A Garden in the Mind - Part 3
The Olive Tree
Sabbath Day Sermon, Saturday 27 July 2002
Click here to read Part 2
There is truly something wonderful about trees. When you gaze up at a majestic pine or birch tree you get a sense of towering strength and permanence. Here, where we live, we are surrounded by them and perhaps even take them from granted. Every now and then, though, I heartily recommend that you pause from what you are doing, go outside, and gaze up at the trees in wonderment. Trees were made by Yahweh to give us shelter, provide oxygen for the biosphere, wood for building and keeping warm, and as we have been learning from our scripture studies, to be symbolic representations of different kinds of people and principles.
We have now spoken of the Tree of Life, which symbolises the love of God and our neighbour, and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, also known as the Tree of Death, which symbolises the love of self. And as you know, the whole foundation of Satanism and occultism - whether you worship the devil, or even acknowledge that he exists, or not - is basically the worship of self. Anything which places self in the centre of a man's or woman's personal universe is a tendency towards Satanism and the original lie of the serpent in the Garden of Eden. He told our first parents that if they partook of this seductive Tree of Knowledge that they would not only not die but that they would become divine - they would become gods. And that, brethren and sisters, is the lure of all occultism; power. It promises power. It promises you that you are your own god. It promises you that you are immortal.
I was talking to a high-ranking Freemason the other day and he told me that initiates into that occult mystery are taught lots of things from the Bible. However, the scriptures are twisted to mean the opposite of what they say. So when Yah'shua (Jesus) said: "I am the way, the truth, and the life" (Jn.14:16) - the occultist, who believes that he can become a christ also - interprets this to mean that every individual human being is "the way, the truth, and the life." Or to put it another way, the teaching of occultism is that every individual is his own way, his own truth, and his own life. This is no different from a human being calling himself god - it is no different from the lie that the serpent told Eve. This is the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, and it is a deadly tree: for we are saved not by knowledge of gnosis, as the Gnostic heretics teach, but by faith in the Son of God, whose precious blood of atonement is the greatest revelation of love that there is. And thus we are justified by love through trusting in the resurrection Yah'shua (Jesus).
Last week we talked about the olive, vine and fig-trees and saw that they symbolised love, wisdom and obedience. And we understood that the parable of the talents was about these three principles. We saw clearly that a man or woman can never attain to love until he has first learned obedience in faith, which obedience in due course will make him wise and open the floodgates of love, which is the greatest gift and the greatest talent, which the Lord of Love doubles from 5 to 10, and to which he adds the talent of the profitless servant who would not be obedient. Love is the great multiplying principle, but its foundation is obedience and discipline.
The Olive Tree
The olive-tree is the emblem of the man or woman who excels in Christian love, and of the heavenly principle of love planted in the believer's mind. And from this one very important symbol, many other equally important symbols are derived. For instance, what is the olive tree used for? From the fruits of the olive-tree, olive oil is pressed. Please note that it is pressed. You can't tickle an olive fruit and expect oil to flow out of it. The vessel containing the oil - the fruit - has to be crushed. I want you to remember that when you consider that it is man who is called to be the olive-tree, and how Christ, who was crushed for our transgressions, was, and is, the Olive Tree.
As most of you know, the Hebrews mixed olive oil with perfumes to anoint their kings and priests; and the ordinary people used plain olive oil to anoint their bodies, a practice common throughout the Mediterranean. And finally it was used as a fuel for burning in their lamps, much like paraffin.
Before we analyse the meaning of olive oil we must understand what a fruit symbolises in Scripture. Fruit always symbolises our doings or what we do with our lives. Thus Yah'shua (Jesus) said, "You shall know (true believers) by their fruits" (Mt.7:16). What He means is that we will be able to know the quality of people by what they do. Fruits, then, are the symbols of actions or works.
And so we learn that the olive-tree is the symbol of the principle of love planted in the soul; the fruits are the symbols of loving deeds which are the outgrowth of that principle; and the oil is the blessedness and richness of the love that results from those deeds. All things connected with the olive-tree have relation to love.
So why were Hebrew kings and priests anointed with olive oil? Quite simply, because their calling was to epitomise and live out this love so that the people could imitate them. And as you know, believers are called to be kings and priests as well (Rev.1:6; 5:10) for exactly the same reason. These are people who, under Yah'shua (Jesus), rule their own minds, and serve Yahweh upon the altar of their own hearts - and these men are consecrated, or made holy, by the power of heavenly love. This is also the calling of the husband in a marriage, and you will read that just as a wife is supposed to be obedient to her husband in all things, so he, as her priest-king, is supposed to love her as Christ loves the Church or Messianic Community (1 Pet.3:1; Eph.5:33, 23-32).
But this anointing oil consisted of more than just olive oil, and a detailed recipe on how to make it is found in the 13th chapter of Exodus. The directions on how to make this "holy anointing oil" are very particular. It was not to be poured on man's flesh. If anyone made anything like it, he was to be cut off from Yahweh's people. The tabernacle, and Aaron and his sons, were to be anointed with it.
