Branch: To protect a mighty harvest.
It is no longer permissible to simply know that the foundations exist in your house and then take that fact for granted because, as we saw in the previous chapter, a time is coming when everything that can be shaken will be; including the house you live in.
But such apathy towards foundations is now even more dangerous when it comes to the foundations of the Gospel or our spiritual foundations.
There must be an intimate relationship between the Foundation Stone and those stones that are built upon The Foundation, which is Yeshua. Anything less than this will result in a very unstable building and the Kingdom of God is not unstable! In fact, it is only the Kingdom of God that will be left standing after God has severely and thoroughly shaken everything in heaven and on earth. (See Hebrews 12:25-27)
So, what form does this intimate relationship between The Foundation Stone (Yeshua) and those stones that are built upon Him take?
The fact is the analogy of a building falls short of communicating, in a comprehensive way, the level of intimacy that God has ordained for those He has called and chosen to be built into His Spiritual House.
If we attempt to use the building analogy, as the basis for understanding our intimacy with Christ, what we end up with is a sense of our dependency on other human beings. We see this in many churches of our day. It is what I refer to as the “club mentality”.
The point is this, when you look at a brick or stone-wall what you see is the relationship between each adjoining stone, or brick, rather than the relationship of dependence that exists between each individual stone, or brick, and the foundation stone.
In saying this I am not suggesting there is not a place for relationship with one another in the Body of Christ, but here again the foundation of those relationships must first and foremost be Christ Himself.
Consequently, we must purposely turn our thoughts to consider the analogy of the branch and its relationship to the vine, in order that we might begin to understand the level of intimacy God has called us to.
In John 17: 21 Jesus personally describes for us the relationship that His Father has ordained: "that they all may be one, as You Father are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me."
In heaven, before Yeshua was born into this world, the relationship that existed between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit can be pictured as follows.
God the Father: the HEAVENLY VINE. Jesus: the HEAVENLY BRANCH abiding in the HEAVENLY VINE. The Holy Spirit: the LIFE-GIVING SAP flowing through the HEAVENLY VINE into the HEAVENLY BRANCH.
The Vine, the Branch and the Sap are all ONE in Heaven!
But God ordained, before the foundation of the world that this intimate relationship would have to be modified, for a time, for the sole purpose of re-establishing relationship between God, the Creator, and human beings, His creation.
Isaiah wrote of this event in Isaiah 53:2 & 3: For He (Yeshua) shall grow up before Him (God the Father) as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; and when we see Him, there is no beauty that we should desire Him. He is despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
It is important for us to note, at this point, that Yeshua is referred to 17 times in the NT as Yeshua of Nazareth. The word Nazareth, or Nazarene, means, “branch”. Hence, we see the importance of this verse of Scripture:
Matthew 2:23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, "He shall be called a Nazarene."
This verse states clearly “He shall be called a Branch”.
Yeshua went from being a Heavenly Branch, in intimate relationship with God the Father, the Heavenly Vine, to be a planting of the Lord God. God the Father cut His Own Son from Himself in order to plant Him in the dry and dusty earth of humanity. This is the event that Isaiah is speaking about in Isaiah 53. I encourage you to sit down and read the whole of that chapter.
Paul also speaks of this event when he writes to the Philippians.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. (Ch.2:5-8)
This is what I view as the `pruned lifestyle of Yeshua'. The human flesh Yeshua took upon Himself became a barrier to His intimate relationship with the Father. Therefore, His intimacy with the Father was no longer a "given". Intimacy with the Father could only be maintained now through Yeshua’s human flesh being constantly pruned.
A branch planted out, as a cutting, isn't much to look at. It has been severely pruned to improve its chances of forming a new plant.
This was the case with Yeshua, when He became a cutting from the Heavenly Vine; He wasn't much to look at. But, God the Father had ordained that He would become the Foundation of God’s Kingdom here on earth. He had decreed that The Branch should grow up and fill all things with the Glory of God. He had determined that once again Yeshua would become the Heavenly Branch connected to the Heavenly Vine and thus the means of re-establishing unity between God and mankind.
Zechariah was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write in the following vein: "Behold the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place, He shall branch out, and He shall build the Temple of the Lord; Yes, He shall build the Temple of the Lord. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; so, He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both." (Ch.6:12 & 13)
So, when Yeshua begins to speak, in John's Gospel, about the level of intimacy that should exist between the Vine and the branches, He speaks out of that relationship of intimacy between His Father and Himself. He also speaks as one who has not only been pruned, as a Branch, but as one who has become a Holy Cutting in the plans and purposes of God.
When Yeshua returned to the Father, after His resurrection from the dead, He once again became the Heavenly Branch intimately joined to God the Father the Heavenly Vine. Now, at the same time, Yeshua is both the True Vine and the Heavenly Branch. This is how He has redeemed us and restored us to fellowship with the Father.
John 14:20-21 “At that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me, and I in you. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."
In your mind, you may be questioning the use of the word “intimacy” in this context. I use it purposely because Yeshua saw a direct parallel between the intimacy of sexual union between a husband and wife and the spiritual union which is to exist between the believer and Yeshua and thus with the Father. Let me show you this from Scripture by looking at the use of the word “know”.
Matthew 1:24-25 Then Joseph, being aroused from sleep, did as the angel of the Lord commanded him and took to him his wife, and did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son. And he called His name JESUS.
Here the word “know” clearly refers to sexual union between man and wife.
This brings us to an important spiritual principle that was stated by the Apostle Paul:
1Corinthians 15:46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.
The intimate relationship between a husband and a wife is the natural; it follows then that there is a spiritual equivalent to this natural intimacy.
Matthew 7:22 “Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' "And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'
I believe that in this statement Yeshua is referring to the absence of spiritual intimacy that is akin to the physical, emotional and spiritual intimacy between a husband and a wife. The presence or absence of spiritual intimacy will be one of the criteria Yeshua will apply in weighing our relationship with Him.
In the natural, we all know that a vine does not bear fruit but rather the branch does. However, the ability of the branch to produce fruit is totally dependent upon the maintenance of intimacy with the vine. Also, in the natural, men do not bear children, rather the woman does. Nevertheless, the ability of the wife to bear this holy fruit of marriage is dependent upon the maintenance of intimacy between a man and a woman.
In the natural God has provided clear models for our intimacy with Himself.
At this stage the relevance of spiritual intimacy may seem difficult to pin down. However, as we move on it will become increasingly clear that Yeshua’s expectations are much higher than ours when it comes to this issue of intimacy with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
In the next chapter, we will look at The Importance of Understanding that There Are Two Vines. As you will see, this is a vital forerunner to our fully understanding the intimacy of relationship that God has called, and chosen, His people to experience with Him.