The Youth’s Instructor


September 24, 1896

The Barren Fig-Tree


The curse pronounced by the Saviour on the fruitless fig-tree is a sermon to all who, while having a form of godliness, do not in their lives bring forth “fruits meet for repentance.” The religion of such persons is formal; they stand before the world in pretentious leaves, but they are destitute of fruit. YI September 24, 1896, par. 1

Christ is crossing from Bethany to Jerusalem, and he sees in a fig-orchard a fig-tree in full foliage, standing among the other trees that are destitute of leaves. He approaches it, if haply he may find fruit thereon to appease his hunger. He was the world's Redeemer, yet he was hungry; for he had taken our human nature, and shared our human needs. The pretentious, flourishing foliage of the fig-tree gave the impression that there was fruit fit for gathering; but though he searched from the topmost bough to the lowest branches, he found nothing but leaves. YI September 24, 1896, par. 2

In order to give a lesson in regard to the spiritual condition of Jerusalem, he for the time clothed the fig-tree with moral qualities, making it the expositor of spiritual truth. That fig-tree was a symbol of the Israelitish nation; and the time had come for a representation to be made of their spiritual standing, so full of pretension and sentiment, but entirely destitute of the fruits of righteousness. YI September 24, 1896, par. 3

The nation of Israel had received great light from heaven, and had enjoyed precious opportunities. They had been taught by the Son of God, enshrouded in the pillar of cloud. The word of inspiration thus sums up their blessings: “What advantage then hath the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? Much every way: chiefly, because that unto them were committed the oracles of God.” This, then, was great honor. To them was committed a sacred trust. They had been the recipients of the word of God. They, in turn, were to communicate to others the light they had received. YI September 24, 1896, par. 4

God had waited long for a response to his mercies, for the bearing of fruit; but they had not answered his expectations. They were proud, self-confident, seeking the pre-eminence, neglectful of the obligations that the light imposed upon them. YI September 24, 1896, par. 5

The curse of God was pronounced upon the tree because it bore no fruit. The other trees in the same orchard were fruitless. Those trees represented the Gentile world, the heathen nations that made no boastful pretensions to good works. Their day had not yet come. The testing message had not been brought to them. They were still hungering and thirsting for a soul dependence, for something to satisfy the craving of heart and mind; for the time for fruit from them was not yet. YI September 24, 1896, par. 6

Christ's denunciation of the Jews is a lesson for us. “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Romans 2:28, 29 “And if ye be Christ's, then are ye Abraham's seed.” The things that happened unto them were “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.” YI September 24, 1896, par. 7

The compassionate Saviour, who treated with tenderness the very chief of sinners, who never spurned true meekness and penitence, however great the guilt, uttered the most scathing denunciations against those who did not appreciate the light from heaven; who neither walked in the light themselves, nor extended its cheering influence to those in darkness. Will he be better pleased with us if we neglect our Heaven-sent blessings and responsibilities? YI September 24, 1896, par. 8

Mrs. E. G. White