THE FIG TREE – Religion, Self Preservation and Self Deception
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings. Gen 3:7
Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it. Mark 11:12-14
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ” Luke 13:6-9
*All scriptures are from the NKJV, unless otherwise stated
The fig tree is one topic I have never really considered writing about, and obviously for the reason that I have never really studied it or read much about it. But as I inquired of the Lord as to what I would be writing for this post, nothing really was given for days up, until a few days to when I usually make my posting. (I post every Sunday, as allowed). It’s a kind of rule that I would not to write anything out of my own imagination or will. Meaning if I am given nothing to write or share, then I will simply leave out that week’s publication until God gives a word; this keeps me dependent on the Lord for what to publish each time. So on this day, while just walking on the roof of the house, I heard “The fig tree”. It wasn’t much of a surprise hearing that, simply because I often get topics of what to write about in that way. But in this case, I had nothing much in my heart concerning the fig tree. But right there on that roof, the various fragments of what the Lord would have me write started coming together in my heart. I tried to do a quick recording of what I was hearing, but my phone instantly went dead. So I left myself open for the Lord to first teach my heart what He wants, and then take the time to write them out later. So here we are, talking about the fig tree in a way I had never read it before or heard. I really hope the message in this article blesses your heart as it has blessed mine. I do know that other people have different interpretations to the fig tree, but this is what I was given.
JESUS AND THE FIG TREE
I have often wondered why the Lord Jesus cursed the fig tree in Mat 21 and Mark 11. I have never been able to connect His reasons, except for the fact that He, Jesus, used the event to teach His disciples the potency of faith and the declarations of faith. Somehow, I have always also thought that Jesus must really have other reasons beyond the tree not having fruit. This being that, scripture says the time was not the season of fruit bearing for figs and thus it was not natural to expect fruit from the fig tree. So from this perspective, we can safely say, in a sense that Jesus didn’t curse the fig tree for not having fruit, but for other reasons, for He Himself knew that the fig tree was not in the season of bearing fruit. However, because He said directly to the fig tree, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again,” we can also say He actually did curse the fig tree for not having fruit. It’s a two way understanding that I believe will bring us to something significant in the story of the fig tree. And going this way of dual understanding, I believe, will help to keep every strand of the story in light.
I find this quite interesting to my mind. Jesus on the same day He cursed the fig tree, made a triumphant entry into Jerusalem and also purged the temple of those who were trading – buying and selling – in it. He called that temple activity, “making His Father’s house a den of thieves”. Absolutely, the temple was meant to be the house of prayers, worship, communion with God for all nations, but by the acts of the religious masters of the law, the temple was numbered among places where thieves hang out. Very sad. For in the days following, and not too long after that incident, that same temple was condemned to destruction by the words of the Lord Himself. My question is this, are all these events that took place on this day coincidental? I do not believe so. I believe the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem was a type of Him coming to judge that which had been become stale and rotten before God. In this case, the fig tree and the temple were rightly judged, for having lost their salty savor, they were simply thrown out to be trampled underfoot.
Some scholars believe that the fig tree is a symbolism of the natural Israel and I do not argue with that. In fact, I believe this too, for the natural Israel was clearly blind to spiritual things even though, according to scriptures, theirs was the oracle, the covenant and the adoption unto sonship with God. And this blindness, even though scriptures says it’s in part, created in the natural Israel delusions, which in turn made them ride on the wings of religious activities, laws, temple rituals – which are all nothing but outer coverings for inner rottenness and lawlessness which the fig tree is notorious for. I want to believe that Jesus’ dealing with this fig tree with such severe judgment for its fruitlessness, was a prophecy that instantly put blindness on the Jews and created room for the coming in of the Gentiles. Our reference text clearly says the fig tree was not in season, meaning the season for something else was instantly activated and put into motion, awaiting the time when God will again bring back all things unto Himself. Please stay with me as we ride on this journey of discovery together.
