The "shaking" and "beating" of olives, to harvest them and extract the precious oil, is a type of the life of God's people. The shaking pictures each one of us, who must literally be "shaken" up in order for us to repent of our sins, become converted, and to change our way of life to conform to God's standard of living.
Paul wrote, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God" (Rom..12:2).
The Jewish people, in the book of Acts, on that first Pentecost of the New Testament Church, heard the preaching of the apostle Peter, and they were "cut to the heart" (Acts 2:37). What Peter said shook them up. They exclaimed in alarm, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" They did not take the message lightly.
Even so, for any of us to become truly converted, at first we must be shaken up. And "stirred." Stirred up in our heart and mind, and anxious make amends. To save ourselves! Peter exhorted and urged them, "Be saved from this perverse [crooked] generation" (Acts 2:40).
Secondly, once we are "shaken" and our lives begin to change, then we must be "beaten down," humbled, suffer, and be "crushed," "bruised," and afflicted, in order to produce the fruits of righteousness - the good "first fruits" of olive oil!
That is why David wrote, "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all" (Psalm 34:19). And, "Cast your burden on the LORD, and He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved" (Psalm 55:22). He wrote, "It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes" (Psalm 119:71).
The apostle Paul wrote, "No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make a way of escape, that you may be able to bear it" (I Corinthians 10:13). James asserted, "My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing" (James 1:2-4). And Peter declared, "Do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy" (I Pet.4:12-13).
Just like the poor olives, we too must be crushed, beaten down, and humbled, so that we can produce much good fruit for God's Kingdom!
Do you like being trodden upon? Mashed down? Crushed? Of course not! It is hard to take - humiliating - humbling. Yet it is for our own eternal good, to give us an entrance into the glorious kingdom of God! Therefore we must be "more diligent to make our calling and election sure," so that we will "never stumble, for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (II Pet.1:10-11).
After William F. Dankenbring
These three trees are particularly fit symbols of Israel, for in Palestine the "Vine," the "Fig-tree," and the "Olive," stand for the fruitfulness of the land.
In Jer. 11:16-17, Israel is called a "GREEN OLIVE TREE," fair, and of goodly fruit, but is warned that for its idolatry its branches shall be broken off. In Rom. 11:17-27 we have the Parable of the "TWO OLIVE TREES."
One is called a GOOD Olive Tree, the other a WILD Olive Tree. The GOOD Olive Tree represents Israel, the WILD Olive Tree the Gentiles. The root of the Good Olive Tree is THREEFOLD. The main root is Abraham, the other two are Isaac and Jacob. "And God said moreover unto Moses, Thus shalt thou say unto the Children of Israel, The Lord God of your fathers, the God of ABRAHAM, the God of ISAAC, and the God of JACOB, hath sent me unto you: this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations." Ex. 3:15. Why should God speak of Himself in this "threefold" manner? Because He wished to reveal Himself in His "TRI-UNITY." Abraham is a type of God the Father, Isaac is a type of God the Son, and the Holy Spirit is seen in the guidance of Jacob.
The "Threefold root" of the Good Olive Tree was HOLY because separated, and as the "Root" was holy so were the "branches." We next read that "some," not all, of the branches were broken off. They were not broken off that the Gentiles might be grafted in, but they were broken off because of "UNBELIEF," and the Gentiles were not grafted in that they might supplant, or take the place of the branches that had been broken off, but that they, as branches of a "WILD Olive Tree," might be PARTAKER of the "root" and "fatness" of the GOOD Olive Tree. We see from this that the "GOOD Olive Tree" is not rooted up and destroyed and a "WILD Olive Tree" planted in its place, but it still remains alive and gives life to both the "Good" and "Wild" Olive branches. So we see that those who claim that the "Wild Olive Branches" that are grafted in represent the Church, and that the Church has taken the place of Israel, are in error, for the "Wild Olive Branches" do not remain on the "Good Olive Tree," but will be broken off that the original branches may be grafted back again. Jewish and Gentile believers in Christ are alike Abraham's spiritual children, and are joint partakers of the "root" and "fatness" of the "Good Olive Tree," for Christ was of the seed of Abraham. Those Jews who rejected Christ and thus broke away from the religion of Abraham, are the branches, who, through unbelief, are broken off.
In grafting the practice is to graft the "Good" Olive on the "Wild" Olive so as to improve the fruit of the "Wild" Olive. If the "Wild" Olive is grafted on the "Good" Olive the effect is the reverse, and the "Good" Olive will run to wildness. So Paul knew what he was talking about when he said that the grafting of the "Wild" Olive on the "Good" Olive Tree was "CONTRARY TO NATURE." From this we see that the injection of Gentilism into Judaism is not beneficial to Judaism. That Judaism is of purer stock than Gentilism, and for the purification of Judaism, Gentilism, or the "Wild" Olive branches, must be removed, or cut off, from the "Good" Olive Tree, and be replaced by the grafting back again of the "Natural Branches." Rom. 11:21. By Gentilism we mean that part of the Gentile world known as Christendom, or the professing Church, as described in the Kingdom of Heaven parables of Matt. 13. And it is only the Laodicean part of it that God says He will "SPUE OUT OF HIS MOUTH" (Rev. 3:16), that as "Wild" Olive branches God will remove from the "Good" Olive Tree, for all true believers who have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, and that make up the true Church the "Body of Christ," and belong to the "Spiritual Israel" of God cannot be displaced.
