“When you beseige a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by weilding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be beseiged by you? Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.” Deuteronomy 20:19-20.
I was explaining to my youngest two sons that the Old Testament is actual history that took place, but that the principles found all throughout, still apply to us today. We too have much warfare to fight if we are truly walking with the Lord – however, the Kingdom of God is within you. We do not wrestle with flesh and blood, but with principalites and rulers in heavenly places. And most often, our greatest fight is not necessarily in the demonic realm, but within our own willful hearts and minds. The land that the Lord wants to give us is our own hearts that are completely given over to His Spirit which will in turn lead us all the way home to be with Him in eternal glory.
But I have to admit that some of these scriptures seem so remote from anything that we might be able to glean from today – unless of course, the Holy Spirit begins to open them up. I was struck at how I saw the mercy of God and His tender heart in one of those truly obscure scriptures that is quoted above. I saw something that brought me much comfort that I hope will do the same for you.
God always protects fruitfulness. As a matter of fact, it is His desire to turn everything into a fruitful vine. Everything – which includes your greatest disappointments, your deepest fears, and your darkest hours. And if the Lord took the time to tell the Israelites to protect the fruitbearing trees as they cut down timber to wage warfare on their enemies, does He not do the same for us? Even as He prunes us, or even as He beseiges us with discipline so that we walk as true sons and daughters, He is careful to strengthen anything that is bearing fruit for His Kingdom.
There is only one miracle that Jesus performed on earth that did not bring about life, but death – it was the fig tree outside of Jerusalem. Even in that, He told the story of how He had been patient with it; pruning it and checking again to see if there be any fruit upon its leaves. He is patient and kind, not wanting any to perish. In this case, the fig tree had nothing; not one ounce of fruit. Of course, this tree is a picture of the Old Covenant and the Jewish traditions. The Lord desired to take the Jewish people under His protective wing of salvation, but they would not abide in the vine and instead chose the fruitless deeds of self-righteousness over the life giving tree of life.
Not only did this thought about fruitfulness bring comfort, but it also brought conviction. How many times have I reacted out of my own pain in a situation and have sought to cut down the whole tree – you know what I mean – surely I’m not the only dragon slayer that likes to fight in her own strength. The more the Lord prunes out of my own heart and soul, the more I find that the Holy Spirit teaches me that He truly is kind, merciful, and patient. And that He is always on the lookout to strengthen in any given situation what is fruitful for His Kingdom.
Yes, there is a time to tear down, but there is also a time to build up. If we in all of our dragon slaying completely destroy the tree at the root, there will be nothing that remains to strengthen and build up. The scripture does say, “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness.” We should put the axe to the root of the tree in that case, but we are also commanded to walk in the light as He is in the light. Is it not His heart to look for what is fruitful?
What if in a any given situation, we began to do just that. Would it not change our ability to see what is of God in every person, every circumstance, every possibility. Would we not then be more in line with the heartbeat of God? Is there a time to slay dragons? Yes! When that dragon is cutting down the fruitbearing trees to bring darkness into the Kingdom of light. However, more often than not, if we would begin to water and nurture what is fruitful, and yes, be careful to prune away what is needed, would not the Kingdom be strengthened to the point that the dragon would have to flee and take his destruction elsewhere? Dear brothers and sisters, strengthen what remains…God will bring about a beautiful harvest from what is fruitful, even if it seems buried under the hardest of dirt. He is the God who sees…even the tiniest of seeds.