The Mystery of Israel the Fig Tree

Summary

The Bible liken’s the nation Israel to a fig tree. A fig tree produces both good and bad (inedible) fruit. So it was with the nation of Israel. Jews who were whole-hearted followers of God were likened to ‘good figs’, and rebellious Jews were likened to ‘bad figs’. The Bible also says that at the end of this age Israel will ‘blossom and bud’ and ‘put forth new leaves’ like a fig tree, and that this will be a sign of the imminent return of Israel’s true Messiah – Yeshua (Jesus Christ). Put simply, the Bible says that end-time events in the world will be closely linked to modern Israel.
Israel the fig tree

Go directly to an interactive timeline for Israel-related events HERE

Signs of the End of the Age and of Christ’s Return

When Jesus’ disciples asked Him, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” (Mathew 24.3), He identified four types of end-time sign (see also Mark 13 and Luke 21):

  • Signs in the world – wars, earthquakes, famines, lawlessness, wild weather …
  • Signs in the church – worldwide gospel preaching, persecution, apostasy, false prophets …
  • Signs in Israel – invasion, severe persecution of Jews …
  • Signs in the heavens – fearful solar and cosmic disturbances, asteroids …

Jesus said that when we see these signs then “know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21.31). He said these signs point to His imminent return and the establishment of His kingdom on earth. So Jesus stressed that it was important to watch for these signs:

Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming (Mat 25.13)

After describing the above signs, Jesus gave a mysterious parable. He associated the observation of these signs with the Parable of the Fig Tree. Why? It turns out that understanding this parable is the key to unlocking the mystery of what is now happening in the world. The parable leads to a very important sign, and one promised by the prophet Isaiah:

He will set up a sign for the nations (Isa 11.12)

What is it?

An Important Sign: The Parable of Israel the Fig Tree

After describing some end-time signs to watch for, Jesus ends with the parable of the fig tree. He told His disciples:

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near – at the doors!
(Mat 24.32,33)

Why did Jesus associate a fig tree with the end time signs? Some argue that Jesus was just using a simple horticultural observation. Quite simply – the fig tree is one of the last trees to bud in the spring and so when it’s leaves are budding we know that summer is just around the corner! So, they argue, Jesus was simply saying; “when the fig tree buds you know that summer is near – likewise, when you see all these things happening, know that the end is near”. They deny that there is any positive association of Israel with a budding fig tree, link. On the other hand, Jesus used the concept of a parable, implying that underneath He was teaching a deep truth. Was He referring to Israel in the last days? Should we view the Parable of the Fig Tree as The Parable of Israel the Fig Tree?

Consider A Little Horticulture

Israel the fig tree

The common or edible fig (Ficus carica L.) is native to the Mediterranean/Israel region, where it can produce three crops per year, link, link. Breba figs develop in the Spring (May) on the previous year’s shoot growth. They are generally inferior to the main crop and are often discarded to encourage growth of the main crop, link. Two main crops follow in July-November, with pollinated (caprified) figs in August-September. Pollination (caprification) of the common fig can markedly increase fig size, link and is done by fig wasps transporting pollen from Capri fig flowers. In contrast to most fruit trees, the Autumn figs (the main crop) develop on the new wood that grows in Spring.

Ficus carica was cultivated for its fruit thousands of years ago and figs are often referred to in the Old Testament. It is interesting to note that the Bible also refers to three crops of figs:

  • ‘early, first ripe, first fruit before the summer, very good figs’ (Isa 28.4; Jer 24.2,3; Hos 9.10) – a relatively small crop with the best flavour, June-July
  • ‘sweetness and good fruit, the season for figs’ (Judg 9.11, Mk 11.13) – main crop, August-September. Made into cakes for winter use (1 Sam 25.18)
  • ‘green, bad, inedible figs’ (Song 2.13; Jer 24.2,3; Jer 29.17) – green or winter figs, small, unripened, unsweetened, inedible fruit, link, link

Spiritual Implication: the End-Time Budding of Israel

Israel the fig tree

Fig horticulture identifies good sweet figs, the first of the summer figs, and poor, unripe and often inedible figs. The significant point here is that the Bible associates these qualities with the people of Israel. For instance, the ‘fathers of Israel’ or Patriarchs are seen as the best figs – the first-fruits of the summer crop:

I found Israel .. your fathers as the first fruits on the fig tree (Hos 9.10)

God sees this minority of Israel as the first and best of the nation. These figs contrast with the green, inedible figs. Both types of fig symbolize the people of Judah before their deportation to Babylon; they are seen as good and bad figs:

The LORD said to me ‘What do you see, Jeremiah?’ And I said, ‘Figs, the good figs, very good, and the bad, very bad (Jer 24.3)

Israel the fig tree

Large ripe figs

Jeremiah 24.5-8 shows that God is referring to those Jews who are whole-hearted followers of God (the good figs), and to those rebellious Jews who had rejected God (the bad figs). Likewise, in the time of Christ, most Jews rejected Him and remained dead in their works and legalism. They were like green, unripened, unsweetened figs. Today, most Jews can be seen as green figs, whilst a few (the messianic Jews) are like sweetened ripe figs.

