Hebrew Highlights 106 Be Fruitful
Shalom, this is Yuval Shomron, coming to you from Jerusalem.
GEN 1:27-29, “And God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. And God blessed them; and God said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky, and over every living thing that moves on the earth." Then God said, "Behold, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is on the surface of all the earth, and every tree which has fruit yielding seed; it shall be food for you.”
A good friend of mine recently pointed out that we sometimes mistakenly combine the words “be fruitful and multiply” into one idea. In other words, we think God is saying the same thing twice, “have children and have children”. However, they are actually two different commands. While we continue exploring this subject remember that this passage also mentioned plants and seeds.
Our phrase in question today is repeated 8 times in the book of Genesis. For instance, since most living creatures were destroyed in the flood, the commands are recurring in GEN 9:1-3, “And God blessed Noah and his sons and said to them, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth. "And the fear of you and the terror of you shall be on every beast of the earth and on every bird of the sky; with everything that creeps on the ground, and all the fish of the sea, into your hand they are given. "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you; I give all to you, as I gave the green plant.”
Let’s make two notes here. First of all, plants are again mentioned. We’ll talk about that later. Secondly, as an interesting side comment, we have to say sorry to all of you self-proclaimed vegetarians out there. Notice that we read, "Every moving thing that is alive shall be food for you”. Plants don’t move. Have a hamburger!
Our next passage of interest is GEN 28:1-4, “So Isaac called Jacob and blessed him and charged him, and said to him, "You shall not take a wife from the daughters of Canaan. "Arise, go to Paddan-aram, to the house of Bethuel your mother's father; and from there take to yourself a wife from the daughters of Laban your mother's brother. "And may God Almighty bless you and make you fruitful and multiply you, that you may become a company of peoples. "May He also give you the blessing of Abraham, to you and to your descendants with you; that you may possess the land of your sojournings, which God gave to Abraham."
Jacob later reminded his son Joseph of this promise in GEN 48. All through our perusings so far, you may have noticed the mention of land. Theoretically, you could multiply in a large apartment building. However, to be fruitful, you need land, whether it be a physical garden or a spiritual field.
Both our fruit bearing, and our multiplying receive help from the Father, as we see promised in EZE 36:8-12, “But you, O mountains of Israel, you will put forth your branches and bear your fruit for My people Israel; for they will soon come. 'For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn to you, and you shall be cultivated and sown. 'And I will multiply men on you, all the house of Israel, all of it; and the cities will be inhabited, and the waste places will be rebuilt. 'And I will multiply on you man and beast; and they will increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited as you were formerly and will treat you better than at the first. Thus you will know that I am the Lord. 'Yes, I will cause men-- My people Israel-- to walk on you and possess you, so that you will become their inheritance and never again bereave them of children.”
Since I haven’t yet mentioned the Hebrew roots behind the two words in our study, I should point out that the root “para” behind fruitful is straight forward. However, the root “raba” used in multiply is a little more interesting. It is also used in the words great, many, and multitudes. If I could be a little bold, I think that if God wanted each couple to have two children, he could have used “addition”. One plus one equals two. Unfortunately, for many American believers today, this has become a standard. It is no wonder that Islam is increasing faster than Christianity. They too claim the commands given to Adam and Eve, and understand them correctly as increasing exponentially.
I asked you before to remember seeds and plants because the spiritual mirror of the physical aspect of growing things becomes more evident as we move into the New Testament verses of today’s study.
Let’s start with 2CO 9:6-10, “Now this I say, he who sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he who sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. Let each one do just as he has purposed in his heart; not grudgingly or under compulsion; for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed; as it is written, "He scattered abroad, he gave to the poor, His righteousness abides forever." Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food, will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.”
I love this phrase, “the harvest of your righteousness.” We have been given the world as a spiritual garden. Now you may say, “but I am not an evangelist”. I dare to argue that everyone is expected to be fruitful and multiply, as we see in MAT 7:17-20, "Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. "A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. "So then, you will know them by their fruits.”
Yeshua also uses the principal of multiplication, as opposed to addition. Let’s read MAT 13:23, "And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit, and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty."
Spiritual fruit does not only mean winning souls, but also showing the fruits of the spirit, giving financially, and using the various gifts God has given us. We see this in COL 1:9-10, “For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.”
The commandment to multiply was Yeshua’s very last instruction given on this earth. Remember MAT 28:18-20?, “And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." We as the church are still far behind in carrying out this charge.
Now, as I sometimes do, I am going to shock you. If “be fruitful and multiply” are commandments, then logically speaking, birth control and being quiet about our faith are sins. Think about it.
Shalom, shalom from Jerusalem.