Summary: Trees in the desert display what they are. Some are deceptive, some are genuine. Likewise we can be bear good or bad fruit depending on our relationship with God.

1. Manchineel tree

There is a tree in Chile that shades unknowing passersby from the intense tropical sun. However, the sap of the tree is poisonous. People who do not know better leave the shade with swollen faces, and hands – even death.

2. Jeremiah 17.5-8

3. Two trees – two choices – two potential outcomes

I. A Tree of Deception – Ararah (5-6)

There is the story of a bunch of politicians in a van who went driving in the countryside to see any damages done by a recent flood. While they were driving, they ran off the road and hit a pole, wrecking the van and throwing all of them out.

An old farmer, sitting on his porch, saw the whole thing, so he went over there and buried all the politicians. The next day, the sheriff came out and saw the van and asked where the men were. The farmer said he buried them all.

The sheriff asked if they were all killed, and the farmer said, “Oh, there were a couple that said they weren’t, but you know how politicians lie.”

A. A Tree/Bush of Desolation

• Grows in the middle of nowhere

• Roots can be 200’+ Deep

• Survives in desert conditions

• Beautiful green plant when watered

• Produces a large fruit that appears to be full of juice for a thirsty traveler

• Deception – actually full of air and a poisonous milky liquid

• In spite of a beautiful appearance, there is death or sickness within

B. Disguised People

1. The Ararah is a picture of self-sufficiency

a. Appears to be successful, making it all alone

b. Looks good but is actually empty

[Hypocrite – In ancient Greece they had great theatrical events, plays in large amphitheaters. They didn’t have microphones to make their voices heard, and they didn’t have cameras to magnify their images onto screens, so they invented their own system. They developed big masks. The masks made them look like the characters they portrayed. Built into the masks were megaphones to amplify their voices. The actors got on stage, got behind their masks and they became somebody else, someone different than they really were. The actors were called "hypocrites." That’s where the word came from. There are a lot of people whose life is a big act.

2. Trusting in Self rather than God – as Yeshua (Jesus) and his temptations

a. Temptation to be Self-Sufficient (stones to bread)

1) My Choice MY Success

2) We are called to dependence – “‘Man shall not live by bread alone,

but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” Matthew 4.4

5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart,

and do not lean on your own understanding.

6 In all your ways acknowledge him,

and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3.5-6

b. Temptation to the Spectacular (pinnacle of the temple)

1) Bask in ability and acclaim

2) Response: “Again it is written, ‘You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’” Matthew 4.7

3) Empty Self -- Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. Philippians 2.3

c. Temptation to Power (kingdoms of the earth)

“‘You shall worship the Lord your God

and him only shall you serve.’” Matthew 4.10b

d. When it is all about the person there is nothing inside but death (separation from God)

Alexander Tytler wrote, “The Decline and Fall of the Athenian Republic” near the end of the 18th Century. It contained a warning relevant to our day and time.

He found that ancient democracies declined under selfishness and dependence on human hearts. He wrote, “The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been 200 years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence:”

• From Bondage to Faith

• From Spiritual Faith to Great Courage

• From Courage to Liberty

• From Liberty to Abundance

• From Abundance to Selfishness

• From Selfishness to Complacency

• From Complacency to Apathy

• From Apathy to Dependency

• From Dependency Back to Bondage

II. A Tree of Delight – Acacia (7-8)

A. Reflects the Proper Place of Trust – God

1. The Contrast

2. The Culmination of Faith

B. Planted by Water

1. Not an Oak by the Mississippi River

2. Acacia was often near (not IN) a wadi (stream in the deseert)

3. Dangers of the Wadi

a. Flood

If it had not been the LORD who was on our side,

let Israel now say—

2 if it had not been the LORD who was on our side,

when men rose up against us,

3 then they would have swallowed us up alive,

when their anger was kindled against us;

4 then the flood would have swept us away,

the torrent would have gone over us;

5 then over us would have gone

the raging waters. Psalm 124.1-5

1) Leaves pools of water that attracts animals but is dangerous

2) Reason for quiet waters in Psalm 23 (drink where shepherd directs)

b. Mire – Wadis carry topsoil from mountains

Save me, O God!

For the waters have come up to my neck.

2 I sink in deep mire,

where there is no foothold;

I have come into deep waters,

and the flood sweeps over me.

3 I am weary with my crying;

my throat is parched.

My eyes grow dim

with waiting for my God. Psalm 69.1-3

C. Bears Useful Fruit

1. True Fruit in its season – Psalm 1

2. HS’ Presence makes all of the difference (Galatians 5.19-26)

a. Works of the flesh = poison

b. Fruit of the Spirit = life


1. Trees picture two people – One who is self-absorbed; one who is God-absorbed

2. Results –

a. Barrenness for one; prosperity for the other

b. One takes in no real good; the other fears no evil

3. Wise and Foolish Builders of Matthew 7.24-27

24 “Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock; 25 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat upon that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. 26 And every one who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house upon the sand; 27 and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell; and great was the fall of it.”

a. Faith is trust/perseverance/steadiness

b. Fear is empty and self-centered

4. In 1174 the Italian architect Bonnano Pisano (pç-zäʹnô) began work on what would become his most famous project: A separately standing eight-story bell tower for the Cathedral of the city of Pisa. The tower was to be 8-stories and 185-feet tall. There was just one "little" problem: builders quickly discovered that the soil was much softer than they had anticipated, and the foundation was far too shallow to adequately hold the structure! Before long the whole structure had begun to tilt... and it continued to tilt... until finally the architect and the builders realized that nothing could be done to make the Leaning Tower of Pisa straight again. It took 176 years to build the Tower of Pisa and during that time many things were done to try and compensate for the "tilt." The foundation was shored up; the upper levels were even built at an angle to try to make the top of the tower look straight. Nothing worked. The tower has stood for over 800 years, but it leans 18 feet away from where it should be (10 degrees from the vertical, for all the engineers). One day, experts say, it will fall all because it wasn’t built on the right foundation.