Sound doctrine from the word.

The Prophecy of the Olive Tree

Romans 11 #

In Romans chapter 11, Paul speaks of faith as an olive tree, from which the branches of Israel were broken off, and which the branches of the Gentiles were grafted onto.

Romans 11:16 For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches.
17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree;
18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.

This is one of many different symbols used in the New Testament, both in Christ's parables and in the epistles. The more I have read and studied the Bible, though, the more I have realized that all of these figures actually originate in the Old Testament.

Jeremiah 11 #

During my daily Bible reading last week, I started the book of Jeremiah. And in Jeremiah chapter 11, it also speaks of the olive tree.

Jeremiah 11:16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

I have read that passage many times before, but for some reason I never noticed this verse. But this time, the moment I read it, it struck me: this is the very same thing that it speaks of in Romans 11:16-17. (Note the chapter and verse numbers!)

Looking at the surrounding passage, we find an amazing prophecy of the olive tree. This prophecy would not only be fulfilled when Israel was carried captive to Babylon, but also when they rejected the Christ.

And for the Church #

And that is not all. Romans tells us that this same thing will also be fulfilled on the church, if it continues not in faith.

Romans 11:18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
21 For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
22 Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
23 And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again.

So let's look at the passage from Jeremiah 11, and see how the same pattern of events has been repeated on the olive tree—and will be again.

A Conspiracy #

Jeremiah 11:9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

The downfall of the olive tree begins with a conspiracy formed by its members. Here, the men of Judah, which were the southern kingdom, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who dwelt in the holy city.

At the time Jeremiah is prophesying, the northern kingdom of the other 10 tribes of Israel has already been carried away captive. So Judah is all which remains to form this conspiracy. And because of this, they will also be carried captive—broken off of the olive tree.

However, they would later be grafted back into the olive tree. They would return to Judah and Jerusalem, and rebuild the temple.

But afterward, when the Christ would come, those of Judah and Jerusalem would again form a conspiracy. Although the full captivity of all Israel had returned, and been grafted back in, and Samaria and Galilee would accept Jesus as Christ, the men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem would reject him, and destroy him.

And so as it says in Romans, they were broken off.

Now, we shall also see this same thing befall the church in the future.

They are Turned Back #

But what is this conspiracy which they have formed?

10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

This conspiracy was a breaking of the covenant, a going back to the old ways. They conspired to do as their forefathers had done, and not to keep the word of God.

In Jeremiah's day, this occurred when all the people of Judah turned to idolatry, just as their forefathers had worshiped other gods. And at the time of Christ, we find that a similar thing occurred, as the people of Judah and Jerusalem followed the traditions of their forefathers above the Law of Moses.

I Will Not Hearken #

11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.

The result of this would be that God would bring evil on them, which would cause them to cry out to him, but he would not hear them.

At the time of Jeremiah, although he and many others prayed for Judah and Jerusalem, God made it very clear that he would not hear. Thus, they were carried away captive.

And at the time of Christ, the Jews were not delivered, but given into the hand of the Romans.

Cry unto the gods #

12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.

When God refused to hear them, they would cry again to the false gods—but of course, they would not be delivered.

This is indeed exactly what happened to those Jews who when down into Egypt. They returned to worshiping the Queen of Heaven, but God said that they would all be destroyed.

13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

Jeremiah is even forbidden to pray for them for their wickedness.

15 What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.

Although God had spoken of Israel as his wife, yet she is no more. She has committed adultery with many, so that she is no longer one flesh with the LORD.

In the same way, when Israel was broken off after their rejection of the Messiah, the church became the bride of Christ.

A Green Olive Tree #

16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

It would be with a great tumult from many people that the branches would be broken, and with a fire kindled upon them.

This indeed happened when the armies of Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem, and burnt it with fire, and carried Judah captive.

It also happened when the armies of Rome burnt Jerusalem again in 70 AD.

17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.

