Fruit of the Spirit, part 2: Groundwork for fruit
Since the word “fruit” is used in our subject, it behooves us to examine how the Bible uses the term “fruit.” This will be part of the preliminary “spadework,” if you will, concerning bringing forth fruit in us. The Bible uses the word “fruit” in at least three ways: First, there is fruit in the sense of the food group with which we are all acquainted, primarily, the produce of trees and vines, etc.
Second, “fruit” is used in a broader sense referring to any type of produce whether from the fields, the orchards, the vineyards, or from any type of plant. And third, there is the extensive metaphorical use of the word “fruit” to mean the result of any action, moral or physical, including offspring from sexual relations, as in the term, the “fruit of the womb.”
Fruit in Scripture is one of the prominent images of abundance, blessing, prosperity and happiness. But even before that, it is indicative of God’s own creativity and richness. At the very creation, God said:
Genesis 1: 11 … Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
Next, notice how (a portion of) creation itself is referred to as the fruit of God’s work.
Psalm 104:13 He watereth the hills from his chambers: the earth is satisfied with the fruit of thy works.
In Acts 14, Paul testifies of the richness of God when the people were considering Paul and Barnabas to be the gods Mercury and Jupiter. At that, Paul rent his clothes and said:
Acts 14:15 …Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:
16 Who in times past suffered all nations to walk in their own ways.
17 Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness
That’s an interesting figurative phrase, isn’t it?—filling our hearts with food. Through one metaphor or another, the Promised Land was portrayed as a fruitful land. When the 12 spies returned and gave the report of what they had found, it says in….
Numbers 13:26 And they went and came to Moses, and to Aaron, and to all the congregation of the children of Israel, unto the wilderness of Paran, to Kadesh; and brought back word unto them, and unto all the congregation, and shewed them the fruit of the land.
27 And they told him, and said, We came unto the land whither thou sentest us, and surely it floweth with milk and honey; and this is the fruit of it.
The fruit of Canaanland, both literal and figurative, was the evidence of the goodness and desirability of the land. The blessings upon Israel for obedience to God’s covenant was always tied to fruitfulness in all its aspects: literal fruit of the land and of animals and of the fruit of the womb as well as being a metaphor for general prosperity and abundance. For example,
Leviticus 25: 18 Wherefore ye shall do my statutes, and keep my judgments, and do them; and ye shall dwell in the land in safety.
19 And the land shall yield her fruit, and ye shall eat your fill, and dwell therein in safety.
Then in Psalm 128, we find a promise of blessing, put in terms of children as fruit. As we look at this, I will emphasize certain words which may ring some bells with those readers who have heard our lectures concerning the Golden Lampstand in the Holy Place as well as the Most Holy Place itself. There is a double entendre in the Hebrew here.
A house or tent or tabernacle is a type of the human body. In my Tabernacle lectures (See ordering information at the end of this posting), I used an overhead transparency showing how the tabernacle pictured the human body.
There were shoulders and ribs and thighs in the layout of the tabernacle and thighs was translated by the word “sides.” I pointed out that even the word thighs was itself a Hebrew euphemism. I noted further that the lexicons refer to “dual recesses.” We have dual recesses at the top of our thighs, don’t we?
As I was presenting that lecture to a live audience some years ago, a most curious “coincidence” happened at that very moment that I was teaching about the thighs, a coincidence so amazing that I cannot interpret the event as anything else except that God was really emphasizing that point.
What happened was that one of the small children (and they were under excellent supervision, but accidents happen) had slipped and cut herself on the edge of the swimming pool down the hall from our meeting room. The parents took her to the emergency room where she received stitches to close the wound. And where was she cut? In the recess of her thigh, euphemistically speaking.
In the psalm above, God is speaking to a man (i.e., a husband) and to make clear the double entendre in verse 3, I would read it like this: Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by (“by” meaning either, “next to” or “on account of.” It works either way in English!) the thighs of your body.
Turning to the book of Nehemiah, we are continuing our general survey of the uses of the word “fruit.” Here we see that when Nehemiah makes a prayer of confession, he recounts Israel’s history and refreshes the people’s memory concerning how God had blessed them.
Nehemiah 9:24 So the children went in and possessed the land, and thou subduedst before them the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites, and gavest them into their hands, with their kings, and the people of the land, that they might do with them as they would.
25 And they took strong cities, and a fat land, [Was the land overweight? (grinning)] and possessed houses full of all goods, wells digged, vineyards, and olive yards, and fruit trees in abundance: so they did eat, and were filled, and became fat, and delighted themselves in thy great goodness.
God places a special value on fruit trees. In studying the history of warfare, we come across the term “a scorched earth policy.” It is a barbarous and cruel policy. In our own War between the States, General Sherman employed this from—where was it?—from Atlanta to Savannah?… where he just burned up everything in sight, including many peach trees, I would suppose, Georgia being the peach state. But God’s law forbids that. We read of it in…
Deuteronomy 20:19 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege:
20 Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.
I have written in our monthly Feed My Sheep concerning the circumcision of the heart. Here, in Deuteronomy 30, Moses is given to prophesy about Israel’s disobedience, their scattering into captivity and their eventual restoration under the New Covenant.
9 And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
301 TiW, Lecture 2: Survey of the Tabernacle (using overhead transparencies). The four album package contains both the audio CD, and D-101 Tabernacle Studies, Lecture 2 – A visual introduction of all the furniture in the Tabernacle by Dr. James Bruggeman. Approx 56 minutes, $10. This DVD is included in the 4-album package.
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