Fig tree and moving mountains

Discussion in 'Bible Study' started by Ravindran, Sep 11, 2014.

  1. Let's discuss the connection between cursing of fig tree and prayer to move mountains! We should look at these two together and not in isolation. Because it was a response from Jesus to disciples based on the question coming out of first event. Below are the passages relevant to this,

    Mark 11:12-25
    Mathew 21:18-22

    Mark explains the event in a good chronological order. There is something that takes place between cursing and the reply to disciples. That is a key to understand context as well. It is very well understood from OT days how Lord talked with Israel and the blessings by relating to fig trees, grape fruits and so on.. We see that Jesus is looking at the tree full of leaves and he is expecting fruits. But Mark clearly mentions that it was not time for figs yet. So what is going on? The general interpretation is that, the fig trees were supposed to produce knobs called taqsh. Only if those young ones are present along with the leaves, there is hope of good ripe figs coming out of the tree. So what is happening is, the fig tree is all leafy but without any fruit bearing and no signs of fruit bearing in future. This happens at the time Jesus is about to clean up the temple. It simply reflects the spiritual condition of Israel and the happening at the temple. People converted worship and sacrifice into mere religion. They were not bearing fruits.

    The second part is more interesting. The disciples ask about this and Jesus replies about prayer, faith and moving mountains. We should not take reminder of the passage in isolation to what has taken place. We should look at in the context. Otherwise, we are ending up with a blanket statement that we can literally ask mountains to be moved with faith and it will happen. It is not minimizing the fact that Lord cannot move mountains physically. But is that what Jesus meant there? That is the question

    There is a Jewish metaphor "rooter of mountains". It is referred to prominent rabbis who were thought of being able to solve any complex problems with their wisdom. So Jesus was speaking in a language that will strike the audience. He is speaking with disciples. So they would have understood this. Jesus is talking about obstacles (or mountains) which will stop us from bearing fruits. When we have faith in Jesus, any mountains in our lives which can stop us from bearing fruits, could be rooted up and moved. Or as Luke writes, thrown in the sea! Jesus always talked about eternal kingdom of God. The focus is the same here.

    These other verses are in great relation to this context.

    John 15
    1 “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. 2 He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. 3 You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. 4 Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. 5 “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. 6 Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. 7 But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! 8 When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father

    Same message is reiterated when Jesus said with man this is impossible, with God all things are possible. We have to have faith in that truth. That, with God all things are impossible. When we have that trust and faith in God, all mountains can be moved. And we can bear fruit.

    One more thing to note.. When we remain in Him, we will always ask only in accordance with the will of Father. So the events of these verses do not give a blanket "name it and claim it" doctrine.

    What are your thoughts on this?
  2. One thing I learned when I researched this is many fig trees produce two crops per year, one called the breba or breva crop and the other is the main crop. Here is a description from:
    "The Common Fig (Ficus Carica) tree produces two crops of figs each year. The first crop, which grows on the previous years shoot growth is called the "breva" crop (from the Spanish term) or the "First Fruits" crop. In Italian these first figs are called "Fioroni". These first fruits of the fig tree are larger than the normal figs and often present with a different color. They are also less sweet and a bit dryer. They are however prized for their size which can approach that of a medium sized pear. "Brevas" are usually harvested between June and July while the main crop is harvested in August and September. The main crop of figs grows in the current years shoot growth."

    So Jesus may have been looking for this "first fruit" from the tree and used this as a teaching moment for the disciples.
    Ravindran likes this.
  3. I don't need to make sense of the season for figs or that Jesus may have been "unfair" to a tree. ( although there may be very logical explanation as shown above) Yahweh gave us trees to use and I think Jesus using a tree simply as a metaphor for Israel's barrenness is fine whether it was in season or not. imo He must have been a bit annoyed seeing the events going on in Jerusalem and knowing the events to come. Israel continued to wither like the Fig Tree right up till Jerusalem was sacked by Rome in 70 AD.
  4. My thoughts??? IMO, Jesus used the occasion as an object lesson against hypocrisy and the misrepresenting of the truth.

    It seems to me that He displayed His feelings toward false claims through the fig tree and those businesses in the Temple undoubtedly professed to be helping worshippers by making objects of sacrifice available to them for a price.

