The Parable of the Trees: Intro (Judges 9:8-15)

Introduction:

 

Usually when we think of parables, we think of Jesus because he often used parables in his teaching and preaching method.  Yet, we should remember that Jesus was not the only one to use parables and that they can be found throughout scripture.  Indeed, this parable is taken from the book of Judges.

So what is a parable?  I remember my Sunday school teacher when I was a child drilling this answer into our heads.  At least then, our definition was that a parable is an “earthly story with a heavenly meaning.”  Certainly, with respect to the parables of Jesus, this definition is correct, but once you look elsewhere in the Bible, you will quickly realize that my Sunday School teacher’s definition was lacking. 

For our purposes, it is perhaps better to say that a parable is an earthly story that speaks beyond itself.  It is similar to a fable of old in that it carries with it meaning that can be gleaned from the story.  The difference between a parable and a fable is that a fable contains a moralistic message that can be gleaned from a literal interpretation of the story.  To understand the message of a parable, one must look beyond the literal setting and seek the deeper meaning.  Yet, a parable is also different than an allegory.  In an allegory, every image has a one to one correlation with something else.  Sometimes when people read parables they get lost trying to make a connection between every element and something else, missing entirely the message of the parable.  It is true that the elements of a parable do contain deeper meaning and represent other things, but they do not always do so on a one to one basis and sometimes elements or images within the parable are simply there to add flavor to the story and do not contain any deeper meaning.

When Jesus was asked by his disciples (sf. Mark 4:10-12) why he taught in parables, his answer was that the parable kept the truth veiled from those whose eyes were not opened by God.  Indeed, to be able to discern spiritual truths, one must have a spirit which is alive and regenerate.  But sometimes parables are meant not to veil, but to reveal deep truths in a way that would have more impact than simply stating the facts.  That is the case with this parable of the trees.  It is an earthly story with a deeper meaning, but the deeper meaning is clear to all those who heard the parable and the story was meant to give the truth more impact.

So, what is the context of this particular parable?  To begin with, we must travel back to the age of the Judges.  The nation of Israel had been led through the wilderness from their captivity in Egypt to the Promised Land.  God had given them the Law at Sinai through Moses and God would lead them into the land through Joshua.  Yet, the people did not purge the land of all of the idolaters as they had been commanded to do.  Instead, some were allowed to stay, usually as servants.  This meant that the culture and the idolatry of the Canaanites were all around the Israelites.  And sadly, more often than not, the Israelites fell into the temptation of idolatry rather than converting the Canaanites to Judaism.

That statement in itself is a telling message for the church today.  It does not take much effort to see this same kind of thing going on in the Church to day.  We are called to be distinct from the worldly culture, but more often than not, our churches begin to look more like the world than they do God’s kingdom.  Sure, we may not be bowing down to wooden or stone idols (though you certainly find some of that in the Catholic church), but we certainly see people bowing down to money or egos.  In a sense, the church is supposed to be the embassy of the kingdom of heaven in this world.  The church should be a safe place and a holy place.  It should be a place where faith is built up, not a place where personalities vie for the attention of others.  In many ways, the days of the Judges are not that different than America today.

Most of us know the story about the famous Judge named Gideon.  Gideon, of course, had some doubts about his calling, placing a fleece on the threshing floor to see whether it would be wet or dry, etc…  But, eventually, God would have Gideon lead an army of 300 men to rout the armies of Midian.  For the full story of Gideon, read Judges chapters 6-8.

What most people forget about the story of Gideon is what happens at the end of his life.  The people tried to make Gideon their king and he refused.  At the same time, he allowed them to put up an idol of himself, which the Israelites worshipped.  Literally, the Hebrew text reads that they committed fornication with the idol, which reflects the marriage language that God often uses when conveying his relationship with his people.  When God’s people look toward other idols, it is seen by God as an adulterous affair.  How gracious our God is to be willing to forgive when we have been so unfaithful a spouse.

