Faith as a Mustard Seed

 
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by Alan Breitenstein

October 10, 2021

Scripture Reading: Matthew 17:20 

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.

Luke 17:6

And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.

In the last message titled Painting, the Holy Spirit led me to explain what our thoughts should be on and that we should include God in all that we do.  The Holy Spirit had me point out a couple of passages for this message.

Do we have faith the size of a mustard seed? Have we moved mountains?  This message is going to attempt to explain what mountain represents and sycamine tree represents and whether or not we are using our ability to have faith the size of a mustard seed. This message may also be an aide to the consistent attacks by the serpent seeded people with their lies. The God-haters have and are conceiving much evil and they are giving birth to this evil.

This message is a result of what I was searching for for me and my findings is worthy of sharing.  If we were to take the reading for the day just as it was read, it makes us think that we could possibly move mountains. This is the carnal mind way of thinking. For a long time that is what I thought that verse  meant and all we had to do was believe that God existed and not so much as believing in God. We have been conditioned into believing that God exists and not truly believing IN God.

If we had the ability to move an actual mountain we would more than likely move it to where it offended someone else or dumping Mt Everest onto Washington D.C.  Now that wouldn't be so bad.   Yet the spiritual mountain that God says that we can move is within us and moving it will offend someone else. That is certainly what needs to be done, offend the enemy.

So what did Jesus mean by mustard seed and the mountain and sycamine tree?

I found an article by an unknown writer.

Characteristics of a mustard seed

In Jesus’ day, the mustard seed was considered a weak, unclean thing because it could be combined in a mixture with other plants, animals, and fibers. Such mixing was considered a violation of the Judean rules of order and cleanliness. The beauty of Jesus’ reference to the characteristics of the mustard seed is that the kingdom comes from God’s rule through faith in the lives of those once considered unclean and insignificant(the divorced 10 tribes of Israel) Also, the kingdom comes from a small beginning, one person. Yet, the person was God Himself in the form of a man. So size did not limit power. We often think only of Jesus’ reference to the mustard seed as a reference to size. Indeed, He did put much emphasis on the fact that even small faith can move mountains, but there is even more to His message about the influence of the mustard seed as well as its faith potential.

From Jesus and His 12 disciples arose the church, which became a powerful force in the world, similar to the mustard seed’s tree that could grow as high as 15 feet, large enough for birds to perch on. The mustard seed has rapid growth. It can bring forth a great harvest. In like manner, if we exercise faith in God even as small as that of a mustard seed, God can use us insignificant, unclean people to bring about a great harvest. With Christ, we are no longer unclean but a temple of the Holy Spirit, God Himself. The early church did experience phenomenal growth. It might be important to add that mustard had been used for five centuries before Christ for its healing properties. Jesus heals.

Jesus did not mean for us to have little faith, but faith like that of a mustard seed which is unaffected by its surroundings. Jesus did not champion little faith. It’s faith that is unwavering that moves mountains. One knows that in gardens many varieties of vegetables will take on the characteristics of other plants surrounding them. But the mustard seed is not like that. A person can plant a mustard seed even on top of another seed, and it will still be the same ... mustard. Thus our faith should be like that of a mustard seed. No matter what the conditions around us, our faith should stay the same and stay focused on Jesus and His will, trusting that He is in control.

The fact that the mustard seed’s tree became a reality lets us know that God’s kingdom has come through Jesus and that His ultimate reign is assured as well. So Mustard Seed Faith is not a contradiction, but an earthly object that Jesus elevated to the status of a spiritual symbol of a heavenly reality. Jesus does the same for us. He takes us where we are and makes something beautiful of our lives. Thank you, Jesus.

____________________________________

After contemplating on this article what is the mountain that we are to move?

Let us first look at the passages before Jesus’ comment.

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a  certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you?   how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?

Let us go to another passage.

Matthew 14:25-31

25 And in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.

27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good cheer; it is I; be not afraid.
28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt.

Could that mountain be fear?   When Jesus made the comment He said (If) you had faith. Does this mean that God dispenses faith to a degree dependent upon the recipient? Is there only so much faith to go around? Is having the spirit of God equivalent to having faith?

Is it not in God's will that we are to be healed?  Couldthe healing that God is talking about be a Spiritual healing instead of a physical healing or both? Did the healings that Jesus had done only last a little while? God forbid.  More on fear later

Here’s another article that I was led to by a Christian group.