THE FIG TREE AND ITS LEAVES
The fig tree is the emblem of the Jewish nation, which seemed to be thriving, yet was fruitless and its leaves are the various coverings of religious activities and rituals which they used to try to get to God even though the coming of Jesus was clearly the beginning of a new testament which allows man to only please God by faith and not by religion or its acts. The Lord Jesus often rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for this lack of spiritual fruit, see what He said in conclusion to the parable of the vineyard. “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it…” Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them (Mat 21:43 & 45) Thus, the cursing of the fig tree represented a curse on the nation of Israel. In verse 20, the disciples, when they saw the fig tree wither away, “marveled, saying, “How soon is the fig tree withered away!” This was nothing less than a prophecy of the coming destruction of the Jewish nation by the Roman army under Titus in AD 70, only thirty-seven years later. Indeed, the fig tree was to wither away very soon!
THE FIG TREE IN THE GARDEN OF EDEN
I also find something very interesting in the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Obviously, there were various trees planted by the commandment of God in the Garden, but only three stood out, a thing which I believe is not an accident, but was so because they have some deep significance to us and our relationship with God. I speak of the tree of life, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and then the fig tree. The tree of life, I believe strongly, is symbolic of Jesus and His sons as branches, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is that which brings death into the man that eats from it. But what was the significance of the fig tree as early as the days of the Garden of Eden? Let’s look at it from this perspective. The fig tree, even though it was among the trees of the garden that God permitted man to eat, didn’t give any nourishment to the soul of man (Adam and Eve) just like it didn’t give any to Jesus on the day He was hungry and in need of food. I find it very curious that the fig tree on the day when both the first Adam and the last Adam were in need didn’t give fruit but gave leaves. That really triggered some thoughts in me. The fig tree literally gave leaves to both Men who were considered to be the beginning and the end of life with God. I mean Adam as the first man, was called the son of God and Jesus who is the picture of what the renewed man will look like, is also called the Son of God and all the fig tree could produce was leaves and no fruit? See this, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil just by their names were clear as to what their purposes are, one to give life and the other to give death. The fig tree happened to be the only tree among the three with a name but no purpose. In my own opinion, I want to believe that the fig tree was the same tree behind which Adam and Eve hid themselves from God after covering their nakedness with its leaves. Adam found some level of comfort and convenience in covering himself with the leaves of the fig tree and also hid behind it, but Jesus wouldn’t have such. He certainly had a better way to present Himself before God. He used the way of the cross (The tree of death) and His nakedness (a fig-less) surrender of Himself to the wrath of God for the salvation of humanity and creation. This is the stance every true believer and Overcomer must take with God always. No religious coverings, but nakedness and unshamedness before God.
Thus, if Jesus is the tree of life in the Garden of Eden and if the tree of the knowledge of good and evil is the tree of death, what then are the leaves of the fig tree that Adam and Eve covered themselves with when they fell? I believe it is the spirit of religion, self-preservation, pride and the direct spirit of Lucifer, the false light that lights up the paths of the sons of perdition. And one more thing I must say in this paragraph, do you notice that among the three trees (Tree of life, tree of knowledge of good and evil and the fig tree) that where shown prominently in the story of creation and the fall, that only the tree of life made it to the end, that is, the New Jerusalem? (Rev 22:2)
What does that tell you? The tree of death and the fig tree that represents the false Israel and her leaves of religion will be done away with, and the pure “Israel”, the Bride of Christ (The New Jerusalem) free from religion, will reign with Christ forever. If you read Rev 22:2, For you will notice that this tree of life in the New Jerusalem has leaves and fruits as against no mention being made of fruits and leaves in the one of Genesis. And most importantly, the leaves of this tree of life are not for religious covering, but healing of the nations. How amazing is the wisdom of God.
Religion and the spirit that controls it is the worst thing that has ever happened to this fallen world. Religion as a created concept for reaching God or gods has a very dubious way of making man live and thrive in self-deception and then name it some spiritual terms. It makes a man live out a fruitless, lifeless and Spirit-less life while thinking he has some deep connection to God. Of the Pharisees, Jesus said ““Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.” Mat 23:27-28. And of the entire nation of Israel and as regards to worship, Jesus said “You worship what you do not know; we know WHAT WE WORSHIP, for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22. (Emphasis mine. To show the inanimate “what” that the Jews worship). But clearly this way of Jewish worship and religious rituals was not what God the Father wants in worship. He wants and seeks those who will worship Him in Spirit and in truth. Meaning that, the fig tree has the ability to bring forth many leaves, fine and attractive, but no fruit for nourishment. The Spirit of religion makes men walk in lies, deception, and falsehood and then cover it with the leaves of vain words, luxury which they boldly call the blessings of God, but without any form of godliness in them.
