Sermons and Talks, vol. 2


Chapter 45—The Fruitless Fig Tree

Manuscript 65, 1912

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 which she might have had but which she did not have any right to claim because she had forfeited the promises of God. These promises He has plainly connected with willing obedience, and He can fulfill them only when His people hearken to His commandments and walk in the way of His appointment. 2SAT 329.1

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. 2SAT 329.2

From the barren fig tree Christ spoke a parable that everyone 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. 2SAT 329.3

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 fruitbearing 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 work, 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 attributable to the neglect of the Jewish nation, as is represented in the ninth chapter of Zechariah. [Zechariah 9:12-17, quoted.] The whole world is embraced in the contract of the great plan of redemption. 2SAT 329.4

[Isaiah 62:1-3; 11:10-12; Isaiah 62:10-12; Jeremiah 31:10-12, quoted.] Corn and wine are symbols of grace and plenty. 2SAT 329.5

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. 2SAT 329.6

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. 2SAT 330.1

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. 2SAT 330.2

When the Lord is with the people who have knowledge and advantages 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. 2SAT 330.3

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. 2SAT 330.4

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 fulfill 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]. 2SAT 330.5

The prayer of Jeremiah, recorded in the thirty-second chapter of his prophecy, should be carefully considered. [Jeremiah 32:16-23, quoted.] 2SAT 331.1

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. 2SAT 331.2

[Jeremiah 36:1-7, quoted.] This chapter is a record of historical events that will be repeated. Let all who desire to receive warning, read carefully. [Jeremiah 36:22, 23, 27, 28, 32, quoted.] 2SAT 331.3

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. 2SAT 331.4

[1 Corinthians 10:1-12, quoted.] 2SAT 331.5

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 had given, and escape the sure result of our course of action. 2SAT 331.6

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. 2SAT 331.7

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]. 2SAT 331.8

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. 2SAT 332.1

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. 2SAT 332.2

On Olivet's crest Christ said, “If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace!” How do the Christian churches stand today? It is their privilege to receive every spiritual advantage, in accordance with God's promises. 2SAT 332.3

[Deuteronomy 10:12-18; 11:13-15; Deuteronomy 4:5-9, quoted.] 2SAT 332.4

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. 2SAT 332.5

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]. 2SAT 332.6

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]. 2SAT 332.7

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. 2SAT 333.1

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].—Ms 65, 1912 (MR 900.40). 2SAT 333.2

Ellen G. White Estate Washington, D. C. January, 1986. Entire Ms.