In all wisdom and prudence making known to us the mystery of His will according to His
good pleasure which He purposed in Him the plan for the fullness of the times
the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, in Him ….
(Ephesians 1:8b-10)
By – Stuart H. Pouliot
Article #38
Fig Tree in Scripture
February 2012
The Word of God uses many agricultural and horticultural metaphors. In particular, the tree is
often used as a metaphor for people or nations or kingdoms or national powers. Several trees
stand out, one of which is the fig tree, which is most notably associated with the ancient nation
of Judah, especially during the first advent of Christ.
However, before looking at the fig tree in this light, we need to start with the book of
beginnings, Genesis, and the first mention of a fig leaf (fig-apron). Obviously, if there is a fig leaf
there is also a fig tree.
Symbol of Covering for Sin
Based on the account of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, we know that the fig tree was
there among the many trees. When Adam and Eve sinned and discovered they were naked
after eating of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they made a fig-apron to cover their
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they
sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings. (Genesis 3:7 NASB)
Thus, the fig tree , in the guise of the fig-apron, became a symbol of covering or, more
specifically, covering of nakedness , which signifies mortality , which, in turn, signifies sin , for sin
reigns (exists) in mortal bodies (Romans 5:12; 6:12).
Paul makes the point: For indeed in this house (mortal body) we groan, longing to be clothed
(immortality) with our dwelling from heaven (spiritual, celestial, glorified body in the image of
the Son of God) , inasmuch as we, having put it on (in resurrection and transfiguration) , will not
be found naked (mortal) (2 Corinthians 5:2-3 NASB).
These few facts explain why the fig tree became a symbol of Judah. The many animal sacrifices
offered by the Aaronic-Levitical priests only covered sin; they were not intended to remove sin.
In fact, ancient Israel lived under this covering for their entire history of offering sacrifices. Their
sins were never taken away, just covered, as a symbol of a greater sacrifice that would come
and actually remove sin. It took the perfect sacrifice of God's Son to remove sin completely.
For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4 NASB)
Fig Tree in Scripture
February 2012
Clearly, starting with Adam and moving on to the nation of Judah, the fig tree became a symbol
of man's weakness and inability to take away sin. The best that could be done was the covering
of sin. Only in the Son of God is sin taken away.
Good Figs and Bad Figs
Next, we need to turn to Jeremiah, the prophet who was raised up to speak to Judah in their
apostate condition.
(2) One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, and the other basket had very bad figs
which could not be eaten due to rottenness. (3) Then the LORD said to me, "What do you see,
Jeremiah?" And I said, "Figs, the good figs, very good; and the bad figs, very bad, which
cannot be eaten due to rottenness." (Jeremiah 24:2-3 NASB)
Jeremiah was shown two types of figs, very good figs and very bad figs, so bad that they were
rotten and inedible. The Lord continued by explaining this vision to Jeremiah.
(4) Then the word of the LORD came to me, saying, (5) "Thus says the LORD God of Israel,
'Like these good figs, so I will regard as good the captives of Judah, whom I have sent out of
this place into the land of the Chaldeans. (6) 'For I will set My eyes on them for good, and I
will bring them again to this land; and I will build them up and not overthrow them, and I will
plant them and not pluck them up. (7) 'I will give them a heart to know Me, for I am the
LORD; and they will be My people, and I will be their God, for they will return to Me with
their whole heart.
(8) 'But like the bad figs which cannot be eaten due to rottenness--indeed, thus says the
LORD-so I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem
who remain in this land and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. (9) 'I will make them a
terror and an evil for all the kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a
curse in all places where I will scatter them. (10) 'I will send the sword, the famine and the
pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and their
forefathers.'" (Jeremiah 24:4-10 NASB)
The very good figs were the ones who obediently went into captivity, which is called an iron-
yoke judgment. In other words, they accepted the Lord's judgment to remove them from the
land because of their falling away from the Lord.
The very bad figs were the ones who disobediently refused to go into captivity. They chose to
remain either on the land or to dwell in Egypt. In either case, this was not the Lord's judgment
for them. Since they refused to receive His judgment, the Judahites that remained became very
bad or rotten figs.
So, during Jeremiah's day, as far as the Lord was concerned, the Judahites were divided into
two classes of figs.
Fig Tree in Scripture
February 2012
Good Trees and Bad Trees
Now, when Jesus appeared in Judah, He picked up the same theme that He had previously
given to His servant Jeremiah.
Jesus said: "So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree
cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not
bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire" (Matthew 7:17-19 NASB).
Many people use these verses to refer to the lost or to Christians that they believe are not fruit
bearers, for whatever reason. However, Jesus obviously had in mind the words that He spoke to
Jeremiah some 600 years earlier about the good figs and the bad figs (Jeremiah 24).
The good figs of Judah accepted the Lord's judgment of them and willingly went into
Babylonian captivity. In other words, they did not fight His judgment of them. Because of their
obedience, the Lord promised to return them to their land and give them a heart to know Him.
