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Cursed Tree And Corrupted Temple


Mark 11:12-25
12 Now the next day, when they had come out from Bethany, He was hungry.
13 And seeing from afar a fig tree having leaves, He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
14 In response Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.”
And His disciples heard it.
15 So they came to Jerusalem. Then Jesus went into the temple and began to drive out those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
16 And He would not allow anyone to carry wares through the temple.
17 Then He taught, saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’ ”
18 And the scribes and chief priests heard it and sought how they might destroy Him; for they feared Him, because all the people were astonished at His teaching.
19 When evening had come, He went out of the city.
20 Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.
21 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
22 So Jesus answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.
23 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.
24 Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
25 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses.
26 But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”
 
This account of the cleansing of the temple (verses 15-19) is sandwiched by the account of cursing of the fig tree (verses 12-14 & verses 20-21).
 
Herein is an interesting scriptural structure (A + B + A). It clearly shows that a close connection exists between the fig tree (A) and the temple (B).
 
These two strategic events happened after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mark 11:1-11). That night, Jesus went out of the holy city with His twelve disciples and stayed in Bethany.
 
It was in Bethany that Jesus had sweet fellowship with the family of Mary, Martha and Lazarus – the people that He loved dearly. There and then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil (John 12:1-8).
 
The next day, Jesus left the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus very early in the morning before the two sisters could have the opportunity to serve breakfast to Jesus and His disciples. As Jesus Christ left Bethany without having breakfast, He was hungry.
 
While our Lord lived on earth, He had a human nature exactly like ours. He wept. He rejoiced. He felt pain and sorrow. He felt gladness and joy. He got tired and needed to rest. He got thirsty and needed to drink. He got hungry and needed to eat.
 
We often meditate about those wonderful and amazing things of our Lord Jesus Christ! He is the eternal God. He is the awesome Creator. He provides and sustains all things. He feeds every sparrow and clothes every lily. He places the stars in the heavens. He knows and holds every beast in the fields and jungles, every bird in the skies, and every fish in the seas in His hands. From Him, all things came to being and to Him all things belong. And He is mighty to save all people from their sins! But who could imagine that our wonderful and glorious Lord could become hungry? Could be thirsty?
 
Along their journey to the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus saw from afar a fig tree having leaves. He went to see if perhaps He would find something on it. When He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.
 
This fig tree was in full foliage but there were no signs of any fruit. Even though it was not the season for figs, it should have some flowers or fruit buds to show that it would bear fruits eventually.
 
The fig tree's first fruit crop appears in springtime, followed by a second harvest in autumn. Some fig tree species are self-pollinating, while others require the help of pollinating bees. In essence, the flower blooms inside the fig fruit bud. The bee enters the fruit bud and pollinates the flower so the fruit bud can mature into a ripe juicy fig that bears seeds within.
 
But Jesus didn’t see any flowers or fruit buds. This fig tree had nothing but leaves! In response to its fruitlessness, Jesus said to it, “Let no one eat fruit from you ever again.” And His disciples heard it. The next morning, Jesus and His disciples walked past the same fig tree. They saw that it had withered to death from its roots (verse 20).
 
This event of Jesus cursing the unfruitful fig tree would be a dilemma for many Christians. It would appear that our Lord was throwing tantrums, acting harshly, and using His divine power in selfish anger to curse a barren tree just because it did not provide Him fruit out of season to satisfy His hunger. But this was not so. There was a greater reason. If not to satisfy His human hunger, what was the true purpose of Jesus cursing this fig tree?
 
This fig tree should be fruitful and multiply but it was not. Without a doubt, this barren and withered fig tree represents unfruitfulness. It strikingly portrayed the condition of the nation of Israel just the way Jesus saw it. This fig tree represented Israel in the time of Christ!
 
There was an outward profession of their faith. But upon close examination, their faith was in vain and not bearing any fruit. The fig tree was full of leaves. It looked pretty good, big and healthy from afar. But upon a closer look, there was no fruit! Good in appearance but really rotten inside.
 
The religious Jews, the scribes, the Pharisees, the Sadducees, all looked good to their own people. They possessed more than anyone else. They had a great abundance of wealth, traditions, ceremonies, creeds, history, doctrines, scripture knowledge, eloquent prayers, spiritual leadership and reputation. People looked to them for spiritual teachings, advices, counseling and prayers. But in the eyes of God, they were utterly naked, poor and destitute! They were full of leaves but no fruit!
 
Matthew 23:25-28
25 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence.
26 Blind Pharisee, first cleanse the inside of the cup and dish, that the outside of them may be clean also.
27 Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness.
28 Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
 
This barren fig tree also represents religious hypocrisy and lawlessness. It applies to both Israel and the Church.
 