After Gideon died, the people went back to their Canaanite idols.  One of Gideon’s 70 sons (that in itself is an indication of the fact that Gideon had slipped away from a godly life for he had many wives and concubines) was a man named Abimelech, which literally means “my father is king” in Hebrew, went to live in Shechem with his mother—a concubine of Gideon.  They conspired with the people of Shechem to make Abimelech king, and they did so by capturing and putting to death all of Abimelech’s brothers (though one, Jotham, escaped).  Thus Abimelech was made king.

When Jotham heard what had happened, he went to the top of Mount Gerizim and told this parable.  This gave Jotham a place where the acoustics would have been good enough for him to be heard over a great distance as well as some distance from those who would try and put him to death.  Mount Gerizim was an important mountain in ancient Israel.  In Deuteronomy 27, we read the command of Moses that when the people have entered into the Promised Land, some are to ascend Mount Gerizim and others are to ascend Mount Ebal.  From Gerizim, blessings for obedience were to be pronounced and from Ebal curses for disobedience were to be pronounced.  We see this command being acted out in Joshua chapter 8.  What is interesting about Jotham’s story is that it is a cry for judgment for the unfaithfulness of God’s people—yet he cries out from Gerizim, not Ebal—perhaps simply to reflect that Jotham is leaving Judgment of the people’s actions up to God.  Regardless, it is from Mount Gerizim that Jotham tells this parable.

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28 Comments

  1. Michael

    Thanks so much for the great background information on the parable of the trees. It was helpful for my Sunday School class too. One thing though, there aren’t any idols in Catholic Churches. They do have images made of stone and wood, as well as paintings and stained glass windows, but they are all meant to point to the worship of God alone. Thanks again for you work.

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    1. preacherwin

      I am glad to hear that you found some of this material useful, thank you. In terms of the idols comment, I guess that is a bit of the puritan in me–I feel like the more ornamentation that you use, the more distracting from worship it can be. Given that the nature of an idol is anything that distracts from being focused on God, I hope you can see my disagreement with those of the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches and with protestant churches who have elected to employ such images to aide their devotion.

      Blessings,

      Win

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  2. Mike

    We are called to be distinct from the worldly culture, but more often than not, our churches begin to look more like the world than they do God’s kingdom. Sure, we may not be bowing down to wooden or stone idols (though you certainly find some of that in the Catholic church), but we certainly see people bowing down to money or egos.

    -I’ve been Catholic all my life and have never, ever, seen idol worship in any church. Why knock us Catholics for having statues and images that remind us that God has joined man in his great mercy, and to exhort us to live lives that exemplify those who have lived a holy life and are now in heaven? Exodus 25:18: “And you shall make two cheribum of gold; of hammered work you shall make them at the two ends of the mercy seat.
    The text goes on to explain exactly how the image of the angelic beings were to be made, and that they were to be on top of the holiest of holy places in the temple! God is not against images, but worshipping them. There is nothing inappropriate in allowing images or statues to remind us that Christ has joined with us as humans, and that we need to strive to be holy as he is, and as other were. Shame on you for taking a swipe at the one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church. I’ll pray for you that you might be a little more understanding. Your point taken on the true idol worship and what text is seeking to tell us in Judges in the Parable of the Trees (today’s Mass reading at my Church in Baltimore, and all over the world).

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    1. preacherwin

      Mike, my point was not to bicker with you, nor is it meant to cause strife. Instead, it is simply to present honest criticism in matters of practice surrounding the use of images and statues. I rejoice to hear that in your years as a Catholic you have never bowed down to an image or prayed to an image for aid or other things that would constitute forms of worship, but many, in their veneration of Mary and the Saints do practice such actions or at the very least, give the external impression of practicing such worship in their veneration. You are right, there were many pieces of art in the ancient Temple, though the art was never of humans, nor was it a depiction of God, nor were they bowed to, prayed to, or venerated in any way. There really is a big difference in terms of practice. Furthermore, temple worship has gone away (God made that brutally clear with the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD). The Greater Temple (Haggai 2:9 & John 2:21) is Jesus and now Christians are temples of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19). In fact, God underscores that there will be no more earthly temples in that there will be no temple in the new creation as God will be present with his people (Revelation 21:22). Instead, the Christian church model is the synagogue model–not localized in one place, but spread throughout the nations; no priests, but teachers instead; no blood sacrifices (for our blood sacrifice has been made once and for all time–Hebrews 10:10), so no more altars; and the artwork is much more minimal. Understand, I am not against artwork all together (though I am against much of it), what I am against is how folks use that artwork. It if is an object of devotion or veneration (as the Eastern Orthodox do), I think that crosses the line into idolatry. If you are kneeling before an image of Mary and asking her to intercede on your behalf, then you have crossed over into idolatry. This is something that many Roman Catholics do throughout the world–in some places, even blood sacrifices are made to images of Mary–such is an abomination.

