Thursday, November 22, 2012

Symbolism of the Fig Tree

What does the fig tree symbolize in scripture?

The first time we see the fig tree in scripture is in the Garden in Genesis 3.  One of the trees that God created was the fig tree which became an issue when Adam and Eve sinned and they covered themselves with fig leaves.

Genesis 3:7
And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Leaves have medicinal properties in scripture. Leaves will provide healing for the nations in the Kingdom.

Revelation 22:2
In the midst of the street of it, and on either side of the river, was there the tree of life, which bare twelve manner of fruits, and yielded her fruit every month: and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Ultimately, that is what Adam and Eve were looking for when they went to the fig tree.

Judges 9:11
But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?

Figs have to do with sweetness.  They are tasty.  No doubt Adam and Eve (who were very intelligent—particularly after the fall) knew that; but they also knew that there was some healing property in the leaves.  They thought that the leaves would heal them spiritually, but they couldn’t.  When leaves are off the tree, their source of life, they begin to wither.

Adam and Eve tried to cover themselves with fig leaves—a type of religion.  The fig tree was significant before Israel.  It was connected with man’s attempt at religion (“to bind again”); they were trying to bind themselves back to God in their own strength.  They were trying to heal themselves and their sinfulness without God. 

The first thing that the fig tree symbolizes in scripture is man’s attempt to heal himself, to bind himself back to God through religion.  That is why when we come to Judges we see that the fig is one of the trees that represent Israel, as well as the olive, vine, and bramble trees.  Those trees represent the four types of the nation of Israel (Judges 9):

The olive tree represents Israel’s spiritual life. 
The fig tree represents Israel’s religious life.
The bramble tree represents Israel’s rebellion.
The vine tree represents Israel as a nation.

People say that Matthew 24 is only talking about Israel’s religious life because the Lord curses the fig tree three chapters earlier.

Matthew 21:19-21
And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only,
(The leaves were supposed to show that there would be fruit, but there was none, like Adam and Eve who were covered in leaves but had no spiritual fruit.)
and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever. And presently the fig tree withered away.  And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!  Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

So from this passage people figure that the fig tree represents Israel’s religious system and the Lord is cursing it.  In essence, he is.  The religious system of Israel is the Law; but the law wasn’t producing in Israel what it was designed to produce which was life (aka, “fruit”).  Israel was to be a fruit-bearing nation, but because of unbelief it was not; so the Lord cursed the fig tree, which in this case represents the Old Covenant.  Christ came to fulfill the New Covenant through his blood and to do for Israel what they could not do for themselves.  Through his Spirit he will cause them to keep his commandments which he will write on their hearts and minds.

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:  Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord:  But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.  And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

Ezekiel 36:26-27
A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh.  And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them.

Hebrews 9:12
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.

Hebrews 12:24
And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.

But that isn’t the only thing it means.  We know from Matthew 24 that the fig tree was used to represent all the things that would happen during the Tribulation period.  So when you hear some say that the fig tree represents Israel’s religious life, that is true up to a point.  However, Matthew 24 does include temple worship that will be corrupted by the Antichrist.

Mark 11:13-14
And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find anything thereon [he is looking for that sweet fruit]: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.  And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee [the Old Covenant] hereafter forever. And his disciples heard it.

It is interesting that he says he came looking for fruit but found nothing but leaves because the time of figs was not yet.  God gave Israel the Law to bring forth fruit, but it wasn’t working.  The one who will bring forth fruit will be the Messiah, the Lord Jesus.  He will bring forth fruit in them through his shed blood of the New Testament.  That fruit is what he is looking for.  Verse 14 says that he will put away the Old Covenant (that fig tree that bore no fruit) and deal with Israel under the New Covenant.

Mark 13:28-29
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:  So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors.

Mark 13 and Matthew 24 are in the same context of all the signs in Israel of the end and the coming of the Lord, including the revival of the religious life in Israel with their push to rebuild and re-institute temple worship.  Those things will happen in the future; the body of Christ will already be gone (raptured), I believe years earlier.  The curtain is not drawn back, but the stage is being set for those things, just like a play.  God is not fulfilling the things that are happening behind the scenes in preparation today.  God is fulfilling the church the body of Christ.  His single-minded focus is seeing lost men saved by his gospel of grace preached by Paul, and to have saints edified in the mystery of Christ in the rightly divided word.

1 Timothy 2:4
Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.

Ephesians 3:4
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ)

2 Timothy 2:15
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

That is all God is doing today.  But the world is going along on a course that is setting the stage for future end time events.

Daniel 12:9
And he said, Go thy way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.

Mark 13:32
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.

Even the Lord Jesus didn’t know the day and the hour.  He just knew the season.  That is why he points out that they know from the leaves that summer is nigh.  What is summer? It is not one day; it is a season.  He is saying to Israel that they will know when that season is upon them because they will see all those signs that will commence with the beginning of sorrows.

Luke 13:6-7
He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none [the law did not bear fruit].
(Remember the vine tree from Judges 9? That represents the national life of Israel?  Here, the fig tree represents the religious system of Israel.)
Then said he [the Lord] unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?

“Cut it down; let’s destroy the nation.”  That is what John the Baptist means when he says this:

Matthew 3:10
And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.

Luke 13:8-9
And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it:  And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down

So there you go.  The religious system will go and God will bring in a new one.  By the way, those three years in Luke 13:7 represent the ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth.  The extra year is the book of Acts, Chapters 1-7, before God changed the program to grace.

Ephesians 3:2
If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:

Hopefully this helps! 

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