Fig Tree Study

“He who tends a fig tree will eat its fruit, and he who looks after his master will be honored. ” (Proverbs 27:18)

I have two little figs on my fig tree in Virginia. Not many! I feel sad seeing only two little green figs on a tree with lots of green leaves. I have just been in NC where I always seem to have found a fig tree and figs flourishing when I was growing up. But in the more recent years not so many. People have said, “lack of rain or no care takers.”

My Mother had many fig trees. We ate them from the tree. We made preserves, cakes, and many other natural wonders of the fig. I miss the figs and the fig trees.

The Parable of the budding fig tree is found in Matt 24:32–36, Mark 13:28–32, Luke 21:29–33 as part of the Olivet discourse.

Mark 11:12–14 includes an account of Jesus withering a fig tree: “On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he (Jesus) was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see whether perhaps he would find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. He said to it, ‘May no one ever eat fruit from you again.’

Why do we think Jesus was upset about the fig tree not having fruit since it was not even the season for figs? ” I have one little clue for us to think on. “The Olivet discourse” is sometimes called, “Little Apocalypse” because it includes Jesus’ descriptions of future events.

I thought of the many other Biblical scriptures used as illustrations for our edification and education related to the fig tree. Can you find some?
300Px-Tree Leaf, Matson Photograph Collection, Ca 1925-1946-1

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23 thoughts on “Fig Tree Study”

  1. (Mark 11: 13-26) Read with me the footnotes for these verses: “Fig trees, a popular source of inexpensive food in Israel, require three years from the time they are planted until they can bear fruit. Each tree yields a great amount of fruit twice a year, in late spring and in early autumn. This incident occurred early in the spring when the leaves were beginning to bud. The figs normally grow as the leaves fill out, but this tree, though full of leaves, had no figs. The tree looked promising but offered no fruit. Jesus’ harsh words to the fig tree could be applied to the nation of Israel. Fruitful in appearance only, Israel was spiritually barren.”

  2. I know we have all sang the song about Zacchaeus. I remember always singing that he climbed up in a sycamore tree, but I discovered this morning that the New Living Translation calls it a “sycamore-fig tree” (Luke 19:4)

  3. Sara,
    My grandmother use to always have figs preserves. As a child, I would never eat those things, but in recent years, my mom cooked some figs and she said they tasted just like her moms, so I tried them, and they were EXCELLENT. Man, all those years of missing that taste.

  4. I have thought about that often, when reading these scriptures of why Jesus cursed the fig tree when it wasn’t even the season for figs! I even thought that maybe Jesus was showing a little consternation because He couldn’t get a fig when He was hungry. However, I did love the way Jesus sort of ran to the tree, almost childlike, expecting to receive something satisfying from it. That touched my heart. But I was kind of surprised at His reaction….until I understood a little more about it.
    But perhaps the tree (symbolically) seemed to want to SHOW OFF and look ostentatiously productive when it was really “out of season” and inappropriately festooned with leaves but no fruit, like clouds with no rain. Actually, ostentatious means “fake” and thus a LIE and we know God cannot stand a lie.
    I suppose when we are ostentatiously festooned and thinking our spiritual lives could fool the general public, we are found out to be fakes and shams because the fruit of the Spirit is not hanging on our boughs.
    Besides the “clouds without rain” scripture, this story in the Gospel reminds me of the 10 wise and 10 foolish virgins. They were all FESTOONED in bridal attire. They all looked gorgeous. But the foolish 5 had one thing missing….the oil of the Holy Spirit…the fruit. Their oil ran out. Jesus the Bridegroom closed the door. He did not know them without the “oil/fruit” of the Holy Spirit that identified them as the authentic Bride of Christ. Jesus cursed the fig tree. Do you suppose those 5 were also cursed? The door was shut on them and they could NOT enter into the Kingdom wedding. This is a good warning for all of us would-be brides.

