The Barren Trees of the World

Title: The Barren Trees of the World

Bible Book: Micah 7 : 1

Author: J. Mike Minnix

Subject: Hardship; Trouble; Faith; Satisfaction


The Barren Trees of the World

Dr. J. Mike Minnix, Editor,

Micah 7:1

I want us to turn back to a time long ago and note one of God's servants, and the manner in which he found victory in difficult times. We can learn from an illustration he used regarding the unsatisfied hunger of the soul.

In Micah 7 we read that Micah said life is like a fruit-picker going out to pick fruit after the harvest is over. All the fruit is gone. The world is like that isn't it? It makes promises that cannot be kept. One might have high hopes going out among fruit trees of worldly pleasures and promises but what sadness and depression one experiences when discovering that the vineyard and orchard are devoid of anything to satisfy your heart, your soul, or your deepest need.

Look at the text with me. Micha 7:1 ...

"Woe is me!
For I am like those who gather summer fruits,
Like those who glean vintage grapes;
There is no cluster to eat
Of the first-ripe fruit which my soul desires."

People have such high hopes in life. Then suddenly their dreams are crushed by circumstances, events and things outside their control. This is especially difficult for Christians who expect life to be like a delicious bowl of fruit everyday. Much preaching today concentrates on kingdom wealth and kingdom healing, but one cannot read the Bible without noticing that God's greatest servants usually suffered in many ways. They faced hardships, trials and difficulties, even though they were chosen of God to be among His most useful and productive servants.

Life can be very hard for Christians who don’t understand this world from a Biblical and Spiritual point of view. For those who do not or will not seriously consider the way God works in the lives of His people a sense of defeat and depresssion can develop that has the potential to destroy their joy and effectiveness in Christian living.

If you look at the world from a materialistic and selfish viewpoint, it is easy to become cynical. The Christian must be careful not to become downhearted in this sinful world. This is especially true of the young Christian who thinks that being a believer serves as an insulation from the awful and painful experiences of life.

Think about the great prophet Isaiah, who volunteered to answer God's call. The Lord told him that he would preach but that the people who heard him were not going to receive his message. What a way to begin a ministry for God. Isaiah was going to work in an orchard that had no fruit. Yet, just look at he was used by God. He prophesied so clearly the Messiah over 700 before Jesus was born in Bethlehem.

How does a person serve God when life doesn't give you want you want or what you think you need? How do you remain faithful when the fruit trees of your service for God seem barren?

I want to share with you today a message on how to maintain an uplifted spirit in the downtrodden world. Micah lived in difficult times and interestingly the times he lived in were a lot like the times we are living in today, as we shall see in this message. Micah had an answer for times like these, and so can we. I want us to look at two things today: (1) The Depressing Situation; and (2) The Delightful Expectation that Micah experienced.

I. The Depressing Situation

Micah expressed his sense of depression by explaining the circumstances he saw around him. To read what Micah penned 2,700 years ago is very analogous to our own times. We think of the people in Bible times as being ancient, but they lived in this world where man’s nature has not changed since Adam fell into sin in the Garden of Eden. When you read Micah's words, you see modern day life in many respects, and it can be a bit depressing.

Switching to another servant of God for a moment, let's think about Moses. He lived on the backside of the world for 40 years because he had killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave. Then, God miraculously called him to go back to Egypt to lead the people out of slavery. Wow! What a challenge and what an opportunity. When Moses led the people out through the Red Sea, he must have thought that a new world order had begun. Things would be different now. But, it wasn't long before the people started to grumble because they wanted to go back to Egypt. They even made a golden calf to worship. They grumbled and complained all time. When they finally reached the border of the Promised Land, they refused to go into it and take it. Moses was a hungry fruit-picker. He was working in a orchard that appeared to have little or no fruit. But, Moses won the victory, for we see him again in the New Testament. He is on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus - in other words, he did make into the Promised Land! He won the victory - the ultimate victory that the world could not give him. In this world he had trouble, but his faith in God overcame the world.

God leads us in His path, but that does not mean that the path always leads downhill, with the wind. Those who want an easy path will never be true followers of Jesus Christ. Church members who will quit the church because they don't get their way are not serving for the right reason or with the right spirit. God does not call us to sit around and eat fruit, but to be faithful in the vineyard where we are planted us, regardless of the circumstances. The Lord will take care of our souls and feed us on the things that bring real joy, if we will but follow Him faithfully in all the seasons of life.

So, let's go back to Micah. Note that he had to deal with ...

