When the Old Testament prophets wanted to paint a picture of peace and prosperity, they would often use fig trees as imagery of God's goodness. As Moses sought to instill in Israel the vision of the Promised Land, he said that the Lord was bringing them into a "good land of...fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees..." (Deuteronomy 8:7-8). During the days of King Solomon, when Israel was at rest on all sides from her enemies and enjoying great economic prosperity, we read that "Judah and Israel lived in safety, every man under his vine and his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon" (I Kings 4:25). Since fig trees produce tasty fruits and have abundant green leaves that provide shade, they were often planted near wells to keep the sun off the water so that it was cool. A man seated under a fig tree eating the fruit above him while enjoying the refreshing water of the well was a picture of a man at peace and rest with God.
The Lord used this imagery to work the other way, though. Later, when Israel's unfaithfulness brought ruin upon them, the prophets such as Jeremiah cried out on behalf of God, "I will surely snatch them away,” declares the LORD; “There will be no grapes on the vine and no figs on the fig tree, and the leaf will wither; and what I have given them will pass away” (Jeremiah 8:3). Yet even in the midst of judgments the Lord always promised the hope of restoration, and if Israel or any nation would repent of their wickedness and seek His face once agaon, His promise was as follows: ‘In that day,’ declares the LORD of hosts, ‘every one of you will invite his neighbor to sit under his vine and under his fig tree” (Zechariah 3:10).
That in essence is what our website, and indeed our congregation, is all about. An invitation to come and sit under the tree, though in this case it is a sycamore tree. Years ago our congregation chose Sycamore for its name because of this tree's abundance in central Indiana and particularly because they are found by streams of water. These verses from Jeremiah 17:7-8 have become our theme:
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose trust is the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit."
And indeed the Lord has blessed the congregation of Sycamore RP Church with a great measure of His presence and the spiritual fruit that follows. So I invite you to come and spend some time sitting under the Sycamore tree with us. Review a sermon on a section of Scripture to hear our teaching. Look over our ministries and activities. Read a story under our Lake Woes-Be-Gone tab that captures some of the spirit and fun we enjoy as a congregation. Come each week and taste some food for thought here at our "Under the Sycamore Tree" blogsite. Better yet, consider visiting us for worship and a meal some time. If you come seeking the presence of the Lord, we believe you will find His Spirit with us.
With this in mind, should it surprise us then that when Jesus began His public ministry, He found one of His first disciples (Nathaniel) waiting for Him where else but under a fig tree? (See John 1:47-18). To him Christ promised he would see the heavens opened and the angels delivering blessings from above to God's people through Himself (John 1:51). So come, sit under the shade of the tree with us for a while, and let us wait upon the Lord to visit and bring us His rich blessings. May the Lord grant you His peace.
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