The sycamine tree

Concordance on sycamine:

ord: sukaminoj

Pronounce: soo-kam'-ee-nos

Strongs Number: G4807

Orig: of Hebrew origin H8256 in imitation of 4809; a sycamore-fig tree:--sycamine tree. G4809 H8256

Use: TDNT-7:758, 1100 Noun Feminine

Heb Strong: H8256

  • sycamine tree, having the form and foliage of the mulberry, but fruit resembling the fig

In Luke 17:1-6, Jesus taught His disciples about bitterness and unforgiveness and about how to remove these evil forces from one’s life. As an illustration, Jesus likened these forces to the sycamine tree that was so well known in that part of the world. The word “sycamine” comes from the Greek word sukaminos, and it is the Greek word that refers to a tree that grew throughout the Middle East.  When you understand everything that is connected to the sycamine tree, you’ll know exactly why Jesus chose to use this tree as an example of bitterness and unforgiveness in Luke 17:6. In that verse, Jesus told His disciples, “…If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you.”

Notice that Jesus said, “… Ye might say unto this sycamine tree….” The word “this” indicates that Jesus was pointing out something very specific to them. Keep in mind that Jesus was speaking of getting rid of bitterness and unforgiveness. In Luke 17:3, He told the disciples that they needed to forgive those who sinned against them. He then took it to the maximum in Luke 17:4 by saying that even if a brother does something wrong seven times in one day and is each time truly repentant; they were to keep on forgiving that offending brother.

Forgiving once is already a challenge for most people. But to forgive someone seven times in one day almost sounds impossible to many folks. It must have sounded preposterous to the disciples as well, for they said, “… Lord, Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5). This statement was the equivalent of their saying, “Lord, we don’t know if we have enough faith to forgive so many times in one day. You’ll have to increase our faith if we’re going to do this seven times in one day!”

That is when Jesus began to teach His disciples about speaking to bitterness and unforgiveness. He said, “… If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this sycamine tree….” When Jesus used the word “this,” it was the equivalent of Jesus’ telling them, “Bitterness and unforgiveness are just like the sycamine tree—and if you really want to be free of these attitudes, you can speak to this menacing growth in your life and command it to be planted in the sea”.

Before we can understand what Jesus taught about getting rid of bitterness and unforgiveness, we first need to see why He used the sycamine tree to illustrate these destructive forces. Was there a particular reason why He didn’t use an oak tree, an apple tree, or a palm tree in this illustration? Why did He use the sycamine tree to symbolize the detrimental effects of bitterness and unforgiveness in a person’s life?

As you look at the characteristics of the sycamine tree listed below, I believe you will comprehend why Jesus used this particular tree in this context, 

1. The sycamine tree had a very large and deep root structure.

The sycamine tree was known to have one of the deepest root structures of all trees in the Middle East. It was a vigorous and robust tree that grew to a height of thirty feet or more. Because its roots went down so deep into the earth, it was very difficult to kill. Hot weather and blistering temperatures had little effect on this tree because it was tapped into a water source down deep under the earth. Even cutting into its base would not guarantee its death because its roots, hidden deep under the ground, would draw from underground sources of water, enabling it to keep resurfacing again and again. In other words, this tree was very difficult to eradicate.

I am pausing here to add another article I found.

 Let's compare Matthew 13:31-32

31 Another parable put he forth unto them, saying, The kingdom of heaven is like to a grain of mustard seed, which a man took, and sowed in his field:

32 Which indeed is the least of all seeds: but when it is grown, it is the greatest among herbs, and becometh a tree, so that the birds of the air come and lodge in the branches thereof.

As was the case in a lot of Jesus' parables, He was using metaphors to communicate facts about the kingdom of God—and they were often agricultural.  The comparison here between the mustard seed and the kingdom seems to focus on the outcome. This seed that Jesus is planting would eventually be a tree where birds could find shelter. It seems to echo Daniel's vision:

These are the visions I saw while lying in bed: I looked, and there before me stood a tree in the middle of the land. Its height was enormous. The tree grew large and strong and its top touched the sky; it was visible to the ends of the earth. Its leaves were beautiful, its fruit abundant, and on it was food for all. Under it the wild animals found shelter, and the birds lived in its branches; from it every creature was fed (Daniel 4:10–12) 

When first-century Judeans looked forward to a Messiah, they had nationalistic expectations.  They were looking forward to the reestablishment of a sovereign Israel that would never have to fear its enemies again. Even after the resurrection, the disciples were still expecting Jesus to lead them to overthrow Rome and make Israel mighty again.

