“This is what the Church looks like”

“You who live in the garden,
friends are listening for your voice.
Let me hear it!”
Song of Solomon 8:13 CJB

Today, while on a peaceful stroll, the Lord drew me to a tree. His still small voice spoke to my inner ear, “This is what the church looks like”. I noticed this big beautiful established multi-trunk tree but it had dead branches interspersed throughout. It had seven trunks that were connected to one large base (this is significant which I’ll touch on later). This was the picture of the Body of Christ, His Bride, the Church in it’s current condition.

I began to do some research on multi-trunk trees. This tree that shared one large base is connected to a central root system. Multi-trunk trees form when the original stem of the tree is damaged by brokenness, browsed by animals, or fallen which results in a new stem sprouting from the root mass.

One of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus was that He emerged or sprouted from the root of Jesse.

“But a branch will emerge from the trunk of Yishai (Jesse who is King David’s father), a shoot will grow from his roots. The Spirit of Adonai will rest on him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and power, the Spirit of knowledge and fearing Adonai– he will be inspired by fearing Adonai. He will not judge by what his eyes see or decide by what his ears hear, but he will judge the impoverished justly; he will decide fairly for the humble of the land. He will strike with a rod from his mouth (His words) and slay the wicked with a breath from his lips. Justice will be the belt around his waist, faithfulness the sash around his hips.” Isaiah 11:1-5 CJB (emphasis added)
“On that day the root (Jesus) of Yishai (Jesse who is King David’s father), which stands as a banner for the peoples– the Goyim (Nations) will seek him out, and the place where he rests will be glorious. On that day Adonai will raise his hand again, a second time (the second coming of our Messiah Jesus), to reclaim the remnant of his people who remain from Ashur, Egypt, Patros, Ethiopia, ‘Eilam, Shin’ar, Hamat and the islands in the sea. He will hoist a banner for the Goyim (Nations) , assemble the dispersed of Isra’el, and gather the scattered of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Isaiah 11:10-12 CJB (emphasis added)

I continued my research on why trees don’t always completely leaf out and why some branches die and others don’t. The roots grow around the base of the tree instead of sprawling outward, putting pressure and cutting off the flow of water and nutrients. The water and nutrients are then unable to move up into the canopy resulting in the sugars (manufactured by the leaves) inability to reach back down to the roots.

God is adamant throughout the Bible that if trees don’t produce good fruit then He (the gardener) will cut off those branches and throw them out. He doesn’t want the toxicity from the bad fruit to reach back down to the roots causing the rest of the tree to suffer. He deeply cares about the condition of His flock. Let’s look at a few scriptures that touch on this.

In Matthew 7, Jesus is warning his disciples about false prophets with bad fruit. He warns that they wear sheep clothing but underneath are hungry wolves. This is where the saying “You will know them by their fruit” comes from.

“Any tree that doesn’t produce good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire!” Matthew 7:19 CJB
“Not everyone who cries ‘Lord, Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, only those who do what the Father wants. On that Day, many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord! Didn’t we prophesy in your name? Didn’t we expel demons in your name? Didn’t we perform many miracles in your name?’ Then I will tell them to their faces, ‘I never knew you! Get away from me, you workers of lawlessness!'” Matthew 7:21-23

In John 15, Jesus is exhorting them to stay in his love by keeping his commandments. He commands them to love eachother and to lay down their lives for one another. The world will hate us as they have hated him and they will persecute us as they have persecuted him but not to worry.

I am the real vine, and my Father is the gardener. Every branch which is part of me but fails to bear fruit, he cuts off; and every branch that does bear fruit, he prunes, so that it may bear more fruit. Right now, because of the word which I have spoken to you, you are pruned. Stay united with me, as I will with you– for just as the branch can’t put forth fruit by itself apart from the vine, so you cant bear fruit apart from me. I am the vine and you are the branches. Those who stay united with me, and I with them, are the ones who bear much fruit; because apart from me you can’t do anything. Unless a person remains united with me, he is thrown away like a branch and dries up. Such branches are gathered and thrown into the fire, where they are burned up.” John 15:1-6 CJB

