Summary: Spiritual leadership and authority is established by God to accomplish kingdom purposes.
At just about every level of society in our country, there is a crisis. It is a crisis of leadership and authority. There is a breakdown of authority in this generation like no other generation.
Family… Government… Politics… Business… Church… Home… Education.
And the list can go on. Wherever you turn, there are difficulties and problems of enormous proportion.
This, of course, is not new. In the book of Judges, there is a phrase that dominates the book, “Everyone did that which was right in his own eyes.” This is where we have come to in our country.
Opinion is more important than fact or truth.
Where once we had journalists that kept us up to date on what was happening in the world, now we have opinionists who are telling us what to think.
I think of my grandfather. He really did not like to talk about politics. When he was around a Democrat, he talked like a Democrat. When he was around the Republican, he talked like a Republican. For the longest time I did not know if he was a Democrat or Republican. I once asked him about that.
He said, “Don’t get caught up in the minutia of politics. When you go into the voting booth and close the curtain, then you can be political.”
I think he was right.
When we come to this parable before us today, it is interesting along these lines. What are we to think about politics in our day? Better yet, what does the Bible have the say about it?
Isaiah 9:6-7 - “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.”
The key phrase is “and the government shall be upon his shoulder.”
All authority comes from God whether government or religion. Everybody in authority will finally answer to God for how they used that authority. Many people will be surprised at the judgment that comes their way because of misusing God’s authority.
My focus today as we look at the parable of the barren fig tree is on religious authority. The fig tree here represents the religious authority, which rested upon mainly the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Spiritual leadership and authority is established by God to accomplish kingdom purposes. This is the key. “Kingdom purposes.”
Let’s look at this parable and break it down a little bit for our admonition today.
I. First, We Have the Symbol of the Figtree (13:6-9)
In this parable, the figtree symbolizes the religious leaders namely the Pharisees.
1. The figtree is positioned by the owner.
The owner here is of course none other than God. God is the one who sets up authority and puts this authority on people. This is not man, it is God. A bar old authority.
It is a deliberate act of God where he arranges his authority to accomplish his purpose.
One problem the Pharisees had was that they believed their authority came from themselves. They were the source of authority and power and wielded it over the people mercilessly.
The figtree does not plant itself and therefore does not make the decision of where or when it is to be planted. All of this rests in the heart of God. The Pharisees refused to acknowledge that they answer to anybody higher than themselves. The spiritual arrogance that they flaunted is almost unbelievable.
God purposefully positioned them where he wanted them to do what he wanted to be done. This power and authority was to accomplish kingdom purposes. It was not to be used for personal advancement or agenda.
2. The figtree represents God’s purpose.
As we get to understand God, we realize that he has never done anything just to do something. Everything he does he does for a purpose and everything he does harmonizes with everything else he does.
This is something that is beyond our comprehension I am sure.
The authority represented by the figtree, was God’s design and therefore fulfilled its function by doing God’s bidding.
If we could just realize God’s agenda, which never changes from generation to generation, we would begin to understand how God wants to use us today.
3. The figtree also represents God’s presumption.
Perhaps this is the hardest for us to truly understand. God planted the figtree and the presumption is that the tree would bear fruit. It seems like a silly assumption, but a figtree presumes fruit.