  5. Needles, I loved your Grandmother’s fig preserves! And, your Uncle Charles can duplicate them. I know for I have had them many times. But, thanks for the fig tip that my friend likewise knows how to make them. I sure will be in touch with her.

    The Parable of the barren fig tree is a parable of Jesus recorded in the Gospel of Luke 13:6–9. “A vinekeeper holds out hope that a barren fig tree will bear fruit next year.”

    Would this parable represent from generation to generation?

    Info I read: “There are approximately 30 references to the The Fig tree in the Bible (depending on the translation) and approximately 50 references to a vine. Some are literal and some metaphorical.”

  6. Needles your footnote above, ‘The tree looked promising but offered no fruit’ also makes me think that Jesus expects us to bear much fruit which shows we are His disciples (John 15:8). It’s like a fig’s main purpose is to produce figs. We are supposed to produce fruit.
    Jesus cursed the fig tree even though it was not even the season for figs. I wonder if this has anything to do with reminding us that we are to be ready, displaying our fruit of the Spirit, in season and out of season (II Tim 4:2). Jesus kept saying that those fig leaves developing meant summer was near…Jesus is coming soon…the end is near…time for summer’s fruit because soon comes fall harvest time when He will send His angels to gather His elect. And after fall will be the dead of winter.

    There was a fig tree in Luke 13:6-9 that did not bear fruit after the three years that Needles footnotes spoke of. The owner wanted it cut down, but the caretaker wanted one more chance to dig around it, fertilize it and see if it would produce some figs.

  7. “One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten.` (Jeremiah 24:2)

    The very first clothing we know of was made from fig leaves. “Adam and Eve `knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons”

    There are many metaphorical references to the fig in the Scriptures, one being Jotham’s parable of the trees `And the trees said to the fig tree, “come you, and reign over us.” But the fig tree said to them, “Shall I leave my sweetness and my good fruit?”‘ (Judges 9:10-11).

  8. In Habakkuk 3:17 is written, Though the fig tree has not blossomed and there are no leaves on the vine, though the produce of the olive tree fails and the threshing floor is bare, Yet will I rejoice in the Lord and I willjoy in God my Savior! The Lord God is my strenth and my shield for He has mademy feet like hinds’ feet and made me stand on my high places that I may sing His praises!!”

  9. In II Kings 20, Hezekiah was very sick and was told by the prophet Isaiah to put his house in order because he was going to die. Hezekiah prayed and wept to the Lord, reminding Him of his faithfulness, devotion and the good that he had done in his life. God heard his prayers and saw his tears and said that He would heal him. Isaiah said to prepare a poultice of figs and apply it to his boil. Hezekiah recovered.

  10. Jesus ‘saw’ Nathaniel, one of His future disciples under the fig tree before Philip called him to come and see Jesus. This convinced Nathaniel that He was the Son of God, the King of Israel. And not only did he see him under this specific tree but He said that there was no deceit in Him. (John 1:45-51)
    Jesus knows and sees all about us, exactly where we are and what’s in our hearts.

  11. In Matthew 24:32, Jesus uses the Fig Tree as a symbol and a sign of the times. Speaking about the tribulation, the end of the world, and His second coming, He says, ” Now learn a parable ( a story that teaches a moral lesson) of the fig tree. When the branches are tender and puts forth its leaves then you know that Summer is near. So when you see these things coming to pass you will know that the end is near, even at the door.”

  12. Oh, thank you, Debi. I had thought it was a fig tree that Nathaniel was under, but when I tried to find it in my Bible, I just couldn’t seem to find where it was.

  13. A promise for the found in Micah pertaining to the last days.

    “Every man will sit under his own vine
    and under his own fig tree,
    and no one will make them afraid,
    for the Lord Almighty has spoken” Micah 4:4

  14. Jesus told Nathaniel that HE saw him when he was sitting under the fig tree. Jesus knew him, all about him, although Nathaniel did not know Jesus at that time. That can be put parallel to how Jesus ‘found” some of us. There we were,complacently sitting under our “fig tree” of self-satisfaction, autocraticly living our lives in whatever fashion we had designed for ourselves….(some of us), not knowing that Jesus was about to pass by our lives, know us and forever change us. Thank You Jesus for pulling us up and out of the shadows of our own FIG TREE and transferring us into the Kingdom of God where we will not only eat of the fig tree but of all the twelve fruits that line the streets of Heavn.

