Luke 17 - Steve Wiggins Daily Devotional
“The apostles said to the L_rd, ‘Increase our faith.’ ‘If you have faith the size of a mustard seed,’ the L_rd said, ‘you can say to this fig tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea.” and it will obey you.’” Luke 17:5-6
Depending on your Bible translation, the tree thrown into the sea (in today’s passage) is either: a mulberry, sycamore, or fig tree. It may be confusing to some, as to why the translators would choose different trees. Actually, sycamore & mulberry trees are types of fig trees. The scholars obviously didn't take into consideration that most of us in the 21st century wouldn't know much about trees!
All that being said, Yeshua is once again using the mustard seed image as a metaphor of His Kingdom. The mustard seed generally only grows into a bushy shrub. But in Luke 13:9, Yeshua described a miracle of prophetic nature, wherein a mustard seed grows into a large tree where the birds of the air nest. In that chapter the mustard seed was set in contrast to the cursed fig tree, which represented Israel’s spiritual decline, leading to its unproductivity. I believe that in today’s passage, Yeshua is reminding His disciples of the previous “mustard seed” image, which, again, is in contrast to the fig tree which represented the decline of Temple worship. In essence, He was saying that, although Temple worship seemed as if it would last forever, unless its leaders embraced Yeshua as Messiah, it would be uprooted, treated as apostasy by the L_rd and replaced with the greater Messianic community. His words proved true. Although the community of believers (at that time) was as small as a “mustard seed” and not expected to grow much bigger than a small sect, it has flourished and expanded worldwide. In contrast, the Temple in Jerusalem was destroyed in 70AD, and still has not been rebuilt.
In Matthew 24, Yeshua predicted the destruction of the Temple. He also cursed the fig tree in Mark 11, which was a direct fulfillment of prophecy:
“Woe is me! For I am like the fruit pickers, like the grape gatherers. There is not a cluster of grapes to eat, or and early fig, which I crave. Micah 7:1
In the Bible, whenever someone or something is thrown into the sea, it is the direct result of sin.
“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea; and the elite of his officers are drowned in the Red Sea.” Exodus 15:4
“Then they picked up Jonah and they threw him into the seas, and the sea stopped it raging.” Jonah 1:15
So, what is our take-away?
Yeshua is telling His disciples that the only way to break bad tradition is by changing their ways & beliefs and putting their faith into action. When G_d’s people live according to his Word, a distinction between right & wrong is clearly seen. Based on the testimony of surrendered lives-in-action, bad tradition is clearly identified as sin, and discarded. Is the L_rd telling you to break with bad “tradition” and recognize & receive Yeshua as Messiah and L_rd of your life? By all means, do it now!
~Steve Wiggins, Assistant Rabbi
Daily Devotional, Wednesday, June 19, 2013