John 1:45-51 (King James Version)
45 Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.
46 And Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip saith unto him, Come and see.
47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and saith of him, Behold an Israelite indeed, in whom is no guile!
48 Nathanael saith unto him, Whence knowest thou me? Jesus answered and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee.
49 Nathanael answered and saith unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God; thou art the King of Israel.
50 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these.
51 And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.
Ok folks, when I learned early on in my walk that when something is said in scripture that is really “off the wall” and seems to make no since, it almost always has a deeper meaning that we just simply do not know. More often than not, is is because we do not understand the lingo. (‘if you will’) NOTICE IT SAYS ‘The’ fig tree, not a fig tree. One particularly distinguished from the others.
I like to dig and the best way to dig is to search the scriptures for a revealed meaning. Since we are studying History pertaining to Greek, Hebrew or Aramaic, we must start there. Depending on who is talking, gives you the first clue to the search. In this passage, It was a dialog between Jesus and Nathanael. Jesus said that Nathanael was an Israelite, so we can make the assumption that he is of Hebrew decent. Most, automatically think “JEW” but remember, Jesus referred to Nathanael as an ‘Israelite’ and Israelites are and will always remain to be a mixed company of sojourners, traveling this land.
This must have been refreshing to Jesus to behold an Israelite with no guile. Not only did Jesus say an Israelite but and Israelite indeed. (an obedient Israelite) Oh yes, how refreshing.
Let’s look at scripture. Easily enough, we can look up ‘fig tree’ in the Gateway Bible online. I will pick out the ones that seem as if there is something to it, other than just a fig tree.
And the trees said to the fig tree, Come thou, and reign over us.
Well, here is a weird one. A tree talking to a fig tree. Do they really talk? Well, we have not yet entered into the spiritual realm, so I would say. “I do not know for certain, at this time if trees can actually talk. I do know from my nursing walk that if you listen with a stethoscope that you can hear water if you place the listening device on a tree. I have actually listened with mine.
Get out the shovel folks cause we gotta check this one out. Next verse:
But the fig tree said unto them, Should I forsake my sweetness, and my good fruit, and go to be promoted over the trees?
“Oh no, they are still talking. Better do a little reading of text. Hold on, don’t get lost here. It does get better.”
Ok, all is well, Jotham was delivering a parable. In Jotham’s parable Judges 9:7-15, He was using trees which represented Gideon’s 70 sons, and the thorn bush in this parable represented Abimelech. Jotham’s point was this: A productive person would be to busy doing good to want to bother with power politics. A worthless person on the other hand, would be glad to accept honor- but he would destroy the people he ruled. Abimelech, like a thorn bush, could offer Israel no real protection or security. Jotham told this story about the trees in order to help the people set good priorities.
And the trees
a tree (from its firmness); hence, wood (plural sticks) — + carpenter, gallows, helve, + pine, plank, staff, stalk, stick, stock, timber, tree, wood.
to say (used with great latitude)
to the fig tree
the fig (tree or fruit) — fig (tree).
to walk; causatively, to carry (in various senses)
thou and reign
to reign; inceptively, to ascend the throne; causatively, to induct into royalty; hence (by implication) to take counsel
Jotham, you understand was one of the seventy 1/2 brothers that got away from Abimelech after he deceitfully became ruler over Shechem. He went up on top of a mountainside and had delivered this parable, trying to get the people to understand that if they wanted God’s protection, they better listen to him.
So I suppose that we could understand that a fig tree offers protection. Ok let’s move on to the next verse in gateway.com with relevance to a hidden meaning…
1 Kings 4:25 And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
This verse refers to safety as well under a fig tree. It also appears that a vine is somewhat of an order of safety too. Interesting! I think of the fig leaf that Adam tried to hide under. Nothing is ever really hidden from God.
This verse from 1 Kings is from Solomon’s era. Through out most of his reign, he applied wisdom well because he sought God. The fruits of this wisdom were peace, security and prosperity for the nation. Solomon’s era is often looked upon as the ideal of what any nation can become when united in it’s trust in and it’s obedience to God.
You know that verse: If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14
You may not know this but two countries have done this and their lands have been healed. When they went back to the basics of their belief, and humbled themselves as a people united, their lands have been healed by the very hand of God. Uganda in 2000 and Fiji shortly after that. Uganda was being wiped out by aides and after their leader proclaimed God at their helm, with-in the first 6 months or so they saw a decline and now they teach abstinence in Uganda and their treasury department prays over every single dollar before they spend or make changes. I just saw a film on the complete healing of Fiji recently that was so awesome. You can type in God and Uganda or God and Fiji and find some information on the internet if you are interested. One of the islands in Fiji was where a missionary was killed long long ago. They called the remnants of this fellow to come to that Island and they had their chief ask for forgiveness for their forefathers killing their forefather and they received forgiveness from the remnant. That very day, the water in the stream on that Island began to run pure clear water, where before it was poisoned and cloudy white water running.
2 Kings 18:31
Hearken not to Hezekiah: for thus saith the king of Assyria, Make an agreement with me by a present, and come out to me, and then eat ye every man of his own vine, and every one of his fig tree, and drink ye every one the waters of his cistern:
“Don’t listen to Hezekiah! These are the terms the king of Assyria is offering: Make peace with me—open the gates and come out. Then each of you can continue eating from your own grapevine and fig tree and drinking from your own well.