People have wondered why Yahweh gave such solemn directions, with such a heavy penalty for those who abuse them, over the creation of an oil mixture! But what you must realise is that in the Scriptures emblems are vitally important because they teach us vital spiritual truths which, if perverted, lead people away from salvation. That is why, for example, complete immersion in water as a symbol of spiritual rebirth is so very important, and why sprinkling babies in so-called "infant baptism" is such a perversion of truth. You see, total immersion represents total repentance from sin, total death of the carnal man, and a total rebirth - in sprinkling the symbol conveys the false idea that we need not repent fully, that we need not die to self, that we do not arise into new creatures in Christ. It sends out the wrong message because a baby can neither repent nor make a profession of faith. Such a false symbol as infant baptism is a mockery of God! It becomes a useless and ultimately harmful teaching.
Now this holy anointing oil had to be made according to divine specification for exactly the same reason because it was, and is, a symbol of spiritual power and authority. It was the symbol of the peculiar love of Yahweh, poured out upon and consecrating the tabernacle of New Covenant Israel with all its spiritually-minded sons and daughters. What is it, do you think, that unites the members of a family so closely together, and makes the brethren and sisters of the Messianic Community or Church all one? It is love. The Psalmist declares:
"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is
For brethren to dwell together in unity!
It is like the precious oil upon the head,
Running down on the beard,
The beard of Aaron,
Running down on the edge of his garments.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
Descending upon the mountains of Zion;
For there Yahweh commanded the blessing --
Life forevermore" (Ps 133, NKJV).
Unity, therefore, is said to be like the precious ointment on Aaron's head. And true Christian unity is always the result of love. Thus the plain statement of the Psalmist is that unity among the brethren is like that of the precious love of Yahweh poured out upon them, which consecrates them with the same holy feelings and with the same affectionate desires. And is this not the object of our labour? Is this not why we are sharing the Gospel so fervently? Is it not because we have tasted, and desired, and gloried in this love? This is what olive oil symbolises on one level. That is why we anoint the Priesthood with it when they are set-apart in their offices, to remind them that their power and authority is the love of God and nothing else.
Olive oil was not, however, only used for anointing. We read further in Exodus:
"And you shall command the children of Israel that they bring you pure oil of pressed olives for the light, to cause the lamp to burn continually" (Ex.27:20, NKJV).
Eastern peoples used to gather olive when they were young and beat or squeezed the fruit in order to obtain oil, instead of casting them into presses, and this was the best or purest oil. Now the lamp or candlestick was a symbol of the Messianic Community or Church, which we learn from the Book of Revelation. Yah'shua (Jesus) told John that the seven candlesticks were the seven Assemblies or Churches of Asia Minor (Rev.1:4,20).
Now we understand the meaning of the symbol of burning olive oil. We understand why the Israelites were commanded to bring pure olive oil to cause the Menorah to burn always. A lamp will not burn without oil, and the Body of Christ - the Messianic Community or Church - would be quite dark and dead without love. If the members of the Body of Christ are not productive of loving deeds towards one another, and if out of those loving deeds they fail to press as it were the very essential principle of heaven which sanctifies and blesses all, they are a mere dead Church, and their lamp will rapidly go out.
Does this not explain to us the true meaning of the Parable of the Ten Virgins? All ten had lamps and all ten had light in them; but only the five wise virgins had oil in their vessels, and these burned on when the others went out. Thus only those who have love in the vessels of their hearts can comply with Yah'shua's (Jesus') commandment, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven" (Matt.5:16, NKJV).
Now I have taught you before that the lamps in this parable weren't actually Aladdin's lamps - they weren't little metal, ceramic, or wooden vessels with a burning wick coming out of the spout. They were actually torches made of a wooden pole around which was wrapped rags which were drenched in oil. When this was alight it blazed - it was no little flicker but a bright light. And these torches burn oil quickly. So when you recall this parable, remember that as Christians we are supposed to be blazing lights in the streets of life, not tiny little lamps flickering in the corner of a room of our own homes.
So how was it that the foolish virgins had lamps, and for a little while had light in them? Who were they? These are those believers who get the light of truth into their understandings, but who haven't the wisdom to acquire at the same time love for the deeds which the truth teaches, and whose interest, therefore, in religious subjects, although bright enough for a time, soon dies away, and leaves them in spiritual darkness.
Love in the heart is oil in the vessel (or the oil-drenched rags of the torch), and truth in the understanding is light in the lamp. Truth or faith will not long continue to shine in our understandings if we neglect to acquire love in our wills or hearts. It is not just what you know that is important but what you also do. And the quality of your works will be determined by the oil or love in your heart.