    Their motivation was greed and profit. Therefore the cursing of the fig tree is for a spiritual application. By faith that tree was destroyed because all things are possible if you have faith in God.
    Big Moose likes this.
  5. I like your phrase "those businesses in the Temple". I never heard it put like that, but it's true.
    This can go a lot of directions. One is that fruit producing is used to compare to distinguish between good or bad people as in good tree or bad tree. Is Jesus saying that the individual producing no fruit is cursed and will wither and die?
    Two is the analogy I hear most often, that of the tree is a metaphor for Israel and the curse they bring on themselves from not producing spiritual fruit. I have had problems with this one because "it was not the season for figs" and does God expect spiritual fruit even when it is not time for them to do so? That is when I learned that the fig trees have two fruits produced and if it was a good tree, there should have been some kind of sign that fruit was going to be produced. Since there wasn't, it was a bad tree. Since Israel was showing no sign of spiritual production, destruction was on the way.
    Three, and I think the best, is that it was only a teaching moment on faith. Things in this world are affected by faith in God. Was Jesus saying that the tree represents us and the fruit is our faith? No fruit, no faith, makes us useless? Maybe He was showing that by putting faith in God, God will give faith back by giving you your desires. Now real faith in God would make your desires pure and noble, and not selfish. When you follow through with your faith, God follows through with rewards.
    Major likes this.
  6. Interesting verse concluding this section in Mark. Verse 25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.

    The "stand praying" part just stood out to me. We think so much of the most honest, heartfelt prayers are when we kneel and do not stand. Obviously, not forgiving someone would hinder our prayer and faith in God. Is there something significant to the "standing"?
    Major likes this.
  7. The "Withering of the Fig tree" is always idiomatic of a significant judgement against Israel.

    Compare the verses about withering the fig tree with:
    Psalm 105:33
    Jer 8:13
    Hos 2:12
    Joel 1:7 and 1:12
    Amos 4:9

    So... In this context - the act of withering the fig tree was acting out a Prophetic word against Israel.... Note how this time - this prophetic message was not given to the Religious or Civil Authorities - but rather to His Disciples.... in contrast to Isaiah and other prophets bringing word of Israel's judgement long in advance to the civil and religious authorities....

    This is supposed to be a warning to Believers.... Judgement is coming.... and if you are paying attention - you will "Catch" that warning...

    It's interesting to note throughout the New Testament - we see prophecy after prophecy pertaining to the destruction of Jerusalem and the coming captivity of the nation in 70AD... and yet in the Jewish writings from that period - there is really no record of prophecies regarding the destruction of Jerusalem until it was already upon them (Josephus gives some examples)...

    Of course.... It makes you think... What about us today? Is God likewise sending us messages like this that we are ignoring?
  8. Yes, I think that He is! But because we are so focused on US we miss the call!
  9. Not only that but they bring forth the fruit before that bring a flower!
  10. Gen 6:4-5 NIV The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown. (5) The LORD saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.

    Sounds like now.

    Mat 24:37-39 NIV As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. (38) For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; (39) and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
  11. Just a technicality about figs.... The Fruit is the "Flower"....

    The flowers are inside what we call the fruit... With wild figs - the fruit actually have a specific type of teeny wasp that lives inside the fig... and the action of the female wasp laying the eggs pollinates the figs...

    The pupae of the wasp lives and grows inside the fig - and the female wasp also lives inside the fig... The hole in the bottom of the fig is how the male wasp gets in to find the female....

    In this instance - the "Breba" fig actually preserves the wasp eggs over winter - so there are wasps that can pollinate the figs the following year....

    But.. When you took fig trees to places where the wasps didn't live - you didn't get figs... so they came up with a method called "Fig gashing" - where they jab the immature fig with something like an ice pick - and it stimulates the growth of the fruit....

    With "Modern" cultivated figs - they form fruit without the need for the wasp... but this means they also don't form any viable seeds...

    Anyway... Hope you enjoyed this side track that has nothing really to do with the topic at hand....
    Ravindran and Big Moose say Amen and like this.
  12. My pastor once explained to me in this way..
  13. So much to learn from Word of God!
  14. Good stuff to know.

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