Is Israel the Fig Tree?
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors." Matthew 24: 32-33.
This scripture has been used many times to prove that before the return of Christ, near the end of the age, Israel will become a nation again. But is it possible to show Israel is ever symbolically represented by a Fig Tree?
Here Jesus mentions the fig tree in the same context, but adds "Behold the fig tree, and all the trees". This does not support the idea that Israel will become a nation again near the end of the age very much, as Jesus generalizes about all trees, as if to emphasize rather that the fulfilment of the other prophecies he mentions are like leaves put forth on a tree showing Summer is drawing near, and so his prophecies when fulfilled show the Time of the End has arrived. The same with Mark 13:27-29.
Luke 13:6-10 .
"He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."
The idea behind this scripture proving Israel is symbolically represented as the fig tree (as a country, or a partly scattered nation that is the Tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and the other 10 Tribes) is that Jesus witnessed to them for 3 years and quote "his own received him not". The next one year of grace suggested by the gardener or dresser is perhaps symbolic of the Apostolic period between 33 AD and 70 AD when Israel was given a second chance to respond on mass. When this revival did not occur God seems to have removed his protecting hand from Israel, as Jerusalem was violently destroyed in 70 AD, and the temple with it. This is referred to in the prophecy of Daniel 9 when the temple at the end of the chapter is destroyed by a "flood" of soldiers (Daniel 7 tells us water represents people). This occurs as when the Messiah dies there is no more need for temple sacrifices, and so God no longer desires to protect the temple in some special way anyway.
Jesus may have been referring to Israel as the fig tree again when he said:
"And there followed him a great company of people, and of women, which also bewailed and lamented him.
But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in the dry?" Luke 23:27-31 .
This sounds very much like a prophecy of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The whole of history would have been changed if Israel had followed their Messiah and had been blessed by God. The Jewish revolt that provoked the Roman Massacre in 70 AD would never have happened. And Jesus does refer to Israel here in a symbol as a tree that was well nourished, not dry and without blessing, yet they still crucified their own Messiah in that time of blessing, though many would argue another tree not a fig tree is referred to.
verdict: Is it a convincing explanation that in Luke 13:6-10 the Fig Tree represents the nation and people of Israel, that is the 12 Tribes? And that the 3 year period represents the ministry of Jesus? And the tree bearing no fruit represents Israel's failure to follow their own Messiah in great numbers? And the extra year is the time of the Apostles? personally I find this very convincing. Thus I conclude Matthew 24:32-33 really may be a prophecy that Israel will become a nation again, and is perhaps the first prophecy of the End Times to be fulfilled before the others afterward follow on. Such things can only be spiritually discerned as to being true or not. How do you feel about this interpretation? I am very persuaded it is true.