      I want to clarify two things in terms of this discussion. First of all, I am not taking a swipe at practicing Catholics; I am taking a swipe at Catholicism. I do not believe that the Roman Catholic church teaches a doctrine that is consistent with Biblical Christianity, but I have known many Catholics who I would describe as Christians, trusting for their salvation in Christ alone and not in the church, but in these cases, I would describe them as Christians despite the dogma of their church. The second thing that I would like to clarify is that I do not consider Roman Catholicism the “one holy, catholic, and apostolic church.” Such a title belongs properly to any Christian church that pursues Christ with all of its strength and sets up the Holy Scriptures as its only rule for faith and practice. Thus, such belongs more rightly to evangelical protestant churches.

      Mike, I weighed out whether to answer your comment or not given the tone. Clearly, I struck a nerve, and it is often difficult to have a productive conversation when one is upset about an issue. At the same time, sometimes (if we are willing to humbly receive the criticism) we become routine in our practices and we don’t fully think through why we do what we are doing and the ramifications of those practices. In those cases, often it takes an outside set of eyeballs (and perhaps some different presuppositions) to point out some things that are wrong but that we have become perfectly comfortable with. I would suggest that this is the case with our current discussion. And do know, if you read enough of my writings, you will find that I am equally as hard on protestants as I am on Roman Catholics–even protestants in my own denomination. This is not because I am a grumpy Christian or because I am cynical; but instead it is because I have an honest desire that in faith and practice we apply God’s word to our lives in every area and that we grow to honor our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ in Spirit and in Truth. One of the philosophies that is part of my Reformed doctrinal heritage is the idea of “Reformed and always reforming.” We are always to be putting our practice and ideas in the crucible of scripture and submitting ourselves to the word of God–putting those things that are in our life to death that would distract us from Jesus Christ.

      Blessings in Christ,

      Win

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  3. Mike

    Preacher Win..thank you for your reply. I disagree with you on many fronts. However, I am either too old, or it is too late, to pick apart your comments regarding differences in my RC worldview, and your Presbyterian worldview. Besides, Christ prayed that we all may be one, and St, Paul as told us not bicker over words. I think that you may not really know what the Catechism teaches in some cases, as some of the items you mention are not our beliefs at all, eg..”but I have known many Catholics who I would describe as Christians, trusting for their salvation in Christ alone and not in the church”…I do not know the doctrine that states that the Church saves us. We beleive that we are saved by grace, through faith. Where we may differ is that we see the church as the “body of Christ” in the world, and that the church, due to its apostolic lineage, and the authority given to them, and by extension to it, has the jurisdiction in the world to bring the ministry of reconciliation to the whole world. We do this through preacing and sacraments (instituted by God). The church, due to this authority, is the ark of salvation, and is the hope of the world (how can they hear if there is not one to preach?) It was the Catholic church who, in the latter part of the 4th century, finalized the canon of scripture (there was no single book in any scripture that listed what books the final canon should be). It was St. Jerome who first translated it into Latin. Was the bishops and leaders of the church not divinely inspired and led by the Holy Ghost to do so then? What about the sacraments and the traditions that saved mens souls until then, and throughout the illiterate ages? Was the church wrong then too? In every age, the church needs reforming as it is made up of humans. However, in faith and morals, it is divine, and absolutely true. Not so much in how it practices these all the time I will admit. Martin Luther did what was right concerning some of these issues. However, his original issues, or protest, looked nothing like what todays thousands of protest-ant churches look like. For instance, why did the apocrapha disappear out of protestant versions, when Jesus and the other writers cite these books? What started out as a protest has really become a rebellion, and it is unfortunate, because now we have everyman doing what is right in his own eyes, and this after Christ gave his authority to his church and prayed that it will be one. That Church is the Catholic Church, and history shows that in faith and morals we are divinely right, and have rightly divided the word of truth, and we are also still one after 2,000 years. In 2,000 more we will still be here, not so sure about many of these other denominations (Anglican, Lutheran?). We do not beleive that other Christian brothers and sister have to believe like us to be saved though, only that you believe with a saving faith and that you be baptised (or have a desire to be if not possible). After all Preacher Win, Jesus won’t ask us what church we attended, only if we were faithful to him! When did we feed you Lord, when did we give you drink, etc. God Bless you and your flock.

