Zionism in Bible Prophecy - Part 5
The Cursed Fig Tree
Issue No. 164
In discussing the spirit of Zionism, we saw in Part One and Part Two of this series that the Jews got tired of waiting for a messiah to end their dispersion and bring them “back to the Promised Land.” Their dispersion did not end, because the Jews did not (as a people) repent of their “hostility” to Jesus Christ—which the divine law specified as a condition for the end of captivity (Lev. 26:40, NASB).
Certain Jews finally decided that the time had come for them to take matters into their own hands. They saw no reason to repent, for in their eyes Jesus was a false messiah that was worthy of death. Likewise, they persecuted the early Church, believing that they deserved to die for spreading the “heresy” of Jesus’ teachings and of the “lie” that He rose from the dead.
They saw no connection between the beheading of John the Baptist at Passover of 30 A.D. and the beginning of the Roman siege of Jerusalem 40 years later at Passover of 70 A.D.
They saw no connection between Jesus’ crucifixion at Passover of 33 A.D. and the fall of Masada that marked the end of the war 40 years later at Passover of 73 A.D.
They were willing to follow false messiahs, as long as they were military leaders eager to fight those that God had put over them. But they were not willing to repent in order to let God set them free—at least, not until the prophet Daniel did so in Dan. 9.
The Violent Take the Kingdom by Force
We have shown from the prophet Jeremiah that there were (and still are) two types of “figs” from the fig tree of Judah. There are good figs and evil figs. The good figs are those that peaceably submit to the judgment of God, and there are those who would rather fight and die (Jer. 24-30). This was true in Jeremiah’s day, and it was again true in Jesus’ day. Jesus said of these people in Matt. 11:12,
12 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.
Jesus denounced the Jewish belief that the Kingdom of God must be taken by violence and force. Forty years later, God brought judgment and captivity upon Judah, this time at the hand of Rome. It was all for the same reasons that we find in the writings of Jeremiah six centuries earlier. One would think that the people would have learned, since they claimed to believe the writings of Moses and the prophets.
Judaism and the Traditions (Precepts) of Men
The problem was that these people did not believe either Moses or the prophets. Jesus said in John 5:45-47,
45 Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. 46 For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me; for he wrote of Me. 47 But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?
Jesus said that the Jews did not believe Moses, and that this was the reason they would not believe Jesus and accept Him as the Messiah. They believed only the traditions of men, which Jesus severely condemned (Matt. 15:1-8). Jesus concluded in verses 7-9,
7 You hypocrites, rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far from Me. 9 But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.
These precepts, or traditions, were written down from about 50 B.C. to about 500 A.D. in a body of Jewish literature called the “Talmud.” This is the sacred literature of Judaism. It is NOT the Bible, not even the Old Testament. Dr. Israel Shahak writes on page 5 of his very scholarly book, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel,
“Jewish fundamentalists believe that the Bible itself is not authoritative unless interpreted correctly by talmudic literature.”
Dr. Shahak was an Israeli citizen in Jerusalem for over 40 years until his death on July 2, 2001. He was a professor emeritus of Organic Chemistry at Hebrew University as well as a human rights activist. Dr. Shahak further writes on page 25,
“The teachings of the biblical prophets, the books of Job and Ecclesiastes and numerous other parts of the Bible are studied neither in the heders [elementary schools] nor the yeshivot [talmudic schools of higher learning] and are therefore unknown to the Haredim [fundamentalists].”
Dr. Shahak is telling us that the religious rabbis do not normally study the Bible itself. They study the traditions of men, which is what men SAY the Bible teaches. The Talmud is often diametrically opposed to the teaching of the prophets themselves.
The Talmudic teachings seldom reflected the real teachings of the Bible. It is often assumed among Christian circles that Jews only need to add Jesus to their Judaism in order to get the perfect religion. This is not true. The Talmud plus Jesus does not equal Christianity.
We showed in Part Two of this series that Jesus Christ was the One who gave the law to Moses. He is the One called Yahweh in the Old Testament, as we see from Ex. 15:2,
2 The Lord [Yahweh] is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation [Yahshua].
The Hebrew name translated “Lord” is Yahweh, the name of God that was revealed to Moses in Ex. 6:3. The Hebrew word translated “salvation” is Yahshua, which is Jesus’ Hebrew name. Thus, Moses prophetically writes of the incarnation of Jesus, saying that “Yahweh. . . has become my Yahshua.” It proves that Jesus Christ is the God of the Old Testament and that He came to be born of a virgin in Bethlehem in the New Testament. This prophetic concept is repeated in Isaiah 12, saying,
2 Behold, God is my salvation [Yahshua], I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation [Yahshua]. 3 Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation [Yahshua].
Jesus referred to this passage in John 7:37 and 38 when He said on the last day of the feast of Tabernacles,
38 He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, From his innermost being shall flow rivers of living water.
Jesus was telling the people that the true water of life comes only through Him. The outpouring of the Spirit would result in the people becoming springs of living water. Jesus told the Samaritan woman in John 4:14, He who drinks of this water will never thirst again.