In Matthew 3, John the Baptist was addressing the Pharisees and Sadducees when he warned of producing good fruit in keeping with repentance and that every tree producing bad fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

I thank God that He has given us these warnings ahead of time so that we may know how to remain in Him. The Gardener and our Root cares deeply about our condition. Because the condition of our hearts will not only impact our own spirits but the rest of the church as well. In fact, Jesus loves us so much that He actually gives us the warnings of the Book of Revelation ahead of time. The tree the Lord drew me to had 7 trunks attached to one large base. It is interesting that there were 7 trunks because in the Book of Revelation He addresses 7 churches. He both encourages them and charges them. I encourage the church to study this and pray for the Lord to show us the logs in our own eyes, show us where we need pruning, so that we may not become like those dead branches being dried up, thrown out, gathered and thrown into the fire.

(The translation I use is the Complete Jewish Bible as it uses some of the original Hebrew words. These names and terms would have been what they actually used. “Yeshua” is Jesus’ name in Hebrew, “Yochanan” means John, “Messianic Communities” is a term that can be used for both Christians and Messianic Jews who believe that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah, etc.)
From: Yochanan To: The seven Messianic communities in the province of Asia: Grace and shalom to you from the One who is, who was and who is coming; from the sevenfold Spirit before his throne; and from Yeshua the Messiah, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the earth’s kings. To him, the one who loves us, who has freed us from our sins at the cost of his blood, who has caused us to be a kingdom, that is, cohanim for God, his Father – to him be the glory and the rulership forever and ever. Amen. Look! He is coming with the clouds! Every eye will see him, including those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the Land will mourn him. Yes! Amen! “I am the ‘A’ and the ‘Z,'” says ADONAI, God of heaven’s armies, the One who is, who was and who is coming. I, Yochanan, am a brother of yours and a fellow-sharer in the suffering, kingship and perseverance that come from being united with Yeshua. I had been exiled to the island called Patmos for having proclaimed the message of God and borne witness to Yeshua. I came to be, in the Spirit, on the Day of the Lord; and I heard behind me a loud voice, like a trumpet, saying, “Write down what you see on a scroll, and send it to the seven Messianic communities – Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia and Laodicea!” I turned around to see who was speaking to me; and when I had turned, I saw seven gold menorahs; and among the menorahs was someone like a Son of Man, wearing a robe down to his feet and a gold band around his chest. His head and hair were as white as snow-white wool, his eyes like a fiery flame, his feet like burnished brass refined in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of rushing waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, out of his mouth went a sharp double-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell down at his feet like a dead man. He placed his right hand upon me and said, “Don’t be afraid! I am the First and the Last, the Living One. I was dead, but look! – I am alive forever and ever! And I hold the keys to Death and Sh’ol. So write down what you see, both what is now, and what will happen afterwards.
Here is the secret meaning of the seven stars you saw in my right hand, and of the seven gold menorahs: the seven stars are the angels of the seven Messianic communities, and the seven menorahs are the seven Messianic communities.
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Ephesus, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven gold menorahs: “I know what you have been doing, how hard you have worked, how you have persevered, and how you can’t stand wicked people; so you tested those who call themselves emissaries but aren’t – and you found them to be liars. You are persevering, and you have suffered for my sake without growing weary. But I have this against you: you have lost the love you had at first. Therefore, remember where you were before you fell, turn from this sin, and do what you used to do before. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your menorah from its place – if you don’t turn from your sin! But you have this in your favor: you hate what the Nicolaitans do – I hate it too. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give the right to eat from the Tree of Life which is in God’s Gan-‘Eden.”‘
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Smyrna, write: ‘Here is the message from the First and the Last, who died and came alive again: “I know how you are suffering and how poor you are (though in fact you are rich!), and I know the insults of those who call themselves Jews but aren’t – on the contrary, they are a synagogue of the Adversary. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the Adversary is going to have some of you thrown in prison, in order to put you to the test; and you will face an ordeal for ten days. Remain faithful, even to the point of death; and I will give you life as your crown. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. He who wins the victory will not be hurt at all by the second death.”‘