And again, what was it that brought this upon them? A conspiracy in the branches, in which they offered incense to Baal.

We find such wickedness is indeed revealed to Jeremiah.

But at the time of Christ, Israel had purged itself from all idolatry. So this part of the prophecy was not fulfilled again. Was it?

The New Testament Olive Tree #

No. But it will be fulfilled on the olive tree in the future. On the Gentiles. On the "church." And it will be fulfilled exactly as it was the first time.

Let us consider:

Jeremiah 11:9 And the LORD said unto me, A conspiracy is found among the men of Judah, and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

It may sound strange to suggest that it is in Judah and Jerusalem where this prophecy will again be fulfilled, if it is the Gentiles which must now be broken off. But it is not possible that a prophet perish outside of Jerusalem.

And when the branches of the olive tree are broken off, it will not be that of the true church, whose fruit will already have been harvested in the rapture. But it will be those branches of false faith among the Gentiles—who will be deceived by the antichrist.

That is, after the true church is removed, the only branches which will remain on the earth will be part of the great whore (Revelation 17). These will be "christians," who follow a "christ"—the antichrist.

And to where will they follow him? Judah and Jerusalem, where he will declare himself God in the temple. It is there that the conspiracy will be perfected.

Turned Back Again #

10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.

These people will break the covenant that God had made with them, and turn back to the iniquities of their forefathers.

If you have read my article on 2 Thessalonians 2, then you know that this is exactly what will happen: near the time of the end, many will leave the true church in favor of a different "christ," just as the Jews rejected Christ when they were broken off.

2 Thessalonians 2:9 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders,
10 And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.

Thus, they will break the covenant of the blood of Jesus, and instead look to a new covenant of salvation—one which does not call them to righteousness. These people heard the word of God in the New Testament, preaching truth and grace, and they rejected it.

Instead, they turned back unto the iniquities of their forefathers.

That is the current pattern in the church around the world today—the true word of God and covenant of Jesus Christ are being rejected, for "older and better" words of our apostate forefathers, and traditions of men.

This is exactly what the antichrist will rise from, and exactly what causes branches to be broken off of the olive tree.

They Shall Cry Again #

11 Therefore thus saith the LORD, Behold, I will bring evil upon them, which they shall not be able to escape; and though they shall cry unto me, I will not hearken unto them.

Once again, exactly how the Bible describes the destruction of those that follow the antichrist after the tribulation. They will cry out, but God will not hear them. It will be too late.

Revelation 11:13 And the same hour was there a great earthquake, and the tenth part of the city fell, and in the earthquake were slain of men seven thousand: and the remnant were affrighted, and gave glory to the God of heaven.
14 The second woe is past; and, behold, the third woe cometh quickly.
15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.
16 And the four and twenty elders, which sat before God on their seats, fell upon their faces, and worshipped God,
17 Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.
18 And the nations were angry, and thy wrath is come, and the time of the dead, that they should be judged, and that thou shouldest give reward unto thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and them that fear thy name, small and great; and shouldest destroy them which destroy the earth.

The wicked became afraid and began to glorify God, but it was too late, Christ would come quickly, and break off the branches, destroying them which destroy the earth. (Note chapter and verse numbers again!)

They Shall Not Save Them #

12 Then shall the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem go, and cry unto the gods unto whom they offer incense: but they shall not save them at all in the time of their trouble.

And once they find that God does not hear them, to what do they cry?

Revelation 6:16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

They cry to that of which they made their idols, the rocks.

13 For according to the number of thy cities were thy gods, O Judah; and according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem have ye set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense unto Baal.
14 Therefore pray not thou for this people, neither lift up a cry or prayer for them: for I will not hear them in the time that they cry unto me for their trouble.

And at the end, there is no prayer made for those who will perish. Instead, in Revelation we see men pray that God would hasten his judgement.

Revelation 6:10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth?

There is indeed no hope for those who take the mark of the beast.