Before we point our fingers at Israel, let’s take a good look at ourselves. Within the Church, there are many Christian hypocrites, carnal and half-hearted, loving the world and not Christ!
 
2 Timothy 3:1-7
1 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:
2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,
4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts,
7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.
 
Just like the majority of Israel who had gone astray leaving a remnant that would seek the Lord, the Church is now facing a similar scenario. Multitudes of Christians are having only leaves but no fruit! Many are just following their religious leaders and not Christ! A lot of religious programs and activities but having no fruit of repentance, righteousness and godliness.
 
Matthew 24:12-13
And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
 
Because lawlessness will abound, the love of many Christians will grow cold. But those who endure to the end shall be saved. Only the overcomers will have the victory! In the kingdom of God, it is obedience to God that truly matters! The remnant will win, and not the majority!
 
We often boast in our spiritual encounters and experiences! We freely display our emotions and ecstasies. We pump in adrenaline in our church services to inject excitement, entertainment and euphoria in order to create and get a feeling of great happiness or well-being or superhuman strength or power. We boast about our church buildings, programs, events and pastors! We esteem ourselves better than others in flashing and promoting our ambitious campaigns and challenges to change the world and build a bigger church! We engage in self-deception, self-obsession and self-worship!
 
But these are nothing but fig leaves. But these fig leaves can never cover our nakedness just like they could not cover the nakedness of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden after they had sinned against God.
 
Genesis 3:7
Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.
 
Our faith is in Christ alone! If Christ is in us and His Holy Spirit is truly dwelling in us, we will bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

Galatians 5:22-23
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.

But can the Lord find the fruit of the Spirit in us when He returns? The single greatest cause of why people in the world are not embracing Christianity today is that Christians, who acknowledge Jesus with their lips, then walk out of their doors, and deny Him by their ungodly lifestyles. This is simply why an unbelieving world finds it unbelievable. Leaves only but no fruit. Nice to see but nothing for others to eat and taste the goodness of our God.
 
The temple in Jerusalem was a type and representative of the Church, which is truly the house of God.
 
1 Timothy 3:15
I write so that you may know how you ought to conduct yourself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

The Church is the house of God, a body of believers that gather together to worship God. We are the living stones. We are the temple of God (1 Cor. 3:16). But what have we done to the temple of God?
 
We have turned it into a place of networking, trade, commerce and entertainment.
 
We have turned His house – a house of prayer for all nations into a den of thieves.
 
We love mammon and not God!
 
We seek worldly wealth and treasures more than we seek God!
 
We compromise truth and integrity to gain fame and greatness.
 
Our lives do not reflect any reverence for our great God and Savior.
 
Jesus knows exactly what is going on in His house. He is omnipresent and omniscient. He knows and sees everything!
 
Jesus knew the hearts of His disciples when they saw the withered fig tree.
 
When Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree which You cursed has withered away.”
 
Jesus simply answered and said to them, “Have faith in God.”
 
Yes, have faith in God and nobody else. Our faith is founded upon the Rock of our salvation who cannot be shaken! Not upon some famous preachers or flashy pastors!
 
When we have faith in God, we can then say to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and do not doubt in our hearts, but believe that those things we say will be done, we will have whatever we say.
 
Whatever things we ask when we pray, believe that we receive them, and we will have them. And whenever we stand praying, if we have anything against anyone, forgive him, that our Father in heaven may also forgive us our trespasses. But if we do not forgive, neither will our Father in heaven forgive our trespasses.
 
The answers to our prayers are based on our faith in God. Our faith in God is founded upon His Word!
 
Whatever Jesus had spoken to the fig tree came to pass. He also spoke a similar thing to Jerusalem.
 
Matthew 23:37-39
37 “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!
38 See! Your house is left to you desolate;
39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
 
Do you know it hurts our Lord Jesus Christ most to say that the fig tree would no longer bear any fruit? And that Jerusalem would become desolate?
 
Our Lord Jesus lamented with great sorrow over Jerusalem that day.
 
It came to pass that the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and left desolate in AD 70. It will remain so until they acknowledge their Messiah again.
 
What our Lord did was totally biblically and scripturally, and accordingly to the will of God the Father.

The nation of Israel was founded by God. And God had established His laws and ordinances on how the people of Israel should live!
 
In the Bible, there were blessings proclaimed to those who obeyed and kept the commandments of the Lord, and curses declared to those who did not.
 
