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Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary
I should not think it necessary to notice this article in our Concordance, but for the occasion that offers thereby of making an observation on the fig tree which the Lord Jesus blighted near Bethany. It may be proper, for the better apprehension of the subject, to remark, that the fig tree grew, in Palestine, not unfrequently in the roads, and highways, and hedges, beside those that were cultivated in. the gardens. It is plain, that this fig tree which Christ withered was of this kind; a hedge fruit, and, consequently, it was no man's property. Matthew's account of this transaction is, that when Jesus "saw this fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing but leaves only; and said unto it, Let no fruit grow on thee hence forward for ever: and presently the fig tree withered away." (Matthew 21:18) And Mark adds to this relation, that "the time of figs was not yet." (Mark 11:13)
It is very evident from hence, that the Lord Jesus had an object of much higher moment to set forth by this action, than the mere blighting a hedge fig tree. For surely, the Lord did not expect fruit out of season; neither did he mean, as some have supposed, to shew anger, to a fig tree. It is well known, that in the eastern world almost all instruction was conveyed by parable and figure. And so much did the Lord Jesus, in his divine teaching, fall in with this popular way of conveying knowledge, that at one time we are told "without a parable spake he not unto them." (Matthew 13:34) The question becomes exceedingly interesting to know, what particular instruction to his disciples the Lord meant to have impressed on their minds by this event.
Perhaps I may be singular in my view of the subject. But if I err, may the Lord pity and pardon my ignorance, and the reader find no injury from my statement of it. The whole stress of the subject, as it strikes me, is in the nature and quality of this fig tree. It was hedge fruit. It was in the highway; and no man's property. Now the church is expressly compared by the Lord himself to a fig tree of his own, and planted in his vineyard. (Luke 13:6) And the prophet, in the Old Testament dispensation, celebrated the glories of God's grace to the church under a similar figure of his planting his vineyard with a choice vine. (Isaiah 5:1 etc.) The fruitless fig tree of the hedge, and which at the command of Jesus withered away, according to my view of the subject, was intended by the Lord to represent the mere professors of the gospel, who to a traveller afford leaves, but no fruit. It is, indeed, without; not in the garden, the church. It cannot bring forth fruit unto God; for the Lord saith, when speaking of his church, "From me is thy fruit found." (Hosea 14:8) Jesus hath a right and property in his people. They are his, both by the Father's gift, and by his own purchase. And he hath brought them in, and fenced them round, and they are "trees of his right hand planting." (Isaiah 61:3)
The instant withering of the barren fig tree, at Christ's command, became the emblem of what must ultimately follow all the way-side productions in nature, void of grace, at the great day of the Lord. And our Lord's own comment upon the blasted tree, seems very fully to justify this view of the subject. For when the disciples remarked to Jesus how soon the fig tree was withered away, the Lord made this striking answer, "Have faith in God." As if he had said, all are but the mere leaves of profession where there is no vital union in me. As he said elsewhere, "I am the vine; ye are the branches." (John 15:5) If this be the right sense of the passage, and the Lord Jesus meant to teach his disciples thereby, that every hedge fig tree hath no part in the church, no owner in Christ by his Father's gift or purchase, no union with him, and, consequently, no communion in his graces, but must in the hour of decision instantly wither away; then will this parable of the barren fig tree form one testimony more to the numberless other testimonies with which the word of God abounds, that the children of the wicked one, and the children of the kingdom, are totally separate and dissimilar from everlasting, and so must continue to everlasting. Tares can never become wheat; neither can wheat become tares. Goats must remain goats; for their nature cannot admit in them the nature of sheep. The fig tree of the hedge, never planted in the vineyard of Jesus, hath no fruit in him; and, consequently, always barren. So infinitely important is it, to be found in Christ.
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Hawker, Robert D.D. Entry for 'Fig Tree'. Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance and Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/pmd/f/fig-tree.html. London. 1828.