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By Their Fruit

By Their Fruit
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Watch out for false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruit. Grapes aren’t gathered from thorn bushes or figs from thistles, are they? Even so, every good tree produces good fruit, but the rotten tree produces bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a rotten tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not produce good fruit is chopped down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will recognize them by their fruit.

~Matthew 7:15-20 (TLV)

Many a good sermon has been preached from this text. Certainly there is a level of truth to be considered in producing good fruit for the Kingdom as a Believer. But as I sat and thought about this passage, I couldn’t help but wonder if there is another way to look at this peculiar statement from The Master and Messiah, Yeshua. After all, it is well within the scope of good hermeneutics to see additional prophetic layers of interpretation in a text so long as the interpretation does not go against the context of the passage or the overall context of the whole counsel of Scripture. Such is the case with what I want to present here.

Without taking away from or attempting to change the obvious context of the passage, which seems to clearly be about fruit that is produced, I want to consider for a moment looking at this statement from the perspective of the fruit you choose or select rather than the fruit you produce. Think about a bowl of fruit set out on a table. There are some apples, some grapes, some bananas, a couple of oranges, pears, and perhaps even something a little more exotic like some mangos, kiwis, or papayas. Your host says that you are welcome to anything in the bowl, and you have a choice to make.

When God set man in His Garden, He offered a choice. There were many luscious fruit trees bearing the best apples and oranges and pears and all manner of wonderful produce. Then there were two trees that were unique. One was called the Tree of Life. This tree was never off limits to the man and his wife; all indications being that they were originally free to eat from it. I believe it was God’s intent for the man and his wife to eat from this tree daily in their original created and sinless state of being. After all, it appears from later statements in Scripture that those accepted into God’s Kingdom will eat the fruit of this same Tree of Life for all eternity. It even seems, in my speculation, the fruit of this tree may have some special characteristic that will cause you to live forever if you eat daily from it. I’m not trying to conjure up some weird theory, but The Bible does say that if people eat from the Tree of Life they will live forever.

Then there is this other tree in the midst of the Garden. This one is known in the Genesis text as the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Despite this name, this tree seems to represent the ways of the world apart from the ways of God. While I don’t feel everything humanity has come up with in our advancements and innovations is necessarily evil, I have come to strongly believe that all of our innovations, technologies, and creations trace back to the choice to eat that one piece of fruit from the one tree that God said not to eat from. This seems like a hard pill to swallow for many today, but if we were to go back to the Genesis record and really focus on what is written, it becomes very apparent that God’s original design was for humanity to live in a paradise where He is our source for everything we will ever need.

Now this is not to say that humanity was meant to forever live in a wilderness setting like animals, though that could be a possibility. It’s entirely possible that had humanity never eaten the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil we would have still seen advancements in technology, innovations, and the like. And it’s possible these would all have been much better than what we have come up with on our own because if the original humans in the Garden would have just been faithful in obeying God’s food laws and relying on Him alone as their source, He would have been the one to provide us with technologies and advancements born out of His perfect mind. Could you imagine houses that never needed maintenance or cars that did not create any emissions harmful to the world we live in? Such could very well have been the result of a world where nobody ever defied God and His instructions. After all, it seems that everything threatening life on this planet is a result of things humanity has developed for our own conveniences.

Now of course that last paragraph is speculation, my own educated opinions based on things I have studied and that you can read about in other messages I have shared. I do, however, want to consider knowing them by their fruit for a moment in a context of the two trees specifically named in the Genesis record—the Tree of Life and the Tree of Knowledge. What if the fruit being referred to in the above statement from Yeshua’s Sermon on the Mount is ultimately either the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge or the Tree of Life?

Two Trees, Two Choices

Now the Lord God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed. The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

~Genesis 2:8-9 (TLV)

In this passage we are told of two specific trees put in the midst of God’s Garden, eastward in Eden. It is the Tree of Knowledge where we will begin our discussion. This is the only tree that was prohibited from use as a source of food, as Genesis 2:16-17 records God saying, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.”

