The Parable of The Fig Tree

May/June 2019

“Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I regard the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for good” (Jeremiah 24:5). 

Mark Davis 

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Matthew 24:32-44 

“Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch has now become tender and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh.”1 Our Lord spoke this parable during the last week of his earthly ministry. It was part of the great prophecy he gave to his disciples. He used this symbol of “the fig tree” as one of the signs that would unfold and be revealed in advance of the kingdom of God. He says of that approaching day, “know ye that ‘it’ is nigh, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:33, Luke 21:31). 

The prophets identified figs with the nation of Israel. “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the first ripe in the fig-tree at its first season” (Hosea 9:10). 

Jeremiah comforts those of Israel who were taken captive, “Thus saith Jehovah, the God of Israel: Like these good figs, so will I regard the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans, for good.” (Jeremiah 24:5-7). These “good figs” represented the Jewish people who would eventually return to their homeland having their hearts changed, never to be plucked up again. 

It is evident that hundreds of years later, even down to our Lord’s first advent unto that last week of his earthly life, this prophecy had not yet been fulfilled. In 70 AD the temple was destroyed.2 Not one stone was left upon another. The Jewish people, of those that survived, were expelled from their own land and dispersed throughout other nations. 

Jesus also symbolized Judah as a fruitless fig tree (Mark 11:12-14, 20-21). This, however, was not to be the final verdict upon a dispersed people, for we learn in Amos: 

“In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old … And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them, and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God” (Amos 9:11, 14-15 KJV). 

Coming down to our present day, this present “generation”3 as mentioned in Matthew 24:34, refers not to a race, but rather to the people living contemporaneously with the re-gathered nation of Israel, sees first hand, as that nation “putteth forth its leaves.”4

(1) RVIC2016 translation utilized throughout the article unless otherwise noted. 

(2) See Siege of Jerusalem (70 CE), en.wikipedia. org/wiki/Siege_of_Jerusalem_(70_CE) 

(3) This generation, Greek, genea, people living contemporaneously, not a race. Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 4, page 603. 

(4) Alternatively, the “generation” may be ‘the seed of Abraham,’ suggested by Psalm 22:30 (KJV, RVIC), “A seed [of Abraham] shall serve him [Jehovah, YaHWeH]; it shall be accounted to the Lord for a generation.” So it may simply mean the faithful church will not be complete until all these things have begun fulfilment. (Matthew 24:29-30 might be exempted, as they are “immediately after the tribulation of those days,”).

We can see, from history going back to 1878, signs of these leaves coming forth when the Berlin

Congress of Nations opened the land of Palestine to Jewish colonization. It was in that year the first

Jewish colony, Petah Tikvah,12 was established and so began the first leaf of immigration (“aliya”).

Matthew 24

(32) Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh;
(33) even so ye also, when ye see all these things, know ye that (5)it is nigh, even at the doors.
(34) Truly I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be come to pass.
(35) Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away. (36) But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven,
(36) neither the Son, but the Father only.
(37) And as were the days of Noah, so shall be the presence of the Son of man.
(38) For as in those days which were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark,
(39) and they knew not until the flood came, and took them all away, so shall be the presence of the Son of man.
(40) Then shall two be in the field; one man is taken, and one man is left:
41) two shall be grinding at the mill; one woman is taken, and one woman is left
(42) Watch therefore: for ye know not on what day your Lord cometh.
(43) (7) But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what watch the thief was coming, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be (8) broken through.
(44) Therefore ye also become ready; for in an hour that ye think not the Son of man cometh.

Mark 13

(28) Now from the fig tree learn her parable: when her branch is now become tender, and putteth forth its leaves, ye know that the summer is nigh;
(29) even so, ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that 5it is nigh, even at the doors.
30) Truly I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away until all these things are come to pass.
(31) Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. (32) But of that day or that hour knoweth no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.
(33) Take ye heed, (9) watch: for ye know not when the time is.
(34) It is as when a man, sojourning in another country, having left his house, and given authority to his (10) servants, to each one his work, commanded also the porter to watch. (35) Watch therefore: for ye know not when the lord of the house cometh, whether at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning;
(36) lest having come suddenly he find you sleeping.
(37) And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

Luke 21

(29) And he spake to them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees:
(30) when they now shoot forth, ye see it and know of your own selves that the summer is now nigh.
(31) Even so, ye also, when ye see these things coming to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh.
(32) Truly I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all things are come to pass.
(33) Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
(34) But take heed to yourselves, lest haply your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that day comes on you suddenly as a snare: (35) for so shall it come upon all them that dwell on the face of all the earth. (36) But watch ye at every season, making supplication, that ye may prevail to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. And they answering say unto him, Where, Lord? And he said unto them, Where the body is, thither will the (11) eagles also be gathered together.

