Last month my husband and I purchased a fig tree, and on our way home, I began to think of the parable of the fig tree. You see, this little fig tree that we had purchased was to replace the one we had to cut down in our yard a year or so prior. The previous owners of our home had planted this fig tree right at the bottom of the porch and it had become fairly obtrusive and never produced any fruit. So, my husband, cut it down, and down she went.
What is the parable of the Fig Tree?
Luke 13:6 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. Then said he 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? 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.
Yeshua was speaking of Himself here as the “certain man” and the fig tree represented the House of Judah, and Israel as a whole. Later on, we see Yeshua curse the fig tree and it withered away, which was a foreshadow to the destruction of Jerusalem:
Mat 21:18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!
What I found interesting about this passage, is that when a fig tree has leaves on it, it would have the appearance that it could yield fruit, yet never does. This is exactly what was happening with our previous fig tree. It would produce these giant, lush green leaves, yet no fruit. This is the illustration of how the House of Judah would not bring forth fruit worthy of repentance, and while appeared righteous on the outside, they were corrupt on the inside.
John the Baptist had warned them that unless they produced fruit worthy of repentance, by accepting Yeshua/Jesus as the Messiah, then they would not escape the wrath that was to come upon them in the near future.
Luke 3:7 Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. AND NOW ALSO THE AXE IS LAID UNTO THE ROOT OF THE TREES; EVERY TREE THEREFORE WHICH BRINGETH NOT FORTH GOOD FRUIT IS HEWN DOWN, AND CAST INTO THE FIRE.
This is why Yeshua spoke to the disciples to learn the parable of the fig tree; as a fig tree puts forth leaves in the spring, the fruit on it becomes ripe near the height of summer. The final siege of Jerusalem under Titus came to completion in the summer of 70AD, on the ninth day of Av. The harvest of their destruction came to pass as they were hewn down and thrown into the fire.
Mat 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.
What really stood out to me pertaining to verse 33, is that in other translations it has “He is near, right at the door”; which immediately brings to mind the latter part of the verse in James 5:9… “Look, the Judge is standing at the door!”
This brings more clarity to me, because the destruction of Jerusalem was not only judgement, but wrath that brought about the end of an age. As I have written in previous blog articles, this is a theme throughout the warnings that Yeshua gave, often in parables. So, indeed, “it is near”, meaning that destruction was looming, but also was brought forth through the Righteous One, who pours out that judgement and wrath upon a generation.
During the time that I was compiling this, I came across Benson’s commentary that brings up several points, that I not only bring up here, but also in a previous blog, “In Their Generation“; which goes into details of the curses and calamities that came upon Jerusalem in their destruction and revealing that the “tribulation” spoken of, was for a specific demographic.
Matthew 24:32-35. Now learn a parable of the fig-tree — Our Lord proceeds to declare that the signs which he had given would be as certain an indication of the time of his coming, as the fig-tree’s putting forth its leaves is of the approach of summer; and that the time of his coming was at no great distance. For he adds, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled, — Hereby evidently showing that he had been speaking all this while only of the calamities coming on the Jews, and the destruction of Jerusalem. “It is to me a wonder,” says Bishop Newton, “how any man can refer part of the foregoing discourse to the destruction of Jerusalem, and part to the end of the world, or any other distant event, when it is said so positively here in the conclusion, All these things shall be fulfilled in this generation. And it seems as if our Lord had been aware of some such misapplication of his words, by adding yet greater force and emphasis to his affirmation,
Matthew 24:35, Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away — That is, heaven and earth shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words; the frame of the universe shall sooner, or more easily pass away than my words shall not be fulfilled. In another place, (Matthew 16:28,) he says, There are some standing here which shall not taste of death till they see, the Son of man coming in his kingdom, intimating that the event would not take place immediately, and yet not at such a distance of time but that some then living would be spectators of the calamities coming upon the nation.
In like manner, he says to the women who bewailed him as he was going to be crucified, Luke 23:28, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children; which words sufficiently implied that the days of distress and misery were coming, and would fall on them and their children. But at that time there was not any appearance of such an immediate ruin. The wisest politician could not have inferred any such thing from the then present state of affairs. Nothing less than divine prescience could have foreseen and foretold it.”
Jesus spoke that the gospel shall be preached in all the world and then the end shall come.
Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
This was not speaking of the whole world as we know of today, but what was accomplished through the disciples, throughout the Roman Empire. It was the end of an age, the end of the Old Covenant coming to completion. In fact, the next verse from Matthew 24, speaks that when they see the abomination of desolation that those in Judea should flee to the mountains. This actually took place, as the Christians at that time fled from Judea to Pella. The abomination of desolation was not some unclear event, but was the surrounding Roman armies to destroy Jerusalem, and we are given clear insight to this in Luke 21:20-21.