"They will return to Me with their whole heart" (Jeremiah 24:7). Indeed, a remnant returned
to rebuild Jerusalem and this formed the heart of the good fig nation of Judah that followed
Jesus and accepted Him as the King of Judah.
The bad figs of Judah refused to accept the Lord's judgment of them and instead obstinately
remained in the land. In other words, they fought the Lord's judgment of them. Because of their
disobedience, the Lord indicted them as rotten fruit that could not be eaten and pronounced a
further judgment on them.
"I will send the sword, the famine and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed
from the land." (Jeremiah 24:10)
This was a prophetic indictment of the bad fig nation of Judah that later refused to follow Jesus
and demanded His death, even though they knew He was the King of Judah. Jesus stated so
through a parable using the metaphor of a vineyard to refer to the Judahites.
(38) "But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, 'This is the heir;
come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.' (39) "They took him, and threw him out of the
vineyard and killed him." (Matthew 21:38-39 NASB)
As we know, the religious elite of Judah did in fact throw God's Son out of Judah and kill Him. In
a sense, they had no choice for only the priests could kill the Passover lambs.
Fig Tree of Judah
Jesus gave another parable about a vineyard, but this time the fig tree was in its midst.
(6) And He began telling this parable: "A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his
vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. (7) And he said to the
vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without
Fig Tree in Scripture
February 2012
finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' (8) "And he answered and
said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; (9) and
if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'" (Luke 13:6-9 NASB)
Judah's King had walked publicly in their midst for three years, but He found no fruit of the
Kingdom. The nation was worthy to be cut down and burned; however, a plea was made for
one more year. Within that year, this fig tree demanded the death of the very Trunk of the tree
and sealed their destiny. So, when Jesus saw the lone fig tree, He cursed it as a sign of what was
to come of the bad fig tree of Judah.
Seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it except leaves only;
and He said to it, "No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you." And at once the fig tree
withered. (Matthew 21:19 NASB)
(13) Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything
on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
(14) He said to it, "May no one ever eat fruit from you again!" And His disciples were
listening. (Mark 11:13-14 NASB)
We need to be clear that this lone fig tree was the nation of Judah that was about to reject their
Messiah. The religious elite or, as Jesus called them, the hypocrites were the source of the rot.
Have you ever noticed that one rotten piece of fruit in a basket of fruit will lead to others
becoming rotten? The scribes and Pharisees did just that to many of the figs in that day through
their hypocritical hearts that did not love the Lord and were bolstered by their traditions and
doctrines. Like their forefathers, they too fought the judgment of the Lord. They were under
Roman rule by the hand of God but rather than submit to His judgment and wait for God to
deliver them out of it, they wanted a political solution. They wanted to remove the yoke
through the sword, not by the Spirit, and, for this, they did not inherit the Kingdom that they
Is it any different in our day as many Christians are so willing to take up the physical sword to
fight battles in the name of Christ?
"But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of
heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are
entering to go in." (Matthew 23:13 NASB)
(6) He said to them, Well did Isaiah prophesy concerning you, hypocrites…: "This people
honors Me with the lips, but their heart is far away from Me; (7) and in vain they worship Me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men." Isa. 29:13 (8) for forsaking the
commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men…. (Mark 7:6-8 LITV)
Jesus declared: The kingdom of God will be taken from you [cursed fig tree] , and it will be
given to a nation [blessed fig tree] producing the fruits of it (Matthew 21:43 LITV).
Fig Tree in Scripture
February 2012
In other words, the cursed fig tree would not inherit the Kingdom of God but instead be cast
out of it as if it were rotten fruit. In fulfillment of the prophecies of Jeremiah (29:9-10) and the
following one from Jesus, God sent His Roman army to destroy the great city Jerusalem and the
temple in 70 AD.
"But the king [God the Father] was enraged, and he sent his [God's Roman] armies and
destroyed those murderers [bad figs] and set their city [Jerusalem] on fire." (Matthew 22:7
As Jesus approached the cross, He gave His disciples another parable about the fig tree.
(29) And He spoke a parable to them: You see the fig tree [cursed fig nation] and all the trees
[all the nations] . (30) Now when they sprout leaves, seeing it, you will know from yourselves
that now the summer is near. (Luke 21:29-30 LITV)
On the one hand, Jesus prophesied of the destruction of the cursed fig tree, and on the other
hand, He prophesied of its rebirth. What does this mean? The key is in the fig tree having leaves
(rebirth) but no fruit (barren). Jesus prophesied that a day would come when the cursed fig tree
would reappear, not to bear fruit but to be judged, when God will once again send His army
against this apostate nation.
