Sunday, March 15, 2009

Fig Trees and Priesthood

The scriptures use symbolic language and teachings. One of the symbols that I have been fascinated with is that of the fig tree. I have noticed that each time a reference is given in regard to the fig tree one might also be able to substitute it with “priesthood” and find some interesting comparisons.

The fig tree has long been known as the symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness. The fruit of the fig tree has a tough peel, often cracking upon ripeness and exposing the pulp beneath. The interior is white with a seed mass bound in jelly-like flesh. It is very sweet to the taste. The common fig bears two crops of fruits. The first crop is the “breba” crop, which appears in the spring relying on the last season’s growth. The second crop is borne in the fall on the new growth and is known as the main crop, or the crop of actual value.

Some further information might be interesting as well; this was taken from an old Bible Dictionary that was published in the mid 1800’s.

Fig- three kinds are cultivated: 1. The early fig, ripe in June, green in color. 2. The summer fig, ripe in August, is sweet and the best, purple in color: and 3. the green fig, which remains on the tree all winter. It is one of the few plants which grow wild all over the country. The fig-tree puts forth its earliest fruit-buds before its leaves and the foliage forms a very dense shade. It grows best near a fountain or stream. The sycamore fig grows to a large size in Palestine and Egypt, sometimes 50 feet in circumference, and is evergreen. The fruit is purple, smaller than the other kinds, sweetish, and not so valuable. They ripen from November to June. The wood is used for many purposes, as it is almost the only large tree in Egypt.

As I believe that the fig tree and fruit thereon represent the priesthood organization and the fruits of the priesthood, I have found some interesting symbolism when considering this application in the teachings of the scriptures.

In the account in Matthew 21 the Savior teaches a wonderful lesson using the fig tree. It is interesting to note that in this account, the story of the fig tree is nestled between the cleansing of the Temple, and the Priests inquiring about what authority Christ had to teach. Both are very instructive as to the type of Priesthood holders who were abundant during this time period.

The cursing of the fig tree seems to serve as a lesson concerning the priesthood.

Matthew 21:19 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.

I believe that a statement was being made as to the condition of those who professed to have the priesthood at that time period because there were only showy leaves upon the branches but there was no fruit. The priests who officiated in the Temple at the time were all show, but could produce no fruit. The cursing of the tree, in that it soon died, in my opinion, was an illustration of the soon to be apostasy that would occur because of the unrighteous priesthood leaders.

Another illustration of the unrighteous use of the priesthood during the time of the ministry of Christ is illustrated in Luke. On a side note, the Savior’s ministry was a little over three years. I believe He was allowing the priesthood holders to have a “change of heart” before He took that responsibility away from them completely.

Luke 13:6 ¶ 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.

Again in Luke also we can find another description of the type of priesthood that was being practiced by the priests in the Temple.

Luke 6: 43 For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

44 For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes.

Fig leaves were used in another illustration of priesthood authority. When Adam and Eve found they were naked, they tried to cover their nakedness, but did so with “false” priesthood. This priesthood, represented by fig leaves, would not be good enough to save them without the Atonement of Jesus Christ, which was represented in the coat of skins. The fig leaves are now on the tree and as we are performing sacred acts in the temple dressed in white, WE have become the beautiful fruit. Yes, the beautiful fruit is now on the tree.

Matthew 24:32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:

33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

What other correlations can you find if you thought of the fig tree as an illustration of priesthood authority?


Karies place said...

Very interesting analogies. Never thought of it like that.

Mona said...

I agree with Karies -- I had never thought of it that way either! I LOVE new insights like this --- ! I'm writing it into my scriptures today. THANK YOU.


Michaela Stephens said...

Nice job on this! Loved it!

Anonymous said...

Sorry, I don't mean to offend but what about proper bible study methods? Looks like a lot of eisigesis.