Luke 21:20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
There is no need to guess or speculate what this pointed to, and was a spoken prophesy from Daniel 9 and 12, in which Yeshua brought forth, warning the disciples of what was to come. Within the NT writings, Paul gives us insight stating that the gospel was preached “in the whole world”, “to every creature under heaven”, and “made known to all nations”.
Col 1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of THE GOSPEL; WHICH IS COME UNTO YOU, as it is IN ALL THE WORLD; AND BRINGETH FORTH FRUIT, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth
Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of THE GOSPEL, which ye have heard, and WHICH WAS PREACHED TO EVERY CREATURE WHICH IS UNDER HEAVEN; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
Rom 10:16 But they have not all obeyed THE GOSPEL. For Esaias (Isaiah) saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. BUT I SAY, HAVE THEY NOT HEARD? Yes verily, THEIR SOUND WENT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS UNTO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.
Rom 16:25 Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my GOSPEL and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, But now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, MADE KNOWN TO ALL NATIONS for the obedience of faith:
Is that a coincidence, that several years after Paul wrote these letters that the siege of Jerusalem began, with it’s culmination in the summer of 70AD, on the ninth day of Av? The temple was destroyed on exactly the same day it had been destroyed by the Babylonians six and a half centuries earlier. Would this not bare a true witness to the very words that Yeshua spoke concerning such?
I also came across the First Epistle of Clement to the Corinthians, which stated that Paul had preached to the farthest bounds of the West, and “taught righteousness unto the whole world”:
1Clem 5:5 By reason of jealousy and strife Paul by his example pointed out the prize of patient endurance. After that he had been seven times in bonds, had been driven into exile, had been stoned, had preached inthe East and in the West, he won the noble renown which was the reward of his faith,
1Clem 5:6 having taught righteousness UNTO THE WHOLE WORLD AND HAVING REACHED THE FARTHEST BOUNDS OF THE WEST; and when he had borne his testimony before the rulers, so he departed from the world and went unto the holy place, having been found a notable pattern of patient endurance.
Even the language used within the writings of Josephus records the destruction accomplished by the Roman armies was done “as such has never been before” (Mat 24:21) brought upon the “world”:
“Now this vast multitude was indeed collected out of remote places, but the entire nation was now shut up by fate as in prison, and the Roman army encompassed the city when it was crowded with inhabitants. ACCORDINGLY THE MULTITUDE OF THOSE THAT PERISHED THEREIN EXCEEDED ALL THE DESTRUCTION’S THAT EITHER MEN OR GOD EVER BROUGHT UPON THE WORLD” (Wars of the Jews, Book VI. 9. 4).
To me, this is simply looking at the events at face value, and taking them as they stand, as they actually happened. That those within the first century, understood the meaning of “the whole world”, which was to a specific demographic, and a specific age, and NOT globally, nor projected for a future time. The “days of vengeance” spoken of, within Luke 21:22, was this time of “great tribulation”. Therefore, according to the prophecy given by Yeshua, in cursing the fig tree, and warning the disciples of the coming wrath, happened in their generation.
Mat 23:37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! BEHOLD, YOUR HOUSE IS LEFT UNTO YOU DESOLATE.
How does this parable apply to us in our lives today?
Judgement will ALWAYS begin in the house of the Lord (YHWH) and we are described in the Word as “trees”, as well as “nations”. Just as a nation can be destroyed, so can people both collectively and individually. YHWH also compared people to figs (Jer 24:5, 24:8) so, just because something is fulfilled, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have ongoing fulfillment, or that it cannot apply spiritually to our lives. The destruction of Jerusalem was a prophetic foreshadow, and it applies not only individually in our lives, but a pattern to those under the New Covenant.
Mat 7:19 EVERY TREE THAT BRINGETH NOT FORTH GOOD FRUIT IS HEWN DOWN, AND CAST INTO THE FIRE. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
If a seed is planted, but does not grow and produce fruit, it is cut down. The initial act of grace bestowed upon a person, is through faith alone, and yet, if that faith does not grow in grace, it will die. Every branch that does not abide in Him producing fruit, will cast into the fire to be destroyed.
John 15:1 (Yeshua/Jesus speaking) I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every BRANCH IN ME THAT BEARETH NOT FRUIT HE TAKETH AWAY: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, HE IS CAST FORTH AS A BRANCH, AND IS WITHERED; AND MEN GATHER THEM, AND CAST THEM INTO THE FIRE, AND THEY ARE BURNED.
