Olive Tree and the Kingdom of God
Romans 11 says that we are grafted into the Olive tree. What is that all about? Many say it is Gentile believers grafted into the nation of Israel therefore we need to get back to its roots with its laws and ordinances and sacrifices and feast.
Yes, it is about the Gentile believers but they are not grafted into the nation of Israel. They are grafted into a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the vine we are the branches, we are “in Christ”. We enter in by faith.
The Gentiles at one time were excluded from all the godly benefits and promises of Israel. They were without God in this world, however because of the shed blood of Jesus, we, the Gentiles, have been reconciled to God and have access to the Father by the Spirit. It is nothing to do now with keeping the law of commandments and ordinances which Israel had to keep in order to have access to God; Christ Jesus has annulled these commandments of the flesh, and therefore broken down the middle wall of partition between Jew and Gentile making one new man, a brand new creature, born of the Spirit of God. Both Jew and Gentile have to come the same way via the cross of Jesus Christ and by faith in Jesus Christ. Both Jew and Gentile must be born again to be part of this new man. God will still deal with the nation of Israel and the land of Israel but this is different from the ‘one new man’ (Ephesians 2 v 11-22, 2 Corinthians 5 v 17, Galatians 6 v 15).
So who does the olive tree represent?
Some say that the olive tree is the nation of Israel but it has also been suggested that the olive tree represents the people of God (Martyn Lloyd-Jones Romans 11) which seems to be more likely.
All the nations are seen here as olive trees, the branches are the people of the olive trees. Israel is the cultivated olive tree while the other nations are the wild olives.
The whole point of the cultivated olive tree is to bring forth a specific branch called Jehovah our Righteousness. It is into this Branch that the branches of the wild olives are grafted.
The natural branches of the cultivated olive tree are the natural children of Abraham who retain their position in the olive tree by their belief and trust in God.
The wild branches that have been grafted in are the people of the nations (Gentiles) that have put their trust in God. They are there by God’s grace through faith.
The branches of the olive tree represent the children of Abraham, those who are of the same kind as he is (Acts 13 v 26, Galatians 3 v 7).
The stock or trunk of the tree is Abraham from whom all the branches are part of. I would also suggest that the stock includes such people as Noah, Enoch and Adam. The life that is in the stock is the Lord Jesus Christ. As Christ is all through scripture from Genesis to Revelation so too is the life that flows through the olive tree.
The root of the tree is singular and what is distinctive about the root is that just as it supported the nation of Israel it is also now at this moment in time supporting the branches that have been grafted in. So who is it that is feeding, carrying, keeping, supporting the church?
The root has to be God, just as he bore the children of Israel (Exodus 19 v 4) He is now carrying us also and keeping us from falling. 1 Peter 1 v 5 says that we are kept by the power of God.
The olive tree should be holy just as the root was holy but unfortunately some of the branches are not. Israel lost the faith of the root, sinned, came under the law, no longer believed God and finally were cut off as branches.
Abraham is the stock from which come the branches. Because of his faith in God Abraham is seen as the father of faith. God promised him a people and land. He gave him all the kingdoms of the land of Cana for his possession. That was his earthly possession, but Abraham had a revelation of something far greater than earthly cities, he looked for the heavenly city whose builder and maker is God (Hebrews 11 v 10, 12 v 22, Revelation 21 v 10).
Abraham’s heir of promise was Isaac from whom came Jacob and all Israel. Isaac was only one branch of Abraham, the other Branch was Jesus Christ. Through Isaac we have the physical kingdom, through Jesus we have the heavenly kingdom.
God’s kingdom on earth was through the seed of Abraham as they believed and obeyed God. Because of their sin God brought in laws and ordinances and sacrifices and feast to be kept which all pointed to Jesus Christ and would be fulfilled in Him (Galatians 3 v 19-29). This was only for a time till Jesus Christ Himself arrived.
By being in Christ we are in the Kingdom of God. The Jews were seeking the restoration of their kingdom as under David and Solomon but Jesus offered them a greater kingdom, the kingdom of God. Jesus said that His kingdom was not of this world. Jesus was the kingdom in their midst but He was hidden from them even though He told them that the kingdom of God was in their midst. He said that if He cast out demons by the finger of God then that proved that the kingdom of God had come amongst them. When Peter, James and John went up the mount with Jesus and saw His glory they were beholding the kingdom of God.
Now we enter this kingdom by obedience based on faith that works by love, not by obedience based on keeping the law with all its observances and ordinances etc.
We partake of the root the same way Abraham did, by faith. He obeyed God by faith, he is the father of faith. Now it is to Abraham and his seed that the promises are made, not to seeds which are many, but seed, singular, and that seed is Christ. If we belong to Christ then we too are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise (Galatians 3 v 16-29). It is not into an earthly kingdom with its religious system that we are grafted into but into Jesus Christ the seed of Abraham’s faith. Not into a system of law but into a life of faith.
The Jews are the natural branches that are broken off because of unbelief; the Gentile believers are grafted in through their acceptance of Jesus Christ and stand by faith.
Jesus represents the heavenly kingdom and He came for a bride. The Jews rejected Him so now He has taken a bride from the Gentile nations. One day He will reveal Himself to the Jews and they will realise their great loss however they will have the earthly kingdom restored to them with David as their king.
Many take away from the person of Christ being the centre and focus of our faith and promote Judaism as being our greatest need to understand the word of God. No longer is it the Holy Spirit who reveals scripture but rather knowledge of Judaism as taught by the Rabbi’s. No longer is it about being “in Christ” but getting back to our so called Hebrew roots. May God deliver is from this other gospel.