Withered Fig Tree Matthew 21
Posted by adventbiblestudy on November 24, 2010
KJV Matthew 21:18. Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came
to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. 20. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! 21. Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
Reading the entire chapter of Matthew 21 will give you a better idea of how to keep this parable in its proper context. This parable is placed between Jesus clearing the rift raft out of the temple, and the Pharisees questioning His authority.
Jesus is returning to Jerusalem in the morning when He sees a fig tree full of leaves. When He inspects the tree, but he finds no fruit. It is a barren tree. Jesus says, let no fruit grow on you from now and forever. At that moment the tree withered, and His disciples wandered how the tree could die so quickly. Jesus explains to them that if they had faith, they could do the same thing. They would also be able to cast a mountain into the sea. Jesus promised them, anything they asked in prayer they shall receive if they believe.
What does the fig tree represent? To find the spirtiual meaning of the physical tree, we have to compare scripture containing the key words.
Joel 1:12-13 KJV The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men. (13) Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.
Joel compares a withered tree to the absence of joy in men.
Hosea 9:10 KJV I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.
Hosea compares the first fruits of a fig tree to the fathers of the people he is delivering his message to. Hosea also tells them their fathers worshipped Baalpeor. To understand this anology we first have to find out who Baalpeor is.
Numbers 25:2-3 KJV And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. (3) And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel.
Psalms 106:28-29 KJV They joined themselves also unto Baalpeor, and ate the sacrifices of the dead. (29) Thus they provoked him to anger with their inventions: and the plague brake in upon them.
Baalpeor is a false God worshipped by the local tribes. Israel has a long history of worshipping Baalpeor by offering sacrifices and eating sacrifices offered to the dead.
Baalpeo rH1187 From H1168 and H6465; Baal of Peor; Baal Peor, a Moabitish deity: – Baal-peor.
The Bible compares a withered fig tree to the lack of joy in men. It also compares it to worship of a false god. They have no joy because they because the price demanded by these false beliefs is high. This illustrates the extent of the spiritual meaning of the parable.
2 Kings 17:17 KJV And they caused their sons and their daughters to pass through the fire, and used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
Following a false god comes in steps. It may begin with prayer, offering insence, and eventually escallte to animal and human sacrifice.
We need to keep this parable within the context it was written. Because Jesus was speaking to the priest and Pharesees, we have to look at what scripture tells us about the extent these groups wandered. There is no scripture indicating the religious rulers of Jerusalem conducted open worship of false gods., but there is evidence they turned from God, and forced their children to walk through a spiritual form of fire.
Matthew 27:20 KJV But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus.
Matthew 27:25 KJV Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children.
The priests and elders convinced the crowd to give up Jesus and accept the release of Barabbas. This also teaches a spiritual lesson. The crowd accepted the recommendations of the priest and elders to such an extent they placed the responsibility on their children.
The fig tree represents the priests and elders.
Once the spiritual definition for the key words has been found, the parable can be paraphrased, substituting the spiritual definition for the physical key words.
KJV Matthew 21:18. Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19. And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. 20. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away! 21. Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22. And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.
In the morning Jesus returned to Jerusalem, and saw a the priest and elders. When He looked closer He didn’t find any fruit. Jesus said, “let no fruit grow on you from now and forever. The priests and elders immediatly withered away. When the disciples saw this they asked, how soon are the priests and elders withered away? Jesus answered them, “if you have faith, and do not doubt, you will not only be able to do what is done to the priest and elders, but if you say unto this mountain, move into the sea, it shall be done. Everything you ask in prayer, you shall receive.