The Fig Tree Parable
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Matthew 24:32-34
It is amazing how deeply a false concept can embed itself into your beliefs; and also how fragments of error can remain behind, hidden away hindering the flow of truth, even years after your rejecting of that false concept in general. I rejected the notion of the pre-trib rapture theory early on; but it took some thirty years for me to come to the point where I could read the parable of the fig tree free from distraction.
I could go there and read it and get the gist of it, but never a solid, “This is what I’m saying, and this is what I want that information to do for you.” Without realizing it I would wander away to another train of thought and never get a fullness of revelation from the parable itself. It took a prompting from the Lord to show me this, and finally get free from the distraction that pre-trib theory inserts into this parable.
A Deceptive Distraction
The Lord showed me the problem was I had listened to a popularized error about this parable so many times that I thought the error was the real deal. The deception was that this parable of the fig tree had to do with the rebirth of the nation of Israel; that a fig tree symbolizes national Israel and the new growth on the fig tree was a prophetic image of Israel being reborn. This is a total fabrication, and a distraction from the purpose of this parable.
This falsehood causes your train of thought to jump track in the middle of the parable and head for a different destination. With a rapture preacher at the controls you start off down the track receiving the imagery of the fig tree and its new growth; and the next thing you know you are completely sidetracked; being told because the fig tree blossomed (Israel reborn 1948) we then became (supposedly) the generation which will not pass away before the rapture happens.
This parable has now somehow become a promotion for the rapture theory! (Few seem to notice the fig tree does not even blossom in the parable, the focus is on the new growth of the branches.) And have you ever heard a rapture preacher go back to the parable and finish the true allegory of it? No, and they won’t; because the purpose of the distraction is to prevent you from arriving at that station in the first place. You are being hindered from receiving what Jesus intended you to get from this parable,
What is the purpose of a parable? To highlight similarities of two things to help give you understanding about one of them. What are the two things Jesus was paralleling in the parable? Did he mention, or even hint at, the subject of the rebirth of Israel? Is there any thing about this passage that would point you in that direction? The answer is no. The two integers of this equation, if you will, are ‘new growth on the tree’ and ‘when you see these things’; but before we discuss the allegory of the parable let’s ask a question; the answer of which surprised me a great deal.
Is the fig tree truly the symbol of the nation of Israel in the Bible?
After researching and studying this matter I would have to answer an emphatic: NO! We have been sold a falsehood and gladly paid for it with our love gifts, offerings, and product purchases.
When prompted to question this idea of ‘the fig tree being a type or figure of Israel’ I looked up every passage in the Bible using the words ‘fig tree’ expecting to see a repetitive theme of such. It is nowhere to be found! After being told over and over and over by such ‘great’ men as Hal L., Jack V., Tim L., Jimmy S. etc., etc., etc., that the fig tree symbolized Israel I was quite surprised to see it does not. The symbolism is not there! And when you do see a fig tree mentioned in a verse with Israel there are usually other trees listed also in the rebuke or allegory. Israel is not the fig tree!
Ponder this: If the fig tree represented Israel would Jesus have cursed the fig tree and condemned it to never bear fruit again? It withered up from the root and died. How does that fit the picture of Israel’s prophetic rebirth? Not a match; and I don’t think Jesus would have given us an image so out of sync like that if Israel was typified by the fig tree. He’s sharper than that.
If you were going to say any tree in the Bible is used to represent Israel it would probably have to be the olive tree; and yes, Wikipedia does say the national tree of Israel is the Olive Tree.
Finding a fig tree and the nation of Israel in the same verse (Oh look, here’s a ‘proof text’!) is no excuse for stretching that out into the lie we have been told all these years. There is just as much support for the Palm, the Pomegranate, the Olive tree, or the Vine; all are used to speak in regard to Israel in one fashion or another. If the Scriptures do not portray the fig tree as the symbol of Israel, and there is no historical usage of it as such, where did this false idea come from? I guess maybe someone desperate for doctrinal support saw some similarity, and thought it was a straw worth grasping at.
But back to the parable of the fig tree. Now that we are delivered from the distraction that caused us to jump track in the middle of the passage maybe we can stay on the rails long enough to see what Jesus was really trying to teach us. I find it very helpful to read Luke’s account as it contains wordage carefully avoided by rapture preachers. You may have never noticed they will gladly preach this parable out of Matthew or Mark, but it’s unlikely you have ever heard one of them expound on these verses from Luke:
And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Luke 21:29-32
Notice he says ‘and all the trees’. If the fig tree is Israel then all the trees would be what; all the nations? Are all nations to be re-birthed? Surely not. The rapture crowd has a serious problem there, and that’s why most stay clear of Luke on this parable. They can’t quite squeeze their distraction into it. The allegory is not about a TYPE of tree but about something common to ALL trees; and that is they all show signs of new growth in the latter part of spring right before summer begins. Nothing to do with the fig tree exclusively, and definitely not anything to do with the prophesied rebirth of Israel (a wonderfully fulfilled promise, but not the focus here). Jesus was saying in plain language that just like new growth on a tree signals you the season of summer is at hand; when you see ‘all these things’ the season of my Return is at hand. Watch the signs!
What you are being distracted from by being occupied with the fig tree = Israel deception is that we (the Church) are being told to watch for signs that herald the season (the season, NOT the day or hour) of his Second Coming; and many of these signs we are told to watch for take place within the time-frame of the great tribulation. If you add up the ‘all these things we are to watch for’ given in Matthew 24, (and Mark and Luke) it’s quite a list! (and please notice carefully Israel’s rebirth is NOT on that list!) We’re not left in the dark about the season of his Return.
This is why rapture theorists are forced to steer you to an altered meaning outside of the text:
- First, if we are to watch for any signs which must yet be fulfilled before Jesus returns their doctrine of his ‘imminent Return’ is shot in the head and must be laid to rest. Jesus would not have told us to watch for signs the Church was not going to be around to see.
- Second, if we are told by Jesus to watch for events which transpire during the final three and a half years that would mean the Church would have to still be here, and then their rapture myth is also gunned down. (R.I.P.)
Israel is not ‘the Fig Tree’. The Bible teaches no such thing. And there is nothing about this parable, or the Scriptural context in which it is found, which points to Israel’s rebirth. NOTHING. Would Jesus point to an event 70 years ago to show us an impending Return of Christ? The indicators he gave are a little more up to date than that. Let’s leave the rebirth of Israel out of the parable of the fig tree and accept what is clearly taught there. Jesus gave us distinct indicators, which the Church WILL be here to watch for, that clue us in to the season of his Return.
…when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:28
The erroneous pre-trib rapture theory shamefully taints and twists this wonderful parable (as it does every verse of Scripture it is inserted into). I encourage you to listen to the counsel of the Holy Spirit as he prompts you to question and reject that false teaching which came forth from man and not from God’s Holy Word.