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2. Comment on current events as they relate to Bible prophecy

Monday, April 13, 2015

True Israelites: Part 3 - A New Look at the Fig Tree


Jesus and his disciples were walking along a road where a fig tree was noticed.  This particular fig tree had produced leaves no figs.  It has been said the fig trees in Israel will first produce figs before leaves appear.  However, this tree had leaves but no figs.  It has been further stated that ripe figs will appear on the tree almost a month before the tree begins producing leaves.  This tree was not fulfilling its purpose and was cursed.

After noticing a fig tree by the road he went to it, but found nothing on it except leaves. He said to it, "Never again will there be fruit from you!" And the fig tree withered at once.  (Matthew 21:19 NET)

The parallel version found in Mark states that it was not the season for figs.

After noticing in the distance a fig tree with leaves, he went to see if he could find any fruit on it. When he came to it he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.  (Mark 11:13 NET)

The Greek word specifically used for time as on a clock would be “chronos”.  This particular word, according to all Greek dictionaries viewed, is usually translated as a perception of time but it generally means a convenient season or occasion.  Thus the scripture verse in Mark could be translated as:  “He found nothing but leaves due to the tree’s lack of ability to produce them.”

Strong’s Greek Dictionary
kahee-ros'      Of uncertain affinity; an occasion, that is, set or proper time: - X always, opportunity, (convenient, due) season, (due, short, while) time, a while.

This fig tree may be comparable to one found in a parable recorded in Luke 13:6-7.  This tree did not produce fruit for three years, and the owner of the garden had it cut down due to the tree’s depletion of the soil with a lack of harvest.

Then Jesus told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the worker who tended the vineyard, 'For three years now, I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and each time I inspect it I find none. Cut it down! Why should it continue to deplete the soil?'   (Luke 13:6-7 NET)

Most commentaries agree that the fig tree represents the Judeans who most were all leaves with no fruit.  Many had an appearance of religion but a lack of understanding concerning the Personhood of the Messiah and the Kingdom of God.  In a current general sense, God desires a production of fruit in the lives of His people because fruit is the product of following the life and example of Jesus in the Kingdom of God.  As the fig tree in the parable of Luke, over a period of time fruit is expected and when it doesn’t appear the tree will be uprooted. 

As for the Judeans, the time of judgment was near and the sentence was proclaimed with a curse of the tree resulting in the withering of the leaves. 

Mark adds the words of Jesus saying, “May no one eat fruit from you again.”  It has been said that the fig tree is symbolic of the people of the nation of Israel.  Many claim the fig tree is symbolic or representative of Israel in the Gospels as well.  If this is true, then Jesus cursed the Judeans and generally stated the large majority would not ever produce edible fruit.  Is that possibly true?  The Chuck Smith commentary has this to say about the fig tree:

Chuck Smith Commentary:  But the symbolism was of the nation Israel, failing to bring forth fruit for the Master, was to be cursed, withered. And that of course is exactly what did happen, so quickly after the death of Jesus. Their rejection of Him, so quickly the nation withered and died.

Today, it appears the returned Jews or Judeans continue to despise Jesus and the church, or at least those who write books and articles and public officials.  Even with the disparaging words put forth by high profile Judeans, many Christians continue to think they are still the chosen ones and whatever they do must be the will of God.

Let’s now continue to the second example of a fig tree in the book of Matthew chapter 24.  This particular chapter is considered by many and myself to be the eschatology of Jesus.  For more information go to:  Matthew 24: Part 1  Matthew 24: Part 2  Matthew 24: Part 3  Matthew 24: Part 4

In this particular parable, the Lord points out the leaves on the tree, but indicates the fig tree lacks fruit.  Jesus is still referring to the people of Judea when he states the generation witnessing all the prior events discussed in chapter 24 will not pass away before the return of the Messiah.  If this parable is related to the previous fig tree stories the Judeans or the individuals of the nation of Israel will continue to personify fig tree leaves without producing the required fruit.  The budding of the leaves of the tree indicates that summer is near. The beginning of these signs indicates that the Lord’s second coming is also near (perhaps when the leaves appear as in circa 1948.

"Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.
(Matthew 24:32-34 NET)

The phrase “this generation” has created a certain amount of confusion or disagreeing commentary concerning scriptural interpretations or exegesis.  A generation can be defined as a life span or the period from one’s birth to their first born child.  However, these are only two of several definitions available for the translator.  Strong’s Greek dictionary gives the following definition:

Genea    ghen-eh-ah'
From (a presumed derivative of) G1085; a generation; by implication an age (the period or the persons): - age, generation, nation, time.

