Christian Family Fellowship


Scripture of the Week


John 15:4 (NLT)

Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.

 
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INL March 16, 2007

SOUNDING OUT:
Establishing the Law of Believing (Part 1 of 2)

  The law or principle of believing is what allows us to live as more than conquerors in this world. Mark 11:23,24 capsulizes that great truth.

Mark 11:23,24:
For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

  If you want power in your life say what the Word says. Confession of the Word yields receipt of confession. If you will confess with your mouth at the same time that you confess in your heart what The Word says, you will have power. Your prayers will be answered as you apply these keys in your life by doing as it says here. The law of believing allows us to appropriate God’s power in our lives. That requires that I get my mouth and my heart coordinated on some point that is confirmed by The Word. Then I will have power with God.

  Let’s look at the context of these great scriptures and see how Jesus Christ demonstrated and taught the law of believing to his disciples twice within a period of about an hour. As we do we will see that when looking at the incidents with the fig trees we will see that though similar, they are not identical. We will see that Jesus Christ established this law or principle of believing for his disciples, demonstrating it as he lived and following up with teaching so his disciples would not miss the import and impact of this great truth.

  We can never hear the great truths of the Bible too frequently. Repetition is still one of the greatest aids to learning, and the grade school concept of show and tell still is valuable when impressing upon the mind truths that need to be retained and lived.

Mark 11:12,13:
And on the morrow [This is the 10th of Nisan.], when they were come from Bethany [which was about two miles east and south of Jerusalem], he was hungry:
13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.

  This happened after leaving Bethany and before arriving in Jerusalem. As they approached the fig tree, while it was still far away Jesus thought it appeared to be fine. He knew it wasn’t time for ripe figs, but he anticipated finding buds on it, which he knew would make a nice snack. However, when he arrived at the tree he found nothing on it except leaves.

  Although from a distance it appeared to be productive and flourishing, when he got there he found it had no buds. No buds now, meant no fruit later. But what’s the big deal, and why is it even mentioned in the narrative.

  It is important to remember that the Bible is an Eastern book with customs and mannerisms of Eastern people. Fig trees were public trees, and it was permissible for people to help themselves to its fruit. It was common for travelers to pick fruit from roadside trees. (The Land and the Book, London: Thomas Nelson, 1863, p. 350).

  The Companion Bible has some wonderful notes on the fig tree. The fig tree represented Israel much like the bald eagle represents the United States of America. Biblically the fig tree was associated with Israel’s status before God. When Israel as a nation was flourishing so would the fig trees. When Israel came upon bad times, it could be noted in how the fig trees suffered. God was showing Jesus through the imagery of the fig tree that Israel was not doing well. She was barren and not budding with fruit. God was showing Jesus that from this point forward there would be no more fruit coming from the nation of Israel as a whole.

  In the face of the rejection and unbelief of Israel, Jesus responded with believing and resolve to carry out his Father’s plan. Jesus immediately responds and acts decisively. He speaks directly to the tree.

Mark 11:14:
And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.

  “Answered and said” is a Hebrew idiom. He was not literally asked a question to which he said something in return. The phrase is used to emphasize that there is a cause for what is said, and it directs our attention to the context to supply the meaning for the type of speech that occasions its use. [See the Companion Bible note on Deuteronomy 1:41 and FOS page 838 for more information.]

  He is addressing the fig tree. Whatever has transpired here in Jesus’ heart issues in him speaking directly to the tree. He didn’t whisper or talk under his breath in scorn. He didn’t mumble or mutter or complain about his situation. He wasn’t whining and angry at the tree. He spoke directly to the tree, and he spoke loudly enough for the disciples to hear what he said. Although it does note that his disciples heard what he said, they didn’t understand what was going on, at least, not yet. And, Jesus is going to wait before he explains it. Well, they continue on their journey until they arrive at Jerusalem and enter the temple.

