingdom as a result of His Atonement for our sins. It is precisely for this very reason, that following a spiritual parallel to the Jewish Feast of Firstfruits, Jesus is referred to in the Scriptures as the Firstfruits of the Resurrection. I discuss this topic in more detail in such articles as "The Lamb of God Was a Goat", "The Judgment of Angels, Demons and Men", "Is Jesus the Only Begotten Son of God?", and "Are You Saved and Sealed and Healed and Filled?". Consider the following verses which fully explain this concept:
"For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body . . . For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren."
Romans 8:22-23, 29, KJV
"If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable. But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept. For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming."
1 Corinthians 15:19-23, KJV
"Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature . . . And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence."
Colossians 1:12-15, 18, KJV
"To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,"
Hebrews 12:23, KJV
"Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures."
James 1:18, KJV
"And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"
Revelation 1:5, KJV
"These are they which were not defiled with women; for they are virgins. These are they which follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. These were redeemed from among men, being the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb."
Revelation 14:4, KJV
In reality, the tree's loss of branches due to the strong winds, is a form of natural purge, similar to the lightning fires which often burn many acres of grasslands and forests. While such events may at first appear to be tragedies, they actually clear the older, thicker vegetation, and make room for young new saplings and other plant life. In a spiritual sense, God's Holy Word also teaches us that sometimes it is necessary to purge His beloved children of their dross and impurities as well, in order that they might bear more fruit for His Kingdom. This has been the case throughout Biblical history, as we see by these verses:
"But he knoweth the way that I take: when he hath tried me, I shall come forth as gold."
Job 23:10, KJV
"And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God."
Zechariah 13:9, KJV
"My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."
James 1:2-4, KJV
"That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:"
1 Peter 1:7, KJV
"Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified."
1 Peter 4:12-14, KJV
"I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
Revelation 3:18, KJV
Please go to part two for the conclusion of this article.
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