The consequences of rebellion against God is well illustrated in the incidence of the ‘Withered fig tree’ (Mat 21.18,19). Jesus found no fruit (apparently, not even the unripe breba crop), and so He cursed it and it died. This was prophetic, looking to the destiny of the Jews when they were to be scattered by the Romans in 70 AD. Like the cursed fig tree, the nation of Israel seemingly died. In contrast, Jesus gave an extremely important prophecy that applies to our time. To repeat:

Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near – at the doors! (Mat 24.32,33)
Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom is near (Lk 21.29-31)

Israel the fig tree

Note that Jesus refers to the tender branch, implying new wood and the coming good summer fruit on the new wood. Since the fruit of the fig tree is established in the Old Testament as symbolizing the spiritual state of the people of Israel, many see this coming ‘summer crop’ as the restoration of the people of Israel (generically referred to as ‘Jews’) to their own land. The fruitless dead wood of scattered Israel is replaced by fruit on new wood. It is likened to a people drawn back into their own land and a nation that becomes a sign to the Gentiles. A remnant of this people become ‘the good, sweet crop’. This process has been underway now for over 100 years, link.

So when we refer to ‘Israel the fig tree’ we see both Old Testament Israel, and modern re-gathered or ‘budding’ Israel. The ‘good crop’ could include the 144,000 Messianic Jews drawn from the twelve tribes of Israel who will evangelize the gentile nations at the very end of this age (Rev 7.4-8). The result is the salvation of a countless number of Gentiles during the Great Tribulation:

I looked and saw a great multitude … of all the nations … clothed with white robes … these are the one’s who come out of the great tribulation (Rev 7.9,14).

The Message behind the Parable:
Regathered Israel is a Sign to the Nations

It seems that when Jesus spoke of the appearance of new shoots on the fig tree as signalling that summer is near, He was actually alluding to the restoration of Israel and His imminent return. He was saying that when we see Israel regathered in her own land and ‘budding like a fig tree’ then His return is near – even ‘at the doors’. This will be the time of the coming of the fullness of the Kingdom of God on earth.

Israel and the Timeline for the Last Days

In Luke 21 Jesus said ‘look at the fig tree (Israel) and ‘all the trees’ (the Gentile nations) and so observe the signs of the times. He implied that Israel will be the vortex of the nations. So let’s now apply the parable of Israel the fig tree to the observed world scenario and ask the question, ‘When did the fig tree (Israel) start to bud?’ ‘When did Israel emerge onto the world scene?’ When we trace a timeline of world events from this time we find that many issues of today are closely linked to Israel! We see that Israel is increasingly the vortex of the world.

 

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If you’re viewing this on a mobile phone, click HERE for a PDF version


51 comments

  1. Psalm 90:10 shows us a generation. I believe that 80 years is the generational time referred to when Jesus said his return would be in the generation after Israel [the fig tree] is reformed which was in 1948. Add 80 years brings us to 2028 – Remember, Jesus is talking to the Jewish people. They still have the 7 year tribulation before Jesus returns to the Jewish nation. Subtract 7 years from 2028 and, low and behold, it’s 2021. Jesus said know one knows the day or the hour. He didn’t say no one knows the year. Of course, we’re to be looking for Jesus every day, right? If the fig tree is a spring, summer fruit, then the harvest will be in the fall. Pay attention to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. [Ed. ‘generation’ can also mean (Jewish) ‘race’]

    1. I believe that the Rapture of the Church is next great event to take place, anytime soon. Lord come quickly.

  2. Thanks for the blog. I hope more people read it as we’re so close to the LORD’s return. I believe Isaiah 26: 19-21 covers our recent plague and its almost past. I also believe the promised book of truth is open, mostly in Daniel 11 in which verses lead us to the abomination of desolation that both the LORD and Daniel said to watch for.

  3. The Bible never likens Israel to a fig tree. Where symbolism is involved Israel is symbolized by an olive tree. Many well-meaning people have mischaracterized, misused and in some instances have abused Jesus’ teaching. Here is no exception. Jesus wasn’t using the fig tree as a symbol of Israel but as an example of nature. He expounded on this teaching in Luke 21:29-32. Accordingly, there are two problems with the view being espoused here. There are at least two problems with this understanding of the parable. First, in the expanded version, recorded in Luke 21:29–32, Jesus talked about the fig tree “and all the trees” and the time when “they” shoot forth leaves. If Christ were using the fig tree to represent Israel, what do all the other trees represent? Also, if the time of the fig tree putting forth its leaves referred to Israel’s restoration as a nation in 1948, to what did the shooting forth of leaves by all the other trees refer?