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    1. preacherwin

      Mike, I apologize for taking a bit to get back to you on this one, the last week has been very hectic between school and church. And, as this discussion develops, it illustrates more and more clearly the differences between Roman Catholic and protestant theology. And, yes, Jesus did pray that all believers be one, though I would argue that Jesus neither intended or desired that unity to be found at the cost of truth. In addition, when the Apostle Paul spoke of not bickering over words, he was talking about the infighting that takes place over minor differences in practice within the church, not about significant points of doctrine. The points that we are discussing are much more significant that whether to sing ancient hymns or modern praise choruses or whether baptism requires full immersion or whether pouring or sprinkling will do.

      There are several points that you brought up, so I will break them up and deal with them one at a time, if that is acceptable. The first question, and arguably the essential question of difference between Roman Catholicism and protestantism is that of one’s salvation being brought by God’s sovereign grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ. You say that as a Catholic you hold to salvation by grace through faith, but then you follow it up with the language that the church is the ark of salvation. Which is it: Salvation by grace through faith or salvation by grace administered by the church? The church is certainly a tool that God uses to work out his plan on earth, but my salvation (or that of any believer) is not guaranteed by the church nor can it be taken by the church. RC doctrine also includes the language of purgatory and the treasury of merit which can be tapped into. These things reinforce the idea that salvation is not by faith alone, but by one’s union to the church–that implies works and this implies a mediatorial role in terms of the church. Such is not true. The church is not the Ark, Jesus Christ is the Ark (1 Peter 3:18-22) by which men are saved and he is the only mediator between God and man (1 Timothy 2:5). Similarly, the church is not our hope, Christ is (1 Timothy 1:1, 4:10). In terms of the ministry of reconciliation, while it is true that believers (the church) works out that ministry, if you look back to 2 Corinthians 5:18-19, you will find the context is all about Christ and his Gospel, not the church.

      You also spoke of history, and I think some elements need to be qualified here. It is true that the church finalized the Canon in the 4th century, but first of all, they were simply codifying what the church was already using by that time. If you look back to the second century, you realize very quickly that the Canon had been pretty much identified not long after the death of the Apostle John (assuming a date of his death at around 95 AD or so). The point that needs more clarification, though, is the assumption that you made that this church, even as far forward as the 4th century AD, was “Roman Catholic.” It wasn’t until the mid 4th Century and into the 5th Century that you had the development of the primacy of the Roman Bishop. It wasn’t until the arrival of Innocent I in 402 AD, 75 years after Nicea, that you have a Roman Bishop claiming Papal authority. The very fact that Roman Catholic theology is not based on scripture alone (another protestant criticism) but is based on scripture plus tradition which means that the theology is developmental. With that in mind, it is hard to argue that the early theologians were Roman Catholic in the sense we might think of Roman Catholicism today. Arguably some of the theology was present in an embryonic stage in different theologians, but such is not an articulated theology. Again, Jerome did translate the Bible into Latin in the 5th century, though when older and better manuscripts were found later on, the Roman Catholic church not only banned the reading of these texts, but burned those who tried to translate the Bible again into the common language (remembering that the word Vulgate refers to the book being in the vulgar or common tongue of the empire). Given the errors that are found in Jerome and in these early church Fathers (and later ones for that matter), we must not claim Divine Inspiration for these people (as you suggest), lest you wish to be suggest the Holy Spirit is capable of error.

