A Time To...

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Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 ESV
1 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: 2 a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; 8 a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.
Knowing the right time for the right thing is important!
A time to speed, a time to obey the speed limit.
A time to talk about yourself, a time to ask about others. (Graduation)
A time yell, a time to whisper. (Library / Baseball)
A time to spend, a time to cut up your credit card. (Costco)
A time to cut, and a time to get a bandaid. (Woodworking)
You get the idea.
Our passage today deals with the proper season to produce, and the things to do. But just like Solomons examples, and my silly ones, it’s more about the good, more about the one in authority than the thing being done.
Mark 11:11–26 ESV
11 And he entered Jerusalem and went into the temple. And when he had looked around at everything, as it was already late, he went out to Bethany with the twelve. 12 On the following day, when they came from Bethany, he was hungry. 13 And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if he could find anything on it. When he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 And he said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard it. 15 And they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 16 And he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. 17 And he was teaching them and saying to them, “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers.” 18 And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching. 19 And when evening came they went out of the city. 20 As they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away to its roots. 21 And Peter remembered and said to him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that you cursed has withered.” 22 And Jesus answered them, “Have faith in God. 23 Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. 24 Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. 25 And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.”

The Fig Tree Represents Israel.

The time of year was Passover (cf. 14:1), the middle of the month of Nisan (April). In Palestine fig trees produced crops of small edible buds in March followed by the appearance of large green leaves in early April. This early green “fruit” (buds) was common food for local peasants. (An absence of these buds despite the tree’s green foliage promising their presence indicated it would bear no fruit that year.) Eventually these buds dropped off when the normal crop of figs formed and ripened in late May and June, the fig season. Thus it was reasonable for Jesus shortly before Passover (mid-April) to expect to find something edible on that fig tree even though it was not the season for figs.

Represents Israel in various aspects through the Bible.
Back in Genesis, when Adam and Eve realized they had sinned, the fig tree was there.
Genesis 3:7–11 ESV
7 Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. 8 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. 9 But the Lord God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” 11 He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?”
The image of the fig tree is on of covering guilt and sin. It is pointing to something to reconcile rebellious humanity to the Good and righteous God.
Later we see the fig tree as representing God’s chosen people in perhaps the closest they ever were to being alighted with their purpose.
1 Kings 4:25 ESV
25 And Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beersheba, every man under his vine and under his fig tree, all the days of Solomon.
This theme is picked up again when Jesus was calling His disciples.
John 1:43–51 ESV
43 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and said to him, “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” 46 Nathanael said to him, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Philip said to him, “Come and see.” 47 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward him and said of him, “Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!” 48 Nathanael said to him, “How do you know me?” Jesus answered him, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.” 49 Nathanael answered him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!” 50 Jesus answered him, “Because I said to you, ‘I saw you under the fig tree,’ do you believe? You will see greater things than these.” 51 And he said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.”
So we see the fig tree begins as a means to restore, then is identified as the people of Israel as the means of that plan. But there is a warning we find in Jeremiah
Jeremiah 24:1–3 ESV
1 After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had taken into exile from Jerusalem Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, together with the officials of Judah, the craftsmen, and the metal workers, and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me this vision: behold, two baskets of figs placed before the temple of the Lord. 2 One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs, but the other basket had very bad figs, so bad that they could not be eaten. 3 And the Lord said to me, “What do you see, Jeremiah?” I said, “Figs, the good figs very good, and the bad figs very bad, so bad that they cannot be eaten.”
There is an explanation of this in that passage. That God will choose the ones exiled as the good fruit, to plant and not tear up, to set His eyes on them for good. And the bad fruit are those who maintained their own authority by colluding with Babylon.
But after Jeremiah, there is another prophet who speaks with imagery of the fig tree.
Micah 4:1–5 ESV
1 It shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the house of the Lord shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills; and peoples shall flow to it, 2 and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 3 He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore; 4 but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. 5 For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God forever and ever.
Now we see all nations leaving the hills of their gods and flowing to the mountain of YHWH. All nations now sit under the shade of the fig tree. Rebelion is put down and authority in the spiritual realm and in the physical realm is given back to the Lord. There will be a time when no enemy will come against us, “for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken.”
As we look at the fig tree and see Jesus cursing it, we can recognize it is not to cast away His purpose or His people, but to cast judgement on those who have fallen away from Him. In the last days Israel is still there, AND people from all nations.
We are of those nations - coming to worship on the mountain of the Lord of Hosts and leave behind the hills behind us.
God’s plan will not fail, even when those who should be the champions of it fail.