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Pergamum, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who has the sharp double-edged sword: “I know where you are living, there where the Adversary’s throne is. Yet you are holding onto my name. You did not deny trusting me even at the time when my faithful witness Antipas was put to death in your town, there where the Adversary lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: you have some people who hold to the teaching of Bil’am, who taught Balak to set a trap for the people of Isra’el, so that they would eat food that had been sacrificed to idols and commit sexual sin. Likewise, you too have people who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Therefore, turn from these sins. Otherwise, I will come to you very soon and make war against them with the sword of my mouth. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities. To him winning the victory I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, on which is written a new name that nobody knows except the one receiving it.”‘
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Thyatira, write: ‘Here is the message from the Son of God, whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like burnished brass: I know what you are doing, your love, trust, service and perseverance. And I know that you are doing more now than before. But I have this against you: you continue to tolerate that Izevel woman, the one who claims to be a prophet, but is teaching and deceiving my servants to commit sexual sin and eat food that has been sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to turn from her sin, but she doesn’t want to repent of her immorality. So I am throwing her into a sickbed; and those who commit adultery with her I am throwing into great trouble, unless they turn from the sins connected with what she does; and I will strike her children dead! Then all the Messianic communities will know that I am the one who searches minds and hearts, and that I will give to each of you what your deeds deserve. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, to those who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some people call the ‘deep things’ of the Adversary, I say this: I am not loading you up with another burden; only hold fast to what you have until I come. To him who wins the victory and does what I want until the goal is reached, I will give him authority over the nations; he will rule them with a staff of iron and dash them to pieces like pottery, just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.”‘
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Sardis, write: ‘Here is the message from the one who has the sevenfold Spirit of God and the seven stars: “I know what you are doing – you have a reputation for being alive, but in fact you are dead! Wake up, and strengthen what remains, before it dies too! For I have found what you are doing incomplete in the sight of my God. So remember what you received and heard, and obey it, and turn from your sin! For if you don’t wake up, I will come like a thief; and you don’t know at what moment I will come upon you. Nevertheless, you do have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes; and they will walk with me, clothed in white, because they are worthy. He who wins the victory will, like them, be dressed in white clothing; and I will not blot his name out of the Book of Life; in fact, I will acknowledge him individually before my Father and before his angels. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.”‘
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Philadelphia, write: ‘Here is the message of HaKadosh, the True One, the one who has the key of David, who, if he opens something, no one else can shut it, and if he closes something, no one else can open it. “I know what you are doing. Look, I have put in front of you an open door, and no one can shut it. I know that you have but little power, yet you have obeyed my message and have not disowned me. Here, I will give you some from the synagogue of the Adversary, those who call themselves Jews but aren’t – on the contrary, they are lying – see, I will cause them to come and prostrate themselves at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. Because you did obey my message about persevering, I will keep you from the time of trial coming upon the whole world to put the people living on earth to the test. I am coming soon; hold on to what you have, so that no one will take away your crown. I will make him who wins the victory a pillar in the Temple of my God, and he will never leave it. Also I will write on him the name of my God and the name of my God’s city, the new Yerushalayim coming down out of heaven from my God, and my own new name. Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.”‘
“To the angel of the Messianic Community in Laodicea, write: ‘Here is the message from the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the Ruler of God’s creation: “I know what you are doing: you are neither cold nor hot. How I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm, neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth! For you keep saying, ‘I am rich, I have gotten rich, I don’t need a thing!’ You don’t know that you are the one who is wretched, pitiable, poor, blind and naked! My advice to you is to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be dressed and not have to be ashamed of your nakedness; and eye salve to rub on your eyes, so that you may see. As for me, I rebuke and discipline everyone I love; so exert yourselves, and turn from your sins! Here, I’m standing at the door, knocking. If someone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he will eat with me. I will let him who wins the victory sit with me on my throne, just as I myself also won the victory and sat down with my Father on his throne.
Those who have ears, let them hear what the Spirit is saying to the Messianic communities.'” Revelation 1-3 CJB