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grain, new wine and olive oil...

"The Lord answered HIs people: Look, I am about to send you grain, new wine, and olive oil. You will be satisfied with them, and I will no longer make you a disgrace among the nations." Joel 2:19

There are 20 instances in the Old Testament where these three items are grouped together. And their importance to the Christian narrative and the Jesus of the New Testament is intriguing. Where it is mentioned in the earlier books (Numbers, Deuteronomy, Nehemiah, 2 Chronicles) it is a command to bring the grain, new wine and olive oil to store, to share, as a tithe, as items to gather and keep. It was what the Israelites brought and ate in reverence, in the presence of God.

In walk Jeremiah, Haggai, Hosea, and Joel....and the whole narrative shifts. Grain, new wine and olive oil are no longer what the people are commanded to bring. Their items are utterly destroyed. And in it's place, new grain, and new wine and new olive oil are given as a gift.

Grain. The principle ingredient in Bread. Remember that the table of showbread in the temple was stacked with twelve loaves as a way to remind Israel of His gracious provision for all their needs (Exodus 25:23-30 and Leviticus 24:5-9). The priests were the only ones allowed to eat it...but they had to do it yearly. Once wasn't enough. It could not sustain for life.

Jesus. Also called the Bread of Life (John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will not hunger. He who believes in me will never thirst”). He was the fulfillment of the bread of the Presence under the old covenant.

New Wine. In Matthew 9, Jesus speaks of a parable about new wine in old wineskins. You cannot mix the two or else the one will become polluted. It will not be pure. We cannot serve two masters. Should they accept the new wine, the old self had to be made rid of. There was no negotiating.

You don't need to look much further than how wine was typically made in ancient times. Grapes that were crushed under foot - crushed to produce juice that wine is made from, that we drink. It is no coincidence that Jesus said in Luke 22:20, "...he took a cup of wine in his hands. Then he said, "This is my blood. It is poured out for you..."

Olive oil. To the ancient Israelites, olive oil was the most sacred oil - used for nutrition, to light lamps, offerings...and most importantly - the anointing oil that priests used was made with it. One of Jesus' many names? The Anointed One.

The Garden of Gethsemane (Gethsemane means "olive press"), a place of crushing. Get this - the olive trees in the garden would be picked and put into the press. Heavy stone slabs were lowered on the olives, where they were crushed, rolled by a donkey led "millstone". Over time, the oil eventually ran into a pit, where it was collected in clay jars. This is such a vivid picture of Jesus' suffering. The weight of the sins of the world pressed down on Him in that garden, just as the heavy millstone crushed the olives His sweat was "like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44) flowed from him like olive oil as it was squeezed out into clay jars. Days before His death, it would all begin in the garden of oils...before the Holy Spirit would come...the Spirit of the Lord...the Anointed One.

These prophets were pleading with the people that something new was coming. They didn't know what, but he would bring new grain (The Bread of Life), new wine (a servant who would spill His blood for us as the ultimate sacrifice), and Olive Oil (the suffering and crushing death of the Anointed One, which would bring hope of new life and the Holy Spirit so we could walk with Him).

Joel 2:24 "...the threshing floors will be full of grain, and the vats will overflow with new wine and olive oil."

Jeremiah 31:12 (speaking of Israel's new home), "...they will be radiant with joy because of the Lord's goodness, because of the grain, the new wine, the fresh oil..."

Oh such beautiful grace.


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