Parable of Fig Tree– To let us know his coming as man in the flesh, Jesus gave one parable of his coming on the clouds of heaven. And also to teach us the time of his coming, he gave us another parable: the parable of a figtree. Through this parable of the figtree we can understand the time frame of his second coming; therefore, we must take a look at this parable and understand the true meaning behind it. Unless we understand the meaning of this parable, we cannot know the time of his coming, and we will not be able to know or receive him even though he is the one who can give us salvation.
The Blossoming of Fig Tree
Parable of Fig Tree– Then what is the parable Jesus taught to let us know the time of his coming?
Matthew 24:32 “Now learn this lesson from the figtree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
In this parable we can see a figtree which was dead once is blossoming again by giving out the new leaves and branches. And when this figtree blossoms, it is the sign for the summer, which is the harvest season in Israel. At this time of harvest, what we should know is someone is coming for the harvest and he is standing right at the door. If we take a look at another version of the bible, the meaning of “it” becomes clear.
Matthew 24:33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. (NASB)
“He” in Matthew 24 is the Second Coming Christ because this chapter was given to explain about the signs of his second coming and the end of age. Therefore, the summer or the harvest time actually represents the spiritual harvest time at the end of age, and the one who is coming as harvester is Jesus himself who is coming for the second time. Then what is the lesson we should learn in this parable? It is that He will appear for the second time when the figtree is blossoming. Then what does the figtree represent? Should we understand this in a physical sense? No, it is a parable, which means it contains some hidden meaning behind it. If it is a physical figtree, the Christ must coming every year. He must appear once, twice, three times, etc. Since it has passed 2000 years since he gave this teaching, he must have come for about 2000 times.
But since the bible says he would appear for the second time and there is no third or fourth appearance, we must know the figtree must not be understood in a physical sense. Then spiritually or prophetically what does a figtree represent?
Spiritual Meaning of a Fig Tree
To make a long story short, a fig tree represents the nation of Israel. Throughout the Old Testament and New Testament we can find examples that a fig tree means Israel. Let us confirm this through the couple of teachings of Christ himself.
Luke 13:6 Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. 7 So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’
What is the meaning of this parable of fig tree? This parable was given as explanation of his ministry. According to the bible the vineyard represents the land of Israel (Isaiah 5:7) and also a fig tree means the nation of Israel. He came to the land of Israel and he was taking care of his people by preaching the gospel of the kingdom, but people did not accept him and his teaching. The fig tree did not bear fruits, which means there was no one in the nation who accepted him. For that reason, he made up his mind to destroy the nation completely.
Cursing of the Fig Tree
Parable of Fig Tree– His decision is made more clear in another parable he gave.
Mark 11:12 The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. 13 Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. 14 Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
In this parable, we can see Jesus cursing a fig tree for not having fruits in it. The reason there was no fruit in the fig tree was obvious for everyone. According to Mark’s word, he said simply it was because “it was not the season for figs.” Without doubts, Jesus must have known the time of figs. It was the most common tree in the land of Israel and everybody knows when it produces fruits, let alone Jesus is the God who made the fig tree. If he wanted to curse a fig tree for not having fruits in it, he should have cursed all the fig trees in the land of Israel, not just one.
Then what is the true meaning behind this cursing of a fig tree for not having fruit? We can now understand that this was given as parable too. It contains spiritual meanings in it. Then what is the meaning of the cursing? By cursing the fig tree, symbolically Jesus was cursing the nation of Israel and people in it for not bearing the fruits of repentance. Even though God himself came down to this earth and preached the gospel to teach them the words of God and give them salvation, no one was willing to accept his teaching. For that reason he cursed the nation of Israel and that was parabolically manifested as cursing of the fig tree.
Mark 11:20 In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots. 21 Peter remembered and said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree you cursed has withered!”
What happened to the fig tree which was cursed by Jesus? It withered from the roots, which means it withered completely without any sign of life in it. This dead fig tree was given as sign of the destruction of the nation. Actually, he gave a direct teaching about the fall of Israel without using any parable in it.
The Fall of Jerusalem Prophesied
Luke 21:20 “When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. 21 Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. 22 For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. 23 How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people.
Parable of Fig Tree– In this prophecy Jesus foretold the fall of Jerusalem by the siege of armies, which actually took place in AD 70 when Jerusalem was surrounded by Roman armies led by General Titus. This is a short historical description about the fall of Jerusalem:
While the Jews were making their preparations, the Romans were busy too. Vespasian, their outstanding general, commander of the Second Legion in the conquest of Britain, was sent out to restore Roman rule. By the year 68, after having to fight every inch of the way on his march southwards through Palestine, he had virtually isolated Jerusalem and was ready to put it under siege. As chance would have it, Rome at this time was rocked by political upheaval, and Vespasian decided to await its outcome. Meanwhile, he suspended his campaign. The political upshot was the proclamation of Vespasian as emperor in 69. He appointed his son, Titus, commander of the armies in Judea, entrusting him with the direction of the final operations against the Jews of Jerusalem. The Jews had been given a breathing space, but they squandered it on bitter and bloody internal conflict. Lack of unity had sapped their strength, and they revived and sought to compose their differences only when, in the spring of 70, Titus with his vast forces descended upon the city.
From The Great Revolt AD 66-70, Teddy Kollek and Moshe Pearlman, Jerusalem: Sacred City of Mankind, Steimatzky Ltd., Jerusalem, 1991.
During this six months’ siege, people suffered diseases and hunger and many died. Finally, the wall of Jerusalem was broken through and the city was completely destroyed by the army, resulting in the death of 1.1 million and captivity of 97,000 people of Israel. This was the fulfillment of the parable of a fig tree. The cursed fig tree finally got dried and dead even from the root without having any life in it. But according to the prophecy, Jesus already foretold that this fig tree which seemed to be dead completely will blossom again.
Luke 21:24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
The nation of Israel will not be in ruin forever; but rather he said that it would be restored when the time of Gentiles comes to an end. According to this prophecy, finally in 1948 the nation of Israel was restored back again. The fig tree cursed and dead even from the root started to revive again. Historians considered this event as miracle which was unprecedented before. No nation in human history could be restored back to its own land like Israel 1900 years after its fall.
The Lesson from the Fig Tree
Parable of Fig Tree– Then how could this happen? This miraculous thing happened as part of fulfillment of prophecies. Through this fulfillment of something inconceivable God wants to teach us a lesson. God made the impossible possible to teach us a lesson which will surely be fulfilled.
Matthew 24:32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.
The blossoming of the dead fig tree or the restoration of once stateless people of Israel was given as sign of his coming. When the proclamation of the independence of Israel was made by Ben Gurion the Prime Minister in 1948, spiritually God was making the proclamation of his coming to preach the gospel to give us salvation.
According to the prophecy of the fig tree, Christ Ahnsahnghong started to preach the gospel as it says, “He is near, right at the door.” As spiritual King David he got baptized at the age of 30, and he started to preach the gospel from 1948 also to fulfill the prophecy of the fig tree. Ahnsahnghong is the true Christ because he is the one who fulfilled all the prophecies of the bible. Let us learn this lesson of the fig tree and we must realize that we are living in the time of his coming and earnestly seek him to receive salvation.