The Leaders Were Corrupt.

God had chosen a people and assigned to them the task of being His representatives on the earth. Reviews were mixed.
He had established a leadership structure - priests to bring the people to God and God to the people. They had a duty to safeguard this connection.
But at the time of Jesus, they were failing.
Temple Tax and offerings in ‘shekel of the temple’ they would not accept the ‘coin of the king’, or the money everyone had in their pockets with Caesar's face and inscription. You had to exchange your paycheck for temple money… for a small fee.
And as people came from all around filling Jerusalem for the passover, that fee became a huge profit potential. People cam in, exchanged money, brought the new temple money in to give. Then they would collect that money, carry it back out to the exchange tables and exchange it again. This is very likely what jesus was preventing from being carried through the temple.
If Jesus had a problem with those who collected taxes for Rome skimming off the top, how much more a problem would it be for the Chief Priests who ran this system? “But you have made it a den of thieves.”
That’s not all!
There were also sacrifices that needed to be made. There were several requirements, but for the poor they could bring a pigeon of turtle dove for their offering. Those not poor had greater requirements. So this section lists how they targeted the poor.
Those lesser offerings still needed to be acceptable - no sick or injured bird. They could bring their own, but they would have to be inspected to make sure they were acceptable to God.
Surprise, surprise! Yours has a flaw. But no worry - we have one here for you to buy. They weren’t concerned about what was acceptable to God of with God’s authority. They were the authority - they were the ones seeking their own good.
Jesus overturned their seats. Ya know, He physically ran them off. And He overturned their seat of authority as it was corrupt and usurped the true and good authority of God.
Were these guys the good fruit in Jeremiah or the nasty, rotten fruit?
Application: Don’t be nasty fruit! If we are an impediment for people to come to God for mercy rather than an aid. When we are filling our pockets rather than submitting to God. Then we have become bad fruit.

The Faithful Mirror God’s Mercy.

But Jesus showed His disciples what the good fruit was like too.
‘Have faith in God’. There is no better answer for walk with God, for His call for our lives, for dealing with anything this world can throw our way. This is the only command In Jesus’ reply It was good for Peter, it is good for us!
Jesus was likely on the Mount of Olives as they made their way back to Jerusalem - the sea being the Dead Sea visible in the distance. The mountain indicated the difficulty of what could be overcome by faith and prayer, not that we should use prayer to terraform our neighborhoods.
Where the off track leaders were self seeking, those who pleased God would trust completely in Him.
The bad fruit self-serving, the good fruit forgiving.
The Chief Priests power hungry, disciples submitting to God’s authority.
As we submit to God’s authority, we acknowledge our trespass of His authority. An active prayer life is essential in seeing our need for repentance. And brothers and sisters - we have a need of repentance. Not that unrepentant sin will keep the redeemed from heaven, but it will keep us from experiencing God’s presence in our lives now. If your walk is flat - repentance is almost certainly the needed.
Once we experience the wonder of God’s presence here and now because we enjoy His forgiveness, how can we misrepresent Him to others by not forgiving others.
If we are to be a light to the world, we must reflect God’s mercy!

Takeaway: We are accountable to God...

to grow in faith where we are planted
to allow Him to reproduce Himself in us
to invest in nourishing other not glorifying ourselves
to represent God to the world, or risk being removed from relevance
What will Jesus find if he came to your life today? Would He find you faithful, humble, forgiving? Would He find you abusing, prideful, and self-serving?
Or would He find you desiring to find the truth, but still outside? If so, there is hope for you today!

Gospel Truth: We are forgiven and favored by the love and blood of Jesus. Let us follow His lead, lead others to that same grace and share the love of Jesus.

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