Fall is upon us beginning this Friday, Sept. 23. I learned on the Internet that the season is probably called fall because it signals the fall of the year – the end of the year, as indicated by falling temperatures, leaves, and snow. Fall is also called autumn, which is used seven times in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. Six times are about rains that characterize the Mediterranean climate in Israel. Once in the Bible, autumn describes trees that were twice dead because they hadn’t borne fruit (reproduced themselves) and would, therefore, be uprooted (Jude 12; Luke 13: 6-9; Matthew 21: 18-20).
The word “fall” or a derivative occurs 547 times in the NIV. Four times it refers to felling (cutting down) trees. Isaiah 9: 8-10 and 10: 33 to 11: 5 mention trees that’ll be felled in judgment. Some of those be replaced with trees of greater value, which will also eventually be cut down, but one will sprout from the stump of Jesse to re-grow bearing fruit of the Spirit as a demonstration of his righteousness (Galatians 5: 22-25).
We’re to grow in love and knowledge to be blameless and filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through that sprout, Jesus (Philippians 1: 11). He’s the vine from which we’re to receive nourishment for growth and fruit production glorifying God by showing ourselves to be his people (John 15: 1-8). Fruit of righteousness is borne through works of service including confession that Jesus is the source of our life and by wisely treating others as God would have us (Colossians 1: 9-14; Hebrews 13: 15, 16; James 3: 17, 18; Matthew 12: 7).
When we don’t produce fruit of righteousness, the Spirit encourages us, just as the fig tree was to be fertilized by the nurseryman, and we’ll be pruned by God to guide us back on a productive path. Otherwise, if we don’t follow the Spirit’s guidance, we’re likely to digress, becoming like untended wild vines that produce bitter fruit of evil. Then, we’ll be pruned completely off the vine to die like the fig tree Jesus cursed – twice dead like an autumn tree that’s fruitless and uprooted, fit only to be thrown into the fire (Revelation 20: 11-15; Matthew 25: 31-46; 2 Corinthians 5: 10; Hebrews 3: 7-14).
The other 544 times the word “fall” or a derivative occurs in the Bible pertain to something or someone moving accidentally or purposefully from a higher place to a lower place (like falling temperatures or someone falling on their knees in reverence, neither of which are accidental). Christians who don’t bear some fruit of righteousness can fall from their secure position of salvation (Hebrews 6: 4-6; 2 Peter 3: 17, 18).
To not prevent that by following God’s plan for growth and fruitfulness is to intentionally cause one’s own fall. In the end they’ll beg the mountains to fall upon them for protection (Luke 23: 30).
Will you be bearing the fruit of righteousness this fall?