Mark 11:15:
And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple [hieron, not referring to just the temple proper but also the outer courts the porches and all other subordinate building. Here because of the quote of Isaiah I believe it is referring to the court of the Gentiles.], and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;

  The overthrow of the table of the moneychangers is important for the chronology of these records, and we will read it again in Matthew later. Things had gotten totally out of hand. God had not set up the temple to function in this way. The moneychangers converted the Roman and Greek money into Hebrew coins, because the Roman and Greek money had images and inscriptions on them. The Hebrews were not to make any images. Remember Jesus’ statement to those who questioned him about taxes?

Mark 11:16-19:
And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple. [They were using the court of the gentiles as a thoroughfare or shortcut. They had no respect for what God had ordained it for.]
17 And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? [Isaiah 56:7] but ye have made it a den of thieves [Jeremiah 7:11].
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.
19 And when even was come, he went out of the city.

  According to Matthew 21:17 they returned to Bethany.

Mark 11:20,21:
And in the morning [This being the 11th of Nisan on their way back to Jerusalem], as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. [It died backwards.]
21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away.

  What a point of observation and awareness by Peter. He’s putting things together. He has seen believing action and its result. “Curse” does not mean that Jesus said, “You blankety, blank, blank tree.” It doesn’t mean that he spoke a VOODOO incantation. Peter is referring to what Jesus did in verse 13 when he said, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter, forever.” Jesus spoke to the tree, and Peter is amazed at what happened as a result. Jesus spoke the judgment of God regarding the fig tree by revelation, and what he said came to pass overnight. This was not a purposeless act of intemperance, but rather a strong object lesson that his disciples needed to learn. Jesus takes this occasion of Peter’s excited declaration to teach him and the other disciples the great principle of faith or law of believing. This miracle served as a perfect visual aid for an important lesson Jesus wanted to teach them.

Mark 11:22-24:
And Jesus answering [teaching or explaining] saith unto them, Have faith in God [the faith of God]. [Believe God. Believe what God tells you and act on it!]
23 For verily I say unto you [figurative for a solemn and significant declaration], That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith.
24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

  Yes, this is literally true. If God would ever tell us to do such a thing we would absolutely know it could be done. However, I think there is a bigger application to the spirit realm. Mountains are used figuratively in the scriptures of difficult paths in life, obstacles, and other difficulties.

  Understanding the figurative usage of “mountain” would communicate how there is no devilish influence or stronghold that cannot be cast down and removed. I believe it literally is true should we ever be told to move a mountain, but in application, the mountains we get to move or remove are usually strongholds of the adversary in our lives and in the lives of others to whom we minister.

  What was the mountain Jesus Christ was facing? What did God show him through the fig tree? God showed him that Israel would reject him… that Israel had become unfruitful. How did he respond? He didn’t become despondent and morose. He didn’t withdraw and go hide out in a cave. He responded aggressively by speaking God’s Word to the fig tree and teaching his disciples the law of believing he operated and that they, too, would need to learn to operate to destroy the works of the devil like he did.

Mark 11:25-27:
And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
27 And they come again to Jerusalem [This is the 11th and they have reentered the Temple]: and as he was walking in the temple, there come to him the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders, [This time he doesn’t throw over the moneychangers tables; he has a discussion with the chief priests, and the scribes, and the elders]
28 And say unto him, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority to do these things?

  You better be able to answer that same question. If the devil had these people challenge Jesus, do you think he will let you go unchallenged? You better recognize the authority Jesus operated as God’s son or you will never learn to do as he did. When we speak God’s Word, God’s creation must respond. (Isaiah 55:11)

  That is the record in Mark concerning the fig tree. What day did Jesus speak to the first fig tree? It was the tenth of Nisan when he drove those that sold out of the temple. Where was it located? Between Bethany and Jerusalem. Who noticed what happened? Peter. On what day did he notice it? The morning of the 11th.
Let’s read the account in Matthew. Matthew 21 adds some interesting and complimentary information. The morning of the 11th of Nisan is in verse 18, but let’s go back to verse 12 and pick up some other details.

