Fruit is a wonderful aspect of God’s creation. There are few things more appealing to the human senses than the first taste of tree-ripened fruit. An explosion of sugar, water, and acid combine to create a flavor that most man-made trifles fail to match.
The word translated “fruit” in our King James Bible is used to describe a range of subjects including general increase, children, cereal grains, etc. We will confine this article to mentions pertaining to the edible fruits common to an orchard or vineyard.
Forbidden Fruit – Genesis 2:16, 17
“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”
For Adam and Eve, it appears that fruit was the main component of their diet. What diversity they must have enjoyed in the wonderful garden the Lord God had planted (Gen 2:8). These fruits were not only ornamental (pleasant to the sight) but also pleasing to the palette (good for food).
We are often reminded of this Bible passage when we consider the moral failure of our earliest ancestors. However, do these verses not also have application in our time? As Adam was placed in the garden “to dress it and to keep it” so God has placed every one of us in a position of moral responsibility. With that placement comes a measure of freedom (thou mayest freely eat), but also critical restrictions (thou shalt not eat of it).
As he did in the garden, Satan is still seeking to undermine God’s carefully placed restrictions. Activities that God has marked out as “forbidden fruits” are portrayed today as normal human behaviors. As Christians, we are exhorted to have “clean hands and a pure heart.” Never before has it been so important to guard our senses and minds from being conformed to the pattern of this age.
Fruits of Worship – Genesis 43:11
“And their father Israel said unto them, If it must be so now, do this; take of the best fruits in the land in your vessels, and carry down the man a present, a little balm, and a little honey, spices, and myrrh, nuts, and almonds.”
What a beautiful picture of worship in the heart of a believer! Here a wise man instructed his sons to “take the best fruits … in (their) vessels … (as) a present.” You and I are vessels for the Master’s use. We have an opportunity each day to fill ourselves with the enjoyment of Christ and then present it to the Father as a wonderful gift of appreciation. A present of the “best fruits in the land” would have required an expansive search, followed by careful collection and preparation. There is no greater gift that we can give to our Heavenly Father than the sweet meditations we have enjoyed of His only begotten Son.
“Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow upon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasant fruits” (Song 4:16).
The verse from Song of Solomon may typify collective worship in a local church, pictured as “His garden.” It is a special privilege to gather with fellow believers on a Lord’s Day to mingle our voices together in praise of our Savior. As our faces differ, so do our meditations. The Spirit-led result is a garden filled with a delightful mixture of spices and an assortment of “pleasant fruits.” No doubt, our Lord derives tremendous joy and satisfaction from such an occasion.
The Fruit of Christ – Song 2:3
“As the apple tree among the trees of the wood, so is my beloved among the sons. I sat down under his shadow with great delight, and his fruit was sweet to my taste.”
This is one of my favorite verses in the Old Testament. It speaks of a most delightful contrast between an apple tree and the common trees of the wood. A single apple tree would be easily recognized in a forest of maples and oaks by its smaller stature, fragrant blossoms, and luscious fruit. So our Lord Jesus stood out from all of humanity during His sojourn on Earth. Simply put, He was and continues to be “fairer than the children of men” (Psa 45:2). His life was marked by a fragrant devotion to His Father and a fruitfulness in word and deed.
Although our time on earth follows Christ’s by two millennia, we can still be found “under His shadow.” Our Lord spoke of the Scriptures as “they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). How often we have been instructed to search our daily readings for thoughts of Him. A careful consideration of the person of our Lord Jesus brings great delight and an opportunity to taste His sweet fruit: the produce of a life fully lived for God.
Consistent Fruits – Matthew 7:16-17
“Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.”
Most trees can be reliably identified by a number of characteristics including foliage, form, and fruit. Even a young child will perceive clear differences between the fruit produced by apple, pear, and plum trees. For each of these crops, there is a consistent, predictable product resulting from flowering and fruit development.
We can have the same certainty of identity when it comes to discerning “false prophets” in our sphere of service. The Lord Jesus stated twice over in this passage: “you shall know them by their fruits.” A careful look at their motives and the results of their spiritual activities will shed light on the true nature of these individuals.
Thorns and thistles (v 16) were associated with the cursed earth (Gen 3:18). Naturally, we would not seek grapes or figs from noxious weeds that threaten the productivity of a cultivated field. These rogue plants should be barred from God’s assembly so that the “good trees” can readily bear their anticipated “good fruit.”
No Fruit – Luke 13:6
“He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.”
Perhaps the most disheartening situation in any orchard would be a tree that fails to produce fruit. The Lord’s parable in Luke 13 speaks of a fig tree that offered no fruit in the three years following planting. Our Lord had observed this situation firsthand (Mark 11:13) when He noted a tree with “nothing but leaves.” His disappointment was evident in the pronouncement of a curse that destroyed the fruitless tree by the following day.
We are caused to reflect upon our own lives and to assess our fruitfulness for God. As believers, we have been bought with a tremendous price, and are thus exhorted to “glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” You and I are figurative fruit trees in God’s redeemed orchard and there is a heavenly anticipation of the peaceable fruits of righteousness; not just a mere occupying of good ground.
The “dresser of the vineyard” could represent any believer with a shepherd’s heart, who longs to see fruitfulness in others. This individual is willing to invest a year of his or her time to provide an environment ideal for fruit production. Perhaps there is a young believer who longs for council and encouragement from the Scriptures. Are you and I willing to stir and amend the “soil” of their lives in an effort to stimulate spiritual progress?
The Fruit of Heaven – Rev 22:2
“In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.”
As believers we should long for the eternal state when we will leave these houses of flesh and a sin-cursed earth for the unsullied light of heaven. The Scriptures give us numerous glimpses into this wonderful place including a botanical element once familiar to earth, the tree of life.
We are introduced to the tree of life in Genesis 2:9 where it occupied a central place in the garden of Eden. As one of the “trees” from which Adam and Eve could freely eat, it no doubt sustained them and provided a special quality of life. This latter point is clear from the words of the Lord God in Genesis 3:22.
In Revelation 22 we learn more details of this amazing fruit tree including its ability to bear 12 different fruits with a fresh crop each month. Such a species would be tantalizing to horticulturalists today! In a spiritual sense, this tree’s fruitfulness surely speaks of God’s complete and diverse provisions for His people today and in the ages to come.
We note that the tree which angels prevented fallen man from approaching in Genesis 3:24, is now freely accessible to the redeemed of heaven. Surely this speaks of God’s grace, as He repeatedly pours out blessings upon us which we in no way deserve. Privileges lost because of our sin have been restored through the redemptive work of Christ.