Sunday, March 16, 2008

Judgement of a Divine Nature - Mar 16

This is the last part on my trilogy on judgement. Sorry for the delay in posting!

Early in the morning, as he was on his way back to the city, he was hungry. Seeing a fig tree by the road, he went up to it but found nothing on it except leaves. Then he said to it, "May you never bear fruit again!" Immediately the tree withered.

When the disciples saw this, they were amazed. "How did the fig tree wither so quickly?" they asked.

Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith and do not doubt, not only can you do what was done to the fig tree, but also you can say to this mountain, 'Go, throw yourself into the sea,' and it will be done. If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer." (Matthew 21:18-21)

I think whenever we see a fig tree being used in scripture we must ask ourselves, 'Is this literal or figurative?'. Now I do believe that the fig tree that Matthew speaks of is quite literal. Jesus saw an actual fig tree, cursed it for its unproductivity and it did indeed wither on the spot. Yet when the disciples asked Him why did it wither so quickly, Jesus gives a mini-discourse on the importance of faith. Clearly, there is much more going on here than simple agriculture.

So What Is The Fig Tree Exactly?

Hard to say. Just prior to the cursing of the fig tree in Matthew 21 Jesus makes His triumphal entry on this very Palm Sunday. This raises all manner of commotion within the walls of Jerusalem. 'Hosanna in the highest!' the people shout while the Pharisees plot to kill Him on the Passover. Again, the order of the stories is not by accident. Jesus knows full well his cruel fate on the cross. It is precisely this rejection that seals Israel's fate:

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:11-12)

So the fig tree is Israel isn't it? Well, not exactly. There is a divine order to God's redemption plan. Jesus the Messiah was presented to the Jews first whom they then rejected (v. 11). After that, the Gospel was presented to the Gentiles (v. 12). Jesus is therefore cursing ALL unbelief, not just from His own people.

Anti-Semitism and Replacement Theology

The church has never replaced the Abrahamic covenant. His relationship to His own people and their special attachment to the land of Israel is an everlasting one. All the leftist academics and Islamic scholars don't have a leg to stand on:

I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. The whole land of Canaan, where you are now an alien, I will give as an everlasting possession to you and your descendants after you; and I will be their God. (Genesis 17:7)

It is nothing short of suicidal to declare otherwise. While He has interrupted and suspended it from time to time, God has never abrogated or nullified the Abrahamic covenant. God's love and faithfulness for His people has never ceased.

Wanna Become a Lightning Rod for the Wrath of God?

That's easy. Just keep cursing the Jews:

I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you. (Genesis 12:3)

Look at what the United Nations is doing! We who study scripture are saddened by all the vitrol hurled Israel's way. Yet none of us are truly surprised. Christians are called to believe that Jesus is the Messiah and to defend the veracity of scripture. Let us also never forget our obligation to the Jewish state. May Israel live forever!

Johnny Cash

No comments: