Truth, Understanding, Insight

The Fig Tree

12th May 2007, seh, mgh


1) The Fig Tree

Ficus carica- the edible fig is indigenous to the Middle East. It is a small deciduous tree reaching 9m. It needs a warm climate with dry summers as rain can split the ripening fruit.. It has distinctive three lobes leaves. It bears two crops per year.

Botanica's pocket Trees and Shrubs Random House Australia 1999.

A fruitful land

When the Israelites were approaching the promised land, twelve spies were sent to search and survey the land. The people were frightened by the report of the land given by ten of the spies. They failed to be moved by the enthusiasm of Joshua and Caleb or even by the evidence of the fruitfulness of the land as seen in the beautiful, bountiful branch with one cluster of grapes that had to be carried by two of the spies upon a staff, and the pomegranates and the figs. Their courage failed and they were fearful because they feared the people living in the land.

Imagine the frustration of Joshua and Caleb. They were so distressed and perplexed that they,

“rent their clothes. And they spoke to all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land which we passed through to search is an exceedingly good land. If Yahweh delight in us, then he will bring us into this land, a land which flows with milk and honey.” (Numbers 14: 6-8)

Faithlessness in the face of evidence

The faithlessness of Israel was frequently referred to in the Old Testament. Israel had seen spectacular signs in Egypt: the amazing miracle of the Red Sea crossing, the destruction of Pharaoh's hosts, the shadowing and protective cloud by day and the flaming fire by night. The people had been fed with manna and provided with water in the wilderness. But they had failed to recognise Yahweh's great power. In Numbers 14: 1-2, we read that:

“all the congregation wept... and all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron, and the whole congregation said to them, would that we had died in the land of Egypt, or that we had died in this wilderness.”

Considering the miracles and signs which they had witnessed, we may wonder at the people's fears and lack of faith. In Psalm 78: 11-10, the Psalmist comments that they,

“forgot his works and his wonders that he had showed them; marvellous things did he... in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.” (Psalm 78: 11-10)

Are there Signs Today?

Unusually for trees, the flower of a fig tree is inside the developing fruit itself and is not seen.(Gardening: a common sense guide. Geoffrey Burnie, Murdoch Books.1996)

Today, in the twenty-first century, there are miracles and signs that confirm the accuracy of the Biblical writings: the preservation of the Bible over two thousand years, the fulfilling of Bible prophecy, the kaleidoscope of history that has been revealed in the book of Revelation, the growing power and influence of the Papacy, the rise of Islam, the confederation of Europe, the Euro dollar, the uniting states of Europe, and Israel's restoration.

These are spectacular signs.

Today Israel is a fact of life. Most of us today have never known a world in which Israel did not exist and have not experienced the thrill, in 1948 when Israel, through much tribulation emerged as a nation. Over a hundred years ago, faithful Christians were financially supporting Jewish farming ventures in Palestine in the expectation of the return of the Jews to Israel based on the prophetic writings of the Bible. Like Joshua and Caleb, they had tremendous faith in the vision of a homeland for the Jews. Politicians such as Sir Winston Churchill and Lord Balfour expended a great deal of effort to forward the restoration of the Jews' traditional homeland.