One week before His death, Jesus cursed a fruitless fig tree to illustrate what was going to happen to the Jewish nation and the apostate church.
“Now in the morning as he returned into the city, he hungered. 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. And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying, How soon is the fig tree withered away!” (Matthew 21:18-20).
Why did Jesus curse a fig tree? Surely the Lord was not so petty as to retaliate against a tree because it didn’t give Him breakfast! We need to examine this story closely, because it is the only place in the Gospels where Jesus is credited with being directly responsible for killing something.
Fig trees are unique in that both mature leaves and ripe fruit appear at the same time. The tree Jesus cursed had all the outward signs of bearing fruit, yet the tree was a hypocrite. It was a fitting symbol of the Jewish nation. With its temple, priesthood, and sacrifices, Israel had all the trappings of true religion, but the genuine fruits — justice, mercy, and faith (Matthew 23:23) — were missing. Remember that withered fig leaves are a reminder of man’s failed attempts to cover his own sins.
Notice the sequence: The same day Jesus cursed the
fruitless fig tree (Matthew 21), He later had a showdown with the phony Pharisees and exposed their hypocrisy. “But all their works they do for to be seen of men” (Matthew 23:5). Seven times Jesus called them hypocrites, and then He pronounced a curse on them — just as He had the fig tree earlier that day. Here is the curse: “Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:34–36). Please don’t miss the fact that Jesus said the curse would “come upon this generation.”
In the next chapter, when Jesus describes the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of the world, He gives fig leaves as a sign. “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).
A generation in the Bible is 40 years (Numbers 32:13). Jesus made this prophecy in AD 31, and by AD 70 it was fulfilled!
Christ’s illustration of the fig tree that put forth leaves but no fruit is also a very plain prophetic sign for the last days. In the same way that literal Israel had all the outward forms of true religion before the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70, so spiritual Israel (the church) in the last days will put forth leaves but no fruit. There might be all the outward appearances of revival — lots of praise, miracle-healing services, big attendance, and talk of love and acceptance, but no fruit of the Holy Spirit. In other words, “having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” (2 Timothy 3:5).
One of my favorite Christian authors made a clear prediction more than 100 years ago: “Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word. Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming. The enemy of souls desires to hinder this work; and before the time for such a movement shall come, he will endeavor to prevent it by introducing a counterfeit. In those churches which he can bring under his deceptive power he will make it appear that God’s special blessing is poured out; there will be manifest what is thought to be great religious interest. Multitudes will exult that God is working marvelously for them, when the work is that of another spirit. Under a religious guise, Satan will seek to extend his influence over the Christian world.”3
This fig-leaf righteousness and false revival are the characteristics of the last-day Laodicean church. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing [recognize the fig leaves?]; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Revelation 3:17–19).
Jesus is calling us to lay aside our filthy, self-righteous fig
leaves and — like the prodigal son — come home and put on
the royal robe of the Father. Only then will the fruits of the Spirit, which are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance (Galatians 5:22, 23), be evident in our lives. There will be no people in God’s kingdom who are merely ornamental trees. Everyone must have fruit.
“Let love be without hypocrisy” (Romans 12:9 NKJV). Hypocrisy hurts the church, and it hurts us. Many hypocrites have been acting for so long that they have come to believe their own performances. We have a tendency to mold our faces to fit our masks. But God wants us to be honest with others and ourselves — spiritual Israelites in whom there is no guile or deceit (1 Peter 2:1; Revelation 14:5).
Here is the challenge I want to present to you: “The greatest want of the world is the want of men — men who will not be bought or sold, men who in their inmost souls are true and honest, men who do not fear to call sin by its right name, men whose conscience is as true to duty as the needle to the pole, men who will stand for the right though the heavens fall.”4
Jesus says, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matthew 5:8).
source: Pastor Doug Batchelor... Amazingfacts.org
full article: http://www.amazingfacts.org/Home/InsideReport/tabid/123/newsid457/296/Behold-the-Fig-Tree/Default.aspx