Written & illustrated by Brian R. Franco, used with permission
The Lord called your name, “A green olive tree, fair in fruit and form.” With the noise of a great tumult He has kindled fire upon it, and its branches are broken. v16
Jeremiah 11:16 is the verse that is probably most known as a reference to Israel being an olive tree. I would completely agree, especially considering the context:
The Lord said to me: A conspiracy has been found among the men of Judah and among the inhabitants of Jerusalem. They have turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers who refused to hear My words. And they have gone after other gods to serve them. The house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken My covenant which I made with their fathers. Therefore thus says the Lord, Surely, I will bring calamity upon them which they will not be able to escape. And though they cry to Me, I will not listen to them. Then the cities of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem will go and cry to the gods to whom they offer incense. But they will not save them at all in the time of their trouble. For according to the number of your cities are your gods, O Judah. And according to the number of the streets of Jerusalem you have set up altars to that shameful thing, even altars to burn incense to Baal. Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them. For I will not hear them in the time that they cry to Me because of their trouble.
What right has My beloved in My house, seeing that she has done many lewd deeds? Can the sacrificial meat take away from you your disaster, so that you can rejoice while doing evil?
The Lord called your name, “A green olive tree, fair in fruit and form.” With the noise of a great tumult He has kindled fire upon it, and its branches are broken. vv. 9 – 16
Over and over again we see Judah and Jerusalem, Israel being mentioned, leading up to the olive tree picture. However, this tree shows a very different image to the one in Romans:
With the noise of a great tumult He has kindled fire upon it, and its branches are broken. For the Lord of Hosts, who planted you, has pronounced disaster against you, because of the evil of the house of Israel and of the house of Judah, which they have done against themselves to provoke Me to anger in offering incense to Baal. vv.16b – 17
Although similar in that, once again, Israel has rebelled against God and is being broken off, this tree has disaster pronounced against it and has been kindled by fire. I can’t imagine God bringing His Son into the world along with the gift of salvation, only to graft Gentiles into a doomed burning/burnt tree. You can’t simply take the “tree is Israel” part without also taking the “kindle with fire and doomed” part as well. However, this does seem to conflict with verse 16, so how can these facts be reconciled?