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;

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