The cursed fig tree of Judah disappeared as a nation with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
However, on May 15, 1948, the Jewish state of Israel came into being, and, on May 19, 1949, it
joined the United Nations (UN) as a full member. Following Israel's national appearance, many
nations (all the trees) came forth, for during the next three decades, the UN saw its
membership grow by 92 nations. It is quite interesting that in the same decade that the
apparent Jews captured Jerusalem (1967), the world saw the greatest increase of nations (42)
since the inception of the UN in 1945. Over two-thirds of the current UN membership came
about after Israel joined the UN in fulfillment of the Lord's prophetic word. Thus, all the trees
refer to all the nations of the world that will be judged along with the fig tree nation. Why?
Because they reject Jesus, the King of the nations, not just the King of Judah!
It is vital to understand that modern Israel is not the true Israel of God but an imposter that
usurped the birthright name Israel from the house of Israel that lost its national identity when it
was taken captive by the Assyrians from 745-721 BC. The nation of Israel was dispersed among
the nations and lost its national identity; something that has continued to this day.
If we want to seek for the lost house of Israel, we must look to the Christianized nations of the
west that were formed in Europe and the British Isles and spread from there to North America
and elsewhere.
If the Zionists had taken the name Judah for their nation, they would have been closer to the
truth, but even then it would not have been the truth, for the revived nation has more to do
with the birthright claims of Esau and Ishmael than with the scepter of Judah.
Fig Tree in Scripture
February 2012
Is the present-day Israel that rejects Christ producing the fruit of the Kingdom? No! Why?
Because Jesus' judgment still stands: May no one ever eat fruit from you again!"
Pay close attention to Jesus' word. Many today believe that the modern-day Israel will bear
fruit simply because they have the correct genes that make them God's chosen people. Genes
do not make one God's chosen, faith does, regardless of one's genes.
Jesus indicted this fruitless fig tree over 2,000 years ago; no one will ever eat fruit from you
again. Why? Because they are barren and will remain barren!
The King of Judah has already taken His scepter, and He is not returning to the present
Jerusalem to sit on a throne. The present Jerusalem must be cast out, never to be repaired
(10) "Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you (11) and say
to them, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "Just so will I break this people and this city, even as
one breaks a potter's vessel, which cannot again be repaired; and they will bury in Topheth
because there is no other place for burial. (12) "This is how I will treat this place and its
inhabitants," declares the LORD, "so as to make this city like Topheth. (Jeremiah 19:10-12
By the way, Topheth is the gehenna of fire (the so-called fiery hell ) that Jesus warned the
Judahites they were in danger of going into. He did not warn of an eternal torture chamber of
fire and worms; He warned of capital punishment, meaning destruction of Jerusalem and literal
death of all who rejected Him and demanded His crucifixion.
Jeremiah prophesied of a day when Jerusalem will be destroyed and never again repaired. This
day is coming.
For Christians today, Paul exhorts us to cast out the bondwoman and her son.
Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is
in slavery with her children. (26) But the Jerusalem above is free; she is our mother.
(Galatians 4:25-26 NASB)
But what says the Scripture? "Cast out the slave woman and her son, for in no way shall the
son of the slave woman inherit with the son of the free woman." Gen. 21:10 (Galatians 4:30
Could Paul have been any clearer in his message? Keep in mind that Paul had been a Pharisee.
He knew the law, and he undoubtedly had loved Jerusalem as so many did in his day. But take
note that he aligned the present Jerusalem with Hagar and Mount Sinai in Arabia and told the
Galatians that were reverting to the law to cast out Hagar and all associated with her, which
includes the present Jerusalem. If Paul saw the earthly Jerusalem as the apple of God's eye,
don't you think he would have taught on it someplace in his epistles? Even the writer of
Hebrews, who could have been Paul himself, exhorted the Hebrews, who were in danger of
Fig Tree in Scripture
February 2012
going back to the Old Covenant, they had come to Mount Zion and the city of the living God,
the heavenly Jerusalem (Hebrews 12:22).
(9) He said, "Lo, I come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first in order that He may
set up the second; (10) by which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of
Jesus Christ once for all. (Hebrews 10:9-10 LITV)
If God took away the first, which includes the first Jerusalem as well, then why do Christians
believe the present Jerusalem is the chosen city of God based on a gene pool? If Paul, the
apostle of the nations, never encourages the nations to embrace the present Jerusalem, then
on what basis do so many in our day embrace it.
It is time to wake up and cast out the slave woman and her son and her city.
Finally, the good fig nation of Judah is the ecclesia of Christ, for this body of believers has joined
themselves with the Lion of the tribe of Judah. However, even though the argument could be
made and is made that this is the good fig tree, we must keep in mind that the symbolism of
covering for sin is not entirely accurate for believers today, for Jesus has taken away sin, not
just covered it. The New Covenant offers a much better and more complete and perfect
So, although we conclude with the good fig tree of Judah, we need to understand that we are
joined with this tree because we are joined with the King who was prophesied to take the
scepter of Judah and rule over the nations.
There are three other trees that speak more accurately to the ecclesia of Christ, and they are
the oak tree, the olive tree, and the Tree of Life.