|Vol. 13 No. 3 March 2011||
What a privilege it is to gather together with the saints. There is much joy and many blessings that are to be had each time we assemble as the church. Those who share the precious faith in Christ Jesus can be a great encouragement to each other. The weak are made strong and all are better each time we meet.
In our day-to-day struggles, we all need help as we deal with the adversities of life. God knew our needs would be met when we gather with the saints. We come with uncertainties; we leave with greater faith. We come “down and out”; we leave edified and built up. We come in sorrow and leave with joy in our hearts. Paul told the Philippian saints to “rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 1:1; 4:4). In dealing with the topic of salvation, Peter said believers “rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable” (1 Peter 1:8). Remember our “light affliction is but for a moment” (2 Corinthians 4:17).
What are some of the joys and blessings of faithfulness? God’s Word admonishes that we not forsake the assembly of the saints (Hebrews 10:25). So when we come together as the church, we take joy in the fact that the Lord’s admonition is heeded. When we gather in His name, we enjoy His presence (Matthew 18:20). When we assemble regularly, we in joy follow the example of the early church (Acts 2:42; 20:7). When we worship faithfully, we rejoice in proclaiming the Lord’s atoning death till He comes (1 Corinthians 11:26). When we gather with the saints, we find joy in anticipation of the final reward for the faithful (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10; 22:14).
The olive was a very important part of the people of Bible times. It grows on trees. The tree is a dusty, silvery gray. A grove of olive trees appears as a clump of willows or silver birches in foliage. The dark stems shine through the branches, and the light red soil in which it many times grows gives it a warm tone. The tree is considered beautiful to the Middle Eastern people.
The tree bears fruit after it is seven years old and reaches its mature, full bearing strength after fourteen years. It is fruitful every other year. Each year it will yield between twelve and twenty gallons of oil. The berries are gathered in October, about the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
The tree at maturity is about twenty feet high. It is easily climbed by those harvesting the berry. Many times the branches are beaten from the ground with a long stripped palm branch. Much of the time, berries remained at the very ends of some branches and at the very top of the tree. After the appointed harvest day, anyone was free to glean these leftover berries (Deuteronomy 24:20). The poor were able to obtain olives at this time.
In Isaiah 17:6, we read, “Yet gleaning grapes shall be left in it, as the shaking of an olive tree, two or three berries in the top of the uppermost bough, four or five in the outmost fruitful branches thereof, saith the Lord God of Israel.” God was bringing destruction on the Israelites because of their wickedness. He was going to bring great destruction on the people. Most would be either killed or taken off into slavery. Only a few would be left in the land. Those hearing Isaiah’s prophecy would not have trouble understanding the picture of the olive harvest.
Few of the people listened, however, to the warnings. While understanding it, they did not fear it. They refused to obey God. God always does what He promises. He has promised that He will take us to heaven if we are found faithful to Him at the Judgment. He has promised that He will send us to hell if we are not found faithful.
Remember the shaking of the olive tree. Heed the warnings. Study your Bible. Love God and obey Him, and if any of this is hard to understand, ask an adult to help you.