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William Andrew Dillard

Orchard owners look with great expectation to the trees under their care. They nourish, protect, and defend them from pestilence, and anything else that would prevent full fruition. They are happy with the many blossoms, small buds, and developing fruit. Anticipation of Harvest time is truly filled with excitement, and the joy of abundant blessings. But once harvest is over, then what? The tree is still valuable, but it has given all that it can give. There will be no more fruit to glean, and the eye of anticipation no longer sees as it did before. It is a tree, now ordinary and fruitless, having given all. It is interesting to note that this idea is presented in the Word with reference to our Lord and Savior.
In Psalm 22 which is prophetic of the life and sacrifice of Jesus, the word used to describe him in verse six is “reproach.” The verse states, “But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people.” The word “worm” here is the “tolah” worm that was crushed to yield the blood used to dye fabrics with the color of royalty. The term “reproach” is a translation of the Hebrew word “Charaph.” which conveys the idea of a picked tree with nothing more to give. That term used here of Jesus describes how many people see Him as He has given all for the harvest of the souls of men. The people expected that the miracles He invoked for others would surely be invoked for Himself thus giving them a super personage in which to glory in the flesh. They were sadly disappointed.
However, while the forces of sin and evil rejoiced at the crucifixion, the crushing of that “tolah” worm, wrought robes of righteousness for the royal children of the King. Moreover, those who avail themselves of the fruit yielded by that tree find eternal, spiritual sustenance, and a white robe of royal righteousness in which to stand before the Creator. To the world, and to most of Jewish rulers, the tree was picked, and not worthy of a second glance, but to those who have tasted the fruit of that tree found life and hope of so much more that is to come.
So, how do you see Him dear reader? Is He a disappointment, or a wellspring of eternal joy? Is He a picked tree to be turned away from, or is He the Living Tree of Life with the fruit of eternal righteousness to all who receive Him in repentance and faith? My prayer is that you see Him as the latter, even the bread of life that one may eat and not hunger again; as the fruit of all righteousness that one may receive and have no sin imputed by the heavenly Father. There He is, the TREE at the crossroads of time and eternity in the life of everyone.

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There was a degree of mental and physical energy in Dr. Graves which was possessed by few men. A prominent minister says: “I heard him preach three and one-half hours before the General Association at Murfreesboro, Tennessee, in 1860, to a great congregation whose undivided attention he held to the last.”



The same untiring endurance and application marked his daily habits. He would read, make notes and prepare matter for whatever book he had on hand from early morning until noon. Then, after lunch, go to his office and attend to editorial business and return in the evening to write and revise his editorials or his book manuscripts on into the small hours of the night and sometimes until almost morning. From this constant labor, he would go to meet a list of appointments to preach or lecture, even in distant states, and speak for hours at a time to enthusiastic audiences, traveling many miles from one appointment to another, and then return to his desk to write night and day. Could this tremendous drive be borne for long? Could brain or body bear the constant strain? We shall see later that a stroke did come.



Dr. Graves had accumulated a very valuable and extensive library. He kept the historian, S.H. Orchard, of London England, on the constant lookout for important books to be found in the secondhand stores and bought them with reckless prodigality. When Dr. Graves died, he gave his library to me, along with the files of The Tennessee Baptist. The books were so valuable and so much exposed to danger of destruction in a pastor’s home that I placed these papers and books in the library of the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Seminary Hill, Texas. There they may be consulted by any student, whether he be of the Seminary or not.


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