Those who do not continue to abide in Him, shall be cursed and become withered, just as the fig tree. Then, they are cut down and thrown into the fire to be burned. Oh! The sorrow our Creator must feel when He has to do this! As we see, that before destruction and wrath coming upon the House of Judah, and the physical nation of Israel as a whole, Yeshua wept for Jerusalem. He wept for them. This strongly parallels the account from Lamentations, as Jeremiah weeps at the destruction of Jerusalem from the Babylonians, and I believe that this shows the depth of the love and mercy our Creator has for us.
Lam 2:11 MY EYES FAIL FROM WEEPING; I am churning within. My heart is poured out in grief over the destruction of the daughter of my people, because children and infants faint in the streets of the city. They cry out to their mothers: “Where is the grain and wine?” as they faint like the wounded in the streets of the city, as their lives fade away in the arms of their mothers
Centuries later, Yeshua knowing the looming destruction that waited ahead, and the horrors that would engulf them.
Luke 19:41 And when he was come near, he beheld the city, AND WEPT OVER IT, Saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! but now they are hid from thine eyes. FOR THE DAYS SHALL COME UPON THEE, THAT THINE ENEMIES SHALL CAST A TRENCH ABOUT THEE, AND COMPASS THEE ROUND, AND KEEP THEE ON EVERY SIDE, AND SHALL LAY THEE EVEN WITH THE GROUND, AND THY CHILDREN WITHIN THEE; AND THEY SHALL NOT LEAVE IN THEE ONE STONE UPON ANOTHER (destruction of the temple and of dead stones); BECAUSE THOU KNEWEST NOT THE TIME OF VISITATION.
Yet, the majority of them continued on as “business as usual” not knowing the time of their visitation. How many now, are going on in the same such of fashion, not seeing the times ahead of them?
Do we know the time of our visitation?
Yah did not spare the natural branches that rejected Him, so how much worse punishment do you suppose will happen to those who trample under foot the New Covenant? Can we say that we abide in Him, yet do not show the fruit worthy of repentance?
Rom 11:21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either. Take notice, therefore, of the kindness and severity of God: severity to those who fell, but kindness to you, if you continue in His kindness. OTHERWISE YOU WILL BE CUT OFF.
*Cut Off* 1581 ekkóptō (from 1537 /ek, “out from and to” and 2875 /kóptō, “cut”) – properly, cut off (out) and left to the inevitable outcome: (figuratively) entirely remove (cut off), emphasizing complete detachment (removal, severance).
An excerpt from “Ezekiel’s Two Sticks“:
Finally, I would like to bring in a prophesy from Zechariah:
Zechariah 11:10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, AND CUT IT ASUNDER, that I might BREAK MY COVENANT which I had made with all the people. And it was broken in that day: And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed FOR MY PRICE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD. THEN I CUT ASUNDER MINE OTHER STAFF, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. (KJV)
Not only was the covenant broken by the people as stated in Jeremiah 31:32, as both houses played the harlot to their Husband; but YHWH Himself broke their covenant as well, as it ENDED. The staff mentioned here “Beauty” is in reference to the House of Judah. The other staff “Bands” is the House of Israel. The union between The House of Judah and the House of Israel according to the flesh (physical) also became no more.
TO CUT ASUNDER, TO FELL OR CUT DOWN (LXX TO FELL A TREE) TO CUT DOWN A TREE.
Strongs’s Hebrew: 1438 cut asunder, in sunder, down, off, hew down
A primitive root; to fell a tree; generally, to destroy anything — cut (asunder, in sunder, down, off), hew down.
So, I think it would be prudent to continue to make sure that we are firmly rooted where we are planted, with good soil to nourish us, making sure that we are producing the fruit that is required of us. Otherwise, we could find ourselves being cut down and bundled up with the unbelieving.
Luke 12:45-46 But suppose that servant says in his heart, ‘My master will be a long time in coming,’ and he begins to beat the menservants and maidservants, and to eat and drink and get drunk. The master of that servant will come on a day he does not expect and at an hour he does not anticipate. THEN HE WILL CUT HIM TO PIECES AND ASSIGN HIM A PLACE WITH THE UNBELIEVERS.
Finally, remember, at the beginning of this I talked about our new fig tree. Well, a week ago, to my delight, I noticed small little green figs growing like little bulbs amidst the green leaves! I cannot tell you how excited I was at the sight of those small little green fruits growing, but I will say that I squealed like a little girl. The excitement of knowing and seeing a tree that you planted or potted is producing fruit, is a rewarding experience! I think that this must be how Yeshua feels when His young plants(us) mature and grow and continue to yield fruit for Him. Even through difficult times of pruning, we are able to nourish Him, as we nourish not only the Body, but those who need to hear truth that He brings forth through us.