Then they gathered around him and asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6)

As Matthew meditated on this passage, it makes sense that its small beginnings would be the part that stood out to him. The kingdom wasn’t going to come in the way the Judeans had always expected it. It was going to start as the smallest seed and grow into something monumental.

The truth of Jesus’ words

Jesus wasn't wrong. He started with 12 disciples. And despite being murdered to squash out His message, He conquered death and launched His church. And even though Judaism and the Roman Empire rose up in defiance, His mostly working-class disciples helped initiate a movement that made Christianity the largest religion—a tree where the birds of the air can find refuge and shelter.

(Notice one tree's roots grow down and another tree's roots grow from above. Now back to the article on the sycamine tree)

No wonder Jesus used this tree as an example of bitterness and unforgiveness! Like the sycamine tree, bitterness and unforgiveness must be dealt with clear to the roots, or they will keep springing up again and again. The roots of bitterness and unforgiveness go down deep into the human soul, fed by any offense that lies hidden in the soil of the heart. That hidden source of offense will cause these evil forces to resurface in a person’s life over and over again.  It will take a serious decision for that person to rip those roots of bitterness and offense out of his heart once and for all so they can’t grow back in the future.

2. The sycamine tree’s wood was the preferred wood for building caskets.

In Egypt and the Middle East, the sycamine tree was considered to be the preferred wood for building caskets and coffins. It grew quickly and in nearly any environment, making it accessible in many different places. It also grew best in dry conditions—the kind of conditions for which the Middle East is famous. These are two reasons sycamine wood was used in so many places for building caskets and coffins. Again, we can see why this illustration of the sycamine tree is so ideal for portraying bitterness and unforgiveness. Just as the sycamine tree grew very quickly, so does bitterness and unforgiveness. In fact, it doesn’t take too long at all for these evil forces to get out of control and start taking over the whole place! When these fast-growing and ugly attitudes are allowed to grow freely, they not only spoil the condition of your own heart, but they ruin your relationships with other people. The sycamine tree grew best where little rain fell and water was sparse. Isn’t this just like bitterness and unforgiveness?

These negative attitudes flourish where spiritually dry conditions exist. You can almost count on finding bitterness  and unforgiveness growing and blossoming where there is no repentance, no joy, and no fresh rain of the Spirit.

And don’t forget that sycamine wood was the preferred wood for building caskets and coffins. What a powerful message this is! It tells us that bitterness and unforgiveness are deadly. Harboring bitterness will spiritually bury you more  quickly than anything else! These attitudes are the materials that Satan uses to put you six feet underground!

Let me stress this point to you because it’s so important: If you permit bitterness and unforgiveness to grow in your life, it won’t be long until these attitudes have killed your joy, stolen your peace, and canceled out your spiritual life!

3. The sycamine tree produced a fig that was very bitter to eat. The sycamine tree and the mulberry tree were very similar in appearance; the two trees even produced a fruit that looked identical. However, the fruit of the sycamine tree was extremely bitter. Its fruit looked just as luscious and delicious as a mulberry fig. But when a person tasted the sycamine fig, he discovered that it was horribly bitter.

Mulberry figs were delicious and therefore expensive. Because of the cost of this fruit, it was primarily eaten by wealthier people. But the sycamine fig was cheap and therefore affordable to poorer people. Because the poor couldn’t afford the luscious mulberry fig, they munched on the sycamine fig as a substitute.

However, the sycamine fig was so bitter that it couldn’t be eaten whole. In order to consume an entire sycamine  fig, the eater had to nibble on it a little bit at a time. After a pause, the eater would return to nibble on it again, but he  could never devour an entire piece of this fruit at one time; it was just too tart and pungent to eat at one sitting.

Jesus lets us know that like the sycamine fruit, the fruit of bitterness and unforgiveness is bitter, tart, and pungent.  Like the fig, most people who are bitter and filled with unforgiveness chew on their feelings for a long time.