The fig tree and its leaves of religion are what have created the denominational craze we have now all over the world. Lots of Bible translations, lots of denominations with diverse doctrines and confusion and yet scripture says God is not the author of confusion. But the fact still remains that the most confused set of people or organizations in the world is the institutional church. In other words, who or what exactly is the God of these institutions and which of the trees of the garden are they in alignment with? Is it the tree of life that gives life, the tree of knowledge of good and evil that gives death or the fig tree of religion that gives false covering for falsehood, deception and pride? Jesus was right to curse the tree and then point all to walking by faith by the teaching that emerged out of the event of the fig tree.
There is one sure thing among other things, what faith or walking by the Spirit of God does to the soul of the Overcomers. It makes them to ‘love not their lives to the death’. It helps them ride over fear, uncertainty, doubt, which in turn removes from them the ability to preserve themselves in the face of tribulation, trials and even physical death. And I am not talking about recklessness in the face of physical danger, but a non-preservation of self for the cause of the journey of faith with Christ. See what is written of the Overcomers who walk with Christ…Rev 12:10-11 “Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.” and also “…and those who are with Him are called, chosen, and faithful.” Rev 17:14. In this age of the Two Witnesses, where trials and tribulation will be more intense for the Overcomers, especially from God, to make them pure, white and holy – self-preservation, which is a product of the fig tree, cannot be given a foothold in their lives. For the walk of faith and self-preservation don’t work together and never will. Of Jesus it is written “And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8 and also “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Heb 12:1-2
FAITH AND BELIEF
Faith and belief are very close associates and work hand in hand. You can say faith and belief are the same thing as faith and works. And because faith without works is dead, faith without belief is also dead. Why? Faith is the substance, tangible evidence of things not seen but acquired in hope, which is simply activated by the word of God spoken to a man, for faith comes by hearing the word of God, and belief is actually using that acquired hope or substance of things not seen to create a daily pattern of lifestyle, birthed upon the premise of that which is not seen but hoped for. Meaning that faith is that which is seen afar off and then accepted as true, while belief is the daily process of walking in that which is believed as true, irrespective of whatever circumstances or position one finds himself. Thus faith and belief are the partners needed for the journey of the Overcomers in this day.
Obviously, the difference between the tree of life, the tree of death and the fig tree, is Faith. And thus, the only way to kill the spirit of religion symbolized by the fig tree is to walk by faith as led by the Spirit of God. Religion has become the opium by which men have their brains washed with lies and deception that have no bearing on the eternal things of God. For God will not bear for long, anymore, with the covering spirit of religion and religious rituals that are not founded on faith. See what is written of the fruitless fig tree taking up space:
He also spoke this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’ ”(Luke 13:6-7) Truth be told, this parable speaks of the house of Israel which Jesus for three years of his ministry tried to reach with the gospel of the Kingdom, but they rejected Him and wallowed in their spiritual fruitlessness even while claiming to be oracles of eternal things in God. Meaning that the curse Jesus placed on the fig tree was directly a curse on the Jewish nation and also a call for men to walk by faith and not by some laws. For scripture says this of the faithlessness of Israel:
“What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness of faith; but Israel, pursuing the law of righteousness, has not attained to the law of righteousness. Why? Because they did not seek it by faith, but as it were, by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumbling stone. As it is written: “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumbling stone and rock of offense, And whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” Romans 9:30-33
Jesus dealt with the natural Israel as the unfruitful fig tree in his days, but in our days of the spiritual Israel, He again is dealing with the fig tree as the spirit of religion, self-preservation and self-deception among believers and much more so among the Overcomers who have been called to overcome all things in themselves. Clearly we are entering the days of the two witnesses even as we are still in the days of great lukewarmness spoken of in Revelation 3, but God will not put up anymore with this fig tree syndrome. It must be cut down.
BEING LED BY THE SPIRIT
This happens to be one of the most asked questions you hear among those who wish to walk with God. ‘How do I know or recognize the leading of the Spirit?’ I believe there are various teachings about this same topic, but one answer. But before I give my own point of view concerning this question, let me say this:
There are two voices, realities, realms constantly fighting for our attention every minute of the day. Scripture calls it the war between Spirit and flesh. Meaning that in our walk, there will always be two voices fighting for our attention. The voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the devil.
