Tuesday, August 05, 2014

1888 Insight: “Growing in Christ”

Insights #6 August 9, 2014
Third Quarter 2014 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
"Growing in Christ"
For the week of August 9, 2014
The Harvest and the Harvesters
Can you pluck apples from a pear tree? The answer seems obvious, however to two young boys, ignorance was bliss.  These two boys loved to swim, and frequently climbed down the fruit tree outside of their second-story bedroom window to go swimming, without their parents' knowledge. One day, they heard their father say he was going to cut the tree down because it was dead. Fearing they would lose their escape route, the boys went to the store and bought artificial apples, which they tied to the branches of the dead tree. The next morning, their father expressed amazement that apples seemed to have grown overnight, especially since the tree was a pear tree!
A tree, plant, vine or brush, can only yield fruit after its own kind.  This is the way God designed it. We know this from Genesis 1:11–13.
And God said, 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. And the earth brought forth grass, and herb yielding seed after his kind, and the tree yielding fruit, whose seed was in itself, after his kind: and God saw that it was good. And the evening and the morning were the third day.
Thus, pear trees can only yield pears not apples (or oranges or bananas or any other fruit).  The pear seed will yield a pear tree, which will in turn yield pears. In Matthew 13:24–30, Jesus told the parable of the tares and the field.  In this story, the land owner sowed good seed in the field, but shortly thereafter, tares also appeared.  The field workers, recognizing the tares, asked the Master where they came from since only good seed had been sown.  The Master answered, saying, "An enemy has done this."  The workers then asked their master, "Should we go gather the tares and throw them away"? And he replied, "Wait until the harvest, lest when you pull the tare, the wheat is pulled also." The workers didn't realize that the roots of the tares were interwoven with the wheat.
This certainly has spiritual implications. In Matthew 13:39 Jesus explains that "… the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels."  In this parable, what is being sown is the principle of either kingdom (Satan's or God's) in the hearts of the people.  Those who are wheat belong to God and those who are tares belong to the devil.  The wheat represents those in whom Christ's principle of agape has germinated; these are the good seed in this parable.  Meanwhile, the tares represent those in whom the principle of self exaltation has ripened. The implication is that at the end of the world, there will be no doubt as to which tree the fruit came from.  Just like a barren tree is distinguishable from a fruitful one in the season of harvest, at the end of the world, each person's character will reveal clearly whom he or she has chosen.  The reason it is imperative to let the tare grow beside the wheat is because many sympathize with the tare.  In other words, the wheat must see the tare for what it is, and no longer be deceived by outward appearances; for this they'll have to wait until the character is fully developed and revealed.

This parable also has very personal implications.  Let's say we are the soil, and that God sows His good seed in us.  This should mean that eventually seeds of goodness will yield the fruit of righteousness.  But, in actuality, sinful deeds emerge as well. The angels, seeing tares in our hearts cry out to God, "Lord did you not put good seed in Janna? Then why do we see tares?"  The Lord replies, "An enemy did this."  Disappointed, the angels then ask, "Should we take the tares out of Janna's heart?"  The Lord answers, "No, let the evil grow with the good, lest by pulling the evil, the disheartened person pulls the good also."  We are to be thankful for His longsuffering with us.
How can it be that good seeds can yield bad fruit?  This is exactly what happened with Israel.  In Isaiah 5:1-7, God used a metaphor to describe His frustration with Israel:
Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard. What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes? And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down: And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it. For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

The Lord planted good grapes but harvested wild grapes.  The Lord looked at Israel, He expected to see, "… judgment, but behold oppression; … righteousness, but behold a cry."  This became a recurring theme in the Old Testament.  The Lord spoke through Isaiah in chapter 58 and verse 6, "Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?" The same message was also spoken to Israel through Micah in chapter 6, verse 8: "He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?" God is saying that His seed had not yielded godly fruit in those who claimed to be His people.  And, actually the seed of the enemy had been sown in the hearts and minds of the Israelites, yielding fruit after the enemy's likeness.
As good Laodiceans, we too fell into the same trap as the Israelites did in the past.  Yes, we believe we are blessed and in need of nothing.  But, God's assessment is different.   We do not know that we are naked, wretched, poor and miserable.  The indictment is that we could know our true condition but are choosing not to. The point is that, in the end, it will be evident to whom we have given control of our hearts and minds.  By the fruit you will know them. Again, we are to be thankful for His longsuffering with us.  Ellen White elaborates on this in the following quote,
When the Spirit of God takes possession of the heart, it transforms the life. Sinful thoughts are put away, evil deeds are renounced; love, humility, and peace take the place of anger, envy, and strife. Joy takes the place of sadness, and the countenance reflects the light of heaven. No one sees the hand that lifts the burden, or beholds the light descend from the courts above. The blessing comes when by faith the soul surrenders itself to God. Then that power which no human eye can see creates a new being in the image of God. (The Desire of Ages, p. 173.)
Who are we allowing to sow seed in our heart?
-Raul Diaz

Raul Diaz