The Two Olive Trees: A Modern Day Parable

It was a hot day in August as we rode with our four teens on a bus in Israel. One of the first things you notice in Israel is the olive trees. According to Israeli law, olive trees represent ownership of the land, if you own the olive tree, you own that portion of land. On this particular day our tour our guide, Yossi, talked about the different philosophies behind planting olive trees in the land of Israel, the Arab perspective and the Jewish perspective.

Yossi explained that the Arab method takes a cutting or shoot from a live tree and places it in a hole dug for the new tree. The shoot is then placed in the ground, watered and given the necessary fertilizer to grow. Eventually the tree grows and bears fruit. This is the Arab method of growing an olive tree: cut, plant, water, fertilize, fruit.

The Jewish method begins the same as the Arab method with a cutting.  However, that is where the similarities between the two methods end. The Israelis place the little shoot into a soil plug in order to tend it in a nursery until it is deemed strong enough to be transplanted. While in the nursery the little sapling is watered, fertilized, and the plant is cared for to ensure it grows strong. In due time the gardener sees that the plant is ready and he transplants it into the field and eventually it too bears fruit.

At this point Yossi stopped and asked if we had any questions. I did, “What is the difference between the two trees in the end?”  He paused and said, “The quality of the fruit.”

The Lord left us the commission to “go and make disciples”. How can we ensure that our little plants grow up to be strong disciples and in turn make disciples?

Mark 16:28 gives us clues,

  • • Teaching them to love and obey God and His Word
  • • Pray for them
  • • Equip them to teach and disciple others

Imagine what the church “olive grove” would look like in the next generation if we took the time now to tenderly care for, water, fertilize and see to the proper growth our children and those we teach in other settings. You can play a part in making sure that those you are caring for are strong and bear good and strong fruit.

Here are some steps for those of us tending our gardens to take.

  • • Spend time in the Bible ourselves: nothing replaces what God’s Word can give us
  • • Pray: for ourselves and others
  • • Rest: this is the hardest, especially for us busy moms, but it is a command not an option
  • • Be prepared when we teach: the better we prepare the more our students will learn.

I am excited as I see so many young people coming to age who have had an “Israeli planting.” They were tenderly cared for, and transplanted at just the right time. They have come from homes that were not perfect, nor raised by ideal parents, but where they were loved, taught, and trained. These young people are making a difference in their world and so will your children. The question arises, what will be the quality of their impact (fruit).

One day we will all stand before the Master Gardener, and He will examine the quality of our fruit. Oh, let us hear Him say to us and those who we have discipled, “Well Done.”

May God bless you as you tend the young trees in your nursery,
Dianna Wiebe

Dianna and her husband, John, live in Wyoming and are parents to four grown children. Dianna is the primary author for Grapevine Studies, the stick figure Bible curriculum. Dianna brings an energetic and creative approach to her studies that enables her students to learn through direct interaction with the Bible.

Pick up a Free Sample eLesson from Grapevine Studies and find them on Facebook and Twitter.

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    1. Holly, I’m so glad this article helped you! I agree that it is a beautiful story. We can all use a reminder to care better for our own little seedlings. I pray that God will bless you as you determine to make changes.

  1. Hi Dianna, I just read your post and I can’t help thinking what my kids would think if I would read your post to them? I’m Arab and I teach my children to not judge people according to their color of skin, nationality, religion etc. so giving you the benefit of the doubt.. What exactly are you trying to say? And how are people that read yor post supposed to think about the upbringing of the child of an Arabic origin?

    Islam teaches us to respect and to be kind and not to be judgmental for HE is the all Knowing, and most Just.
    May God make us all respect one another and be kind to one another, and to create peace amongst one another.

    Kindly Myriam

    1. Hi Myriam,

      I will pass your comment along to Dianna in case she didn’t see it here. I know Dianna well, though, and I’m sure the point of her post was not to say that Arab children are not well-loved and well-taught. Her point was simply that there is more than one way to care for seedlings and more than one way to care for our children. She is encouraging us as homeschooling moms to raise our children to love God and to teach others about Him.



      1. Hi Wendy,
        I appreciate you replying. Maybe she didn’t but it was obviously the wrong way of putting it. See if it was her own blog I would say who cares but you guys have thousands of followers and I’m sure there are people from all over the world so I believe it’s in everybody’s interest to bring the posts over in a way that is respectful no matter what the background may be. I understand that you’re hosting a christian blog just please keep it polite and fair for everyone.. I like coming around hiphomeschoolmoms but I was offended by her comparing nationalities etc. I also understand that arabs and jews have had issues for as long as they exist (or almost anyway) but this is not what true practicing and God fearing Muslims believe in and it is certainly not what we teach our children. We strongly believe and ponder upon peace and respect, care and all the values Christians and as a matter of fact every Religion believes in. (from what I know)
        And as a Mom and especially as a homeschooling Mom I take it very seriously to do my part and to bring up my children with an open mind and open heart to accept and respect people no matter where in the world they’re coming from and no matter what they believe in. We might agree to disagree but we must respect each other..

        and God knows best,
        blessings, Myriam

        1. Myriam, I understand your concern. I do apologize if you were offended. Dianna is a wonderful lady, and I know she didn’t mean to offend you or anyone else. I really appreciate your expressing your concern nicely, though!

        2. Myriam, below is Dianna’s response to your comment. I’m sorry it took me so long to put her reply here on the site.

          Hi Myriam,

          I am sorry you misunderstood my reference to Arab and Jews as a comparison of nationalities. That was not my intent. Those references were to point out the differences in the “method” of planting olive trees not a difference in “people”. As the title states, this was a parable. The reference was a real experience we had while in Israel that beautifully reflects the different methods parents, regardless of nationality, choose to take with their children. The goal of the article was to encourage parent to carefully tend their own olive seedlings, and it appears from your reply that is one something you are doing.

          Best Regards,

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