The Cursed, Withered Fig Tree
Matt. 21:18-22 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 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. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! 21 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. 22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Mark 11:12-14 And on the morrow, when they were come from Bethany, he was hungry: 13 And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. 14 And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
Mark 11:20-26 And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots. 21 And Peter calling to remembrance saith unto him, Master, behold, the fig tree which thou cursedst is withered away. 22 And Jesus answering saith unto them, Have faith in God. 23 For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith. 24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them. 25 And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. 26 But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses.
I. The parable in Luke 13:6-9 is speaking about the individual Jews who have as a nation rejected Jesus Christ and His kingdom.
A. The parable given in Matt. 21:18-22 and Mark 11:12-14 and 20-26 is speaking to Israel as a nation.
B. Many of the things that will be said about the parable in Luke can also be said about this parable.
1. The people that make up the nation of Israel is what caused the entire nation to fall.
2. In the parables before us, however, Christ is showing the downfall of the entire nation because of the action of its citizens.
C. The point is that many times, we look to the fall of the nation as different from the fall of individuals.
1. We must remember that a nation falls because the individual citizens of that nation fail to retain their integrity before God.
2. This United States of America will fall because of the judgment of God upon individual sinfulness.
3. When individuals turn their eyes away from God, God will judge the entire nation.
II. The fig tree represents the nation of Israel. The condition of the fig shows the condition of Israel.
A. I do not believe this parable is talking about lost and saved.
1. This is a fig tree, not a apple tree, or another kind of fruit tree.
2. The fig free has been chosen by God to represent the nation of Israel.
B. This fig tree represents the individuals that make up the nation of Israel.
1. Joel 1:7 - He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.
2. There is a difference between a fig tree that has leaves only, and one that has no leaves, being completely stripped bare.
3. When God turns away from Israel, she will be distributed to all the nations of the world. This is when she will be stripped bare.
C. Jer. 24:1-10 - This is probably the clearest example showing that good figs represent Israel when they are worshipping God, and bad figs represent Israel when they aren't worshipping God.
D. Joel 1:12 - The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men. Another verse that compares the condition of Israel to a good and bad vineyard.
E. The vineyard would represent ownership by God.
1. Isaiah 5:1,2 - Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: 2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes. This vineyard represents Israel.
2. The vineyard could also represent any place where God has established Himself, such as the local church of the Lord Jesus Christ (if the scripture so warrants it.)
3. It should be noted that the truths Christ spoke in this parable as are true to Israel as they are to local churches.
III. What caused Israel to go wrong? We find in this parable the diminishing of Israel as a nation and the complete destruction of a generation of Jews.
A. The point that Israel missed - Faith - asking and receiving.
1. Matt. 23:23 - Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.
2. Israel had followed the “external” parts of the law, but had completely forgotten about the “internal” parts of the law.
a. Israel (like so many religions today) had tried to make the body submissive and obedient to God’s will by force of personal will.
b. The body will become submissive and obedient to God’s will only when there is a complete reliance on God, and none on self.
B. They had everything for themselves, but nothing for God.
1. The leaves of the tree are for the health and well-being of the tree.
2. The fruit of the tree is for food for others, and seed for the next generation.
3. Because they had plenty of leaves, but no fruit, they soon lost their leaves, like the tree soon withered away.
C. They had everything they thought necessary for that generation, but nothing for the next generation.
1. They could not continue because the only way a nation continues is by the power of God.
2. The United States of America cannot last very long because the foundation of Christianity has been destroyed.
3. There is no foundation for the next generation to build their lives upon.
D. Mark 11:14 - No man eat fruit of thee for ever
1. There shall no person get any benefit of that particular generation from now on.
2. There is no doubt in my mind that many of the things said about faith applies to individuals, but it ought to be remembered that these things can be said about a nation as well.
3. Luke 17:14-21 - Jesus instructing his disciples that sometimes it takes a praying and fasting kind of faith to remove hindrances.
4. I Cor. 13:2 - And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.