According to African folklore, the gods threw the Baobab tree to earth and it landed upside down. In the rainy season it gives bountiful shade, but when it loses its foliage it looks as if its head is buried in the sand, its roots reaching skyward. Early Christians were referred to as those “who turned the world upside down” because they made such an impact on people. Do we have this same effect today? Or are we so like every one else they don’t see any difference?
PRAYER: Lord, help people to see I am different because I belong to you. Amen.
The thorn tree stands tall in the African desert, its gnarled branches spreading like an umbrella. Its tiny leaves clump together to provide animals and people with a refuge from the fierce overhead sun. Long spiky white thorns protect its fruit and foliage. When we take Jesus as our King, we place ourselves under His protection. It is as if He spreads His branches over us, protecting us from the danger.We need not fear if we have taken Him to be our King.
PRAYER: O Lord Jesus. Thank You for being my King. Help me to stay beneath Your branches always.
At last the trees found someone prepared to be king―but what a strange choice. The thornbush, so common to Africa, is usually the last sign of life in the desert. Where the vegetation peters out, we often find the occasional thornbush standing firmly against the harshness of nature, its vicious thorns pointing outward for protection. These brambles are used for fire-wood yet they also give welcome shade to the weary traveller.
It seems ridiculous that the trees approached the vine to reign over them. How could the low, spreading vine rule over the trees? Yet what the vine lacked in height and grandeur it made up for in popularity. The vine produced grapes which were turned into wine. The wine brought joy and a sense of well-being to many people. However the vine was not prepared to give up its popularity for the sake of power.
Our African fig tree may grow to a tall tree with twisted, muscular branches, or it may remain a low shrub. Twice a year, it bears fruit which is nutritious and extremely rich in natural sugar. In Bible times it was well-known and popular, yet in this parable it refuses kingship. It understood its own value.
Judges 9:8 Once the trees searched for someone to be king; they asked the olive tree, “Will you be our king?” But the olive tree replied, “My oil brings honor to people and gods. I won’t stop making oil, just to have my branches wave above the other trees.
The olive tree grows to about 60 metres in height and bears juicy green berries which turn black when treated. In Bible times the oil was used for healing wounds; as fuel in lamps; for enriching wood; and for anointing priests, kings and those requiring healing. It was indeed an important tree, yet in this short parable it refuses to be king. It would not accept high position at the risk of losing its true identity.
Do we sometimes go after high positions at the cost of losing our own identity?
PRAYER: Lord, help me to never seek after glory rather than do the specific task you have equipped me to do.
Rom 8:39 (KJV) Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
A baboon family scampered across the road. Babies clung to their mothers’ underbellies. Youngsters stopped to play. One curious little guy plonked down in the middle of the road and studied our car. A loud bark sounded from the top of the tree, and the animals scurried for the trees. The senior member of the troop, perched atop the highest tree, was warning them of danger. I thought of God, our Father, watching over us at all times. Am I always as quick to obey?
PRAYER: Lord, help me to listen for your warning call, and to obey immediately