      In terms of the church “saving souls” through the ages, if they are wrong now, they were wrong then and likely led many down the road to eternal condemnation, giving false assurance that if one said penance and took the sacraments of the church they would be offered entrance into heaven. What about the teaching that one must have a relationship with Jesus Christ–personally, not administrated by the church? And to suggest that the church is absolutely true in faith and morals is ignorant of most of history when it comes to the mistakes and abuses of the church. You recognize the value of Luther’s call to reform, that means you recognize that the church was not absolutely true in faith and morals.

      In terms of the Apocrypha, the books are not considered Canon by the Jewish people, just history. Thus, the earliest church fathers did not think these books were inspired by God–the church adopted them into Canon later. Yes, there are places, like in Jude, where extra-Biblical texts are cited, but that citation does not canonize the whole text, it only illustrates that a portion of the extra-biblical text was accurate.

      I grant that there has been division galore after the Reformation, and a great deal of that is a shame. And one of the bad effects of such a division is men doing what is right in their own eyes. At the same time, philosophically, which is worse, that, or people blindly following a religious leader. Neither is to be desired. Thinking, conscientious Christians who are committed to a personal study of God’s word is what we need–ones who are willing to have an honest conversation with other Christians when it comes to differences.

      I do not disagree that if the Lord tarries another 2000 years, the Roman Catholic church will still be with us–I expect that Eastern Orthodoxy will be too. But God has promised to preserve his remnant of faithful (Romans 11:1-6)-that means you will still be dealing with us pesky protestants.

      I also agree, that our Lord will not be asking us what denomination one is a member of when we face him in judgment. He will be asking whether we knew him, though. Knowing Christ is the key, not knowing Christ through the church. There is no mediator between God and man but the Lord Jesus Christ himself. Were all Christians more faithful to the call of Christ upon their lives.

      Blessings,

      Win

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      1. Someone

        Obviously there is an error with this analysis because Judaism did not exist at the time you say the Jews did not convert others to it. I believe you meant to say something else there. However I understand what you want to say considering that what the world has been led to believe; namely that modern Jews are from the seed of original Jews. The truth is that very few modern Jews are that by blood but rather they are Jew by religion. There is nothing wrong with that really except it ignores the question of what happened to the original Jews.

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      2. preacherwin

        Though the word “Jew” does not show up until late in the divided kingdom, that does not mean what we would refer to as “Judaism” did not exist. In principle, formal Judaism can be traced back to Abraham, which of course has its roots all of the way back to Adam and Eve. Those who suggest that Judaism is a composite religion are importing their own assumptions that the Bible is not an accurate history book into their study of history, so I am not going to go down that path. God was there, we were not, thus I will trust his record of history, not the record of modern reconstructionists.

        Paul taught that the true Jews were those who were Jews in faith..both in the Old and in the New Testament. Not sure where you are coming from with the whole “original” Jews comment…

        Blessings,

        Win

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  4. Nacham Besorah

    Hey ace,

    Catholics certainly don’t worship stone and wood. They worship God. And they pay respect to His saints and His people.

    Let go of your prejudice and ignorance and stop leading good people astray.

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    1. preacherwin

      Nacham, Obviously I hit a nerve, based on your comment. First, let me say that you missed the point of my application. My point is that idolatry is rampant throughout our culture. People consume themselves with materialism, pride, jobs, etc… and all of that typically ends up coming before God rather than after. In the pursuit of the things of this world, we condemn ourselves to the fate of the things of this world (1 John 2:15-17).

      Now, secondly, let me address the question of my ignorance and prejudice, which are both rather unfair labels to place upon me. I do understand that Roman Catholic dogma teaches that you are not praying to the various statues and images which adorn nearly every Roman Catholic church I have been in (and yes, I have been in quite a few). I also understand that they are simply designed to be tools to spur on and focus one’s devotion. At the same time, in principle, isn’t that exactly what people are doing when they bow before an idol of stone or wood? When you venerate the elements of the eucharist, are you not treating something that is not God as God? Are we not told in scripture that Jesus is the one mediator between God and man? Yet in praying to Mary are you not looking for an additional mediator? Whether you feel it misguided Catholicism or not, I have witnessed people prostrate before a statue of Mary. In some places in Mexico and South America, I am told by reliable sources that some people sacrifice chickens to a statue of Mary. All of this, by definition, falls into the category of Idolatry.

