leaving the fruitful trees

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leaving the fruitful trees

Deuteronomy 20:19-20 (JDV)

Deuteronomy 20:19 “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it in order to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can get food from them. Do not fell them. Are trees of the field human, to come under siege by you?
Deuteronomy 20:20 But you may destroy the trees that you know do not produce food. You may fell them to build siege works against the city that is waging war against you, until it falls.

leaving the fruitful trees

Behind this instruction is the assumption that all of the cities the Israelites will encounter will soon be theirs, thus they are told not to destroy any of the fruit-bearing trees in order to lay siege to a city.

The mission for the Israelites was to take possession of the land God was giving them, making them a part of his kingdom. Our mission under Christ is to take possession of the hearts and minds of those who need him, making them a part of Christ’s kingdom.

By analogy then, we should be careful about how we destroy the strongholds with the gospel. People are not just individuals. They live in relationships. Those relationships are like the trees surrounding the city. We should try as best as we can not to force people to choose between their social relationships and the kingdom. For many, those relationships will be their means of bringing others with them when they come to Christ.

The Jewish missionaries in Acts decided not to add a long list of “how to be Jewish” to the requirements of coming to Christ. This left room for the fruitful trees of Gentile believers to reach their communities for Christ as well.

Lord, give us wisdom to reach people for you without destroying their connections with their own communities.

About Jefferson Vann

Jefferson Vann is pastor of Piney Grove Advent Christian Church in Delco, North Carolina. You can contact him at marmsky@gmail.com -- !
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