Matthew 21:12-20:
And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves,
13 And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.
14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple; and he healed them.
15 And when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased,
16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise?
17 And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.
18 Now in the morning [This is the 11th of Nisan] as he returned into [eis] the city, he hungered.
19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently [parachrêma; 13 out of 19 times it is translated “immediately.”] the fig tree withered away.
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon [parachrêma] is the fig tree withered away!

  In the symbolism of the Scriptures, a fruitless, withered tree was worthy of nothing more than being cut down (Luke 13:7). When it comes to vegetation, withering usually happens after the plant is cut down. Usually firewood has to sit for a season before being used.

Psalm 90:6:
In the morning it flourisheth, and groweth up; in the evening it is cut down, and withereth.

  The withering of the fig tree was indeed atypical. These two similar eliminations of the fruitless fig trees made quite a point.

Matthew 21:21-27:
Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, [doubt comes from the heart; hesitation comes from the head.] ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.
22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
23 And when he was come into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came unto him as he was teaching, and said, By what authority doest thou these things? and who gave thee this authority? [God had and Jesus knew it and acted like it.]

  Could the fig tree in Mark be the same fig tree that is in Matthew?

  Fig Tree #1 Fig Tree #2
  Between Bethany & Jerusalem Inside Jerusalem
  Died overnight Died immediately
  Dried up from the roots Withered away
  Peter discovered the change All the disciple note the immediate change
     

 





     How long does it take to walk two miles? Less than an hour maybe? That’s how far Bethany is from Jerusalem. Within an hour Jesus repeats the miracle. In case they missed it the first time, he established the teaching with a second “show and tell” demonstration.

  God was showing Jesus that Israel was not doing well. They would not receive him or his testimony. They had rejected the king and the kingdom, and God was preparing Jesus’ heart for what was to come… his rejection… his betrayal. However, like Habakkuk in days of old, Jesus did not personally succumb or cave in. In the face of Israel’s rejection of him he chose to believe God and move ahead.

Habakkuk 3:17-19:
Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: [Things weren’t very positive at this time either were they?]
18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.
19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds' feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places. [Habakkuk is confessing God’s Word; II Samuel 22:34; Psalms 18:33]

  A hind is a mother deer, one of the most sure-footed animals in the world. When she goes up the side of a mountain with her young following her, she takes her back feet and places them exactly where her front feet were first placed to test for loose stones on the slope. If she did not test that rocky incline with her front feet, the loose stones would cause her to slip and fall down into the ravine below. This exact tracking means life both to the hind and to her young.

  It says, "He maketh my feet like hinds' feet.” We only have two feet not four, but the imagery of the hind still applies. God makes it so that I may learn to walk by the Word so that my "hind feet" (representing my two feet) will track with my "front feet” (representing God’s Word). Thus, where The Word has set its feet, there also will I put my feet. I will go up the mountain- side as each step I take follows in the tried and proven solid ground of God’s Word. The path God’s Word sets – we follow. That’s how we get to higher ground. We can walk in the steps of Abraham, the Father of believing. We can also walk as Jesus Christ walked like I John 2 declares. Don’t forget John 14:12!

John 14:12:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.
  If we want to do the works of Jesus Christ we must do them in the way Jesus did. He spoke to situations he faced in life and taught his disciples to do the same. Remember confession of the Word yields receipt of confession. Be careful what words come out of your mouths, for you are directing steps by them. If we acknowledge God by confessing His Word we allow Him to direct our steps. (Proverbs 3:5,6) If we let situations and circumstances dictate what we say, we are treading upon slippery ground. If we want to move on to the higher ground of God’s Word in our lives we must go up the mountain-side with hinds’ feet. Say what God’s Word says for it is solid ground, and provides the proper foundation for our journey through life.

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