The Book of JEREMIAH
James J. Barker
THE SYMBOL OF THE GOOD FIGS AND BAD FIGS
- In the Bible, the fig tree symbolizes the nation of Israel. This symbol of Israel was used by Jesus Himself. As our Lord sat upon the Mount of Olives, His disciples asked Him, "Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3).
- Our Lord answered these questions in His "Olivet Discourse” (Matthew 24 & 25).
- Our Lord said in Matthew 24:32 and 33, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors."
- The “parable of the fig tree" signifies the re-gathering of the Jews back to their own land.
- Clarence Larkin said, "The fig tree is a fit emblem of Israel...These two 'signs,' Zionism and Anti-Semitism, which are becoming more and more marked, are evidence, like the budding of a tree in the springtime that it is about to send forth leaves, that 'summer is nigh,' and that the return of the Lord is not far off" (Dispensational Truth).
- Luke 13:6 says, "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."
- Here in Jeremiah 24, the Lord gave the prophet Jeremiah a vision of two baskets of figs that were set before the temple in Jerusalem (24:1).
THE BASKET OF GOOD FIGS
- This vision was given after King Jeconiah and others were taken into captivity (24:1). Some commentators teach that God gave this vision to Jeremiah to encourage him during this difficult time.
- The good figs are "very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe" (24:2). The "first ripe" figs are more delicious. Micah 7:1 says, "My soul desired the first ripe fruit."
- On the other hand, "the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad" (Jer. 24:2b; 3).
- These very naughty figs represent the wicked sinners who refused to listen to Jeremiah's warnings. They insisted on remaining in Jerusalem with King Zedekiah (24:8).
- These rebels thought they could resist Babylon by getting help from Egypt.
- The LORD promised the "good figs," representing those that would be carried away captive into Babylon, that He would "acknowledge them" (24:5). This means He will recognize them and regard them with favor.
- They would be sent away into the land of the Chaldeans “for their good” (24:5b).
- The LORD would watch over them in grace, and eventually restore them (the remnant) to their land, to be once more planted, never to be plucked up again.
- The LORD said it was He who send them out of Judah into the land of the Chaldeans "for their good" (24:5). This was what Jeremiah had been telling them all along. But it was the opposite of what the false prophets were saying (cf. 23:16, 17).
- The LORD promised to bless them and prosper them, and restore them (24:6).
- God would give them a heart to know Him (24:7).
- Jeremiah 31:33 says that when the LORD restores Israel, He will put His law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and He will be their God, and they shall be His people.
- Jeremiah 32:40 says the LORD will put the fear of God in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Him.
- Let us pray that God will put the fear of God in the hearts of lost sinners. And that He will give them a heart to know Him (24:7).
- These prophecies in Jeremiah 24 look beyond the return under Nehemiah and Ezra. Verse 6 says they would never be plucked up again. But the Jews were plucked up and dispersed again in AD 70 when the Roman army destroyed Jerusalem.
- Jeremiah 24:7 says, "for they shall return unto me with their whole heart." The remnant that returned after the Babylonian captivity did not return "with their whole heart."
- This is clear from reading the books of Nehemiah and Ezra and Malachi, etc. And it is clear from reading the New Testament.
- Therefore, these prophecies reach way beyond the return under Nehemiah and will be fulfilled at the second coming of Christ (cf. 23:5, 6).
THE BASKET OF EVIL FIGS
- The second basket contained "evil figs, which cannot be eaten, they are so evil" (24:8). These figs were rotten and good for nothing.
- This basket represents King Zedekiah and those who stayed behind in Jerusalem (24:8).
- The LORD said He would "give Zedekiah the king of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt" and He would "deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them" (24:8, 9).
- Judah had formed an alliance with Egypt against Babylon, and some of the Jews thought they would be safe in Egypt. But the LORD warned them they would be driven out of Egypt (24:8; cf. 44:26-30).
- Back in Deuteronomy 28:15, the LORD had warned the Israelites, "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee."
- Many curses are mentioned in Deuteronomy 28, including what we see here in the book of Jeremiah. Deuteronomy 28:25 and 37 says, "The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth... And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee" (cf. Jer. 24:8, 9; 29:18).
- Writing about the sign of the two baskets of figs, H.A. Ironside said, "Who but one inspired of God could have so faithfully predicted, long before it came to pass, that which, for over two millenniums, has been a matter of history, familiar to all?" (Jeremiah).
- Just as this prophecy regarding the Babylonian captivity has been accurately fulfilled, we can be certain the details concerning the restoration of Israel during the millennial kingdom will likewise be accurately fulfilled.