They nibble on bitterness for a while; then they pause to digest what they’ve eaten. After they have reflected deeply on their offense, they return to the memory table to start nibbling on bitterness again—taking one little bite, then another little bite, then another. As they continue to think and meditate on their offense, they internalize their bitter feelings toward those who have offended them. In the end, their perpetual nibbling on the poisonous fruit of bitterness makes them bitter, sour people themselves.

And just as the primary consumers of the sycamine fruit were poor people, those who sit around and constantly meditate on every wrong that has ever been done to them are usually bound up with all kinds of poverty. Their  bitter attitude not only makes them spiritually poor, but they are also frequently defeated, depressed, sick, and  financially poor as well. (Does not God's people find the tree of God bitter?  Isn't that why they rarely read about or pray to God?)

4. The sycamine tree was pollinated only by wasps.  It is very interesting to note that the sycamine tree was not naturally pollinated. The pollination process was only initiated when a wasp stuck its stinger right into the heart of the fruit. Thus, the tree and its fruit had to be “stung” in order to be reproduced.

Think of how many times you have heard a bitter person say: “I’ve been stung by that person once, but I’m not going to be stung again! What he did hurt me so badly that I’ll never let him get close enough to sting me again!” It is likely that people who make such a statement have been “stung” by a situation that the devil especially devised to pollinate their hearts and souls with bitterness and unforgiveness. When a person talks like this, you can know for sure that the wasp of bitterness got to them!  (God's tree is required to be pollinated or the Word spread by wasps also. White Anglo Saxon Protestants)

Jesus said that in order to rid this nuisance from one’s life, a person must have faith the size of “a grain of mustard seed.” The word “grain” is the Greek word kokkos. It describes a seed, a grain, or a very small kernel. Jesus uses the example of a “mustard” seed in this example. The word “mustard” is the Greek word sinapi, which refers to the small mustard plant that grows from a tiny, miniscule seed.

By using this word, Jesus was telling His disciples that a great amount of faith is not needed to deal with bitterness and unforgiveness. Any person who has even a tiny measure of faith can speak to bitterness and unforgiveness and command them to leave—if that is really the desire of his heart.

This article is informing and everyday if one takes notice one will realize the attacks of bitterness such as getting caught in traffic or things do not go the way you want them to go. Other examples are “where are we going?”, "why are they taking us this way?","what are we going to eat?", “what are we going to drink?"; all bitterness by those coming out of Egypt.  This bitterness comes from those who want to be in control and are chosen not to be.

The bitterness and unforgiveness isn't Christian.  Wasn't Jesus bitter with the scribes Pharisees and Sadducees?

Is there ever a time to bitter righteousness or righteous indignation?   Is there ever a time to have unforgiveness?

Is there ever a time to lie and still find favor with God?

Does Scripture record Jesus moving an actual mountain?

We have seen what the sycamine tree represents; Jesus removed that in the wilderness during His fast.  So what do mountains represent?  People? Nations? Have you ever been successful in converting a universalist to Christianity? If God gives them a delusion then how can we move them? So if it is any of the above then we lack faith the size of a mustard seed. 

Could it be that the mountain and sycamine tree are within us and not outside of us? Although we can move many mountains no matter what those mountains are we will investigate fear.

1 John 4:18
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

Luke 12:5 
But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Psalm 34:9 
O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.

Ecclesiastes 8:12 
Though a sinner do evil an hundred times, and his days be prolonged, yet surely I know that it shall be well with them that fear God, which fear before him:

Isaiah 8:12 
Say ye not, A confederacy, to all them to whom this people shall say, A confederacy; neither fear ye their fear, nor be afraid.

Exodus 20:20
And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.

Psalm 53:5 
There were they in great fear, where no fear was: for God hath scattered the bones of him that encampeth against thee: thou hast put them to shame, because God hath despised them.

Numbers 14:9 
Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not.

Psalm 22:23 
Ye that fear the LORD, praise him; all ye the seed of Jacob, glorify him; and fear him, all ye the seed of Israel.

Matthew 10:28 
And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which  is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Ephesians 5:21 
Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

Psalm 119:120 
My flesh trembleth for fear of thee; and I am afraid of thy judgments.

Matthew 10:31 
Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

1 Peter 3:2 
While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.

John 7:13 
Howbeit no man spake openly of him for fear of the Jews.

