From the Category, “The Eastern Eye”
[The Bible is an “Eastern” book. It was written many years ago in the “East” which today we refer to as “The Middle East.” As such, there are many customs and idioms that are not familiar to the “Western” mind.
In understanding the Scriptures it is important for us to understand the culture, but it doesn't mean that we should necessarily follow that culture. Rather, it is in the understanding of the Eastern culture that we gain light and understanding about many things in the Bible.]
There is an incident in the Gospel of Mark where Jesus saw a fig tree and went over to the tree, hoping to find something to eat. But the record says that he found nothing but leaves. It was not the time or season for figs. So Jesus cursed that tree by saying, “No man eat fruit of thee hereafter forever.”
One might wonder why Jesus would go over to a tree when it was not the season for fruit. Certainly you or I would not approach a fruit tree hoping for fruit when it was not the season for that particular fruit, would we? But once again, understanding the life and times of the Bible make it more than clear.
This type of fig tree is the one referred to as “the people’s tree,” meaning anyone may help themselves to the fruit. The figs on the tree mature in June. However, in early spring, there are buds (which later turn into mature figs) on the tree. These buds are very sweet and make a nice snack.
Jesus wasn’t ignorant of the fruit trees in his land, nor was he confused by what season it was, thinking that it was summer time. He simply approached the tree for a little snack. However, this tree had no buds.
Having no buds meant that it would have no fruit. This tree had become a fruitless barren tree. His cursing of the tree was not in disappointment of not finding any sweet buds. Rather, his statement was true of that tree, but there was a deeper meaning as well.
The nation of Israel, God’s chosen people, is represented figuratively by the fig tree many times in the Old Testament. This particular incident recorded in the Gospel of Mark occurred shortly before the arrest and execution of Jesus Christ. God sent His Son to Israel and they rejected him. Israel had become spiritually fruitless and barren.
All Have Been Invited
Not long after Jesus Christ completed mankind’s redemption and salvation, God’s people were no longer solely inclusive to the nation of Israel, as all others outside of Israel were invited to be part of God’s family. God literally threw the doors wide open: “…whosever believes in him [Jesus] should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Even further, because of the completed work of Christ, the Bible declares that now it doesn’t make any difference if you are a Jew or a Gentile, bond or free, male or female.
The invitation is to every person on earth. All those who confess Jesus as lord and believe that God raised him from the dead are saved, have eternal life, and are now literally children of God.
Mark 11:13 and 14
And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, he came, if haply he might find any thing thereon: and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.
And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.
For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
There is neither Jew nor Greek [Gentile], there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
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There are a number of books that you can read to get insight on customs, manners, idioms and meanings from the Eastern culture in which the Bible was written. The best I know of were written by Bishop K. C. Pillai. I have had the pleasure of listening to many recorded teaching by him.
He wrote three books, and they are hard to find, and are usually over priced. But, if you want to you can check this link to see what Amazon has to offer. Light Through an Eastern Window
Another great resource that I have used for years is a book called, “Manners and Customs of the Bible,” by James Freeman. Mine was printed in 1972 and I know they have newer additions. For the newest edition, just click the link and it will take you to Amazon. The New Manners and Customs of the Bible (Pure Gold Classics)
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