Many have wondered why God would place such a tree in His garden or on the face of the earth in the first place. It would seem that had God never planted this one tree then humanity would never have fallen into sin. While this may hold some truth, it is also this very reason why He put the tree there to begin with.

The Tree of Knowledge was given to provide humanity with a choice. There were two trees. One, which we will look at in a moment, was the source of life for all of God’s Creation. The other gave humanity the ability to choose against God, and the temptation it held was great—knowledge that could give man the ability to become his own god. Without this ability to choose against God, however, humanity would be nothing more than a mindless servant of the Creator.

It is very clear from a basic reading of the first two chapters of Genesis that God desired to make man in His own image. While we may never fully understand everything on this side of eternity, it seems that part of being made in the image of God was the ability to make choices. This seems the most logical reason for why a prohibited tree would be placed right next to the tree that gives life.

And with that we come to this second tree, the one that gives life. All they had to do was choose that tree and leave the other alone. But the moment they partook of the wrong tree the tables turned and suddenly it was now this Tree of Life that became prohibited: “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever” (Genesis 3:22).

So the man and his wife were banished from God’s garden and a cherubim was set as a guard, protecting the way to the Tree of Life. And so we find ourselves today without this Tree of Life to eat from and live. Or do we?

Torah: A Tree Of Life

She is a tree of life to those who embrace her, and blessed will be all who hold firmly to her. ~Proverbs 3:18 (TLV)

To whom is the “she” in this passage referring? It is a common belief, particularly among Jewish scholars, that this verse is speaking of the Torah—the 613 commandments contained within the five Books of Moses. We see this revealed in verse one of the same chapter in Proverbs where it is stated: “My son, do not forget my Torah, but let your heart keep my mitzvot.” A mitzvot, if you are not already aware, is a Hebrew word referring to a specific individual commandment from Torah. It can also take on a plural form, as it does here in Proverbs 3:1, referring to all of the individual commandments. In addition to this, we also find the following stated in the highly regarded Rabbinic writing Pirkei Avos (emphasis added in bold):

Great is Torah for it gives life to those that practice it, in this world, and in the world to come, as it is said: “For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh” (Proverbs 4:22), And it says: “It will be a cure for your navel and marrow for your bones” (ibid. 3:8) And it says: “She is a tree of life to those that grasp her, and whoever holds onto her is happy” (ibid. 3:18), And it says: “For they are a graceful wreath upon your head, a necklace about your throat” (ibid. 1:9), And it says: “She will adorn your head with a graceful wreath; crown you with a glorious diadem” (ibid. 4:9) And it says: “In her right hand is length of days, in her left riches and honor” (ibid. 3:1, And it says: “For they will bestow on you length of days, years of life and peace” (ibid. 3:2).

Here we see positive confirmation that Torah is regarded by Rabbinic scholars from at least as early as the late second and early third centuries as a tree of life—Pirkei Avos dates to about 190-230 AD. Notice also that this citation begins with the phrase: Great is Torah for it gives life to those who practice it. Some translations of this text render this to say it gives life to the doers of Torah. I find this to be an interesting statement.

Many in Christianity today are coming to realize just how Hebraic or Jewish The Bible is. We have a prime example of this here in the Orthodox Rabbinic teachings, as this statement aligns in harmony with what the Apostle Paul, a devout follower of Yeshua, said in his letter to the community of Believers in Rome. Look at what he said:

For it is not the hearers of Torah who are righteous before God; rather, it is the doers of Torah who will be justified.

~Romans 2:13 (TLV)

Paul is often marketed to Christians as some type of rebel against Judaism and the Jewish people we read about in The Bible. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. Paul was a Jewish Rabbi who studied under one of the most famous and respected Rabbis of history: Gamaliel, the grandson of the great Rabbi Hillel. Here we have an example of Paul saying something that clearly stood as the view of the Jewish Rabbis down through the centuries, that it is the doers and not the hearers of the Torah that will be justified.