Although the primary definition is “generation” it can also mean age, nation, or time.  Therefore the possible translation interpretations could be:  1) The generation alive on earth at that time will see these events take place; 2) The nation of returned Judeans will view these events; 3) Only the partially fulfilled Kingdom age (as in Church) will view these events before the Millennium (fulfilled Kingdom age).

Dr. Stephan Jones of God’s Kingdom Ministries claims that, “Jesus was saying that the Judeans would not pass away before their nation would return to life as the fig tree. In 1948 the sap began to flow into that tree once again, and it bore more leaves. However, leaves were the reason Jesus cursed the fig tree in the first place”.

An exegete asked the following question concerning this scripture:  “Did he (Jesus) intend to symbolize the revival of the life of the withered Jewish race in the time of the end?”  I believe the answer is no.  The leaves were cursed to wither as written in the first fig leaf scripture we viewed in Mark 11:13.  As a result the Judean nation, Jerusalem, and the temple were destroyed by Rome and the population dispersed.  Some individuals returned before 1948 and many returned afterward (mostly European Judeans but very few, if any, from the original 12 tribes to my knowledge).  Today there are essentially only leaves in the nation of Israel but still no fruit, meaning one would be hard-pressed (but not impossible) to find Judean believers in today’s nation of Israel (yes, there are those referred to as Messianic Jews).

The current nation of Israel is mostly a revived nation of Judah, as stated by several commentators.  According to some sources the Spanish Sephardim are the actual dispersed Judeans and the Ashkenazim group are the theoretical eastern European self-proclaimed Jews of Khazar ancestry.  They are back in the land of Canaan as leaves of the fig tree with a final opportunity to bear the fruit as expected and required by God.  However, Jesus said to the fig tree with no fruit, "Never again will there be fruit from you!" 

Two verses prior to the fig tree parable of Matthew 24, we are presented with the scriptural presentation of the return of the Son of Man.

Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man arriving on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  (Matthew 24:30 NET)

Many dispensational pre-tribulation commentators (and others) have interpreted this passage to mean the Jews or Judeans (and perhaps anyone else alive) will repent when they see Jesus Christ coming in the clouds of heaven.  However, it may mean the exact opposite.  The word translated as “tribes” is from the Greek word phule.

Thayer Definition:  phule  1) a tribe  2) a nation, people  Thayer’s/Strong’s Number is G5443

Strong’s and Thayer’s Dictionaries state the word phule has a similar and related word which is phullon.

G5444 Thayer Definition:  phullon   1) a leaf
A Related Word by Thayer’s/Strong’s Number: from the same as G5443

Although the word phule most likely should be translated as “tribe” it is also closely related to phullon which is a leaf or leaves.

The Greek word translated as “mourn” is kopto which is defined as:

Thayer Definition:  kopto  1) to cut, strike, smite 2) to cut from, cut off 3) to beat one’s breast for grief

As can be seen in the above definition, the translation of “mourn” is the third aspect of the word with the first two defined as “to smite”; or be cut off or cut from.  This appears to indicate those remaining at the return of Jesus will be cut off in the final destruction, other than the marked 144,000 of the listed twelve tribes and the remnant who escapes at the setup of the abomination of desolation.  The remaining leaves, both Judah and various ethnic tribes or groups, will again be cut off (cursed to wither and die) in the final destruction of Jerusalem. 

1 comment:

  1. All things upon earth are merely the adumbrations of the eternal heavenly realities.
    There was a tabernacle, but its true representation was always in the heavens; there were temples, where sacrifices of bulls and goats were performed, but God seeks rather that we show mercy and do not sacrifice; His true Temple is the hearts of His chosen people; and which we are warned not to defile.
    The jews are the shadows of the Church, which latter only was chosen in Christ from the beginning.
    Again, they are of the earth, earthy, but to the extent that they accept the Lord Jesus Christ, then they may be a part of the true Israel; but Israel according to the flesh is departed; they did "nothing" of all that God commanded them. ( Jer 32, 23. )
    "And all the House of Israel is uncircumcized in the heart".
    Interestingly, Askenaz was, in addition to being the grandson of Japheth, the nephew of Magog from the land of Gog. Thus the Ashkenazim who presently infect and infest the Land of Israel are those hordes from the north prophesied in Ezekiel 38 and 39.
    Their time is short.
    "I will not let them pollute My holy Name any more."