    [Taking just these NT references, then your comments seem quite logical. But please note that this article also looks at how the fig tree is clearly related to the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. Ed.]

    1. Actually that is not true. God indeed describes Israel with 3 different trees:
      1-the Vine. 2- the Fig.
      3-the Olive.
      Each represents the 3 different aspects of Israel.
      1-the Vine represents the spiritual condition of Israel.
      2-the Fig represents the nation of Israel.
      3-the Olive represents the religious privileges of Israel.

    2. Dwight — your Carnal Comment proves you are VOID of the Holy Spirit…or you would SURELY Understand the Parable…
      Fact: Fig trees grow in Israel — CONNECT the dots….you Strain out a gnat to swollow a camel…

      To conceal truth: Jesus explained, “Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive’” Matt 13:13

      When the Yom Teruah Trumpet Sounds & you’re Left standing there in your Superfical Theology…you’ll GET the Parable..!!!

        1. Yes, that was a very well said condemnation, judgment and criticism of another brother. Also arrogant, prideful, and self-righteous.

      1. Take a chill pill, Mark! If we are discussing issues of eschatology at this level, then we are have all accepted Grace. You shouldn’t YELL at your brothers seeking truth, nor put them down for their views at this point in the discussion. I’m not weighing in on End Time issues…. only on your crass mean-spirited retorts to your brothers in Christ. Chill!

        1. Tell JESUS to take a “chill” pill when He comes to rule all the nations with a rod of iron. That’s a very good idea. I’d like to know what Jesus and His rod of iron think of your “chill pill.”

      2. I question your regeneration because of how you have replied to someone. I think there’s more biblical warrant to question a person’s salvation based on their lack of fruit than there is on their understanding of Eschatology.

    3. Dwight ,
      Sometimes to better understand it pays to step back a step, and look at the bigger picture. When the the Ottoman Empire fell, The Allies carved up the land into what is sometimes artificial boundaries, that have in effect created a great deal of the conflict we see in the middle east today. If you look at the histories of most of the current middle east you will see older names, but national boundaries that were established give or take , that are about the same age as Israel’s mandate, hence the words of Jesus mentioning the Fig(Israel) and the “other trees” in the same season. remember God uses terms interchangeability, the define a particular characteristic or trait he want to illustrate. Example the many names he uses to describe , Israel , the Holy Spirit, the names of Jesus in the old testament and even the names to describe Himself. As other commenters have said , Israelis illustrated by a number of different names as are a number of other countries and peoples.
      Hope this helps

    4. Jesus used the parable of the figtree after He told them of all the weather events. Aren’t we seeing unprecedented weather events? And isn’t Israel about to face her biggest war since 1967?
      I believe that the Rapture is imminent.

    5. REPLY to Dwight Osborne: Apparently you didn’t read the article very closely, or the biblical examples given. Israel is definitely represented more than once by the fig tree…and he explained that “the other trees” of Luke 21 are the Gentile nations. You may still disagree with his arguments, but you must do so by making it more clear that you thoroughly listened (read) his side of the arguments.

    6. [In reply to Dwight Osborne] look at the flags surrounding Israel and you will understand the prophecy “all the trees” Lebanon the Cedar…Saudi Arabia….The palm…thus all the trees…They all bear trees on their flags… So Im sorry to inform you sir. .That you are wrong and it only takes a 5 minute search for you to verify that you are very very wrong. Look up Fig Tree prophecy by Rock Island Books on you tube…he does a very compelling video to characterize the prophecy in its right portrayal . Adam

  4. We do know a temple will be present in the tribulation (Revelation chapter 11) and a millennial temple will be built by Jesus Christ—”Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (Zechariah 6:12-13)

    The Jews will be dispersed from their land in the tribulation as we read in Revelation chapters 11 and 12. Their true return will occur when Christ returns to reign a thousand years from Jerusalem with His chosen people the Jews. The wondrous millennial period of come.

    Please read my book, “Revelation the Explanation”—https://vallee7.wordpress.com/2009/08/27/revelation-chapters-1-10-explained/

    1. could the Temple referred to in Zechariah be the heart of the believer? The temple of the Holy Spirit? The old temple ceased to be of use after Messiah came. why would He rebuild it again?There will be no need for animalk sacrifices as the ultiumate sacrifice had already been paid.

      1. Thank you for your comments. According to Ezekiel 40-48 (especially 47) and Zech 14 there will definitely be a new temple in Jerusalem from which Christ reigns.