Now think about that for just a moment. A person who hears the Torah but does not do it would be someone who rejects Torah. This would mean that the masses who go around misquoting Paul and saying, “We’re not under the law today” are the very people who, according to this text, will be condemned. These people don’t even seem to realize that they are incriminating themselves with such a statement.

I know people who have so closed their mind to the idea of following Torah that they will not even entertain teachings that would require them to rethink their views. They believe they truly love God but have also become fully persuaded that obeying God’s Law is not God’s will. That’s just how deceptive religion can be in your life, to actually have even the masses of Christianity convinced that it is evil to do what The Bible says. Think about what Yeshua said: If you love Me, keep My commandments. Why is it that so many today don’t get that? The world of popular Christianity today actually believes it is possible to love Him without keeping the commandments.

The Bible consistently refers to Yeshua as The Righteous One and Satan as The Lawless One. Righteousness is defined in Deuteronomy 6:25 in terms of obeying The Torah and lawlessness is another word for sin—with sin being defined in 1 John 3:4 as breaking, transgressing, violating The Torah. We are first introduced to The Lawless One in Genesis 3 where he convinced people that they are not under the law and they will not die if they break, transgress, violate the law. This poses a huge problem for the majority Christian belief.

The Fruit Of Torah

Every tree produces fruit. Some is edible, some is not, but a tree that does not produce fruit would be a tree doomed to extinction.

There were two trees present in the midst of God’s Garden. One was a tree that produced eternal life, the other that traded life for the passing pleasures of sin. The Tree of Life was that tree God created special for humanity to eat from and live, while the Tree of Knowledge stood in temptation with a serpent slithering through its branches ready to tell any who would listen that it’s OK to question God’s commandments, reject God’s commandments, and break God’s commandments.

The Bible says that people will be known by their fruit. So often we take this to mean the fruit that is produced by the way they live. But could it be that the fruit one produces is merely an offshoot of the fruit they selected?

Torah is a “tree of life” for all that are willing to partake. In Romans 11 Paul likens the true conversion of a life to being grafted into an olive tree. Think about the fruit you produce as being a result of the tree you are a part of, the tree from which you have chosen to eat of its fruit.

You have two choices, even to this day. Every moment of every day you are given the opportunity multiplied times over to choose from the fruits of worldliness—the seduction of things that oppose Scripture—or the fruit of The Torah.

When the entire godless world is wondering what the latest celebrity gossip is, you have the choice to turn your attention to The Father’s Torah. When the whole of worldly people both inside and outside “the church” are celebrating things like Christmas, Easter, and Halloween you have the opportunity to choose Yahweh’s Holy Mo’edim that you can find in The Bible, such as Passover, Pentecost, Tabernacles, Purim, and Hanukkah. When the whole of humanity is ignoring Yom Shabbat you have the opportunity to select from the fruit of Torah, resting from your labor and celebrating the Creation of your God one the seventh day of a biblical week (coinciding with sunset Friday to sunset Saturday on secular calendars) just as He showed us to do in Genesis 2:1-3. When it seems everyone involved in modern “Christian” religion has gone mad and rejected the ways set forth in The Bible you always have an opportunity to come out from among them and be separate (2 Corinthians 6:17).

The things that have become acceptable to Christians today is truly mind-boggling. So much of the time I find myself unable to wrap my head around the great divide between what I see people who claim to be a part of my Father’s Kingdom doing and what I read in The Bible that my Father says to do—or not do. I sincerely do not understand at all how most of the people I know who call themselves “Christians” honestly believe that they are “saved and on their way to heaven”. When your lifestyle is so completely different from what you read in The Bible, you are not really able to say that you are saved. Doing so makes you a liar.