      My guess is that what I just said is probably going to make you more angry with me, and for that I am truly sorry. I really have nothing against Catholics, I have met and worked with a number that I consider to be born again believers in Jesus Christ. I do, though, have some serious problems with Roman Catholic theology over some issues that are fundamental to faith and practice. I am also zealous to apply God’s word to the sin of idolatry that shows up in a lot of different forms both in Roman Catholic churches and in Protestant ones. Friend, I do not care whether someone lays prostrate before a statue of Mary or they sacrifice the mission of the church (Matthew 28:19-20) to preserve the church building or a pastor’s salary, both are idolatry, both are sin, and both are condemned by God as evil. This is something that both protestants and Catholics need to repent of.

      Blessings,
      Win

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  5. Michael

    Preacher Win…Again…I think you are wrong in how you understand Catholicism. Indeed, the reason that we as Catholics vererate the Eucharist is that it is the ‘true presence of Christ himself with us.’ It is He, the God of the Universe, body, blood, soul and divinity, under the appearence of bread and wine. Read John 6 carefully, and ask yourself if in fact you can ‘accept this hard teaching’ in faith. St. Paul himself in Corinthians (I want to say in Chapter 11 or 13 of the First Book) explains that this bread is the body of the Lord, and not to be eaten in an unworthy manner. This teaching, that Christ is the new pascal lamb, the new passover, is basic Christianity. What did the Jews do each year, but slay a Lamb unblemished and than eat it in communion with their family and their neighbors. Christ is not a sacrafice for a household as it were in those old days, but he is the Lamb of God, slain for the sins of the entire world. Christ instituted this new passover, this new testament, at this Last Supper. This was the earliest form of worship and it is what the apostles taught. “I and my Father…we will come to you and sup with you.” “I will be with you even to the end of the age.” He is real in the presence of the Eucharist. It is interesting that it appears that Christ left for the Garden after only drinking the 3rd cup of the Passover meal, and that he stated he would not drink of the fruit of the vine again until his return. We await his second coming but rejoice that he is with us even now in out journey, in faith, yes, in spirit, of couse, but also as the lamb slain before the foundation of the world….in real presence each day a priest consecrates the meal.

    Mary worship? I do not know of that, but do know of the need to honor Mary as the mother of God. She in fact, in saying yes, was a large part of the salvation of mankind. That is why she is called the Co-Redemptrix. Not that she is God, but she was full of Grace, and saved even before birth if you will, so that Christ could reside in an un-blemished, sinless womb. Is that hard to believe?

    Catholics see God as father and Christ as our big brother, who died for us that we might be adopted into his family. We love his mother, and all of his friends. That is why we look up to and honor them…..we do not worship anyone but God. I have had plenty of protestant friends ask me to pray for them and their needs. What is wrong with asking someone who is in heaven with Christ and is a close friend of his to make a petition. We do not worship those in heaven, we simply honor this great cloud of witnesses. God Bless.

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    1. preacherwin

      Mike,

      I appreciate your candor and your thoughts, but let me challenge what you are saying on the basis of scripture. The first reference you make is in terms of John 6 and the Eucharist. Yet, read the whole passage in its fullness. In verses 32-32, Jesus establishes the tone of the language of eating that will follow. He is making an analogy between himself and the manna that God sent from heaven and used to sustain his people in the wilderness. Jesus is saying that this manna pointed to him and that he too sustains his own people, but not in a physical way, but in a spiritual way. Surely no one would argue that if you partake of the elements once that you never need to eat physically again. Such is because Jesus is pointing to a spiritual reality fulfilled in his body. In turn, the language of eating his flesh and drinking his blood is properly understood in the context of this earlier, clearly metaphorical, language. To suggest otherwise either puts you in the position of taking all of the language literally or putting yourself in a position where you arbitrarily decide what you wish to be metaphor and what you wish to be literal. The better approach is to let the context make that distinction for you. Similarly, in 1 Corinthians 11, when Paul speaks of those getting sick and dying for partaking of the Lord’s Table unworthily, we must ask the question as to what makes the manner unworthy. Verses 28 and 29 answer that question. It has nothing to do with the form, but has to do with the examination of the self (in repenting of sin) and the discernment of the body. Paul then goes on in the very next chapter to point out that the body of Christ is the church–one body but many members.