  15. Maybe Jesus saw Nathaniel and sees us sitting under our own fig tree…or place of fruitfulness, calling and productivity. He can see how He ‘formed us’ better than anyone. He has given us each special and unique gifts that He desires for us to put to use to be fruitful in His kingdom work.

  16. here in James 3;8-12 it reads But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.With it we bless our God and Father and with we curse men,, who have been made in the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring send forth fresh water and bitter fro the same opening? can a FIG TREE my brethren bear olives, or a grapevine bear figs? .. who is wise and understanding among You? Let him show by good conduct that his works are are done in the meekness of wisdom…(Jesus must have really loved the fig tree because He seemed to use it a lot in all His teachings)..I thought this was an interesting scripture seeing how the fig tree has so many benefits (the fruit)..and the tongue when used in a Godly way does too!

  17. Interesting takes on both sides of the “fig tree coin”. The fig tree is also a symbol of Israel and the Scriptures counsels us to watch the fig tree for the sign of the times, and for the end times it will symbolize. I suppose each of us in the Body of Christ must keep an eye out for the fig tree experience not only in our own lives…that is …the calling us forth by the Lord Jesus Christ from under the fig tree, like Nathaniel but also to be apprised of the imminent future.

  18. I’d like to share the footnotes for the scripture in Matthew 24:36, read with me: “It is good that we don’t know exactly when Christ will return. If we knew the precise date, we might be tempted to be lazy in our work for Christ. Worse yet, we might plan to keep sinning and then turn to God right at the end. Heaven is not our only goal; we have work to do here. And we must keep on doing it until death or until we see the unmistakeable return of our Savior.”

  19. Yes, we must be ready in season and out of season (II Tim 4:2). Like you said Needles, we don’t know when the Master will return for us and will He find fruit on our fig tree? We need to be about the works Dorothy wrote about so we have figs on the fig tree, not olives.

  20. And in that vein, , I would like to add this perspective. If our goal is Heaven then all these other things are the means to that end. First Christ as our Lord and Savior. Then the good works, the noble deeds, the self-discipline the self-control, the keeping of the commandment and all the other things that make up the Christian walk. But, Paul said in Corinthians, if I give my body to be burned, if I give lavishly to the work, feed the poor, shelter the homeless, and still not have that love of God and my neighbor,if I do it for any other reason that LOVE, then it means nothing. I am sounding brass and tinkling cymbal. The only way to make Heaven our goal is…BE WILLING AND OBEDIENT, TRUST AND OBEY.

  21. Yesterday we heard an interesting sermon at Leesburg Community Church about the PARABLE of the master who had two sons. I had heard this a number of times but I had never heard the older brother depicted in this way. One brother spent his inheritance foolishly having nothing. He was a very empty vessel who returned home. His father welcomed him. The older brother always followed the rules and never varied from them. He was so angry when the younger brother returned home. Was his inheritance, his money in jeopardy now? His father had never given him a party. He was angry, jealous, agitated. “What about ME! What about ME!” The pastor explained that when ‘I and Me’ are the main part of our conversation there is something wrong – We are into only self. The older brother represents us the church going people who are rule followers but without LOVE. The brother didn’t care about his younger brother. Both brothers rebelled against the father’s authority, treated the father with disrespect, wanted the father’s property, not the father, looked for community with their friends, not their father, see themselves as servants or slaves, not sons. We never learn if the older brother turns his life around. We however can daily evaluate ourselves, repent, and strive to serve the Lord with all our soul, with all our heart, and with all our mind. We need to dress for HIS GLORY AS OUR RETREAT ADDRESSED IN ’09. See blog on this.

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