Jesus came to manifest to the world the true meaning of the Scriptures. He did this by example and by teaching. His teaching contradicted the chauvinistic teaching of the religious leaders of the day. For this reason, instead of repenting, they crucified Him.
The Fig Tree Cut Down
John the Baptist admonished the people not to claim that their descent from Abraham would save them. He said in Luke 3:8 and 9,
8 Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, We have Abraham for our father, for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 And also the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
In other words, the nation of Judah was not going to be spared just because they could claim descent from Abraham. God spared neither Israel nor Judah in the days of the Old Testament. Neither would He spare them in the first century A.D. except for those who would repent.
John was called to introduce Jesus to the world and present Him as the Messiah. After fulfilling that call, he was soon cast into prison and finally executed. Jesus then ministered three years, showing the mind of God by His character and explaining to them what He meant when He gave the law to Moses. Most of the people either did not understand or they disagreed with Him.
Finally, toward the end of His ministry, he told a parable of the fig tree, which completed what John had said in Luke 3 (above). We read in Luke 13:6-9,
6 And He began telling this parable: A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard, and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any. 7 And he said to the vineyard-keeper, Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground? 8 And he answered and said to him, Let it alone, sir, for this year, too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.
The fig tree was the symbol of the Judah nation. Jesus came looking for “fruits in keeping with repentance” (as John called it) on this national tree for three years and found nothing. But the vineyard-keeper interceded for the tree, asking for one more year to see if it would bear fruit. And so, in the middle of the fourth year of His ministry, He came to Jerusalem one final time to see if He might find fruit of this tree.
Instead of repenting, they crucified Him. This was not the “fruits in keeping with repentance” that John expected from this tree. Thus, the prophecy says in Luke 13:9, “if not, cut it down.” This is what happened from 70-73 A.D. The Judah tree was cut down and the people scattered. It was the beginning of their “yoke of iron” (Deut. 28:48).
Many modern Christians listen to the Jews claiming descent from Abraham, and they think this nullifies their need to repent before God removes from them the iron yoke. Such people ought to believe John the Baptist.
The Fruitless Fig Tree Withers
Just before Jesus was crucified, He came upon a fig tree that was full of leaves. The story is told in Matt. 21:18-20,
18 Now in the morning, when He returned to the city, He became hungry. 19 And seeing a lone fig tree by the road, He came to it, and found nothing on it except leaves only; and He said to it, No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you. And at once the fig tree withered. 20 And seeing this, the disciples marveled saying, How did the fig tree wither at once?
This is an event that illustrated Jesus’ parable in Luke 13:6-9 (quoted earlier) about the fruitless fig tree. This tree had many leaves but no fruit. It put on a good show to the eyes, but it did not meet God’s requirements. So Jesus prophesied that it would not bring forth fruit at all. At that, the fig tree withered and died.
Adam and Eve Used Fig Leaves
Fig leaves have been a problem from the beginning. When Adam and Eve sinned, they discovered that they were “naked.” So the story says that they used fig leaves to cover themselves (Gen. 3:7). But fig leaves cannot cover one’s nakedness (sin) before God. Fig leaves are a symbol of man’s covering for sin, man’s rationalizations, and man’s excuses.
The true covering for sin is the blood of Jesus Christ, which cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7). There is no fig leaf big enough to cover sin or to substitute for the blood of Jesus Christ.
The Jews who reject Jesus Christ and His covering for sin have instead covered themselves with fig leaves in order to hide the fact that they have not brought forth the fruits of repentance that God requires. To this day they refuse to repent of their “hostility” against Jesus Christ (Lev. 26:40). They continue to rationalize their sin and claim to be innocent of His blood. And then in the past century they have formed a Zionist movement to try to take the Kingdom by force and throw off the iron yoke by violence, terrorism, theft of land, and bloodshed.
And if anyone dares to confront them with their hostility toward Jesus Christ, they feel insulted. They merely claim descent from Abraham, as if that is supposed to justify their terrorism. If anything, being a descendant of Abraham makes one more accountable before God. It can never be used to justify sin.
Jesus Prophesies of Modern Zionism
In Matt. 24:32 and 33, Jesus gave His interpretation of the fig tree near the time of His second appearance:
32 Now learn the parable from the fig tree; when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 33 even so you, too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
This “fig tree” is recognized by many Bible teachers as referring to the modern Jewish State. Thus, even they believe that Jesus prophesied of this State being formed in the latter days when Jesus second coming is “near, right at the door.” I fully agree with this interpretation.
But Jesus said nothing about this fig tree bringing forth FRUIT. He only says that it will bring forth more leaves. In other words, it will come to life, and the Jewish State will indeed be established—but it will not bear fruit that would save it from being cut down once again. If it bears no fruit, it is fit only to be cut down, Jesus said.