Job 15:4 
Yea, thou castest off fear, and restrainest prayer before God.

Job 41:33 
Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear.

Job 4:14 
Fear came upon me, and trembling, which made all my bones to shake.

Psalm 118:6 
The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me?

Job 37:24 
Men do therefore fear him: he respecteth not any that are wise of heart.

Psalm 115:13 
He will bless them that fear the LORD, both small and great.

Job 39:22 
He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword.

The verses on fearing God is nothing as to the fear of man or beast.

We are to fear, that is reverence, respect God, knowing His Holiness and Power, not fear Him as someone who for no reason hurls lightning bolts down upon us.

There are many types of fear.  I found this article searching for the main types of fear.

The great stoic philosopher Seneca once said, "We suffer more in our imagination than we do in reality."  He was referring to one simple thing. "FEAR."

False Evidence Appearing Real

The self-inflicted emotion that has the power to control our lives and cripple our futures. The truth is fear has plagued the human condition since inception, and it will continue to do so.

No one is immune to this disease regardless of your genetics, background, or social status. The real question lies in how long you will allow yourself to suffer from the death grip of fear. To be more specific, what fears are suffocating your potential and stealing your genius?

This article is about giving that fear a face; understanding its root, marginalizing its power and using fear to serve your life, not strangle it.

It's time to manipulate your relationship with fear. It's time you dance with your fears. Play with them.

Spar with them. Even laugh at them from time to time. After all, in the grand scheme of life, they can even be a bit comical.  The more you test your fears, the more you understand that the majority of them are foolish. It's harsh but true. After all, doesn’t it sound a bit crazy to not express your gifts, because you are afraid that someone might criticize you with words?  Not actual weapons; just words?

Now, I am not about to act like I haven’t suffered from the fear of humiliation. It's quite the opposite. It's taken me years to get over this fear. I still battle it to this day. But in hindsight, I feel pretty ashamed that I used to not post things on Social media, because I was afraid of a little hate.

I mean what was really going to happen? 

  • Was I going to feel the physical pain from the arrows from these keyboard warriors?
  • Was I going to be rushed to the ER for emergency surgery? A surgery that can alter the way I live my life?
  • Was I going to die?
  • Would my internal world fall apart simply because people didn't like my work?

NO. That is not what was going to happen. And it won't happen to you either. You can't let fear control your life unless you give it permission. Sadly, I had to learn that the hard way and refuse to learn that lesson again.

There have been so many moments when I let my imagination run so wild that I thought that my world was going to crumble; stacking these imaginary scenarios that destroyed my internal peace. I was creating a narrative that ended in peril. Those thoughts were delaying a life of success and fulfillment. I was designing a future of cowardice and mediocrity. And it all started with letting my fears run loose.

As you attempt to solve the puzzle of life there is usually one piece that is glaringly missing. Attacking your fears. Only you can place that final piece in that gaping hole to solve the puzzle of fulfillment.

Fear is what makes us heroic. You can’t have courage without fear. You can't be heroic without being courageous.

Are you willing to take that walk, making fear your compass?  Choosing to walk through the bonfire of knowing that you get burned by the public; fall flat on your face; or even abandoned by the people you care about?

But success is always on the other side of fear. You can't go around … only through. Once you cross that threshold, the only thing left behind is the debris of your former self.

Fear is a master of seduction. It will charm you into thinking that you are doing perfectly fine when you are actually running from the things you need to do most.  You unconsciously suppress your deepest desires, putting your dreams on hold, because fear persuaded you into thinking that this is all that your life could become. Don't believe the lie.

We are so amazing at masking our fears with the hard shell of ego and distraction. Manipulating ourselves like a cute young toddler fools their grandma into giving them anything they want.  We make excuses on why we can't do things, knowing that if the stakes really meant that much to us, we would get it done. "In the end, the easiest person to fool is yourself. And fear is what makes you the fool."

Now if we were to take the readings for the day and insert Matthew 17:20: “And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this vexation of fear Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

Luke 17:6 "And the Lord said, If ye had faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye might say unto this satanic induced fear, Be thou plucked up by the root, and be thou planted in the sea; and it should obey you."

When God told Adam that he had to work all the days of his life could it be that God was not referring so much to physical labor as much as He was referring to working to find and understand Him?

Praise be the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob