Reading through the Bible together
We have three fig trees in our yard, and today I picked the
first fig of our season! It was perfect!
Figs trees were very common in the land of Israel and the
people used the fruit in many ways. And like fruit of any kind, there is a time
when figs are ready to be picked. They
are firm, but slightly soft, moist, and great tasting! They also have a limited
shelf life. If figs are not eaten, dried or otherwise put to use, they start to
spoil. Then, they are good for nothing but drawing flies and other insects! You
want to dispose of them as quickly as possible.
After the direct messages from God that Jeremiah delivered
to kings, princes prophets and priests, he now turns his attention to the
ordinary people. While it certainly included some royalty and priests, the message
of this chapter is also for craftsmen and carpenters. It is given to the whole nation.
God uses two baskets of fruit to illustrate His message. One
basket has perfect figs, ripe and ready to eat. The other basket has rotten
figs that could not be eaten. Notice that God shows that His people are divided
into two groups. In spite of the idolatry and unfaithfulness of the political
and religious leadership, there is still a large group of His people whom He
portrays as “very good figs!” The other group has obviously followed the
popular course of life and through unfaithfulness has become totally and
completely corrupted. I’m encouraged that God shows there is faithfulness in some
of His people during times of societal and religious corruption. He always has
a people who are faithful!
But the message must have been disappointing to the good
people. While those portrayed by the bad figs were so far gone they could not
be saved, the people portrayed by the good figs were to go into Babylonian
captivity! And God said this was for their own good! I can only imagine how
hard it must have been to accept this message! How could the destruction of
their homeland and city, and being carried off into captivity by cruel pagans be
for their own good? This brings home the reality that God’s ways are not our
ways. I will remember this the next time something happens that seems so hard
It really comes to the point of how we see things. Our perspective covers the few short days we
have on this earth. God’s perspective is a very big picture. He had told their
forefathers through Moses what the result would be if the nation was unfaithful
and followed other gods and pagan practices. The predictions in Deuteronomy are
plain. The time had finally come.
This perspective is found in two places. First, verses 8-10.
God is going to cleanse the land. The King and the rest of the land and those
who have fled to Egypt for safety will experience the sword, famine, and
pestilence. Secondly, in 2 Chronicles
36, the Scripture records that the leaders and the people transgressed more and
more. God pleaded with them through His prophets until there was no remedy left.
Then, the judgments came in waves. Those who survived the destruction (the good
figs) were carried into Babylon as servants. Notice a very important point. His
people were to remain in the land of their captivity until the farm land had
enjoyed its Sabbaths, to fulfill the 70 years when the land was not allowed to rest. God had directed His people to let the land
rest every seventh year, but the people decided that it was not economically
feasible to do so! Now He is going to let the land be cleansed and rest to make
up for all those years where his Word had been ignored.
But this chapter also has some good news! We all need some good
news about now! In verses 5-7, God expresses His big plan for the “good figs” to
be taken out of the land to avoid the judgments. He promises to bring them
back, restore them, and give them a new heart to know Him even better. He
promises that He will be their God and that with their new heart they will turn
to Him as never before!
That’s what we need, total commitment, eyes only for Him. We need a heart that is truly converted from
the destructive power of sin. No more lukewarm Laodicea, but completely given
over to our Savior.
“Oh Lord, let me be found in the basket of good figs! And
please, give me a new heart that also will be completely given over to You. Amen.”
Hart Research Center