      Thus, when we take things in context and see Jesus saying that he will be with us always, we understand that presence to be with us in a spiritual way, not in a physical way. Surely you don’t carry a communion wafer around with you wherever you go?

      There is another element that you do not bring up, and that is the Priest’s participation in a reenactment of the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. Hebrews 10:10 is clear that Jesus’ sacrifice is meant for all time and never needs to be repeated. I won’t dig into this one any further unless you would like to dialogue more on that element, given that I am inserting it, not you, and it really is a bit of a rabbit trail from the original discussion.

      In terms of Mary worship or if you would prefer, veneration (which is an aspect of worship, though not worship in its entirety). There is no Biblical support behind the assertion of calling her co-Redemptrix or co-Mediatrix. We have one mediator between God and man, that is Jesus Christ the Lord (1 Timothy 2:5). Similarly, Christ alone redeemed man from his sin (Galatians 3:13) not Mary. The assertion that by her giving birth to the incarnate Son, she has participated in our redemption is akin to saying that by Pilate signing Jesus’ death warrant he was also participating in our redemption and thus should be venerated. The logic is inconsistent. Since sin is handed down by the Father (Exodus 20:5), not by the mother, there is no need for Mary to be sinless in order to bear the Sinless Christ. Similarly, there was no sense in seeing her sinless to provide a womb untainted by sin as Jesus was entering a world very much tainted by sin. So, yes, not only is your assertion unBiblical, it is also hard to believe and is entirely unnecessary. Doesn’t it seem odd to you that there is no mention of Mary beyond the gospels if she really is that important? Pardon my sarcasm, but certainly you are not suggesting that the Apostles missed such an important point of theology?

      Finally, in praying to saints you are not doing exactly the equivalent that you might do if someone here on earth asked you to pray for them. Were such the case, you would just as readily pray to your uncle Fred or great aunt Bernice. Yet, I do not expect that you do so. You pray to saints because the church has told you that Jesus listens more closely to certain people than others, likely on the basis of their works. But what is the Biblical basis for this? Paul says that all of his works are but dung (Philippians 3:8).

      Thanks for your dialogue, may these references to Scripture, something that is our only rule as Christians, give you some food for thought.

      Blessings,

      Win

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  6. dean ponder

    Pastor Win, your commentary is very enlightening and I think it simply challenges us to all go deeper, so that we may ascend higher in knowledge, wisdom and understanding. I think there are so many significant points here and the one that resonates with me the most is that there is one God and since the veil has been lifted, all we need to do is focus on our personal relationship with Jesus Christ our Lord and only Savior. He is the only one on the throne, the King of kings, Lord of lords. No one reigns beside Him. Although the church is very significant for a plethora of reasons, it is not God. We must seek and thirst after Him and Him alone. We pray to Him and Him alone.

    I am by no means a biblical scholar but Matthew 15: 3-11 came to mind. I think we all do things traditionally that have no biblical truth to it and we allow it to override the law.

    Matthew 15:3-10 (New International Version, ©2010)

    3 Jesus replied, “And why do you break the command of God for the sake of your tradition? 4 For God said, ‘Honor your father and mother’ and ‘Anyone who curses their father or mother is to be put to death.’ 5 But you say that if anyone declares that what might have been used to help their father or mother is ‘devoted to God,’ 6 they are not to ‘honor their father or mother’ with it. Thus you nullify the word of God for the sake of your tradition. 7 You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you:

    8 “‘These people honor me with their lips,
    but their hearts are far from me.
    9 They worship me in vain;
    their teachings are merely human rules.

    Thank you.

