The Barren Fig Tree

Scripture: Luke 13:6-9

6 And he told this parable: "A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 And he said to the vinedresser, `Lo, these three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and I find none. Cut it down; why should it use up the ground?' 8 And he answered him, `Let it alone, sir, this year also, till I dig about it and put on manure. 9 And if it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.'

Meditation: What can barren fig trees tell us about the kingdom of God? Fig trees were a common and important source of food for the Jews.  Bad figs or a decaying fig tree was linked with evil deeds and spiritual decay.  The unfruitful fig tree symbolized the outcome of Israel's unresponsiveness to the word of God.  The prophets depicted the languishing fig tree as signifying the desolation and calamity of Israel due to her unfaithfulness to God (see Joel 1:7,12; Habakuk 3:17; and Jeremiah 8:13).  Jeremiah said that evil people are like rotten figs (Jeremiah 24:2-8).    This parable of Jesus depicts the patience of God, but it also contains a warning that we should not presume upon it.  God gives us time to get right with him, but that time is now.  We must not assume that there is no hurry. A sudden and unexpected death leaves one no time to prepare to settle one's accounts when he or she must stand before the Lord on the day of judgment. Jesus warns us that we must be ready at all times. Tolerating sinful habits and excusing unrepentant sin will result in bad fruit and eventual destruction. The Lord in his mercy gives us both grace and time to turn away from sin and from worldliness, but that time is right now. If we delay, even for a day, we may discover that grace has passed us by and our time is up. Do you hunger for the Lord's righteousness and holiness?

"Lord, increase my hunger for your righteousness and holiness.  May I not squander the grace of the present moment to say "yes" to you, to your will, and to your way of holiness."

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(c) 1998 Don Schwager