Scripture and the words of Messiah Yeshua are true: You will know them by their fruit. Those who are His produce the fruit of Torah, they follow His commandments and by doing so they exemplify His Kingdom.

The Fruit Of The Spirit

But the fruit of the Ruach is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control—against such things there is no law.

~Galatians 5:22-23 (TLV)

In addition to the fruit of Torah there is also the fruit of the Spirit listed here in Galatians. One thing interesting about this is that there is no law against doing the things on this list. That means you are not prohibited by Torah from doing these things. Like the fruit of obeying Torah, it should be natural and normal for a Believer to do what is listed here.

But look at the list, examine it very closely. Do you notice anything that stands out about the items on this list?

It’s subtle, but these are all characteristics that result only from doing what God commands in His Torah. Look just at the first one: Love. Yeshua makes it very clear that Kingdom love is determined through the keeping of the commandments. While He tells us that the two greatest commandments are a love for God and a love for God’s Creation, He also says that these two commandments are really only the nails from which the rest of Torah hangs for us to see. You cannot keep the fruit of the Spirit of love, not in a Kingdom manner, if you do not first submit yourself to Torah.

Look also at the last one: Self-control. In this fruit of the Spirit we find ourselves once again at that point of decision, where one must decide not to accept the pleasures of sin that last for a moment but have eternal consequences. Sin, as we know from 1 John 3:4, is the transgressing, violating, breaking of Torah. So once again we have a connection between following Torah and producing the fruit of the Spirit.

Psalm 119:165 says, “Great peace have they who love Your Torah, and nothing causes them to stumble.” Romans 7:12, the Apostle Paul writing, says, “So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.” In Matthew 23:23 Yeshua lists justice, mercy, and faithfulness as “weightier matters of Torah”. Exodus 18:23 tells us that obedience to the commandment of God produces shalom (peace). And Psalm 1 tells us: “Happy is the one who has not walked in the advice of the wicked, nor stood in the way of sinners,nor sat in the seat of scoffers. But his delight is in the Torah of Adonai,and on His Torah he meditates day and night.”

Do you see that the fruit of the Spirit is really the fruit of following Torah, a tree of life?

On top of all this, Ezekiel 36:27 tells us that under the then yet-to-come new covenant, which the Book of Hebrews confirms we are now in, Believers will be filled with The Spirit and as a result will be caused to follow The Torah. The fruit of The Spirit is the manifestation of being filled with The Spirit that causes you to obey The Torah.

It always leaves me in a state of awe as to how Scripture weaves together and everything always goes back to following The Father’s Torah. The serpent continues to slither around in the branches of the tree of religion, always asking the question: Hath God said? Anytime you hear someone question a commandment of God, anytime you hear someone misquote Paul about “not being under the law”, you know that they are the advocate for Satan himself. Is there any more ravenous wolves in sheep’s clothing than those who speak against obeying anything in The Torah of our God?

It matters not what commandment they speak against. It can be the food laws from Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, it may be the prohibition against tattooing your body from Leviticus 19:28, it could be the prohibition from wearing wool and linen together in Leviticus 19:19 and Deuteronomy 22:11, it might be the commandment not to appropriate paganism into Yahwism from Deuteronomy 12, it could be the commandment to keep the Spring and Fall Feasts from Leviticus 23 or even the keeping of The Sabbath. Whichever commandments religious men and women may call unnecessary, though these lawless tares among the wheat come in and try to lead you astray make no mistake about it, they will have their day in court and their end will be much worse than even the lawless masses they led into deception.

Truly we do know a tree by its fruit, and while we can know a true servant of the Living God by the fruit they produce, we can also know if we are partaking of the Tree of Knowledge/Religion or the Tree of Life/Torah by seeing which one compels us to obey God’s commandments and which one tells us to question God’s commandments. Which tree will you choose to partake of?

~Blessings and Shalom~

©2021 Truth Ignited Ministry

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