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I've been trying to study prophecy for the past few weeks. While reading Habakkuk, I came across this verse:

Habakkuk 3:17 (KJV) "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:"

After reading, I thought of the parable of the fig tree, especially since Jesus references the Old Testament many times. For example,

Matthew 24:32-35 (KJV) Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.

Is there a connection between the two passages?

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    Which parable of the fig tree are you referencing? Luke 13:6-9? or Matthew 24:32-35, Mark 13:28-31, and Luke 21:29-33? – david brainerd Aug 6 '14 at 4:44
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    Sorry, I was referring to the latter option. – Julian Jefko Aug 6 '14 at 15:50
  • Short answer: probably not. Other than the same kind of tree being referenced by separate authors in totally different contexts via totally different genres, there is no evidence to support a literary dependence or reference. – Jas 3.1 Aug 14 '14 at 16:22
  • I believe this is "the parable of a fig tree" to which he refers: Matthew 24:32 When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. – Ruminator Jul 18 '18 at 15:17
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No, I think it's unlikely that Jesus intends to invoke Habakkuk in that package. Figs were just a familiar and important part of the food supply in that part of the world, so it's appropriate to expect that fig trees to appear in various contexts. (One could say the same about vineyards, but we have texts like Isaiah 5 that explicitly use the vineyard as a metaphor for Israel.)

In the case of Matthew 24:32-35, I think it's reasonable to see a connection to Christ's earlier actions and teaching in Matthew 21:18-22. Jesus is saying that the Temple and/or Jerusalem are right on the cusp of facing judgment, and that a reasonably clear-eyed person could perceive that.

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Yes.

God created trees to be fruit bearing. Some give seeds, and nuts. Some give juicy fruits. Some have leaves that are useful for healing, and herbal remedies. Some of the nuts and seeds are useful for oils.

A fruitful tree is life giving, good for food. A tree that is not fruitful is often cut down and burned for heat, energy. God used the symbols of fruit-bearing trees for righteous men.

In discussing the amazement of the surrounding nations at the parting of the Red Sea and the drowning of Pharaoh and his chariots and horsemen, there is a reference in Ex. 15:13-17 to the people as plants.

"13 Thou in thy mercy hast led forth the people which thou hast redeemed: thou hast guided them in thy strength unto thy holy habitation. 14 The people shall hear, and be afraid: sorrow shall take hold on the inhabitants of Palestina.

15 Then the dukes of Edom shall be amazed; the mighty men of Moab, trembling shall take hold upon them; all the inhabitants of Canaan shall melt away. 16 Fear and dread shall fall upon them; by the greatness of thine arm they shall be as still as a stone; till thy people pass over, O LORD, till the people pass over, which thou hast purchased.

17 Thou shalt bring them in, and plant them in the mountain of thine inheritance, in the place, O LORD, which thou hast made for thee to dwell in, in the Sanctuary, O LORD, which thy hands have established." (KJV)

Isaac's descendants were compared to plants being established in God's mountain, which mountain is another symbol for His sanctuary, or His kingdom. God's mountain is God's kingdom (Isa. 11:9; 56:7; 57:13; 65:25; 66:20; Ezek. 20:40; Dan. 9:16, etc.)

The first Psalm discussed a righteous man, a man blessed by walking in the way of the Lord, who meditates upon the law of God, and in verse 3 it compares him to a tree.

"And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper." (KJV)

So, trees were often symbols for men. If they bore fruit, they were righteous before God. If they were unfruitful, they were ungodly, and of no use to Him, only good for burning.

"12 The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree: he shall grow like a cedar in Lebanon. 13 Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They shall still bring forth fruit in old age; they shall be fat and flourishing;" (KJV, Psa. 92)

Therefore, a righteous man (or woman) is a fertile tree, one bearing fruit for the Lord. A wicked man or woman is compared to grass that withers and quickly dies (Psa. 92:6-7)

In Isa. 61:1-4, speaking of his purpose as a prophet to the people, we find in verse 3,

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified." (KJV)

"7 Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is. 8 For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit." (KJV, Jer. 17)

People who are righteous before God are trees of righteousness. But, unrighteous men are compared to brown and dead grasses, stubble and chaff before the wind (Job 21:18; Psa. 35:5; Hos. 13:3), chaff to be burned ( Isa. 5:24; Matt. 3:12; Luke 3:17), weeds and tares (Matt. 13:24-30) and brambles (Jud. 9:14-15).

Hos. 9:10 compared the people of Israel to a fig tree.

"10 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." (KJV)

So, when the fig tree does not blossom (Hab. 3:17) then Israel does not blossom, or prosper.

As Christ was going into Jerusalem the second day after cleansing the temple, He stopped before the fig tree. Standing before Jerusalem, and standing before the fig tree - the same thing.

"18 Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing thereon, but leaves only, and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away. 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!

21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done." (KJV)

The fig tree (Israel) was unfruitful and was the symbol of the people and men of Jerusalem before which Christ stood. The mountain was the symbol of the sanctuary / temple of Jerusalem, what had been God's house that men had made into a place of buying and selling.

The withering of the fig tree was the judgment Christ pronounced against Jerusalem - Matt. 23:37-38.

