Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.
This is what the LORD says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who depends on flesh for his strength
and whose heart turns away from the LORD.
He will be like a bush in the wastelands;
he will not see prosperity when it comes.
He will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose confidence is in him.
He will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
— Jeremiah 17:5-8
This tree was definitely the most interesting and strangest tree we saw while in the desert. Its real name is “Tapua Sadoma” (“Tapuach Sdom”) which translates “Sodom Apple”. It has a woody branch and big jungle green magnolia type leaves on it. It grows quite of bit of fruit on it during the season. The bright green fruit is the size and look of a grapefruit, but it has nothing but a milky substance inside and is not edible. The plant supposedly has extremely deep roots and can survive harsh desert conditions. When we were on the Scout trip to Egypt, we saw several of the trees growing in the wadis. However, the one RVL picked out to film and talk about was dead when we got back to it the next year. He was real disappointed, but we filmed anyway.
If you look in the Jeremiah passage, the bush in the wasteland, translated in English (Strong’s #6199), is the Arare tree in Hebrew. “Cursed is the man…” the passage starts out and the same root word for cursed is the root word for arare.
The picture painted in the Jeremiah passage is of someone who trusts in themselves, or tries to make it on their own strength or talent. This is where the arare tree comparison comes in. You will look like the arare tree – good on the outside, but when we see the fruit there is nothing there.
Then it goes on to say,” blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, he will be like the tree planted by the water”, (this is the acacia tree that was on a previous post). Both plants grow in the same wadi, the same desert, in the same water. One gives back after drawing from the water source, the other drinks and looks good but offers nothing. Will you depend on God or will you try to do it yourself? Will you bring forth fruit and not wither when the heat comes, or will you just be a hollow shell that won’t be able to take the heat? These are some more great thoughts from the desert images.
post scriptum: In addition to the faith lesson, I wanted to share a few additional side notes about the Arare tree (Calotropis procera) which I found interesteing:.
- The sap of the plant is a skin irritant and the latex (juice) is poisonous to both to humans and animals.
- The plant is also known as: “Giant Milkweed”, “Apple of Sodom”, “Mudar”, “Dead Sea Fruit”, and “Kisher”/”Usher”/”Osher”(Arabic)
- Josephus describes this plant in Jewish Wars Book IV 8:4:
…The country of Sodom borders upon it. It was of old a most happy land, both for the fruits it bore and the riches of its cities, although it be now all burnt up. It is related how, for the impiety of its inhabitants, it was burnt by lightning; in consequence of which there are still the remainders of that divine fire; and the traces [or shadows] of the five cities are still to be seen, as well as the ashes growing in their fruits, which fruits have a colour as if they were fit to be eaten; but if you pluck them with your hands they dissolve into smoke and ashes. And thus what is related of this land of Sodom hath these marks of credibility, which our very sight affords us.
- “John Milton alludes to this plant in his epic poem, Paradise Lost, while describing the fruit that Satan and his cohorts eat after having tempted Adam and Eve to eat an apple from the Tree of Good and Evil:”1 (book 10):
“…greedy they pluck’d
The Frutage fair to sight, like that which grew
Neer that bituminous Lake where Sodom flam’d;
This more delusive, not the touch, but taste
Deceav’d; they fondly thinking to allay
Thir appetite with gust, instead of Fruit
Chewd bitter Ashes, which th’ offended taste
With spattering noise rejected: oft they assayd
Hunger and thirst constraining…”
- Deuteronomy32:32 contains a possible additional reference to the tree:
For their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
and from the fields of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison;
their clusters are bitter;