Modern evangelical and pentecostal teaching says that the Jews will soon repent, and God will save them at the last minute. Then their Jewish State will become the headquarters of Christ’s Kingdom on the earth. They say Jesus Christ will rule from a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem (after the Antichrist has vacated it, of course).
Here I absolutely disagree. If the nation were to repent, it would bear the fruits of repentance that John and Jesus required from the beginning. But if it should bear fruit, then Jesus’ prophecy would fail, for He said in Matt. 21:19, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.”
If we do not believe Jesus’ words here, then why should we believe anything else that He said?
Jesus’ Second Zionist Prophecy
In Luke 19 Jesus told one of His many parables about the nobleman (who represents Jesus Himself). Verse 12,
12 He said therefore, A certain nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return.
The parable continues, telling us that this nobleman entrusted to his servants various amounts of money and told them to do business until He returned. The servants represent those who serve Him—Jesus. That is, they represent the Christian believers. Verse 14 then says,
14 But his CITIZENS hated him, and sent a delegation after him, saying, We do not want this man to reign over us.
The citizens who hate Jesus and rejected His Kingship are the Jews. This statement, “We do not want this man to reign over us,” brings us back to what the people said in the days of the prophet Samuel. In 1 Samuel 8 the people rejected Yahweh’s rule over them and demanded an earthly king like the nations around them. 1 Sam. 8:7 says,
7 And the Lord [Yahweh] said to Samuel, Listen to the voice of the people in regard to all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me from being king over them.
In the New Testament, as we saw earlier, Yahweh became Yahshua, or Jesus Christ. In other words, the people in Samuel’s day rejected Jesus Christ from ruling over them. The same situation occurred again after Yahweh was born in Bethlehem and named Yahshua (Greek: Iesus; English: Jesus).
In the parable Jesus said that the servants received various rewards according to what they did with the money they were given. This speaks of the rewards given to the believers at the Great White Throne, where every man is judged according to his works (Rev. 20:12).
Then at the end of the parable, Jesus gave His verdict for the “citizens” who hated Him. Verses 27, 28 say,
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence. 28 And after He had said these things, He was going on ahead, ascending to Jerusalem.
In other words, Jesus prophesied that those who had rejected Him would be brought back “here” to “Jerusalem” for judgment. “Slay them in My presence,” is the verdict.
The modern Zionist movement did not take Jesus Christ by surprise. Jesus prophesied that it would happen. Yet Jesus made it clear that the nation as a whole would NOT repent or bear the fruits of the Kingdom. Further, God’s purpose in allowing them to return was to bring them to destruction for not wanting Jesus to reign over them.
Zionism is in the plan of God, but Zionism is not a godly movement. God’s motive in allowing the Jewish immigration to Palestine and Jerusalem is to gather them for judgment at the place where they committed their offense. Of course, there are always individuals among them throughout the centuries and even in the present time who have accepted Jesus as King. But the nation itself, the Jewish State, will not bear fruit and will be cut down.
The Fate of Jerusalem
Jeremiah 18 and 19 tells us the fate of the northern ten tribes of the House of Israel and the southern two tribes of the House of Judah. In 18:1-1-6 the prophet speaks of the jar of wet clay that represents the House of Israel. God says that He will remake the House of Israel into a new vessel, even as a potter can do with wet clay. Verse 6 says,
6 Can I not, O house of Israel, deal with you as this potter does? declares the Lord. Behold, like the clay in the potter’s hand, so are you in My hand, O house of Israel.
This is a prophecy of the northern “lost” ten tribes of the House of Israel, who had already been taken into Assyria a century before Jeremiah’s time. These did not return to the old land—and never will—because they were given a completely different set of prophecies to fulfill.
In the rest of chapter 18 and all of 19 the prophet turns his attention to “the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (18:11). This was the southern Kingdom of the House of Judah. He tells their sin, and then in 19:1 God tells Jeremiah,
1 Thus says the Lord, Go and buy a potter’s earthenware jar, and take some of the elders of the people and some of the senior priests. 2 Then go out to the valley of Ben-hinnom, which is by the entrance of the potsherd gate; and proclaim there the words that I shall tell you.
This jar, the Lord explained to the prophet, represented Judah and Jerusalem. Jer. 19:10, 11 then says,
10 Then you are to break the jar in the sight of the men who accompany you 11 and say to them, Thus says the Lord of hosts, Just so shall I break this people and this city even as one breaks a potter’s vessel which cannot again be repaired.
It is clear from this that God was to “break” both the people and the city as a jar that could not be repaired. This stands in stark contrast to prophecy of the wet clay of the House of Israel in Jer. 18:1-6. The people and city were destroyed in 586 B.C.—but they were restored and the city repaired 70 years later. The city was again destroyed in 70 A.D.—but repaired later.
Hence, Jeremiah’s prophecy has not been fulfilled yet. It is yet future. And this future is soon coming upon them. God has brought them back to the old land in order that His Word will not be broken. That is Zionism’s purpose.