But here is a quick and genuine way to test what voice is at work in you.
The Holy Spirit will always glorify Jesus and also point man to that glorified Jesus. And in the case of pointing man to Jesus, He points man first to His cross. Why? The cross is the instrument of the glorification of Jesus and thus it is the constant and genuine path for anyone who wants to walk with Christ. The glorification of Christ is directly tied to His cross and he who wants to walk with Him in truth must also bear his own cross just as Jesus did His. For it is said of Jesus “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-10. However, the voice of the spirit of the false light will always point man to man’s own self and his pride. Religion, which is directly connected to the fig tree and which is also directly connected to the natural Israel, takes pride in self proclamation and prideful assumptions of positions with God which have no basis in truth.
Simply put, Spirit is simply walking in relationship with the Holy Spirit by faith and flesh is simply not walking by the Spirit.
Like I had said earlier, the fig tree is the symbolism of Israel and its leaves are the religious acts of covering which allows no godly fruit to be produced in their lives. Now, the statement “for it was not the season for figs,” used in the event of Jesus cursing the fig tree points us to something very significant and which I believe was what created the limitation and blindness in the Jewish nation of Israel. It was and is still the wisdom of God that made that fig tree to be out of season. Or let me put it this way. It was and it’s still the wisdom of God that made Israel fall to blindness or be cut away in order to bring in the Gentiles, and thus when the fullness of the Gentiles has come in, then a new season for the fig tree (Israel) will be activated and all will come into God. It is a grand agenda of God for a grand restoration of all things back to God. You can see what the Apostle Paul said of this same agenda of God in Romans 11: 1-36. (It’s a long read)
I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.
What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written:
“God has given them a spirit of stupor,
Eyes that they should not see
And ears that they should not hear,
To this very day.”
And David says:
“Let their table become a snare and a trap,
A stumbling block and a recompense to them.
Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see,
And bow down their back always.”
Israel’s Rejection Not Final
I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness!
For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, “Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.” Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
“The Deliverer will come out of Zion,
And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;
For this is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience, that He might have mercy on all.
Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!
“For who has known the mind of the Lord?
Or who has become His counselor?”
“Or who has first given to Him
And it shall be repaid to him?”
For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen.”
From the various scriptures we have seen, we now understand that the falling away of Israel or the cursing of the fig tree was a deliberate act of God for a season, in order to bring the Gentiles (Non-Jews) to God and thus by this, all will be free from laws and embrace Spirit by faith.
It may also interest you to know that the coming together of the Gentile remnant or the small group of Overcomers is what it means for the fullness of the Gentiles to be in place. This is already happening with the Overcomers, though they are scattered all over the earth and mostly don’t know each other. And mind you, I do not speak of the confused church that you see every Sunday morning, they are as cut off as the fig tree or the old Israel (No apologies whatever for these words concerning the institution church). See my other writings about the Overcomers for clarity. And sure enough also, if the fullness of the Gentiles is already in place by God bringing the Overcomers into place in Him, then it means the restoration of Israel is fast approaching also. For the fullness of the Gentiles is the activation of the new season of restoration for Israel and all will be saved.
COUNSEL TO THE OVERCOMERS
For the Overcomers, who are on their journeys of faith towards the prize of the high calling of God in Christ, this season in particular is critical, as it relates to the season of the Two Witnesses (see my last article on the Two witnesses). It is the season in which the reality of being nailed to the cross will become much more real. For the cross is the power of God unto salvation of the soul and salvation here means, the liberty from the fallen state of man represented by the beast of Revelation 13, which is basically the covering of the beast which God placed upon man from the fall.
I have also wondered why God will exchange the fig leaves that Adam and Eve made for themselves for the skin of an animal? I want to believe that God knows that allowing man to remain clothed in the garment of fig leaves of deception and self-preservation will never allow man to enter His plan and purpose. But clothing him with the garment of skin (the beast) will certainly lead man to the fullness of the mystery of iniquity which in turn reveals the mystery of godliness in man. The wisdom of God is perfect and eternal.
So to you dear Overcomer I say this, do not be at rest under the shade of the fig tree of self-preservation, religion, good looking outward appearances but with no inner purity, or any of such thing that weakens the walk of faith. Stay on course and the light of God’s glory will lead you to the fullness of faith and the measure of the fullness of Christ.
God bless you.