“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” (Luke 13:6–9).
In the scriptures, the fig tree is a symbol of God’s people and the fig leaves are a symbol of false righteousness. When Adam and Eve sinned, they made garments out of the fig leaves to cover their nakedness (Genesis 3:21), but God gave them robes of sacrificial animal skins, symbolizing Jesus’ sacrificial death to cover the nakedness of the human race.
The vineyard is the land of Israel (Isaiah 5:1–7; Jeremiah 12:10; Psalm 80:8–16), where the vine and fig tree were planted. The parable of the fig tree gives a total of four years from the time of planting to the final opportunity for the tree to give fruit. According to the scriptures, a year is 360 days (Jewish lunar calendar). So, four years would add up to 1,440 days. The Bible teaches that in prophecy a day equals a year (Numbers 14:34; Ezekiel 4:6). According to many Bible chronologists, Joshua crossed over the Jordan and took possession of the Promised Land at approximately 1407 BC. So, if we extend 1,440 years from that time, we will reach the year AD 34.
In the parable of the fig tree Jesus said, “Then after that thou shalt cut it down” (Luke 13:9). In AD 34, the Jews sealed their rejection of the Messiah and the gospel by the stoning of Stephen the first martyr. From that point, the disciples were scattered abroad by persecution (Acts 8:4). This prophetic date (34 AD) in history is also confirmed by the same ending point for the 490-year prophecy given in Daniel 9:24. The angel says, “Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city,” and in fact the word “determined” is better translated as “cut off.” For more on the seventy weeks’ prophecy of Daniel: https://bibleask.org/can-you-explain-the-70-weeks-in-daniel/
And in AD 70, both Jerusalem and the temple were completely destroyed. And God’s covenant with the Israelites was transformed to the Church made up of all those that accepted Christ (Jews and gentiles).
One week before Jesus’ death, He cursed a fruitless fig tree to illustrate what was going to happen to the Jewish nation as a result of their rejection of His love. “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 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” (Matthew 21:18-20).
The tree Jesus cursed was a symbol of the Jewish nation that rejected salvation. Israel had all the appearance of a religious nation, but was lacking the fruits — justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23). Jesus addressed the religious leaders of Israel, “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:34–36).
And Jesus prophesied, “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. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:32–34). A generation in the Bible is 40 years (Numbers 32:13). Jesus made this prophecy in AD 31, and by AD 70 it was fulfilled by the destruction of Jerusalem. That is forty years!
The fig tree that put forth leaves but no fruit is also a prophetic sign for the end days’ church. Literal Israel had only forms of religion before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, likewise spiritual Israel (the Laodicean Church) in the last days will have leaves but no fruit (Revelation 3:17-19). These leaves will manifest in the appearances of religious interest, praise services, miracle-healing meetings, and sensationalism, but no real fruit of the Holy Spirit. Paul described the end church this way, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5).
Jesus give the advice to His end time church, “I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see” (Revelation 3:18).
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In His service,
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