Very Naughty Figs

April 24, 2019 at 12:56 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 3 Comments
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Jeremiah 23 deals with the false prophets that Jeremiah battled against in his ministry. Apparently, having been left behind during Nebuchadnezzar’s deportation of the “best and the brightest,” they were emboldened to view themselves as especially favored by God. They prophesied that the captives would be coming home very soon – a prophecy in direct contradiction to Jeremiah’s true prophecies that conditions in Jerusalem were going to get even worse – much, much worse.

God told Jeremiah to tell them that their false prophecies and fevered dreams (unlike Jeremiah, who received his visions, oracles, and burdens while fully awake and lucid) were just the imaginings of their own evil hearts.

Jeremiah 24 contains Jeremiah’s vision of the figs. I’m intentionally calling it a vision, but we don’t know if God showed Jeremiah something prophetic in an everyday occurrence (like He had done in the case of the potter’s house), or if God supernaturally made Jeremiah “see” things which weren’t really there. Either case would qualify as a “vision,” but it wasn’t a “dream.” God was communicating clearly with a wide-awake (although not “woke”) Jeremiah.

The Lord shewed me, and, behold, two baskets of figs were set before the temple of the Lord, after that Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon.

Jeremiah 24:1

The “best classes” of people were taken away by Nebuchadnezzar. Those left behind, other than the false prophets, were mostly those who wouldn’t have been able, in the Babylonian leaders’ estimate, to contribute to Chaldean society.

I have three fig trees in my back yard, but I don’t personally care for the taste of figs. Seeing baskets of figs at the entrance of the Temple would not have been an uncommon sight during Jeremiah’s time. People were commanded under Old Testament law to bring an offering of “firstfruits.” That might explain one basket, but the other basket…

One basket had very good figs, even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.

Jeremiah 24:2

“Very naughty figs” is a funny expression to us, but, to the people who heard Jeremiah say it, it would have sounded like a repetition-for-emphasis of the unfitness of these figs, probably mirroring the unfitness of the people and the leaders who went to – and ministered at – the Temple.

Then said the Lord unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs; the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil.

Jeremiah 24:3

Jeremiah mentions the good figs first, and we can almost see God urging him to be more specific as he emphasizes the evil of the evil figs to the fifth degree.

Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good.

Jeremiah 24:5 (emphasis added)

Do you hear the echoes of Romans 8:28 in the phrase “for their good?”

The good figs represented those that had been carried away to Babylon. Despite what those still in Jerusalem thought about themselves, they were not only “bad eggs,” but bad figs – unsuitable for God’s acceptance or anyone’s use.

Compare Jeremiah 24:6 with Jeremiah 1:10:

For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.

Jeremiah 24:6

See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.

Jeremiah 1:10

Jeremiah got a glimpse of the future fruits of his faithfulness, and what he saw wasn’t all bad. Sure, there would be lots of rooting out, throwing down, and destruction, but there would also be some building up and planting.

And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the Lord: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart.

Jeremiah 24:7

In this pivotal chapter we turn once again to the key theme of the heart. Bad figs can’t turn into good figs on their own, but God can transform a bad fig into a good fig. He can turn a wicked heart into a heart that wants to “know” Him. This means a heart that not only wants to get acquainted with Him and know more about Him, but a heart that wants an intimate relationship and true fellowship with Him. We call this regeneration. It appears in the Old Testament time and time again under this announcement: “They will be my people; I will be their God.” God’s people WILL turn to Him, and not like before, with all their half-turning, turning away, turning back, turning sideways shenanigans.

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  1. […] fig tree wasn’t doing what a fig tree is supposed to do: it wasn’t bearing […]

  2. […] Chapter 24 God had Jeremeiah prophesy about a time when His people would turn back to Him with their WHOLE hearts: their affections, their thoughts, […]

  3. […] made us to come up out of Egypt, to bring us in unto this evil place? it is no place of seed, or of figs, or of vines, or of pomegranates; neither is there any water to drink. And Moses and Aaron went […]


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