Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Olive

By Angela Bhandal

We recently heard a message about the olive fruit which is pressed to extract the oil. As I have been meditating on that message I began to ask myself – what is an olive?

We know of it to come in a jar and they are either green or black, with and without pips. They have an unusual taste – salty and bitter and the green ones are really strong! Let’s take a look at how the olive gets into the jar!

An olive comes from a slow-growing, hardwood tree. In Biblical times, olive trees were common in Palestine, with many plains famous for abundant olive groves. The olive tree develops slowly and a cultivated olive tree can produce fruit for hundreds of years. In Biblical times, olives were harvested in November (autumn), growing to ripeness over the summer months. Some of the fruit was eaten fresh, but most of it was ‘pressed’ to obtain the oil and this oil was used in preparing every meal as a food ingredient and it was also used as fuel for lamps that lit the homes of the Hebrew people. In addition, it was also mixed with spices and other substances to produce ointment and perfumes. A single olive tree can produce about 20 gallons of oil (75liters) and to obtain the oil, the olives were spread under a heavy, rotating stone wheel. The first oil obtained from this crushing process was the most valuable and is spoken of in Scripture as ‘fine oil’. After the olives were crushed and the fine oil extracted, the pulp was then pressed by a stone-weighted beam – a pressure of hundreds of pounds squeezes out sediment, oil and water. The lighter oil rose to the surface and was skimmed off.

So if we use this as an analogy for our Christian lives – who is willing to be pressed so that the precious oil may be extracted?

What does the Bible say about olive oil?

·         Oil is used for anointing and is sacred
·         Oil is precious
·         In the book of Genesis-the dove returned to the Noah with a freshly plucked olive leaf indicating it was one of the first trees to grow again. Of all the trees the dove chose the olive tree
·         In the book of Romans, Paul talks about Gentiles being like a wild olive shoot being grafted into the nourishing sap from the olive tree root (ch 11)
·         In the book of Revelation, John mentions the two witnesses of Christ (modeled after Moses and Elijah) as being like two olive trees and two lamp stands that stand before the Lord of the earth – remember how strong and sturdy olive trees are (ch 11)
·         In Zechariah 14 there is a passage prophesying about Christ and how on ‘that Day’, His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives and the Mount will split in two from east to west. This is a very important day and marks the return of Christ to the earth – and there will be huge changes to the earth – topographical, cosmic and cataclysmic.
·         When Jesus was in Jerusalem, He and His disciples would spend the night in an olive grove on the same Mount, (probably in the Garden of Gethsemane where He also spent His last few hours before going to the cross to be pressed)
·         The Mount of Olives is situated directly east of Jerusalem, rising to a height of 2 700ft and also has a magnificent view of the city, especially the Temple.
·         Finally we read in Acts chapter 1 that Jesus ascended into glory from the Mount of Olives – a very significant mountain!

In conclusion, the olive tree and the olive fruit were important in Biblical times and are still important today in Mediterranean countries. There are also many spiritual truths to be gained from this fruit for our Christian lives.

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