Sennacherib was making threats to Jerusalem when these words were spoken. He was making a promise of safety to drink from their own gardens and drink from their own wells if they listened to him and not Hezekiah. He was speaking on behalf of the king of Assyria.
Protection, protection, protection under a fig tree… HUMMMMMMM!
Funny thing, Isaiah had already prophesied to Israel that the Assyrians would not destroy Jerusalem, so the people did not have to be afraid of them. (PS: at this time, Aramaic was an international language) Still there was this reference to protection.
Whoso keepeth the fig tree shall eat the fruit thereof: so he that waiteth on his master shall be honoured.
Now this is truly interesting. Was Jesus referring to this Proverb that perhaps Nathanael would understand? Was Nathanael, perhaps ‘sitting under the fig tree’ just an expression of this proverb? Was Nathanael an obedient Israelite who was waiting for His Messiah and had just met Him? Had Nathanael just been honored? I believe so. Could Jesus have paid him any higher a compliment? To say that Nathanael was an Israelite without guile…
You know, Jeremiah prophesied that the fig tree would dry up. Can we suppose that this means that God was taking His hand of protection off of the children of Israel.? Jeremiah 8:13 I will surely consume them, saith the LORD: there shall be no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree, and the leaf shall fade; and the things that I have given them shall pass away from them.
Joel even mentioned that the fig tree was dried up. Joel 1:12 The vine is dried up, and the fig tree languisheth; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all the trees of the field, are withered: because joy is withered away from the sons of men.
But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.
Now here we have Micah saying almost the same that was written in 1Kings 4:25
And Judah and Israel dwelt safely, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, from Dan even to Beersheba, all the days of Solomon.
I am beginning to think that this saying is perhaps a Hebrew euphuism. Spirit speaking to spirit kinda thing.
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:
In Acts 15:14-17, James points out that “God has first visited the Gentiles and after that will return and rebuild the dwelling of David which has fallen so that the rest of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who are called by My Name.”
A final proof to them is the parable of the barren fig tree. For three years Christ sought in vain for fruit from the people of Israel (Luke 13:7). Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
This is a sermon in it’s self. If we try something our way and after three years it really isn’t working for us, try something else. Perhaps it might even be a good idea to seek God’s will, rather than trying something that is not in His will so that we can get it right the first time and not have to wait three years. If it isn’t going to produce fruit then it is a barren project. Try something else.
Some may misunderstand the special importance of this scripture. The fig tree was cursed in both the spiritual and physical. The fig tree would not bud again until the people were back in the land. His personal presence could not bring a change in that barren ground, and although He found leaves, there was no fruit on the tree. Ergo, His curse: “May no fruit ever come from you again” (Matthew 21:19).
People may have thought that Jesus curse upon Israel would be forever. It was only for this dispensation. That literal fig tree cursed by the Lord, she had much profession (leaves), but no fruit of righteousness, but would one day again, return to it’s roots of truth and obedience and this day is coming.
However in this dispensation of Messianic salvation, Israel will bring forth fruit. The time of the end will bring the summer near when the fig tree will again bud forth (Matthew 24:32). That budding of the fig tree would occur when Israel returns to Palestine. Since 1948, Israel has become a ripe nation again. The fig tree is in fact budding. They are again, under the hand and protection of God. But, we will have to wait and watch, because at this point, there is healing in the land. Everything is blooming profusely. I even heard from a good friend today that the barley is ripened early this year, which may mean an early Passover for some.
Have you ever read Mark Twain. I did a little search and found his testimony about the virtually EMPTY Holy Land. He was quoted once as, “Why would anyone ever want to live in this God forsaken land.” I did not read this in it’s entirety to know if I said it ’correctly’, but I remember hearing this. But you can certainly get an idea of what Israel looked like back in his day when he visited the Holy Land. http://www.middleeast.org/forum/fb-public/1/4223.shtml
Back to our brother Nathanael. With out going much further, I think it has become obvious that the few verses we have looked at, make reference to protection and perhaps a waiting for that perfect protection to come for those who wait under the fig tree, they will know their Messiah when they see Him, like Nathanael did.
This man Nathanael may be a bit dubious at first (although there can be no unbelief in him, or Jesus would not have commented on his guilelessness), but comes, nevertheless, to see! And what does Jesus find? A man ‘who sees’ into his own heart and knows he has been ready & waiting for his Messiah! I would suffice it to say that Nathanael is a good fig….. It is not improbable that Nathanael was engaged in private devotion when Yahushua saw him under the fig tree. Yahushua said, “I saw thee“. It is clear, from the narrative, that Jesus did not mean to say that He was present in body, with Nathanael when He saw him; but He knew his thoughts, his desires, his secret feelings and wishes.
When we yield to Jesus, we become a brighter light. This is all in preparation for a brighter manifestation of His power and glory. Yahushua had seen Nathanael in his worship and so knew him. Fig trees have very large leaves and Nathanael it is safe to say, was more than likely sitting in the shade of a fig tree.
So now we can understand why Jesus made a reference to Jacob’s ladder experience when talking to Nathanael.
And he saith unto him, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.”.
This makes a little more sense when we realize that “under the fig tree” is a Hebrew figure-of-speech which roughly means content to dwell or wait for the Messiah under the security of God’s dominion of wisdom and protection , which is His Promise.
Hope this sheds some light on the dilemma… of “What did He mean by that“ ? I am positive that this is only perhaps top soil, maybe second layer at best because I am confident that if I kept on, I would run into the very vein of the truth of the return of Yahushua our Saviour when He brings our reward with Him. Yahoo!