The Fig Tree

Arno Froese

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh” (Matthew 24:32).

Contemplating about what to write in this column, I was opening the office around 7:00 am and was struck by the gorgeous, large leaves of our fig tree that grows on the west side of the building. Thus, the above Scripture. 

The fig tree is a symbol of Israel in Scripture. The prophet Micah wrote about Israel’s future over 2,700 years ago: “But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the Lord of hosts hath spoken it” (Micah 4:4). One must realize that this prophecy does not depend on Israel’s behavior, but on the resolute will of the Lord Himself. The chapter ends with this sentence: “…and I will consecrate their gain unto the Lord, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth” (verse 13b). Of course, we know that the fulfillment will be implemented in the Millennium. Israel will experience God’s unfathomable grace, just like any one of us who has been pardoned by the Lord … washed in the blood of the Lamb … redeemed for all eternity. 

In our introductory verse, Jesus points to the fig tree as a sign of the end stages of the end times. We note that in Matthew 24, the word “shall” is repeated 59 times. Jesus’ detailed answer was in response to the disciples’ question, “Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?” (verse 3b). This leads to verse 32, “the fig tree … putteth forth leaves.” He is not speaking of the fruit of the fig tree, but rather its leaves. That reminds us of Genesis 3:7: “And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.” The issue here is Adam and Eve covering their sins. From that point on, mankind kept hiding his sins … covering them up.

After about 2,000 years, which we may call a dispensation without the law, came another 2,000 years of dispensation under the law, as God gave His commandments to Moses for the people of Israel. Some 2,000 years later, Jesus appeared. He did not come to cover sins but to take them away. Hebrews 10:4 states: “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.”

During Jesus’ ministry, we read of another remarkable event: “And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet. And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it” (Mark 11:13-14). Prophetically, the fig tree represents Israel under the law. But the law did not make man perfect and did not bear fruit.

Interestingly, we read, “for the time of figs was not yet.” It seemed unreasonable for the Lord to expect fruit when it was not the time for fruit to be developed, only leaves. With this statement, the Lord Jesus clearly demonstrates the surprise element. The fig tree—the law—was not God’s final answer to mankind, for the Bible says: “the law made nothing perfect” (Hebrews 7:19a).

There is little to no doubt that most Bible scholars recognize the return of the Jewish people to the land of Israel as the great end-time sign. 

When we occupy ourselves with recent history relating to Israel, we notice it was not religiously motivated Jews but the opposite: communists—that means atheists. Often called the father of modern Zionism, Theodor Herzl was an atheist. Yom Ha’atzmaut, which literally means “stands by itself,” is generally translated in English as “Day of Independence.” This is not applicable to the founding of Israel, because Zionism was the independence of Jews. It really means “by themselves.”

Britannica writes: “Zionism, Jewish nationalist movement that has had as its goal the creation and support of a Jewish national state in Palestine, the ancient homeland of the Jews (Hebrew: Eretz Yisra’el, ‘the Land of Israel’).” Thus, Independence Day is a rather weak translation and definition of Yom Ha’atzmaut.

Another issue is “Founding Fathers.” Again, not applicable for Israel. Two women signed: Rachel Cohen-Kagan and Golda Myerson. They were members of the Moetzet HaAm, which means “The People’s Council.” The overwhelming majority of the 37 signatories were born and educated within the Soviet Union. Interestingly, a majority of 9 representatives came from Ukraine, where today a war is raging.

One contemporary report describes the 208 delegates who had gathered in Basel, Switzerland on 29 August 1887 for the first Zionist Congress: “Rabbis and University professors, medical men and engineers, lawyers and littérateurs. Mathematicians, chemists, bankers, merchants, tradesmen, University students, agriculturists, book-keepers, clerks—all professions and occupations. Orthodox Jews, moderate Conservatives, Chassidim, reformers, freethinkers, Ashkenazim, Sephardim, Galician Straimlech, and Parisian top-hats, German preachers, Lithuanian Rectors of Yeshiboth, Capitalists and Socialists, philanthropists and Bettelstudenten, from Polish plains and Swiss mountains, from Lithuanian Ghetti and Vienna ‘Rings,’ speaking Russian, Polish, German, English, French, Italian, Spanish, Hungarian, Arabic, Dutch, Bulgarian, Serbian, Danish, Yiddish and Hebrew, all had come there united by one will, unfurling one banner.”

They all had one aim: the founding of the Jewish State in the land of Israel. Actually, Theodor Herzl declared on 3 September 1897: “At Basel I founded the Jewish State. If I said this out loud today, l would be greeted by universal laughter. In five years perhaps, and certainly in fifty years, everyone will perceive it.” Precisely 50 years later, on 29 November 1947, the United Nations presented Resolution 181, which called for the partitioning of Eretz Yisrael, to divide the British Mandate territory into two states: one Jewish, and one Arab. The Arabs rejected the resolution, but the Jews greeted it with great jubilation.

The Message
Again, the fig tree is putting forth leaves. Spiritually speaking, there is no fruit. Yet from reliable sources, we hear that true believers in the Messiah are greatly multiplying in the land of Israel. It is on the basis of Scripture and not the news media, that God will fulfill His plan in His time and His ways. This, incidentally, is a message for the Church of Jesus Christ—His body, the spiritual temple on earth. At any given moment, we will be taken out of this world, from multiple nations into the presence of Jesus, who has bought us with His own blood.

Israel being a vibrant and strong nation shows that we are in the end stages of the end times. We, the Church of Jesus Christ, are not waiting for better times or certain political developments; we are waiting for our Lord. Just as those Jews in Basel, although diverse, had one goal: the establishment of the Jewish State in the land of Eretz Yisrael.

Midnight Call - 07/2023

Arno Froese is the executive director of Midnight Call Ministries and editor-in-chief of the acclaimed prophetic magazines Midnight Call and News From Israel. He has authored a number of well-received books, and has sponsored many prophecy conferences in the U.S., Canada, and Israel. His extensive travels have contributed to his keen insight into Bible prophecy, as he sees it from an international perspective.

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