The Prophetic References to Israel as the Fig Tree
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” Matthew 24:32-34
This passage is key to understanding the times in which we live. When you hear a Bible teacher say, “Israel is THE major sign of the end times,” they are saying so based, largely, upon the truth given to us in this passage.
Old Testament Precedence
The vine and fig tree speak of the safety of Israel in her promised land, the land of the covenant.
“And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.” 1 Kings 4:25
This imagery of Israel in her land as a vine and fig tree continues through the writings and words of the prophets. God said that he would bless those who bless Israel (Genesis 12:1-3). Likewise, Solomon spoke of this same blessing in the imagery of a man keeping “the fig tree”.
“Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.” Proverbs 27:18
Solomon also points prophetically to a connection between the revival of national Israel and the Rapture of the Saints. The connection of the vine and fig tree to Israel is inescapeable and the reference to the bride being called to “come away” is both chilling and exciting.
“The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” Song of Solomon 2:13
Sadly, the judgment of Israel for her apostasy is also painted in the imagery of rotted and consumed grapes (vine) and figs. (See Jeremiah 5:17, 8:13 & Hosea 2:12). One of the clearest references to Israel as the fig tree and as figs is found in Jeremiah 24:1-8.
And whenever Jehovah would call out to his backslidden people, he would remind them using the vine and fig imagery of just how it was in the beginning of the nation and how that he saw them.
“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 9:10
In a prophecy that speaks of the future attack upon Israel when the land will be raped and ravaged while the Jews hide in Petra (Isaiah 16:1-5, called “Sela”, Isaiah 33:15-17 referred to as “munitions of rocks”, Psalm 108:10-13 called “Edom”, etc.), the prophet Joel condmens those who have attacked Israel and laments Israel’s losses with the imagery of “vines” and “figs”.
“He hath laid my vine waste, and barked my fig tree: he hath made it clean bare, and cast it away; the branches thereof are made white.” Joel 1:7
Joel, again, connects the Holy Land (Judea) to the nation Israel with promise of future glory by speaking of her in terms of the fig tree and the vine.
“Fear not, O land; be glad and rejoice: for the LORD will do great things. Be not afraid, ye beasts of the field: for the pastures of the wilderness do spring, for the tree beareth her fruit, the fig tree and the vine do yield their strength.” Joel 2:21-22
The New Testament Application
By consistently applying the fig tree imagery to Israel, we can easily make sense of it’s use in the Gospels by Jesus Christ. Again, we began with Matthew 24:32-34 but Jesus used this imagery more than once. earlier in Matthew he spoke AGAINST the fig tree for not bearing it’s firstripe fruits.