Learn the Lesson from the Fig Tree
The Lesson from the Fig Tree
The fig tree is one of the trees often mentioned in the Bible. In Korean it is called moohwagwah (무화과), a fruit that does not blossom any flowers. However, as you will find out, it is not that flowers do not bloom, but that flowers bloom in the fruit. This is why in Korean it is also called eunhwagwah (은화과), a syconus fruit.
The reason we must pay attention to the fig tree is because it is related to the time of Jesus’ second coming. Even at present, many people who believe in God are waiting for the Second Coming Christ. The Bible clearly informs us through the parable of the fig tree as a sign of when the Second Coming Christ will appear.
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.(Matthew 24:32-33)
These are the words Jesus spoke while having a conversation with His disciples. The subjects of the conversation at that time were about the ‘sign of Jesus’ coming’ and the ‘sign of the end of the world’ (Matthew 24:3). What does it mean that they were talking about ‘the sign of Jesus’ coming’ with Jesus being right in front of them? It means that Jesus will come again in the future, but the question is, when? To the disciples’ question, Jesus answered, “As soon as the fig tree’s twigs get tender and its leaves come out, I will come again.”
Then, what specifically does the fig tree symbolize, and when does the fig tree’s twigs get tender and its leaves come out? The answer can be found in the Bible. First, let’s find out what the fig tree symbolizes.
The Fig Tree Symbolizes Israel
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it. ··· In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!” “Have faith in God,” Jesus answered.(Mark 11:12-14, 20-22)
At that time, the fig tree was a common tree in Israel. The Israelites rested under the leaves of the fig tree and ate the fruit raw, dried, or made into bread (John 1:48; 1 Samuel 25:18, 30:12). Figs also have medicinal properties and were used to treat wounds (2 Kings 20:7, Isaiah 38:21). This is how well acquainted the Israelites were with the fig tree.
Jesus lived in Israel for over 30 years. He was not someone who did not know when a fig tree would bear fruit. Nevertheless, Jesus cursed the fig tree that had no fruit on it even though it wasn’t the season, and caused it to wither and die. What was the reason? It was to let the Israeli people understand the will of God through this incident. Let’s examine another verse related to the fig tree.
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! ···'” ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, ··· If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’ ”(Luke 13:6-9)
In this parable, there is a man who wanted to get fruit from the fig tree. He waited for three years to get fruit, but he was unable to obtain anything. The owner then told his servant to cut it down. Ultimately what does the fig tree symbolize?
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘Like these good figs, I regard as good the exiles from Judah, ···(Jeremiah 24:5)
The fig tree symbolizes Israel. In the parable the man looking for fruit in Israel represents Jesus. Jesus was baptized at the age of 30 and even though He preached the gospel of the New Covenant to the nation of Israel for three years until He passed away, Israel rejected Him. And without even realizing how great a sin they were committing while crucifying Jesus on the cross, they said, “Let his blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25).
The incident of cursing the fig tree that had no fruit causing it to wither and die, and the command to cut down the fig tree that did not bear fruit for three years heralded the judgment of the nation of Israel, who did not believe in Jesus and rejected Him.
Destruction of Israel
In 68 AD General Vespasian advanced on Jerusalem. However, when Emperor Nero committed suicide that year, a power struggle broke out in Rome over who would be the successor. The suppression of Jerusalem was paused for a moment. Upon returning to Rome, Vespasian was made emperor. Meanwhile, the saints of the Early Church who were in Jerusalem remembered the words of Jesus and quickly left Jerusalem (Luke 21:20-24).
Two years later, in 70 AD, Vespasian’s son Titus took over military operations in Judah. The Roman legions, led by Titus, surrounded and completely besieged Jerusalem.
The Jews imprisoned in Jerusalem suffered from hunger. Some people took off their belts and shoes and ate them. In the end, they resorted to being barbaric to steal food from each other. Those who attempted to flee from Jerusalem because they were overcome with hunger were captured by the Romans and brutally killed. After about six months of siege, the walls of Jerusalem were brought down. The holy temple was engulfed in flames, and the temple’s tableware were plundered. 1.1 million people were killed and 97,000 were sold into slavery. Their independent sovereignty was completely taken away, and they were left wandering the world as nomads without a country. Indeed, just as Jesus prophesied, Israel was destroyed like a withered fig tree.
Independence of Israel
Afterwards, the land of Israel was conquered by Rome, the Byzantium Empire, Muslims, the Crusades, and then again by the Muslim Mamluks and Ottoman Turks. Although the Jews scattered throughout Europe displayed outstanding economic and cultural wit, they were subjected to discrimination and persecution because of the label “the people who killed Jesus.” In England and Spain, they were completely expelled, and an English playwright Shakespeare’s ‘The Merchant of Venice’ (c. 1600), the antagonist ‘Shylock’ is a Jew, but Shakespeare expressed this Jew as a social group of evil criminals who are cunning, savage, and greedy. As such, the Jews, like nomads, passed their time in tears and sorrow without anyone’s protection.
Among the many incidents, the genocide of 6 million Jews by the Nazis, which began on January 30, 1933 and ended on May 8, 1945, was the most brutal. During this period, 6 million Jews, including 1.5 million children from 15 European countries, including Poland, the Soviet Union, Austria, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece, etc., were slaughtered by the Nazis. Some died of starvation and disease, some were hanged on gallows in the streets, and some died in groups in gas chambers.
This incident made the Jews to urgently realize that the only way to put an end to their sufferings was to establish their own country, and it shook the hearts of the Jews. Finally, Zionism to establish a Jewish nation-state in Palestine, the homeland, arose actively. And on May 14, 1948, the results of the UN free vote were announced.
“BY VIRTUE OF OUR NATURAL AND HISTORIC RIGHT AND ON THE STRENGTH OF THE RESOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY, HEREBY DECLARE THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A JEWISH STATE IN ERETZ-ISRAEL, TO BE KNOWN AS THE STATE OF ISRAEL.”(Declaration of Independence May 14, 1948)
“1948.” This was a miraculous and historical year in which a nation that had been living without a country for a long time established their country. After the Romans had destroyed their country in 70 AD, the Jews who had wandered the world for about 1900 years under various hardships and abuses miraculously re-established the State of Israel in Palestine. There is no other country in the history of humankind that has rebuilt their country after 1900 years of being deprived of its sovereignty. According to the prophecies of the Bible, this is not simply the restoration of a nation’s sovereignty. This was history made by God’s providence. The restoration of Israel’s sovereignty was a signal to the world that Christ had returned to this earth.
Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that itis near, right at the door.(Matthew 24:32-33)
The Bible compares Israel to a fig tree (Luke 13:7, Jeremiah 24:5). When the dead fig tree’s twigs get tender and life sprouts, that is when Israel, compared to the fig tree, gains independence, and that is the time when the Second Coming Christ appears. If a person is Christian, they are waiting for the Second Coming Christ. But for Christians who only look to the sky, and wonder when He will come, the Second Coming Jesus has already come and is knocking on our hearts. Then, what kind of gospel work did the Second Coming Christ, who appeared in 1948, accomplish?
When he comes, … he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; … He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.(John 16:8-14)
The Second Coming Christ taught humankind with the truth of the New Covenant that Jesus practiced and taught. The truth of the New Covenant is recorded throughout the Bible (Jeremiah 31:31, Luke 22:20, Hebrews 12:24). According to the parable of the fig tree, we need to find the one who proclaimed the truth of the New Covenant in 1948. Because He is the Christ who promised to come again two thousand years ago.
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