A. The Dishonest Leaders

Micah lived in a time when dishonest leaders were common - of course, dishonest leaders have existed in every generation and they exist in government, business and even in Christian work to this day.

Micah reviewed the leadership of his day and revealed a horrible lack of godliness. He stated that leaders created nets in which they caught the unwitting citizens. These leaders were so adept at setting up a system for robbing the people that they were criminally ambidextrous – that is, they were equally good at robbing people with both hands (read 7:3).

The "prince" Micah mentioned in chapter 7 was much like a political leader today, and the text tells us that the prince was only looking for what he could gain from every decision he made. The prince of Micah's day actually didn't care about what was best for the people. This problem exists in every age, every time, and in every place. If we are not careful, we can become that way ourselves. For example, some people in a marriage do not think of their spouse but only of self. In the churches, there are those who think the church is there only to serve them. The same is true in business and government. That is what Micah saw in his day. Every believer must guard against becoming like the world - caring only for our own interests.

Micah said that looking for wholesome and unselfish leadership in a society that is corrupt is like going out into a vineyard and looking for grapes after the harvest has already been picked. You end up as a hunger fruit-picker.

Then note ...

B. The Dysfunctional Family (verses 5-6)

Micah explained in our text today that the family in his day was totally dysfunctional. He said that a person was taking a great risk if he divulged his feelings, ideas or secrets with those closest to him - even those of his own household. Look at verse 5 – he shares that one must guard his or her mouth from everyone – wife, husband, and friend. Micah spoke of children, parents and in-laws being against each other. About 700 years later we read the same warning in the New Testament, and that warning states that it will be like this when Jesus returns. If you watch a little reality TV,  the people’s court programs, or just read your daily newspaper, you can see that we have not changed much since Micah’s day. Micah wrote, “A man’s enemies are the men of his own household.” (verse 6b)

The culture in Micah’s day was falling apart. The systems that God established for the welfare of humanity had been abandoned. Does anyone doubt that we are living in exactly the same kind of society today? You know we are. Even the basic cultural norms have been forsaken by many people in this generation.

All of this can be very depressing, especially if you're living in circumstances that relate directly to these kinds of problems. Many people are struggling today with what they see as a collapse of Christian values, but you must note that the situations we face today are the same circumstances that were faced by people long before Christ was born. And these problems existed when the New Testament was written as well. And, they will be around till Jesus returns.

Dear friend, don't expect the fruit trees of this world to be laden with good fruit. The world is fallen and corrupt. When you become a child of God, you are still living in a fallen world.

God has food for your soul that the world cannot give. Jesus sat down by the well at Sychar while the disciples went into the city for food. You remember the event and how Jesus led the Samaritan woman to believing faith in Him as the Messiah. When the disciples commented to Jesus that He had not eaten anything, Jesus said, "I have food that you know nothing about." If you expect this world to feed your innermost needs, you are going to be a very hungry fruit-picker! The situation that Micah recounted from his day is the same today. We must remember that the only thing that truly satisfies the soul is that which God provides. Lift up your head today and think about how to overcome the depressing nature of our times.

Now, let's think in a much more positive manner about what Micah said.

II. The Delightful Expectation

Let’s turn to a delightful expectation which Micah shares with us. If we are not careful, we can become so disturbed with the status quo that we forget where our eyes and hearts must be focused. Micah reveals that we are to turn our attention to the Lord. Look up, child of God, for the Lord has a plan that the corrupt world cannot see or will not accept.

A. The Focus Fixed

Micah had his focus fixed in the right place. In verse 7, of Micah chapter 7, the prophet speaks of his point of focus - “Therefore I will look to the Lord…”

Yes! That is what we must do. We must not allow ourselves to become depressed by circumstances. Vance Havner, the late, great preacher, once said, “We should not be living under the circumstances but ‘Standing On The Promises.’" That’s it!

I don’t know what you are going through in your life, but if you are a child of God you are are just “going through.” You are not going to stay where you are. God has plans for you. He has plans for you in this life and the life to come. You are not alone. It may be a boss, institution, governmental agency, spouse, child, parent, or someone else who has let you down, but you cannot and must not let that become your focus. Lift up your eyes to the hills from which your help comes; your help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth! Read Romans 8:28 again and again. Remember that God is working through all things for those who love Him and serve Him. Remember that His will does not always lead down a pleasant path but His path always leads to a pleasant and blessed end-point.

