Saturday, January 19, 2008

New system / Matt. 21

As this blog is intended to keep random musings on Scripture, I am working about a shift in my posting. I will be doing my own studying throughout the week, and posting various topical or exegetical notes each Saturday, and other things (schedule, etc) will be posted as is needed. Keep in mind that the vast majority of my Scriptural postings will be assuming a certain level of typological interpretation (while not discounting the literal) as well as at least a slight familiarity with Hebrew symbolism (which is found throughout all of Scripture).

Beginning in verse eighteen of the twenty-first chapter of Matthew, we have the story of the withered fig tree. Christ returns to Jerusalem hungry, and sees a fig tree. Upon approach, we find that it is covered only with leaves, no fruit anywhere. Christ curses it (Let no fruit grow on you ever again), and it withers.

The disciples are astonished. Christ responds that through faith they have the power to do not only this, but also to command a mountain to be uprooted and cast into the heart of the sea, and it will obey them.

Interpreting Scripture via Scripture, we find that trees are representative of people, and their fruit representative of their deeds. A tree covered with leaves and only leaves can easily be seen to represent a person with the appearance of godliness (leaves) but no actual godliness (fruit). I do not find it too great a stretch to interpret this tree as symbolic of the pharasaical order as a whole, but that is not implicit in the text. What is implicit, or rather explicit, is the reaction of Christ to the "appearance of godliness that denies its power," all of the promise and none of the delivery. As we are the grandchildren of the Pharisees in both beliefs and self-righteous hypocrisy, let this serve as a warning to us as well.

The prophecy found in the next section is one of the most blood chilling in all of Scripture, and finds its fulfillment in Revelation 8:1-8. The mountain can be narrowly seen as the temple mount, but more realistically as what that temple represented--God's covenant people of Israel. Established upon the Edenic mountain with Adam, then upon Ararat with Noah, then Moriah with Moses, and finally upon Zion with David, the covenant was going to be given to the Gentiles through the destruction of those who possessed it--the mountain of God's covenant was cast into the heart of the sea in two ways: the people of God were swallowed by the gentiles, and the covenant was given to the sea, the gentiles.

And this was done through the crying out of the blood of every prophet from Abel to Zechariah, all of which fell upon Jerusalem. The culmination, the ultimate damnation, indeed the final anathema is found when the people cried "His blood be upon us and our children!" Looking back upon the utter desolation wreaked in 70 A.D. upon all who remained, we can see in awe and chilled horror that God said "Amen."

So be it.

J. Broussard

1 comment:

Ben said...

Great point on the fig tree. I don’t think a lot of Christians realize how terrible the war between the Jews and Rome was. I think Josephus records over a million people being slaughtered. The gospels are riddled with prophecy hinting at this catastrophe.

Wodehousian Fun