The Parable of the "Two Olive Trees" teaches three things, and what is very important, the order in which these three things take place.
1. "Blindness in part is happened to Israel until the 'FULNESS OF THE GENTILES BE COME IN.'" By the "FULNESS OF THE GENTILES" is not meant the "Times of the Gentiles," but those Gentiles who shall be saved through the Gospel. And when the last Gentile shall be thus saved the FULL NUMBER of saved Gentiles will be complete.
2. That the "Wild Olive Branches" that are grafted in do not take the place of the branches that were broken off, and because they shall not "continue in God's goodness" they shall be broken off again.
3. That God has not "Cast Away" His people Israel, and that He will revive the broken off branches and graft them back again.
Today we are witnessing the Apostasy of the "Wild Olive Branches," the professing Church. Soon they will be "cut off," and then the BLINDNESS shall be removed from Israel, and the "Natural Branches" will be grafted back again.
This Parable teaches us that we are not to look upon the unbelieving Jew as a cast-off and withered branch only fit for fire-wood, but we are to consider that his "casting away" as well as his "blindness" is only temporary, and that he will again take up his position among the nations of the earth.
The "Olive Tree" then is a symbol of Israel's RELIGIOUS Privileges, and it is worthy of note that while Israel is compared to trees, their oppressors, the Gentile Nations, are spoken of in the Scriptures as WILD BEASTS. Dan. 7:1-28.
William F. Dankenbring
The Hebrew word for "olive tree" is es shemen, which literally means "tree of oil." It is from a primitive root meaning "to shine." It means "richness, anointing, fat, fruitful, oil, ointment, olive." It is related to the word shemesh, "to be brilliant," and which also is the Hebrew word for the "sun," that brightly shining orb in the sky.
Another Hebrew word for "olive" is zayith, meaning "an olive," as "yielding illuminating oil." Its related to the word ziv, meaning "to be prominent," "brightness." Ziv is the month of flowers, corresponding to Iyar, or our April-May.
On the outside, the olive tree may seem like any other tree, rather ordinary in appearance and size - some might say even a little bit "ugly," and at certain seasons of the year even a little "messy," with olives littering the ground beneath the tree!
The foliage of the olive tree is dense, and when it becomes old the fairly tall trunk acquires a unique pattern of twists and turns, protuberances and knots, on its bark and in its form, giving the tree a very interesting appearance.
Says the Encyclopedia Judaica, "There are trees in Israel estimated to be 1,000 years old that still produce fruit. In old age the tree becomes hollow but the trunk continues to grow thicker, at times achieving a circumference of 20 feet" ("Olive," vol.12, page 1363). Says the authoritative source, "It is an evergreen, and the righteous who take refuge in the protection of God are compared to it."
Interestingly, if the trunk is cut down, the shoots from its roots continue to grow, ensuring its continued existence.
Olive wood is very hard, and beautifully grained. It is very desirable in the manufacture of smaller wooden objects, pieces of furniture, and ornaments.
However, there is much more to the olive tree than almost anybody imagines.
History of the Olive Tree
The olive was one of the most valuable trees to the ancient Hebrews. It is first mentioned in Scripture when the dove returned to Noah's ark carrying an olive branch in its beak (Gen.8:11). Since that time, the olive branch has been a symbol of "peace" to the world, and we often hear the expression, "extending an olive branch" to another person as a desire for peace.
The olive also figures prominently on the seal of the United States of America. The seal pictures an olive branch with a cluster of thirteen leaves and thirteen olives. Why the number "thirteen"? Because the U.S. began with 13 colonies, and the Anglo-Saxon people of the United States are mainly descended from the "thirteenth tribe" of ancient Israel - the tribe of Ephraim, the youngest ("thirteenth") son of the patriarch Joseph!
When Israel conquered Canaan, the olive tree was a prominent feature among the flora of the land. It was described as a "land of olive oil" (Deut.8:8). The olive was a very important source of revenue to the early Israelites. It was tithed upon along with all the produce of the land (Deut.12:17).
Symbolism of the Olive
There is an ancient tradition that the "tree of life" in the Garden of Eden was an olive tree. According to the Apocalpyse of Moses, an apocryphal Hebrew book, when Adam fell ill Seth went to request the "oil of mercy" to anoint Adam and restore his health. His entreaty was refused, as it was destined for Adam to die, but the angel Michael told Seth that the oil would be granted to the righteous at the end of days. In a similar passage in the "Life of Adam" the oil is referred to as "the tree of mercy from which the oil of life flows."
Another reference to the "tree of life" in the Garden as an olive tree may be found in 4th Edras: "The tree of life shall give them fragrant perfume" (2:12, The Old Testament Pseudepigrapha, p.527).
The same concept is preserved in the writings of the early church fathers, in Pseudo-Clement, which refers explicitly to "the oil of the tree of life."
In the book of James, we read that when a person is sick, they should call upon the elders of the church for prayer and anointing. James declared, "Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven. Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much" (James 5:14-16).
The oil represents holy anointing by the power of the Spirit of God. The apostle John wrote of God's Spirit as an "anointing." He declared: "But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him" (I John 2:27).
Jesus Christ explained, "And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth" (John 14:16). He added, "However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth" (John 16:13). The Spirit will tell us "things to come" (same verse).
Oil, therefore, is a type of the Holy Spirit - as are water (John 7:37-39) and the wind (John 3:8; Acts 2:1-4).
After William F. Dankenbring