Now one of the most important passages in Scripture concerning the olive-tree and its oil is the fourth chapter of Zechariah. It's such an important passage that we could spend an entire sermon on it alone. It is also, as many of you know, foundational to this New Covenant work which we are about. (See, Emblem of Yahweh's Presence: The Story of the B'rit Chadashah Assembly of Yahweh Logo). Let's just read the last four verses:
"Then I answered and said to him, "What are these two olive trees -- at the right of the lampstand and at its left?" And I further answered and said to him, "What are these two olive branches that drip into the receptacles of the two gold pipes from which the golden oil drains?"" (Zech.4:11-12, NKJV)
This is the picture, then: two olive trees emptying themselves through golden pipes into a golden seven-armed Menorah or candlestick! Zechariah continues:
"Then he answered me and said, "Do you not know what these are?" And I said, "No, my lord." So he said, "These are the two anointed ones, who stand beside the Lord of the whole earth"" (Zech.4:13-14, NKJV).
We know what the candlestick and the olive-trees and their oil symbolise, so what does the vision mean? It is emblematical of love flowing into and enriching the Messianic Community or Church. But what do the two olive trees mean? And why is the Church standing between them? Why two? What does the number 2 symbolise?
If we know that the olive-tree is symbolic of love, it is not hard to figure out. For we are told, are we not, that the whole of Torah (Law) and the prophets can be summarised into two great commandments:
""Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Torah (Law)?" Yah'shua (Jesus) said to him, " 'You shall love Yahweh your Elohim (the LORD your God) with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbour as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Torah (Law) and the Prophets"" (Matt.22:36-40, NKJV).
There you have your answer. The two great commandments, which are that we should love Yahweh and our neighbour. These two commandments are the two olive-trees out of which our hearts are continually being filled with the golden oil of heaven! And they are trees - with many branches and leaves, just as there are many commandments (mitzvot) which are summarised in the Decalogue or Ten Commandments and finally in the Two Great Commandments. The trunks of these two trees are the Two Commandments; and on each tree there are Five main branches or commandments, and on each of these are all the others. These two trees represents the whole Torah (Law) in its two components - love of God and love of man.
Is this not a beautiful illustration? Is it not such a precise summary of the whole Gospel of Yah'shua (Jesus)? We are all spiritual Menorahs or candlesticks, and we are to let our light so shine that our good works may be seen. But how could we do that if the golden streams of divine love were not constantly poured into our hearts by the Word of Yahweh?
We could not live a holy life if the love of holiness were not communicated to us from our Saviour. The two olive-trees pouring their rich oil into the candlestick are emblems of the two essential principles of the Word, the love of God and of our neighbour, which renew and sanctify our hearts.
This same symbol is found in the 11th chapter of the Book of Revelation. The two olive-trees and the two candlesticks are there said to stand before the God of the whole earth, and to be His witnesses! You see, these are Yahweh's witnesses in the world. These are the witnesses which the world wishes to destroy. They try to kill them again and again but they keep on arising from the dead, as it were, to bring great fear into the hearts of the wicked. These are the two witnesses sent into Jerusalem (Rev.11:3-6) - the City of Peace, only it is today a city of false peace, and not the peace of Yahweh. Satan proclaims his own kind of peace - his own 'Jerusalem', but Yahweh our Father has another that is everlasting. Satan's peace is based on the lie of worshipping self - of eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which is the Tree of Death, for self is dead. Yahweh's peace is based on the truth of loving Him and loving our neighbour - of eating of the Tree of Life, by which we obtain a life of Christ within us.
There is one last symbol and that is leaves but I shall talk more of these when I come to discuss the fig-tree. And when we have done that we will better understand what the olive leaf in the mouth of the dove actually means. Let me end today with a passage from Deuteronomy, in the 33rd chapter, and 24th verse, which is a part of the patriarchal blessing of Jacob to his 12 sons:
"Asher is most blessed of sons;
Let him be favoured by his brothers,
And let him dip his foot in oil"
'Let him dip his foot in oil'. It sounds strange to those who do not understand biblical symbolism but its meaning is very plain: if you were enjoined to walk in love, you would understand what you were supposed to do, wouldn't you? A man who lives lovingly dips his foot in oil. Yahweh said through the prophet Micah:
"He has shown you, O man, what is good;
And what does Yahweh require of you
But to do justly,
To love mercy,
And to walk humbly with your God?"
A man who dips his foot in oil walks humbly before the living Elohim (God). A man who lives in a carnal, sensual manner, dips his foot in dust; a man who lives viciously and filthily, dips his foot in mud; a man whose conduct is always sour and disagreeable, dips his foot in vinegar; a man whose words and deeds are bitter and malicious, dips his foot in gall. And - a man whose words and deeds are kind, smooth, gentle, and loving, dips his foot in oil.
I pray that the vision of Zechariah will give you much to think about over the coming week. Read the fourth chapter carefully for we have but touched on the deeper meaning of this marvellous revelation today. Next week I shall be talking about the deeper symbolism of the vine-tree. May you all be inspired to "dip your foot in oil" and become channels for the oil of the two olive trees, which is the love of our Father in Heaven, and in so doing, be multiplied, sanctified, and blessed! Amen.
Click here to read Part 4
This page was created on 23 July 2002
Last updated on 23 July 2002
Copyright © 1987-2007 NCCG - All Rights Reserved