In Matthew 24 : 32; Jesus used the descriptive analogy of a "fig tree", to instruct his disciples about how we could discern the timeliness of his return to Israel.
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:"
The fig trees of the middle east region are a fruit- producing tree or shrub. The size of the tree, and the capacity to produce figs depends mainly on the soil that the tree is rooted in.
Typically, the fig tree blooms before sprouting forth its leaves in the spring, and normally would produce, not one, but two crops of figs each year.
In Mark 11:13 Jesus, after leaving Bethany, which is just to the east of Jerusalem; saw a fig tree off in the distance, and noticed the leaves that were thereon; and eagerly
looked forward to partaking of the fruit of it as he neared it; yet when finally arriving at the tree, he found there was no fruit upon it; for the time for figs was not yet in season.
Upon seeing that the fig tree produced no fruit, Jesus cursed the tree, with the disciples standing by observing.
He then proceeded on down to the city of Jerusalem, and into the Temple, whereupon he flew into a rage, chasing out the moneychangers, and calling the holy place nothing more than a den of thieves.
The disciples must have thought these actions were the actions of a madman. Afterall, what sane person talks to a tree and pronounces a curse upon it for heaven's sake?
I believe that everything in the Bible, and in the entire life of Jesus has an divinely intended purpose or message. I don't think God wastes his words, nor would Jesus have behaved in such a manner without it having some meritorious meaning.
But, try to imagine the disciples astonishment, when out on the same road back to Bethany, they pass right by that very same fig tree, and lo and behold, it has already withered up and dried. Why would Jesus curse a fig tree?
During the first dispersion of Israel, God sent a vision to the old prophet Jeremiah, of two baskets full of figs. One of the baskets had good figs while the other basket contained bad figs.
Jeremiah 24:5-7: Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for their good.
For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down, and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.
And I will give them an heart to know me, that "I AM" the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.
Here, in these verses, God likens the captive exiles of Israel to the those good figs in the basket. The Jewish remnant which was still left in Jerusalem, God likens to the bad, or evil figs retained in the second basket.
I should point out that Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon rose up against Israel and took captive all the children of Israel except those princes who were left as mere puppet rulers in the holy city. The year of Israel's defeat by Babylon was 606 B.C. Then nineteen years later in 587 B.C. Nebuchadnezzar returned back to Jerusalem and destroyed the city and executed King Zedekiah.
Remember those dates and the differential of the years as you read further in this newsletter. I have a point that I want to make clear later concerning that time interval.
Anyway, God promised through Jeremiah that he would return Israel once again into the land, and afterwards that Israel shall no more be uprooted from the promised land; and that He would write his law in their hearts.
This promised of course dream has never been fulfilled during the long history of Israel. It is still a future eventuality. But the fact has been historically established that Israel has forever become prophetically typecast, in a figurative sense, as a fig tree.
When Jesus came strolling down Bethany Road to the city of Jerusalem on that day, he wasn't simply looking for something to eat off the fig tree to satisfy his bodily appetite; but rather, He was looking for "Good Figs". It is national Israel that God has planted in the midst of the garden of nations to portray himself to all the rest of the nations of this world. God has historically longed for Israel to bear fruit (figs), but unfortunately, Israel has never acknowledged the true "Branch"; for which she has been a vehicle to bring fruit from the world.
In Jeremiah 23:5; God says:
"Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise to David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and also prosper, and shall execute judgement and justice in the earth.
This scripture continues on to say that in the days of the rule of the righteous Branch, that Judah itself shall be saved, and Israel will dwell safely in their land.
Of course Jesus was the righteous Branch that was born from out of the stem of Jesse; as Isaiah 11:1 foretold. In the strictest definition, God is in reality the fig tree; with the righteous branch being Jesus; while the figs are the fruit of the tree. Israel is symbolically represented as the early blooms on the fig tree, while the church is typified by the leaves that are on the branch. Later in Romans chapter 11 we find that the Gentiles have been grafted into the branch.
So, when Jesus found no figs upon the fig tree, on that afternoon, and cursed the tree; He was displaying to the openly disciples in a figurative way, that national Israel still as yet had not bore any fruit from the branch; by the mere fact that their immediate generation still simply did not recognize the epic "time of visitation" by their Messiah.
In Luke 18:31-33; Jesus had already instructed the disciples that he was going down into Jerusalem, and while there all the things prophesied concerning the Son of Man will be accomplished. He informed them that he would be mocked, scourged, and put to death; and yet rise up again on the third day.