Deuteronomy 28
 
Blessings on Obedience
 
1 “Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth.
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:
3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
7 “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.
8 “The Lord will command the blessing on you in your storehouses and in all to which you set your hand, and He will bless you in the land which the Lord your God is giving you.
9 “The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, just as He has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways.
10 Then all peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they shall be afraid of you.
11 And the Lord will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give you.
12 The Lord will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.
13 And the Lord will make you the head and not the tail; you shall be above only, and not be beneath, if you heed the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you today, and are careful to observe them.
14 So you shall not turn aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right or the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
 
Curses on Disobedience

15 “But it shall come to pass, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
16 “Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the country.
17 “Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
18 “Cursed shall be the fruit of your body and the produce of your land, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
19 “Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
20 “The Lord will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke in all that you set your hand to do, until you are destroyed and until you perish quickly, because of the wickedness of your doings in which you have forsaken Me.
21 The Lord will make the plague cling to you until He has consumed you from the land which you are going to possess.
22 The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish.
23 And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron.
24 The Lord will change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 Your carcasses shall be food for all the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and no one shall frighten them away.
27 The Lord will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed.
28 The Lord will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of heart.
29 And you shall grope at noonday, as a blind man gropes in darkness; you shall not prosper in your ways; you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no one shall save you.
30 “You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall lie with her; you shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it; you shall plant a vineyard, but shall not gather its grapes.
31 Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your donkey shall be violently taken away from before you, and shall not be restored to you; your sheep shall be given to your enemies, and you shall have no one to rescue them.
32 Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, and your eyes shall look and fail with longing for them all day long; and there shall be no strength in your hand.
33 A nation whom you have not known shall eat the fruit of your land and the produce of your labor, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually.
34 So you shall be driven mad because of the sight which your eyes see.
35 The Lord will strike you in the knees and on the legs with severe boils which cannot be healed, and from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.
36 “The Lord will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods—wood and stone.
37 And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you.
38 “You shall carry much seed out to the field but gather little in, for the locust shall consume it.
39 You shall plant vineyards and tend them, but you shall neither drink of the wine nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them.
40 You shall have olive trees throughout all your territory, but you shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off.
41 You shall beget sons and daughters, but they shall not be yours; for they shall go into captivity.
42 Locusts shall consume all your trees and the produce of your land.
43 “The alien who is among you shall rise higher and higher above you, and you shall come down lower and lower.
44 He shall lend to you, but you shall not lend to him; he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
45 “Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you.
46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever.
47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything,
48 therefore you shall serve your enemies, whom the Lord will send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in need of everything; and He will put a yoke of iron on your neck until He has destroyed you.
49 The Lord will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand,
50 a nation of fierce countenance, which does not respect the elderly nor show favor to the young.
51 And they shall eat the increase of your livestock and the produce of your land, until you are destroyed; they shall not leave you grain or new wine or oil, or the increase of your cattle or the offspring of your flocks, until they have destroyed you.
52 “They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land; and they shall besiege you at all your gates throughout all your land which the Lord your God has given you.
53 You shall eat the fruit of your own body, the flesh of your sons and your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you.
54 The sensitive and very refined man among you will be hostile toward his brother, toward the wife of his bosom, and toward the rest of his children whom he leaves behind,
55 so that he will not give any of them the flesh of his children whom he will eat, because he has nothing left in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.
56 The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because of her delicateness and sensitivity, will refuse to the husband of her bosom, and to her son and her daughter,
57 her placenta which comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of everything in the siege and desperate straits in which your enemy shall distress you at all your gates.
58 “If you do not carefully observe all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, THE LORD YOUR GOD,
59 then the Lord will bring upon you and your descendants extraordinary plagues—great and prolonged plagues—and serious and prolonged sicknesses.
60 Moreover He will bring back on you all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you.
61 Also every sickness and every plague, which is not written in this Book of the Law, will the Lord bring upon you until you are destroyed.
62 You shall be left few in number, whereas you were as the stars of heaven in multitude, because you would not obey the voice of the Lord your God.
63 And it shall be, that just as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.
64 “Then the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known—wood and stone.
65 And among those nations you shall find no rest, nor shall the sole of your foot have a resting place; but there the Lord will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and anguish of soul.
66 Your life shall hang in doubt before you; you shall fear day and night, and have no assurance of life.
67 In the morning you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Oh, that it were morning!’ because of the fear which terrifies your heart, and because of the sight which your eyes see.
68 “And the Lord will take you back to Egypt in ships, by the way of which I said to you, ‘You shall never see it again.’ And there you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but no one will buy you.
 
Israel disobeyed the Lord, and faced all the consequences of their disobedience and lawlessness.

It pained the Lord most to see that His people chose to disobey Him. And in doing so, all the curses written therein fell upon them. He is still waiting for them to repent and acknowledge Him as their Messiah! He is still waiting for them to say “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”
 
Likewise, we Christians need to repent of our disobedience and lawlessness, seek His forgiveness, and turn our hearts back to God. Let's seek God and worship only Him.
 
May we become a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season?
 
May our leaves never wither? May whatsoever we do prosper?
 
May He present us to Himself as His bride, a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing?
 
May we be holy and without blemish?
 
 
Written on 26 June 2013