Fall is olive harvesting season in Israel. And in the West Bank, still today, olives are harvested in the ancient way with harvesters all over the countryside taking up rods and sticks, beating the trees to knock the olives from their branches as you will see in this video short. But, why is it important for us to visualize this picture?
The prophet Isaiah uses the olive harvest as a metaphor to describe coming judgment. In his description, the tree is the earth, the beating with rods is God’s wrath and the falling olives are people. While Biblical metaphors of judgment are often not our favorites, they are extremely numerous and important because without seeing and accepting the reality of the problem we can’t be protected by the solution.
Isaiah’s message is two-fold, to give strong warning of judgment, but also to bring hope…there will be a remnant…a few olives will remain! The important question then is how can we be part of the remnant? In chapter 53, Isaiah reveals that salvation will come through the coming of a person — one who will take God’s wrath and punishment for sin upon himself.
When I see an olive tree being beaten, I see Jesus being beaten before his accusers. With each blow, I see my many sins fall like olives, and because of Him…I am saved! But what of others? Isaiah’s message was powerful and urgent…judgment IS coming…listen and return to God to be saved. May our hearts and words to this world be the same…judgment IS coming…but salvation has come…BELIEVE in Jesus and be saved!
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