A Lenten Look at Trees: Fig

Mark 13:28 fig leaves budding on a garden tree

March 1st marks the beginning of Lent, a 40 day time of reverence and repentance in preparation for the Easter celebration of Jesus’ death and resurrection. Lent is more than just giving up our favoite treats, indulgences, or comfort, however—we must guard against a dutiful relationship with the Lord. We must keep ourselves from a flat, dimensionless, do-right, don’t-do-wrong existence. This type of relating is quick to become loveless, not to mention dull.

Lent is an opportunity to enter the rich, deep layering found in God and His Word. By gardening? Yes! Exploring His Word through gardening and cooking gives a “taste and see” experience. It helps the Scripture to enter our senses, and for us to enter the Sciptures, revealing truths that will surprize you! Igniting passion that revives you! An amazing cross-pollenating of Arise, come with me and Then you will know that I am the Lord.

In our growing tradition, the Garden in Delight blog focuses on a certain aspect of gardening and plants during this time.  Our bi-weekly essays go out once a week in observance. This year, welcome our series, “A Lenten Look at Trees.”

Lenten Look at Trees meme

A Lenten Look at Trees features seven tree species, a sweeping journey from the Garden of Eden to palm’s Sunday prominence, preparing our hearts for the day Jesus hung on a tree. Some trees along the way may be well-suited for your garden; others may be more suitable the table, their fruits found easily in your grocers produce section. Either way, the symbolism and connections yield layers of hidden treasure in God’s Word.


Fig Trees

Our first week begins with the first tangible tree species of the Bible, fig trees.

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves.
Genesis 3:7 NIV

Fig trees are vibrant, unique plants well-worth cultivating in the home garden. Their fruit will be tantalizing at your table, a homegrown reward not easily supplied to supermarkets. Additionally, their mounded, voluminous habit and generously-sized leaves help to impart a reminder of the tendency to cover-up faults, sins, and mistakes just as the Genesis story reveals.

Fig trees are recurrent throughout Scripture, their lush growth stalwart in the face of the many controversies into which they are planted! Here is just one:

Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.      On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple courts and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written: ‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’? But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” The chief priests and the teachers of the law heard this and began looking for a way to kill him, for they feared him, because the whole crowd was amazed at his teaching.      When evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city. In the morning, as they went along, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots.
Mark 11:13-20 NIV

Fig tree in private Pittsburgh garden CP

A fig tree fills a greenhouse in a private garden outside Pittsburgh – northern gardeners, no excuse not to plant a fig!

Likewise, northern gardeners, do not wither at the challenge of growing these trees! The most fanatic-for-figs gardener whom I know is from Canada,  Steven Biggs, author of Grow Figs Where you Think You Can’t. Follow his practical advice at www.grow-figs.com

Further Fig Readings:

Numbers 13:16-14:24
Deuteronomy 8:6-11
1 Kings 4:20-25
Song of Songs 2:10-13
Mark 13:28-31
Luke 13:6-8
James 3:9-17

Final Word

Above all, let a daily glimpse of a fig tree in your garden or figs in your cooking recipes remind you to take hold of the Words of God:

[My father] taught me, and he said to me, “Take hold of my words with all your heart…”
Proverbs 4:4 NIV

It was Eve’s loose grip of the Lord God’s commands that cursed a fate only Jesus’ sacrifice at Easter could overthrow.

Perhaps Eve did not realize the seriousness of the challenge she faced, her heart captivated instead with the idea of having knowledge and wisdom like God’s. Or perhaps she was unable in her own strength to follow God’s command. Whatever the case, the serpent distracted her from God’s words with a subtle, cunning question, “Did God really say . . . ?”
—excerpt from “Keeping God’s Word,” God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, page 12

If we are to “get wisdom,” (Proverbs 4:5), taunted by the serpent in another Garden of Eden fruit tree (Genesis 3:6), it must come only through Jesus.

It has been called the lesson of the desert,1 but it was in response to the events of the garden: We do not live sustained by what we eat — whether bread or fruit — but by the word of the Lord (Deuteronomy 8:3). Nothing that God has created replaces himself as our source for knowledge and good judgment (Psalm 119:66)
—excerpt from “Keeping God’s Word,” God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, page 12

A Fig Poem

To further behold the rich layering of fig trees in Scripture and to continue to endear His Words in our hearts, enjoy the latest poem for the A-to-Z Primer of Plants from God’s Word.

Move the cursor over the poetry text to reveal links to Scripture.


F is for Fig drop cap sketchis for fig tree,
a Bible plant indeed.
The first species mentioned
that we can taste and see.

More than good, figs are luscious—
sweet, velvety fruits.
To cultivate these treats
should be all gardeners’ pursuit.

For they don’t transport well
and must ripen on the branch.
If you don’t grow your own,
you’ll only know them by chance

enjoying fig preservesin jam, preserves, or jelly,
in pudding or newtons—
but fresh figs are delightful,
a fruit of revolution.

Fig leaves mark the turn
of Eve and Adam’s heart,
forsaking the Lord
trying alone to be smart.

The sweet life of Eden
gone in two bites,
now bitterness infuses
and heckles our delights.

Nonetheless, though the leaves
covered nakedness’ astonish,
fig trees marked the land
of milk, honey, and promise.

Holy Land figs bear two distinct crops—
one spring-ready, one ripe in August.
The second crops bursts sweet,
the first’s flavor is modest.

Therefore, “Know your figs,” say wise chefs;
know which crop you’re cooking.*
Likewise, the Lord knows us,
his love always looking

to bless, to keep, to offer guidance;
so why would we hide?
Boundless are His ways,
His wisdom applied

increases our faith, our output and abilities,
our influence, our wealth—
His Words
improve all of these.

Heed them and you will live;
defy and you will wither,
displayed plainly in fruit-bearing:
Keep lies from their slither.

Fig, the tree cursed by Jesus.
A flare of passion? or prophesy?
For later He was cursed
to hang on a tree.

Plant this symbol, bless our nation
and march towards God’s decree
of peace, retooled plowshares—
everyone under their own fig tree.

figs at market © Studioportosabbia | Dreamstime.com

bitter herbs with GOd's Word for Gardeners Bible


Read more on fig trees in the devotion on Leaving the Garden of Eden in God’s Word for Gardeners Bible, pages a-12 & a-13


Garden in Delight gate logo

Find more garden-to-table information on growing fig trees in our Plant Guide – www.gardenindelight.com/plant-guide/fig/

1. Deuteronomy 8:3 as the “lesson of the desert” quoted in O. Palmer Robertson, Understanding the
Land of the Bible (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 1996), page 26.

*This advice from Chef David Tanis, in A Platter of Figs, 2008

Photo Credits: ©2015-2017 Shelley S. Cramm

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One Response to A Lenten Look at Trees: Fig

  1. Lydia Plunk March 2, 2017 at 11:41 pm #

    Checking on the fig trees is now on the top of the list.

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