The fig tree does not represent Israel
I have heard several times that in the Bible, especially in prophecy, the fig tree always represents Israel. I don't know what the base is to so categorically affirm such a thing. Sadly, in religion, almost everyone dogmatically affirms that what they believe is true, without bothering themselves in giving proofs or arguments. Nevertheless, their opinions become dogmas due almost always to the fact that the one who expresses his opinion is the director of a seminary, an executive in some denomination, or have a position of prestige or authority; and of course, nobody dares to contradict them. But there is also another very important factor: the authors of those hypotheses never permit the debate on their opinions. They simply say, just believe it, because I, who know better than you, says so.
I don't think
that Israel is represented in the Bible by the fig tree; but if some
brother has a biblical argument to back his opinion, and is capable of writing
it down logically, I would appreciate very much if he would send it to
me. I love to learn from others.
Some think that what is written in the parable of Luke 21: 29-31 applies to Israel. Let's read.
"29 And he spake to them a parable: Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;
30 when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that Summer
is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass,
know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand." ( Luke 21: 29-31 )
If we analyze this passage we will notice that Jesus mentions the fig tree and all the trees, not only the fig tree. Therefore the fig tree is just one of them, one of those that tells us that Summer is at hand, not the only one. Jesus is teaching us that in the same way that we watch for trees to blossom, we must watch for signs as if they were shoots heralding the Second Coming.
In verse 30 the verb is used in plural form. It says "sprout" not "sprouts", therefore Jesus is not referring to the fig tree alone, but in general to all the trees. The phrase "and all the trees" invalidates the possibility that he is referring to the fig tree as a symbol of Israel.
In the Bible the fig tree is mentioned more than forty times. In all these cases it can be proved that the phrase "fig tree" refers to a plant and not to Israel. Nevertheless there are those who insist to say that Matthew 21:19 refers to Israel.
"19 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.
20 And when the disciples saw it, they marvelled, saying: How soon is the
fig tree withered away! 21 Jesus answered and said unto them: Verily I say
unto you, if ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is
done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto
this mountain, Be thou
removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. 22 And all things,
whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
( Matt 21:19-22 )
Those who think in the aforementioned mistaken way, try to find in this parable a simile of Israel in the sense that as a nation they did not give fruits, and because of that it was uprooted from history as a nation. Nevertheless, a person who reads this passage without biased interpretations instilled in our minds by teachers of authority, will see that this is not a parable about Israel but a parable about faith and fruits in the believers.
We all know that Israel became a nation again in 1948, but in this parable Jesus says to the fig tree "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward forever". If in this parable the fig tree was representing Israel, then we have to admit that it was mistaken, because Israel became a nation again. It is evident that the fig tree is not representing Israel in this case either.
There are two other passages in which those brothers insist in affirming that the fig tree represents Israel, they are Matt 24:32 and Mr 13:28. In them both the same episode is narrated, and of course, the same teaching that we see in the passage of Luke that we are studying is given. The same reasoning and arguments that I wielded at that time are valid for these two passages. The only difference between these two passages and the passage of Luke is that in these two the other trees are not mentioned, but in the passage of Luke the other trees are mentioned. It is very frequent in the Scriptures that in a passage something is partially mentioned; while in another passage more details are mentioned. Here are the two other passages.
"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”
( Matt 24: 32-33 )
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree: When her branch is yet tender,
and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: So ye in like manner,
when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the
doors." ( Mr 13: 28-29 )
As we can see these two passages are about the same case
of Luke, but written by two other writers, who did not register what was said
about the other trees.
Another passage that is wielded as a demonstration that the fig tree represents Israel is Luke 13: 6-9, let us see.
"6 He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted
in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none.
7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard: Behold, these three years
I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why
cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it
alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it; 9 and if it bear
fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."
( Luke 13: 6-9 )
In this parable the fig tree was planted in a vineyard. I have always seen that similes of vineyards refer to Israel or to Christians. Therefore, if I would think that this parable refers to Israel, I would also think that it is the vineyard that symbolizes Israel, not the fig tree.
The teaching of the parable of the fig tree in Luke 21: 29-31 is that when a tree gives no fruit, it is cut down, and that so is going to occur to us. It is noticeable that the one who felt pity for the fig tree was the servant, not the master. This would be a very bad representation of the relation between God and Israel if this parable would be taught referring to Israel.
In short, I do not see any base to deduce or infer that the fig tree symbolizes Israel. I don't know why this idea has spread.