    2. No 3rd temple. Believers are the temple.
      Jesus dwelling within us 🦉Replacing blood from a perfect RED BULL ,& a temple made of stone will only lead to Israel’s acceptance of the Antichrist 🙏

  5. Thanks for the great work about the fig tree, it was on point. Jesus added that this generation will not pass until all these things be fulfilled. And we know from Gen16:15 that a generation is 100 years. SO what Matt 24:32-34 means that from 1948-2048 is when all theses things Jesus spoke about is going to happen. There are some things that Jesus said in the luke 21:34-36 that every christian has to purge him or herself with.

    1. Thanks for your thoughts. Some argue that “generation” also means “race”. Certainly God has always ensured that a Jewish remnant survives despite 2500 years of persecution.

    2. This is interesting because Psalms 90:10 mentions a generation is 70 years. .. The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength
      they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is …

      I do think the article in this link is interesting. It talks about the 70 and 100 years difference.
      https://www.bible-codes.org/old-prophecy_5c-Yeshua-codes.htm

    3. Read Psalms 90:10..generation is 70-80 years. which is putting it pretty close to now

    4. Not sure “generation” refers to a period of years, but rather to all people in the generation who were born at the time of the restoration. So… rather that specifically 100 years or 70 years (et al) it refers to all people alive in 1948. We will never know who will be the last one from this “generation” living, but that also works for “no man knowing the day” when the end will come.

      1. The NT term ‘generation’ can also mean ‘race’, so there is no need to discuss numbers. The Jewish race (people) will always be there, despite Iran!

  6. When I was a small boy, my father took me to church. Something very strange happened to me. Something very frightening to a young child. Since then my life has been a very long and strange path, not just your normal growing up, but the persecution the loss of friendship. It was like there was something different about me it was that bad even I hated me. I had dreams, visions I could not explain and these started in my teens, and as I got into my late 40s the dream became a reality and also I have had the same dream twice. I am now 58. And the beginning of May I walked out of my job, and started reading the bible for the first time. God is coming and I am going to be in Israel when this day comes. God took my hand as a child and led me through my darkest days and has shown me many things and has now bought me back into the light. Lord I am David Abel I am your servant thy will shall be done. Amen

  7. Thank you for this article, which has been an enormous blessing to me. I remember my father saying to me years ago, ‘the fig tree is blossoming’. He used to study the scriptures regarding the restoration of Israel as a precursor to the return of Messiah. I believe this is a ‘now’ word from the Lord. Watch and wait, for his return is imminent – even at the doors. Amen – even so, come Lord Jesus.

    1. He already is supposed to be here since 1948…he will come like he did the first time in secret and no one will recognize him .

          1. He will come again in a cloud and cloud means flesh..yeah I believe he did came in the east 🙂 since 1948 and fulfilled the root of David. But no one will believe the message just like many denied Jesus 2000 years ago. The girl mentioned it in the comment that world war 2 is in revelation and in the parable of the fig days he is AT THE DOOR!.
            BUt I don’t see her comment anymore. Bible says history repeats itself and no one will believe that he came.

            1. But Jesus’ return to earth will be unmistakable. Every eye will see Him. It will be like lightening extends from east to west (Mat 24:26,27). The Jews in Jerusalem will see Him – and mourn (Zech 12:10-14)

      1. Does this mean you believe in world mission society church? They believe they know who second coming Jesus was?

        1. We believe the Bible which says no one knows the day or hour when Jesus returns. But we are to observe the signs and they show His return is imminent.

  8. You are very right about the fig tree..good work..but the Bible does mention world war 2 and 1948 like you mentioned. But I believe you are missing more information!

    1. The parable of the fig tree taught by Jesus himself. December may be his conception and September 29 his actual birth. Mary’s Cousin mother of John the Baptist’s father has date he was serving at the temple. Many times truth is not regarded. Celebrate and live in expectancy of his return.

      1. That’s why Christmas is not worth celebrating and the feasts of the lord found in Deuteronomy 23 are worth celebrating. Jesus had fulfilled or will fulfil them all!! Jesus the Passover Lamb, The Firstfruits from the dead, the one with no Leaven (sinless- unleavened bread), The giver of the Holy Spirit (Pentecost) at the time of Harvest (many people were saved), Trumpets (no one knows the day or the hour of the celebration, nor of Jesus’ return), Atonement (Jesus the high priest), Tabernacles (Jesus was born and tabernacled amongst us and Rev 21)! It’s amazing. Christmas aligns ourselves with pagan celebrations (it is the birthdate of many false gods). But alignment with God in his feasts bring unending revelation

        1. 100% I believe this to be true. We have been taught and stuck in traditions that are not our ways or of God. this is something that I recently have been learning. Check out Pastor Omar Thibeaux! Stay blessed Shalom!

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