Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 25 (1910 - 1915)


Ms 65, 1912

The Fruitless Fig Tree


September 2, 1912 [typed]

This manuscript is published in entirety in 2SAT 329-333.

The Jewish nation that had been so proud and had made such boastful pretensions was symbolized by the pretentious fig tree. This nation had proudly claimed to possess the goodness and virtue she might have had, but which she did not have any right to claim, because she had forfeited the promises of God, which He has plainly connected with willing obedience, and which He can fulfil only when His people hearken to His commandments and walk in the way of His appointment. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 1

This lesson is given for all times, for all nations, kindreds, tongues, and peoples. All who keep the commandments in truth and integrity reveal to the world that they are under the rule of God and are dependent upon Him for their temporal and spiritual victories. With God’s presence and favor, His people are safe, although they may suffer persecution for the truth’s sake. His goodness and the riches of His grace are their protection and salvation. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 2

From the barren fig tree, Christ spoke a parable that every one should heed. Those who walk in the way of God’s commandments will be like a flourishing fig tree, full of fruit. The tree was cursed because it had only pretentious leaves and no fruit. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 3

The Jews were a proud people, boasting of piety, of knowledge, of goodness, but revealing no fruit. If they had set before the world an example of fruit-bearing in deeds of self-denial, goodness, mercy, and compassion, if they had shown a love for God and integrity in His service by obeying all His commandments, the world would have seen their light shining in good works, and many would have been converted. Many would have glorified God for His great love and His rich blessings bestowed upon them through their knowledge of the only true God and their faith in Jesus Christ. The darkness of the Gentile world was attributed to the neglect of the Jewish nation, as is represented in the ninth chapter of Zechariah: 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 4

“Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee; when I have bent Judah for Me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. And the Lord shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon His land. For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine and maids.” Zechariah 9:12-17. The whole world is embraced in the contract of the great plan of redemption. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 5

“For Zion’s sake will I not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the Lord, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.” Isaiah 62:1-3. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 6

“And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and His rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. And He shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Isaiah 11:10-12. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 7

“Go through, go through the gates; prepare ye the way of the people; cast up, cast up the highway; gather out the stones; lift up a standard for the people. Behold, the Lord hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy salvation cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him. And they shall call them, The holy people, The redeemed of the Lord: and thou shalt be called, Sought out, A city not forsaken.” Isaiah 62:10-12. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 8

“Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he. Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the Lord, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.” Jeremiah 31:10-12. Corn and wine are symbols of grace and plenty. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 9

All who receive the messages that the Lord sends to purify and cleanse them from all habits of disobedience to His commandments and conformity to the world, and who repent of their sins and reform, looking to God for help and walking in the way of obedience to His commandments, will receive divine help to correct their evil course of action. But those who apparently repent and seek the Lord, yet do not put away the evil of their doings, will not only disappoint themselves, but when their course is placed before them in symbols or parables, they will feel shame and sorrow because they have disappointed the Lord. They have hoped and trusted in their own course of action. As a people they have been reproved, and yet they have not put away the evil works that called for reproof. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 10

God is always an inexhaustible fountain of wisdom and strength. From age to age by His appointed means, He raises up human helpers and resources for His people. These God-given agencies will not prove to be fraudulent, if they themselves will not defraud the Lord, as some who are represented by the barren fig tree have done. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 11

The Lord was hungry. He represented a people hungering for fruit that they ought to have had, but did not receive from an apparently flourishing fig tree. The spiritual necessities were not supplied to satisfy the people whom Christ had pledged His life to save by His grace and righteousness. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 12

When the Lord is with the people who have knowledge and advantage in spiritual enlightenment, and when they impart that which they have received from God, they are fruit-bearing branches. They receive God’s rich blessing and are producers of fruit. As a sure result, in the hand of God and under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they are mighty men. Constantly they represent before the world the great goodness of God, not only in spiritual lines, but in temporal lines as well. They shall prevail; for of a truth, God is with them. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 13

