2 Corinthians 4:7-10 But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. 8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.
If you are anything like the person next to you, or like the person you work with, or the person you live with, or the person...fill in the _______ with anyone, our lives are filled with challenges and difficulties. This is true for people who follow Christ as well as those who do not know Him personally. The gift of the Follower of Christ though is that difficulty becomes an occasion for bringing forth that which has already been deposited within us.
Consider this brief study of the olive tree, the olive, and the olive oil that is produced.
I have definitely felt the press and the strain internally in recent days. We are living in intensifying times in our present culture. As Followers of Christ, we have an added reality of being targeted by Satan's plans and wickedness in the spiritual realm. Could this constant press be helping to bring forth more oil from, with, and by God the Holy Spirit? Could it be true that there is eternal treasure hidden within our hearts that is yet to be seen and experienced except that we walk by the grace of God through these trials and pressings? Let us consider the beauty of the way that olive oil is produced and valued from the Bible's perspective as well as from our culture.
Olive trees are abundant in the middle east region and olive oil is a prized commodity and crop for commerce and consumption from this region. Olive oil is considered holy and unique since it requires a great deal of work to produce oil.
A young olive tree is not usually ready to produce a harvest for many years, as many as 15 years from first planting. It is common and a necessity for the trees to have a long and steady root system before producing fruit. Their roots are known to penetrate through the hardest of limestone rock in search of water and moisture.
An olive tree is considered an evergreen tree which never loses its leaves in any season.
Olives are harvested from the trees once the fruit is ready. Farmers and families work together by shaking and even hitting the trees with sticks to get the olives to drop to the ground while others collect them from the ground to be used for eating or for crushing to produce oil.
The Bible describes olive oil as being used for holy and sacred purposes. Kings and Priests were anointed with olive oil. Priests were instructed to anoint all the furniture in the tabernacle and temple with olive oil. The Priests were also commanded to bring olive oil regularly so that the lamp-stand could be kept burning continuously, symbolically to show their love and devotion to hosting God's presence and studying His Word and fellowship with God.
1 Samuel 10:1 “Then Samuel took the flask of oil, poured it on his head, kissed him and said, 'Has not the LORD anointed you a ruler over His inheritance?'"
Exodus 27:20 "You shall charge the sons of Israel, that they bring you clear oil of beaten olives for the light, to make a lamp burn continually.”
Excerpt: The trees were always plentiful around the countryside and are known for their tenacity. They grow in almost any condition: on terraced hills or in valleys, in rocky or fertile soil. They can thrive in great heat with a minimum of water, and are virtually indestructible. Some grow from root systems 2,000 years old, yet the olive producer has to wait fifteen years for his first good harvest. It was an olive leaf that a dove from Noah's ark brought to Noah, "Then the dove came to him in the evening, and behold, a freshly plucked olive leaf was in her mouth; and Noah knew that the waters had receded from the earth" (Gen. 8:11). Whatever else succumbed to the flood waters, the hearty olive tree was still alive. At least since the time of Julius Caesar, one of the universal emblems of peace has been that of the olive branch. Olive oil was so plentiful in Israel that it was one of the products regularly exported. Solomon sent the King of Tyre 100,000 gallons (378,533 liters) of olive oil (I Kgs. 5:11). One thousand years later, during the time of Yeshua (Jesus), olive oil is mentioned in writings of that day as the only export of the Jerusalem region. The Mount of Olives, located just east of the Old City of Jerusalem, attests to the prevalence of olive trees around the city. Also, it was in the Garden of Gethsemane (Gat Shemen in Hebrew, literally, the place of the "olive press"), where Yeshua spent much of His time in Jerusalem with His disciples. "Coming out, He went to the Mount of Olives, as He was accustomed, and His disciples also followed Him" (Lk. 22:39)."
Making olive oil involved (and still does) several stages of crushing and rinsing to extract the oil. The olives were harvested by hand or by beating the fruit off the trees. The olives were then washed and crushed to remove the pits. The remaining pulp was placed into woven bags or baskets, and the baskets themselves were then pressed. Hot water was poured over the pressed bags to wash out any remaining oil, and the dregs of the pulp was washed away. (excerpts from: http://www.pray4zion.org/LessonsfromtheOliveTree.html )
We can see how the olive tree symbolizes faithfulness and steadfastness. The Bible also makes many references to cultivating and collecting olive oil as a life of wisdom.
Psalm 1:3 "He (the righteous) shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper."
Zechariah 4:11-14 Then I asked the angel, “What are these two olive trees on each side of the lamp-stand, and what are the two olive branches that pour out golden oil through two gold tubes?” “Don’t you know?” he asked. “No, my lord,” I replied. Then he said to me, “They represent the two anointed ones who stand in the court of the Lord of all the earth.””
The Bible defines oil as symbolic of the Holy Spirit as well as evidence of someone's personal faith, history, and active relationship with Christ.
Matthew 25:1, 6-9 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 6 And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’.
Do you feel as if you are being beaten or shaken to reveal the hidden fruit in your light. Maybe you feel that hard-press of life and spiritual testing. Maybe you feel like the man who was caught in a stick fight with 5 others, and you were the only one without a stick. Hahaha!!!
Let us find comfort in the Lord as we are reminded that He always chooses the ways of weakness to demonstrate His power. Let us remember that it is the Heavenly Father's desire and will to reproduce His Son, Christ Jesus in us and pour His character out through us by our fellowship with Holy Spirit. As we experience the difficult seasons of life, let us remember that we have a Comforter, Teacher, Empowerer, and Friend who's greatest desire is to reveal Christ in all of His glory and beauty to us now and into eternity.
The Mountains of Impossibility can only be moved from Heaven’s empowerment. The Power of Heaven can only come from hiddenness and smallness. The world despises it but the Lord requires it. Let us consider the crushed olive and its potential!
Prayer Missionary, Director, Pastor