The symbolic paradigm acted out at the roadside fig tree was simply a public display of the rejection of Israel's king, and that "ISRAEL", would suffer the a historical curse in like manner as the fig tree that the disciples saw.
I recall in Luke 12:56, that Jesus took to task the Scribes and Pharisees for not being able to discern the signs of the times. Israel should have anticipated that the season for the Messiahs appearance was at hand, and that the time for the harvest of good figs was nigh at hand.
In Daniel 9:25-26; the prophet Daniel had foretold that the Messiah would make an appearance in the rebuilt city of Jerusalem exactly 483 years of the Hebrew calendar; after the commandment went forth from the Persian King Artaxerxes Longimangus, which was issued on March 14, in the year of 445 B.C. This commandment is recorded within the Bible in the book of Ezra 7:12-13, and again in most of the book of Nehemiah.
So then, on Palm Sunday, in the year of 32 A.D., every single Jewish believer should have been down at the Eastern Gate in anxious anticipation of giving a rousing welcome to the expected King of the Jews.
Although there was a moderate crowd assembled to welcome Jesus into the city, spreading some palm branches before him; by and large, Israel was very unimpressed with Jesus appearance.
Even the disciples were not altogether sure as to who Jesus was. In Luke 10:23-24, Jesus said to them: "For I tell you that many prophets and kings have desired to see those things which ye have seen, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them."
Many people throughout Israel’s history had desired to see the Deliverer, or the Messiah King; but to no avail. They were never been afforded that wonderful opportunity. However, a particular generation was providentially destined to be witnesses of the Kings timely presentation.
Even today, there is a generation that has a divine destiny to not see death, but to be transported away by the returning King; much in the same manner that Old Testament Enoch was ushered up into Heaven.
The Bible is accurate, right down to the very minutest detail. God expresses everything in a carefully designed pattern. Every single word, phrase, jot or tittle, has purpose. It is absolutely foolhearty to alter any of it, or to not consider any portion as intensely significant.
Consider Galations 4 : 4, for example:
But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law,
Notice the phrase, ("The fullness of The Time"). It is an indication that Jesus birth wassynchronised to occur at a definite and prearranged point in human history, an event which God foretold (prophecy), so that there would be absolutely no confusion about who the son of God, the seed of the woman, really and truly was.
All of Israel should have been on hand that Palm Sunday to thank God for being faithful to his word.
There indeed was a very devout man, who had discerned that the Messiah would come during his lifetime, and he had been individually promised via the Holy Spirit that he would see Jesus arrival before his death.
Luke 2 : 25; And, behold there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.
And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord's Christ.
Simeon had a direct promise from God of seeing the Messiah before he ever passed away. Simeon was not simply lucky, or rewarded for good behavior; Simeon was an old man by the time of the affixed timely event of the Virgin Birth; and he recognized fully that the anticipated date of the Messiah's mission was only 3 short decades away; and therefore, he was afforded the opportunity to live to see the time of Israel's promised visitation by God.
Simeon probably believed that Israel would accept their long awaited King. He had no idea that Israel would kill the very one that was the lifeblood of the kingdom of Israel. He most likely died comforted in the notion that Israel was rejoined to their King. He did apparently know that sorrow would be associated with his life, because he informed Mary about a future heartbreak for her.
The generation that immediately followed Simeon should have expected Jesus. Jesus very own generation should have had great expectation from among its own ranks that someone special from God would emerge.
Alas, that generation would fail to recognize him; and would cut him off, and then endure later in life to see the total destruction of the beloved rebuilt city of Jerusalem.
In Luke 19:41-44; Jesus approached the city, and on a high overlook, viewed out upon the city, and wept over it.
Luke 19 : 42: Jesus said, If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto your peace! but now they are hid from your eyes.
Even at this late date, Jerusalem could have received its King, and enjoyed the promised Kingdom of God, but still their eyes were not opened to the reality of his imminent visit.
Saddened because of Israel’s ignorance, Jesus went on to proclaim that Jerusalem would undergo the loss of its national homeland, including the Holy City, and Temple.
Luke 19:44; And they shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave in you one stone upon another; because “thou knewest not the TIME OF THY VISITATION!”
The season for Israel's blossoming had arrived, and good figs were anticipated, but although the fig tree had blossomed forth, the time for figs was premature.
Mark 11:13 expresses thusly: And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing on it, and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.