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Thank you, Dean, for your kind words. And indeed, you are right, we often add our own rules and regulations to how we define salvation…usually in the form of lists of “don’t.” Ultimately, it is all about Christ and not about us. At the same time, those that we love we try to get to know more deeply. Similarly, if we love God, we will get to know him deeply through his word. Jesus also added that if we love him we will obey his teachings (John 14:15), but how do we know what Jesus is teaching unless we become deeply familiar with the scriptures themselves.

      Blessings in Christ

      Like

  7. Femi

    Preacherwin, I chanced upon your website while looking for information on the parable of trees. I like the way you responded to the issues on the Catholic Church – very deep. This is a wake up call to other Pentecostals. Keep on the good work

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Thank you for the good words, Femi. May God bless you on your continued studies in the parable and in God’s word. May we who call ourselves “Christian” also be quick to define ourselves and our views by God’s word and not by tradition or preference. Blessings.

      In Christ.

      win

      Like

  8. Gina

    Preacher win- I was searching for a one to one correlation in this parable- and felt stuck as I struggled to make ALL the connections. As I moved on in my reading I came to the trees and in an attempt to do make those one to one connections I stumbles upon your blog. A relief! Your distinction between fables, allegories and parables…. A sigh of relief came over me and I was as you stated so beautifully ” missing entirely the message of the parable.” thank you for your writing.

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Thanks, Gina, for the kind words. Sometimes we all have a tendency to lose the forest amongst the trees, myself often included. 🙂

      Blessings,

      win

      Like

  9. michaelwsellars

    I’m thinking this is a fable. I thought parables dealt with people rather than animals, the sun, moon, trees, etc.

    I think you are right about a “moral.” So…IF this is better classified as a fable, what is the moral? That’s what I was looking for.
    MIchael Sellars

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Michael, In Hebrew, the term “parable” is the same word as we might also translate as riddle or a hard saying. The emphasis that makes a parable a parable is not so much the “moral” as you would expect from a fable, but it is the hidden meaning. Jesus explains that the reason he tells parables is to keep the spiritually blind, blind. They see a story, take the moral, and never grow. The one who has had their eyes opened by the Holy Spirit though, discerns the spiritual truth behind the parable and is edified. You could even say that parables are a form of God’s judgment, veiling his grace from the unbelievers.

      Similarly, this is a judgment against Abimelek and his cohorts. Jotham is pronouncing judgment. There is certainly a meaning to the story and a surface-level moral of being careful of who you give your allegiance to, but there is a much deeper truth that is spiritual in terms of who is the rightful king over God’s people and how God brings judgment upon those who would work things of their own design. Heavy stuff.

      Good comment, thanks for the question,

      win

      Like

  10. Serge Beauvais

    I do not understand why you did not use the three steps to explain the Jotham’s parable.
    1) temporary actions from the historical part
    2) The spiritual reality in Jesus Christ
    3) The prophetical aspect of Jotham’s speach

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Serge, Thanks for your question. Certainly there are a lot of approaches that one can use to approach a passage of scripture and not every approach fits perfectly with every passage. In this case, my approach has been to focus on the actual language of the passage and to (in a sense) listen to the passage with the ears of one who would be hearing in Jotham’s day and in his context. Sometimes an approach like you mention can present the text in kind of a forced manner and my goal in exposition (whether in writing or in preaching) is to conform the approach to the text and not the text to the approach. I think that if you read the entirety of my reflections on this passage, you will find that all of the elements you mention are addressed, though I think that the heart of this passage needs to be found in the immediate context of the event and what has transpired to bring the people to this point, which is why my primary focus was protological. Thanks for the comment!

      w

      Like

  11. Walter Hewick

    Pastor Win, I believe you should not have continued the discussion because it entailed an endless discussion without resolution as seen from the prolonged to and fro. If you are right, and I think you are, pray that the Holy Spirit would bring enlightenment where necessary.

    Like

    1. preacherwin

      Thanks, Walter, and I guess that if the to and fro plants some seeds and challenges some paradigms, then may God be glorified in it. 😎 Blessings, and thanks for the comment.

      w

      Like

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