"37 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! 38 Behold, your house is left unto you desolate." (KJV)

"Your house". Those very words proclaimed that the temple was no longer God's house, no longer God's holy mountain. Just as God's Spirit had left that house before the Babylonian captivity as Ezekiel had seen in his vision in Ezek. 10:1-19; 11:22-23, YHVH's Spirit no longer occupied that temple when Christ cried over them in 30-31 AD.

The mountain the disciples could move by faith was the kingdom of Judah, and the temple. By preaching the gospel of Christ, the disciples would move the hearts of men and change kingdoms of wicked men into righteous nations, and righteous people.

Casting that mountain into the sea was the prophesy of casting down the nation of Judea which happened at the destruction of Jerusalem and all Palestine in the Roman-Jewish wars of AD 67-70. And the fruit of the fig tree was removed from Jerusalem "forever".

The righteous men and women of God are now to be found in every nation on earth, for all those in Christ (Gal. 3:26-29) as all those in Christ are now counted for the seed of Abraham, and are now the Israel of God.

(All bold emphasis is mine.)

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We also lack natural experiences and explanations to figure out many parables in the bible.

A fig tree is specific in its nature. We eat its unopened flower. Fig is not being pollinated as other fruits. The process is being performed by some particular type of wasp which enters fruit, losses its wings, and dies inside. It strongly defies evolution theory. Similarly to "What came first egg or chicken?"

A fig tree will stop bringing fruit when there are no such wasps. We already have a huge problem worldwide with collapses of bee colonies. It is mainly due to all types of microwaves emissions.

  • Welcome to the site, Stojan. You have provided some interesting information about figs, but as this Bible Hermeneutics site is concerned specifically with in-depth analysis of scripture texts, an answer comparing Mat. 24 with Hab. 3 is what is looked for. If you can get back to the texts in question and add explanations about those, that would be appreciated. You may like to check out our Code of Conduct. – Anne Feb 22 at 19:10
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To understand this a number of metaphors need defined. Then the true biblical perspective can be reached.

  • fig tree
  • branch
  • fruit
  • vines
  • the olive
  • the field
  • the flock
  • the fold / the herd in the stalls

The Fig Tree

And he looked up and said, “I see men like trees, walking.” (Mark 8:24 NKJV)

The Fig Tree = A generic term for Men.

The Branch

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.(John 15:5 NKJV)

The Branch = A term meaning "You".

Fruit

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (Galatians 5:22-23 NKJV)

Fruit in this context = A Positive Display of Emotions/Attitudes.

The Vine

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.(John 15:5 NKJV)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1 NKJV)

The Vine = A term for Jesus who = the Word.

The Olive

"The trees once went forth to anoint a king over them. And they said to the olive tree, 'Reign over us!' (Judges 9:8 NKJV)

The Olive = Othniel the son of Kenaz from the tribe of Judah

As explained by the biblical commentator Rashi (Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki) explains the following (from the chabad.com website):

The Field

The field is the world, the good seeds are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one. (Matthew 13:38 NKJV)

The Field = The World.

The Flock

Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. (Acts 20:28-30 NKJV)

Now this takes a bit of delicacy to see. At first if you hear this term "the flock" one would consider this as actually God's people. However, when you look closely it is more specific as the "Truths of God". So the "Wolves" devour "The Truths".

The Flock = Truths of God.

The Fold / The Herd in the Stalls
Understanding that the sheep are truths, then the herd in the stalls are the truths that are gathered together. As with the Fold.

The SheepFold = Truths In The Memory
The Herd in the Stalls = Truths In The Collective Memory


Let us see how these two verses read when we appropriately replace the meanings with the definitions.

"Although man shall not blossom, neither shall a positive display of emotions be in the word; the labour of Othniel shall fail, and the world shall yield no meat; the truths of God shall be cut off from the truths in the memory, and there shall be no truths in the collective memory:" (Habakkuk 3:17)

“Now learn from this: When a person has already become relaxed and starts to think, you know that the word is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that the word is near—at the tip of the lips! (Matthew 24:32-33 Decoded Version 1.0)

So the connection between the two passages is this The verse from Habakkuk shows use that joy will not be found IN the word. The verse from Matthew helps us see when the Word is coming.

Example: Picture a child that has a bad report card. This child knows that the report card needs to be shown to the parent. The wisdom of the child is this. "If I show the report card when Dad is angry then my punishment will be very hard. However if I show the report card when he is relaxed and happy then my punishment will be less severe." So you can see that the Truth comes not when a person is angry but when a person is relaxed. Habakkuk points out that there will be no joy when the father receives this Truth, and that the child will do his best to remove from his memory anything that the Father is to say. So the words of the Father never enter into the kingdom of heaven, for his words are not eternal, but are to be thrown into the fire because his words are from the spirit of the flesh if he is angry.

  • I want to point out that those that correctly walk the path of Jesus are not applied to what Habakkuk says. For a father who is instructed with the Jesus responds with Kindness and Motivation, and with Love. So his words are remembered for they do indeed enter into the Kingdom. – Decrypted Aug 25 '14 at 18:22

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