The Figurative Fig Leaves

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Revelation 6:12-17
“When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place. Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?””

The unrepentant want nothing more than to hide from God. They will do whatever they can to cover their iniquity. They would even go so far as to call on the mountains and rocks to, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come.” The unrepentant know exactly who God is. Their desire to hide from Him, at all costs, reveals it.

Has it always been this way? Yep. Adam and Eve were the first to hide from God, due to their sin against Him:

Genesis 3:6-8
“So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.
And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.”

What I find interesting is what Adam and Eve covered themselves with: fig leaves. Now, I don’t think that it is just some arbitrary covering either. I think that it points to something really significant regarding the sinful heart of man, and it points to an extremely profound aspect of ourselves. It is incredibly telling, considering what the fig tree seems to represent in the New Testament:

The OT (Old Testament) Jewish religious system

(I’ll get to this point in a moment)

With this essay, I am not attempting to inject meaning upon scripture where it isn’t, nor am I just picking on the OT Jewish religious system in a disrespectful manner. God put it in place. He established it. However, it’s purpose was not to cover sin. It’s purpose was to point us (humanity) to who could cover sin: the Messiah, Jesus Christ (God in the flesh). God does not desire our self made coverings, He desires something different…

Hosea 6:6
“For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Now, the Pharisees were professionals at attempting to “self cover” their sin. They covered themselves with the OT Jewish religious system better than anyone. But, such an attempt of the Pharisees is not what God wanted. It’s why Jesus came down so hard on them:

Matthew 23:27-28
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.”

The attempt of the Pharisees to cover themselves was similar to Adam and Eve’s same attempt in the garden. Like them, the Pharisees attempted to cover themselves in order to “appear beautiful” to God, when in reality they were inwardly unclean. When Adam and Eve (all of humanity at the time) covered themselves with fig leaves, it was akin to the Pharisaical attempt to “self cover” with religious practice.

Why?

It seems reasonable to conclude that the fig tree, in some places in scripture, figuratively points to national Israel and its sacrificial system. Look at how Jesus figuratively references an actual fig tree to warn of 70AD (the complete end of the OT Jewish religious system, which the Pharisees put on in order to attempt to cover their sin):

Matthew 24:29-36
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And He will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

Prior to entering the temple, and uttering those words, check out what Jesus had previously illustrated regarding the fig tree, to His disciples just outside, before they entered:

Matthew 21:18-22
“In the morning, as He was returning to the city, He became hungry. And seeing a fig tree by the wayside, He went to it and found nothing on it but only leaves. And He said to it, “May no fruit ever come from you again!” And the fig tree withered at once.
When the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, “How did the fig tree wither at once?” And Jesus answered them, “Truly, I say to you, if you have faith and do not doubt, you will not only do what has been done to the fig tree, but even if you say to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ it will happen. And whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith.””

I think that it is reasonable to consider that Jesus was illustrating to His disciples the lack of value that the OT Jewish religious system had in terms of it’s ineffectiveness to resolve sin with the fig tree. Such was the error of the Pharisees. In other words, Jesus demonstrated to His disciples that instead of recognizing what the system pointed to, the Pharisees had instead wrongfully put on the system in order to cover themselves. Adam and Eve did the same thing. Though the system was not yet established when they were alive, Adam and Eve sensed the need to have their sin covered, and in realizing their predicament they attempted to cover themselves with what they thought could cover them. I don’t think it’s an accident that their covering was fig leaves. It seems reasonable to acknowledge the possible figurative representation of the fig leaves in Genesis 3. I mean, think about it. Humanity is always going to extreme levels of idolatry and religiosity in order to appease the God of their making, duping themselves into thinking it works. Adam and Eve (humanity at the time) put on fig leaves (figurative religion) in order to cover their iniquity. Such is the ongoing, prideful folly of their children: humanity.

Habakkuk 3:17-18
“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation.”

We (humanity) cannot cover ourselves from the wrath of God. Only God can cover us (Christians), and He has. Praise God the Father for sending His Son, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who is also God, to the cross, 2,000 years ago in Palestine, on our behalf.

Godspeed, to the brethren!

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