Revelation 14:9 And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,
10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:
11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.

The Whore #

15 What hath my beloved to do in mine house, seeing she hath wrought lewdness with many, and the holy flesh is passed from thee? when thou doest evil, then thou rejoicest.

And of course, what is the "church" called in Revelation, but the whore, who has committed fornication with all the kings of the earth.

16 The LORD called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.

And how is she destroyed?

Revelation 17:16 And the ten horns which thou sawest upon the beast, these shall hate the whore, and shall make her desolate and naked, and shall eat her flesh, and burn her with fire.
17 For God hath put in their hearts to fulfil his will, and to agree, and give their kingdom unto the beast, until the words of God shall be fulfilled.

The words of God in Jeremiah will indeed be fulfilled, when the antichrist and his armies turn against and destroy the whore, just as Babylon and Israel turned against each other, though Israel loved Babylon at the first.

In Offering Incense Unto Baal #

17 For the LORD of hosts, that planted thee, hath pronounced evil against thee, for the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke me to anger in offering incense unto Baal.

And here is the conclusion of the great mystery. This is that which causes the branches to be broken from the olive tree:

To offer incense unto Baal, and worship him rather than God.

This is the very definition of the great whore, which even now reigns over the kings of the earth. The Roman Catholic institution has chosen the evil ways of the forefathers of Israel and Judah, worshiping Baal, and offering his offerings.

When the true church in Jesus Christ is gone and only the false "church" remains, this wickedness will finally be recompensed, and God will break the branches off for their iniquity, just as he has done before.

And also just as he did before, he will graft the children of Israel back in.

For God is able to graff them in again.

James 5 #

After this, I was reading the book of James, and I saw something that I did not fully see when I taught through the book, but which is also relevant.

James 5:1 Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you.
2 Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten.
3 Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.
4 Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.
5 Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.
6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.
7 Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain.
8 Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.

As I pointed out when I taught through this, what is described here is reminiscent of what is said of the destruction of the whore. I also pointed out that the "bad guys" in this passage were religious—they were storing up treasure for the last days.

But what I did not consider was the dual meaning of verse 4. In the later verses we see the husbandman waiting for the fruit of the earth, figuratively speaking. What I realized as I read this passage again is that the labourers reaping down the fields are intended to be understood in the figurative sense as well.

The field is used in Christ's parables as a figure of the world, from which a harvest will one day be reaped—a harvest of souls. Christ spoke to his disciples of God sending laborers into the harvest.

Luke 10:2 Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.

So when taken figuratively in James, what this means is that the laborers being spoken of are people who are working for a harvest of souls. They are those engaged in teaching and preaching the true gospel.

But those who are over and above them, and have the handling of their hire, are by fraud withholding it from them.

This confirms the religious nature of these wicked men. It also fits very well with what James spoke of before in chapters 3 and 4—religious men who were trying to take the ministry that they might consume it upon their lusts. He said that they even would kill, and desire to have, and yet could not obtain. And here again in chapter 5 verse 6 it says:

6 Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.

Thus, it is speaking here of true messengers of Christ being persecuted and defrauded by powerful religious men.

And what does this have to do with Jeremiah 11? The behavior described is exactly that of the great whore, in whom is found all the blood of the martyrs. But as it says in James 5:8, the coming of the Lord will draw nigh, and then he will destroy the whore. These wicked men will be judged, and these apostate branches broken off. And the twelve tribes scattered abroad will be grafted back in.

Conclusion #

The Old Testament forms the basis for Paul's teaching regarding the branches being broken off of the olive tree. The Bible teaches that just as apostate Israel was broken off, so will the apostate "church" one day, when Israel is grafted back in. These branches that are broken off are not secular, but "christian." They even participate in the ministry, but only for the lust of the flesh. In the end, Christ will return to restore Israel, and judge the wicked whore that calls herself his bride, worshiping Baal and killing the saints.

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