Every deliverance, every blessing that God in the past has granted to His people should be kept fresh in memory’s hall as a sure pledge of further and richer, increasing blessings that He will bestow. The Lord’s blessings are adapted to the needs of His people. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 14

God has given His Son as a sacrifice to save all who will be saved in His appointed way, through obedience to all His commandments. After having begun to save man, having evidenced His purpose by delivering His people by His own strong hand, having invited all to lay hold of His own outstretched arm, He will use all the heavenly resources to consummate man’s salvation. His people will magnify His name by exercising implicit faith in Him and placing their entire dependence upon Him. He will fulfil every promise. “And I will strengthen them in the Lord; and they shall walk up and down in His name, saith the Lord.” Zechariah 10:12. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 15

The prayer of Jeremiah, recorded in the thirty-second chapter of his prophecy, should be carefully considered: 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 16

“I prayed unto the Lord, saying, Ah Lord God! behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee: Thou showest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the great, the mighty God, the Lord of hosts, is His name, great in counsel, and mighty in work: for Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: which hast set signs and wonders in the land of Egypt, even unto this day, and in Israel, and among other men; and hast made Thee a name, as at this day; and hast brought forth Thy people Israel out of the land of Egypt with signs, and with wonders, and with a strong hand, and with a stretched-out arm, and with great terror (to the adversary); and hast given them this land, which Thou didst swear to their fathers to give them, a land flowing with milk and honey; and they came in, and possessed it; but they obeyed not Thy voice, neither walked in Thy law; they have done nothing of all that Thou commandest them to do: therefore Thou hast caused all this evil to come upon them.” Jeremiah 32:16-23. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 17

To ancient Israel, the promise of a coming Saviour was the highest pledge God could possibly give that the gates of hell should not prevail against His commandment-keeping people. The church could not perish; for from her was to come the Prince of life, the One through whose power all who received Him would be saved. If they had remained loyal and true to all the words that Christ had spoken to them when enshrouded in the pillar of cloud, He would have made them triumphant over all their enemies. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 18

“It came to pass in the fourth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, that this word came unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, Take thee a roll of a book, and write therein all the words that I have spoken unto thee against Israel, and against Judah, and against all the nations, from the day I spake unto thee, from the days of Josiah, even unto this day. It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the evil which I purpose to do unto them; that they may return every man from his evil way; that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 19

“Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah: and Baruch wrote from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord, which He had spoken unto him, upon a roll of a book. And Jeremiah commanded Baruch, saying, I am shut up; I cannot go into the house of the Lord: therefore go thou, and read in the roll, which thou hast written from my mouth, the words of the Lord in the ears of the people in the Lord’s house upon the fasting day: and also thou shalt read them in the ears of all Judah that come out of their cities. It may be they will present their supplication before the Lord, and will return every one from his evil way: for great is the anger and the fury that the Lord hath pronounced against this people.” Jeremiah 36:1-7. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 20

This chapter is a record of historical events that will be repeated. Let all who desire to receive warning read carefully. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 21

“Now the king sat in the winter-house in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife, and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth.” Jeremiah 36:22, 23. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 22

“Then the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah, after that the king had burned the roll, and the words which Baruch wrote at the mouth of Jeremiah, saying, Take thee again another roll, and write in it all the former words that were in the first roll, which Jehoiakim the king of Judah hath burned. ... Then took Jeremiah another roll, and gave it to Baruch the scribe, the son of Neriah; who wrote therein from the mouth of Jeremiah all the words of the book which Jehoiakim king of Judah had burned in the fire: and there were added besides unto them many like words.” Jeremiah 36:27, 28, 32. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 23

In the incidents of the closing scenes of the Lord’s ministry is embraced much that very many claiming to be Bible Christians do not study. They do not see that in their experience they are passing over the very same ground. They do not seem to care to learn lessons from the history of ancient Israel that have been written for their admonition. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 24

