What do you see?

Fredy Winkler

When God called Jeremiah to be a prophet, He asked him, “What do you see?” Jeremiah answered, “I see the branch of an almond tree.” Then God answered him, “You have seen correctly, for I am watching to see that my word is fulfilled” (Jeremiah 1:11-12, NIV).

This dialogue is actually a little word game, with the word shaqed in the Hebrew language, which can mean both “almond tree” and “to watch.” The original meaning can’t truly be translated or appreciated in other languages. God used this word game to show Jeremiah how He watches over His Word. The almond tree is typically the first to bloom as spring awakens each year in Israel.
God apparently wanted to show Jeremiah that He remains faithful, even when Israel is unfaithful, and that He will keep His promises, just as the yearly renewal of the earth that occurs in nature is unchanging and certain.

God often used images from nature to illustrate His Word and His message, to make it understandable for humans. The annual spring blossoming of the almond tree helped to remind Jeremiah that God is faithful and keeps His promises, just as the rainbow reminds people that they can count on God’s Word.

Just as the almond tree heralds spring in Israel, the fig tree heralds summer. Jesus used the image of the budding fig trees as an illustration in Matthew 24:32-35, as a sign of His return to establish His kingdom.

In the parable in Luke 13:6-9, Jesus talks about a fig tree that was planted in a vineyard. Israel is often pictured as “God’s vineyard” in the Bible. Jerusalem is therefore represented by the fig tree that’s planted in the middle of the vineyard. Jesus said that the owner of the vineyard looked for fruit on the fig tree for three years, but didn’t find any. Therefore, he ordered the man who took care of the vineyard to cut it down. But the man pleaded for one more year, so that he could dig around it and apply some fertilizer, to give it one more chance.

According to the Gospel of John, Jesus came to Passover in Jerusalem three years in a row, but each time He came, He was rejected by the religious leadership there. One year later, the fourth time, their rejection was so great that they decided to kill Him.

Consequently Jerusalem, the fig tree, was cut off completely. Fig trees, however, have the ability to regenerate themselves from the roots, even after they have been cut off completely.

Today we see that Jerusalem has been rebuilt as a Jewish city, and (pictorially) it is growing leaves but is not bearing fruit. Thus, the City of Jerusalem that we see today is one of many signs that the owner of the vineyard, Jesus Christ, will soon return to establish His kingdom, just as He indicated in the parable in Luke 21:29-33.

The events in Luke 22:35-38 show us an example of just how meticulously God fulfills His prophetic Word. Jesus told His disciples to sell their cloaks and buy a sword. They answered Him that they already had two, to which Jesus replied, “That’s enough.” What was the purpose of that unusual order?
Jesus Himself explained the reason, “‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I tell you that this must be fulfilled in me” (Luke 22:37; cf. Isaiah 53:12). Non-Romans were forbidden from carrying weapons, but apparently, two of His disciples were “transgressors” and secretly carried swords.

After the resurrection, when Jesus appeared to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus, and later to the others in Jerusalem, He told them, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44).

Just as every detail that was written about Jesus was fulfilled back then, so too will everything be fulfilled in every detail that has been written about His return.

Trusting that He is watching over His Word, to makes sure that it will be fulfilled, Shalom!

News From Israel - 08/2017

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