We can see, from history going back to 1878, signs of these leaves coming forth when the Berlin Congress of Nations opened the land of Palestine to Jewish colonization. It was in that year the first Jewish colony, Petah Tikvah,12 was established and so began the first leaf of immigration (“aliya”).

__________

(5) Or, he (The Greek is not specific.) But it seems to be required by the parallel to kingdom of God in Luke 21:31.

(6) So B א* Θ ite arm. 892 33 with a majority of Greek mss. cop sys vg omit neither the Son,

(7) Or, But this ye know,

(8) Gk. digged through.

(9) So B copfay itk. But אLΨ 892 Δ 1342 579 sys vg arm read watch and pray: Θ copsa geo read and watch and pray:

(10) Gk. bondservants

(11) Or, vultures

(12) The name Petah Tikvah, “door of hope,” was chosen from the prophecy of Hosea (2:15), “And I will give

her vineyards from thence, and the Valley of Achor for a door of hope.” http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/petah-tikvah

In 1896 Theodor Herzl of Vienna, the father of the Zionist movement, called for the establishment of a Jewish homeland in Palestine in his book, “The Jewish State.”13 The following year, the First Zionist Congress adopted the declaration: “Zionism seeks to establish a home for the Jewish people in Eretz — Israel secured under public law.”14

In 1917 at the close of WWI, the government of Great Britain, issued the Balfour Declaration, 15 placing His Majesty’s government of England on record as favoring the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine.

Finally, on May 14,1948, the State of Israel was established by the Israeli Declaration of Independence. The following year, in May 1949, the United Nations’ General Assembly formally recognized and admitted Israel into the UN under resolution 273.16 Thus, in steady progressive steps, Israel has been regaining her place among the nations, which was promised to her by God. What a marvelous prophecy we have seen being fulfilled before our very eyes, the fig tree putting forth leaves, a key sign indicating our Lord’s second parousia (presence), just as he foretold in his prophecy of Mathew 24:32. (The Luke account adds “and all the trees,” pointing to dozens of nations becoming independent after World War II.)

Yet, the nations of the world, have been slow to recognize Israel’s right to rule from Jerusalem. It has taken seventy years, since that nation was first established for any other country to formally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’sancestral capital.17 All of these signs of life of the fig tree give us great confidence that God’s coming kingdom is near at hand, “even at the  doors.” His time clock is moving forward just as He has ordered it.

Some have thought that the “heavens and the earth” (verse 35) referred to the calamity that came upon natural Israel in AD 70, but our Lord stated, “this gospel of the kingdomshall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come”

(Matthew 24:14 KJV). The heavens and the earth mentioned refer to the present order of things. The present “ecclesiastical and social order”18 would pass away, “but my words shall not pass away.”

__________

(13) The Jewish State, by Theodor Herzl (Courier Corporation, 27 April 2012), page 157.

(14) “The first Zionist Congress was called by Theodor Herzl. The Congress took place in Basel, Switzerland.

August 29, 1897.” http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/first-zionist-congress-and-basel-program-1897.

(15) The Balfour Declaration on November 2, 1917.Although the famous declaration was addressed to Lord

Rothschild (Lionel Walter), Dr. Chaim Weizmann was the face of Zionist movement and the architect of its diplomacy.

http://jcpa.org/article/chaim-weizmann-balfour-declaration-unique-act-world-moral-conscience. See also:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/British_Mandate_for_Palestine_(legal_instrument). And see article 4 of the “Palestine

Mandate,” http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/palmanda.asp.

(16) On 14 May 1948 the State of Israel was established by the Israeli Declaration of Independence. On 11

May 1949, the General Assembly by the requisite two-thirds majority approved the application to admit Israel

to the UN by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 273. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_recognition_

of_Israel.

(17) December 6, 2017, the President of the United States recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In 1995,

Congress had adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy

to Jerusalem. http://www.ifcj.org/news/stand-for-israel/US-Proclaims-Jerusalem-as-Capital-of-Israel.html.

(18) Studies in the Scriptures, Volume 4, page 602.

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