Remember the Apostle Paul this morning. He suffered many things, including a thorn in his flesh, but he had a focus that helped him maintain a joyful heart and an obedient life. Even in prison he wrote the wonderful joy letter to the Philippians. Read Philippians 4 and note the uplifting nature of those words. As you read those words, remember that Paul was under Roman guard at the time he penned them. How could Paul be so joyful at such a difficult time in his life? He had his focus fixed on the Lord.

Do not focus on the fruit trees of this world, but rather focus on ...

  • The Presence of the Lord
  • The Work of the Lord
  • The Promises of the Lord
  • The Love of the Lord
  • YOUR Future with the Lord

In verse MIcah 7:9, the prophet said that he was committed to bearing up under the indignation he was going through.  Micah fixed his focus on God’s goodness and grace. That is what every believer must do! After all, you cannot expect perfection in others when you realize that you aren't perfect either.

Our only hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ. Micah lived long before Jesus came, but he was trusting God by faith and knew that God would provide. He was not going to allow his focus to be fixed on this world, nor was he going to allow the devil to accuse him to a point of depression; but rather, he chose to keep his focus fixed on the One who made this world, rules this world and is one day coming to straighten out this world!

B. The Faith Kept

Throughout this section of Micah’s prophecy he continues to keep his faith in God. He does not allow the problems he sees or the problems he is experiencing to sour his trust in God.

Recently I read some of the writings of a well known atheist. One of his books was a best seller and I wanted to see how such a book could be accepted by so many readers. I got the book from my local library - I didn't want to support the author by buying the book. After reading the book, I was not surprised to see why this man did not believe in God. The author is an intellectual and has studied the Bible exhaustively. So, why does he doubt the existence of God? This man stated that when he saw the suffering in the world, along with war and natural disasters that bring so much suffering to human life, he just could not believe in a loving God. His thinking centered around the idea that a loving God with all power simply would not allow such suffering among humans. Poor soul! He has fixed his faith on what he can see rather than on what God tells us.

Jesus told HIs followers that there would be wars, pestilence, earthquakes and natural disasters all the way to the end of the age. After all, this is a sinful world. The sorrows we face have been brought about by the sinful fall of mankind. Even the earth groans for redemption by the Creator. For a true child of God, these sorrows are not surprising. They may be disappointing but they do not weaken our faith. If we look at the sad things in our world, and take our eyes off our Savior we will succumb to doubts and distractions. But, when we know His Word and trust His heart, we can keep the faith through every situation. Micah was not moved to abandon his faith in God just because evil, hardship, corruption and death existed in this world. He kept the faith through it all. That is what you and I must do.

C. The Future Assured

Micah explained that God had a plan. In the end, God's plan will break forth on this earth and bring justice to those who have abused and used by others.

Micah also assured us that there is none like our God. Look at verse 7:18 ...

"Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?"

How wonderful. God will not forget you – you who belong to Him - those of you who have trust His Son, Jesus. God pardons the iniquities of His heritage. Micah reveals that God delights in mercy. Aren’t you glad? Yes, and so am I! He forgives sin. He gives us what we do not deserve. He gives us grace and peace. And, He offers the same peace and pardon to all who will trust Jesus Christ by faith.
Look at verse 19b, …

"You will cast all our sins
Into the depths of the sea."

Yes, yes, and yes! He separates our sins from us. And, how does God do that? He does that through the sacrifice Jesus made on the Cross for us. He bore our sins in His own body. He who knew no sin, became sin for us. Thank God daily for the blood of Jesus. Keep your focus on what He has saved you from and not on what you are going through!


The times are tough. Things are not what you or I want them to be. But, Jesus is coming. The Lord will keep His word. You are not a hungry fruit-picker in the world's fruitless vineyard. God has food for your soul that the world knows nothing about. The world's fruit will not satisfy you, so don't look for it in the world. You will find joy only in Him.

Don’t be discouraged. Don’t try to get revenge on those who have mistreated you. Don’t decry every bad situation. This will only serve to depress you. Fix your focus on Jesus and trust the future that He has assured!

  • Look up to the Lord!
  • Stand up for the Lord!
  • Don’t ever give up on he Lord!
  • Speak up for the Lord!
  • Soon, you will be taken up by the Lord!

In Luke 13 we read about Jesus and the barren fig tree. Our Lord cursed that tree, for it was a picture of the world without God.

If you are tired of looking for fruit on the barren trees of the world, you need to simply trust Christ to be your Lord and Savior today.

If you know the Lord, and the present world depresses you, look up and recommit your life to Him.

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