Paul says: “Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat and did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 25

“But with many of them God was not well pleased: for they were overthrown in the wilderness. Now these things were our examples, to the intent we should not lust after evil things, as they also lusted. Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play. Neither let us commit fornication, as some of them committed, and fell in one day three and twenty thousand. Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed of serpents. Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the destroyer. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 26

“Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 1 Corinthians 10:1-12. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 27

As God’s church, we cannot tread the same path of unbelief as did ancient Israel, refusing to be admonished and discarding the messages He has given, and escape the sure result of our course of action. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 28

The one great burden and grief of Jesus was that He, with omniscient eye, was viewing the destruction of Jerusalem. He wept not for Himself. He wept not on account of His betrayal, His trial, His rejection, His deliverance into the hands of His enemies. The most cruel death was appointed to a man who could not be condemned, a man concerning whom Pilate declared, “I find in Him no fault at all.” John 18:38. His tears were for those who were placing themselves beyond the reach of the long-suffering, long-forbearing mercy of a sin-hating God. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 29

The crucifixion of Christ was the last action that caused the nation’s downfall. “Last of all He sent unto them His Son, saying, They will reverence My Son. But when the husbandmen saw the Son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill Him, and let us seize on His inheritance. And they caught Him, and cast Him out of the vineyard, and slew Him.” Matthew 21:37-39. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 30

The fig tree represented the kingdom of Israel. Standing out in proud superiority as a religious nation, the Jewish people were as a fig tree clothed with pretentious leaves. They had their religious ceremonies, their traditions, their rich temple, with its mitered priests to officiate in the morning and the evening sacrifices. The outward evidences of religious life were abundant. The tree was covered with leaves. They were consumers, but not producers. They bore no fruit to repay the Lord for all the love and care and gracious mercy that He bestowed upon them. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 31

There were leaves enough, but what did these pretentious leaves hide?—Pride, vain-glory, selfishness. While there was an abundance of ceremonies and instrumental music, the people, as it were, flaunted their green foliage in the face of an offended God; for they bore no fruit to His glory. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 32

On Olive’s crest, Christ said, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” [Luke 19:42.] How do the Christian churches stand today? It is their privilege to receive every spiritual advantage in accordance with God’s promises. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 33

“And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the Lord, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. ... For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.” Deuteronomy 10:12-18. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 34

“And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord your God, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.” Deuteronomy 10:13-15. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 35

“Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.” Deuteronomy 4:5-9. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 36

All the churches in our land need to call to mind the dealings of God with His ancient people. Ceremonial worship is of no value to them. Truth has long been covered up by tradition and falsehood. When the Lord sends to them His servants with a warning message, let them consider the message, studying their Bibles. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 37

But the shepherds of the flock, instead of accepting the message, begin to search the Scriptures diligently to find something by which to condemn the serious, searching warnings from God’s Word. They refuse to pay any attention to the last messages of warning that are to be given to the world, but seek to resist everything that does not vindicate their church as being what it should be. They use all the argumentative powers of the mind and reason with the greatest possible positiveness and force from their own conclusions. They refuse to hear or to search the Scriptures for themselves in order to see if there is not light and evidence in God’s Word that would lead them to make changes in their doctrinal views so as to be in harmony with God’s truth. “Search the Scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me.” John 5:39. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 38

The churches of today have become converted to the customs and practices of the world. No longer are they the peculiar, holy people who are representatives of Jesus Christ. Said the apostle: “Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Romans 13:1, 2. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 39

Ministers and all others who are connected with the church of God should obey this injunction; for if they do not obey God’s Word, if they do not present their bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is their reasonable service, although their names may be registered on the church books, they are not written in the Lamb’s book of life. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 40

Looking upon the church members who are using the narcotic tobacco, God says to them, “Be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord.” Isaiah 52:11. 25LtMs, Ms 65, 1912, par. 41