Blessed are You Lord our God, King of the Universe who has given us life, sustained us, and allowed us to reach this day. Blessed are You, Lord our God, King of the universe, who creates the fruit of the tree.”

This week the Jewish people celebrate Tu B’Shevat, the 15th day of the month of Shevat in the Jewish calendar. This marks the ‘New Year’ for trees. God commanded that His people tithe their agricultural produce, so it is important to establish when each new year begins for fruit-bearing trees as they are harvested at a different time to other crops. Fruit which blossomed before the 15th of Shevat is produce of the previous year and if it blossomed afterwards, it is produce of the new year. This is because the fruit produced before are products of the rains of the previous year and tithed together with the other crops of the previous year.

Tu B’Shevet is celebrated by eating fruit such as figs, dates and olives, and more recently by planting trees. While this is a date simply to mark when the calendar starts for trees, it is given a special significance because of the comparison between trees and God’s people in scripture. Let’s look at a few examples.

  • Psalm 1:3
  • Ezekiel 17:22
  • John 15:5
  • Romans 11:24
 “He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season. And its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”
“This is what the sovereign Lord says: “I will take a sprig from the lofty top of the cedar and plant it. I will pluck from the top one of its tender twigs; I myself will plant it on a high and lofty mountain. I will plant it on a high mountain of Israel, and it will raise branches and produce fruit and become a beautiful cedar. Every bird will live under it; every winged creature will live in the shade of its branches.”
“I am the vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in me – and I in him – bears much fruit, because apart from me you can accomplish nothing.”
“For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?”

There is so much we can learn from just these four passages. Jesus is the vine, the root and the cultivated olive tree. The church are His branches: Israel being the natural branches and the Gentiles being the wild. For those who remain trusting in God’s goodness, tenderness and faithfulness, there is great promise of fruitfulness and abundance! We also see that there is a special grace for Israel, and that God has a plan for the branches of Israel and the Jewish people to be grafted back in. Ultimately, we see that God’s plan is for unity in His family, to give good things and to give hope.

Today, we can celebrate fruitfulness in our harvests and in our lives. We celebrate God’s continual provision for our physical needs as well as for every task He places ahead of us. We celebrate His grace to be tender towards us and we celebrate the goodness of His promises that He is faithful to keep!

So on this joyful day, let’s pray also for Israel – that the wild and the natural branches will be joined together. Thank God that He is working out His plan for this. Thank God for His grace, eagerness to forgive, and for His redemption. Thank God that all good things come from Him and thank God that He gives us fruit!

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