The greatest theologian, Apostle Paul carried a burden in his heart for the Nation of Israel when he said, “At the same time, you need to know that I carry with me at all times a huge sorrow. It’s an enormous pain deep within me, and I’m never free of it. I’m not exaggerating—Christ and the Holy Spirit are my witnesses. It’s the Israelites. If there were any way I could be cursed by the Messiah so they could be blessed by him, I’d do it in a minute. They’re my family. I grew up with them. They had everything going for them—family, glory, covenants, revelation, worship, promises, to say nothing of being the race that produced the Messiah, the Christ, who is God over everything, always.”
They are not all Israel that are Israel was another statement the Apostle made when He emotionally spoke about the same Nation he hailed from. The people we call the chosen race of God are not the chosen of God according to this Apostle, God had some other people in mind, hence the statement. God was actually talking about the Church – the Body of Christ formed on the Day of Pentecost. This means there were a physical Israel and a Spiritual Israel. One was born after the flesh and the other after the Spirit; just like Ishmael and Isaac – Ishmael was born after the flesh while Isaac was born the Son of promise. Esau was described as having being born after the flesh while Jacob was born as a child of promise. The Nation of Israel was born after the flesh while the Church was born by Promise.
He had made an argument to confirm that all (Jews and Gentiles) were under the bondage of Sin and that theGospel was needed, which would initiate the third person of the trinity, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would take the stand and charge as the symbol of direction and counsel in the Body of Christ. The Gentiles were condemned as sinners in the first chapter of the book of Romans. The Israelites were also condemned to sin when it was made clear to them that they could not be circumcised and keep the Law without breaking it. Even though they were circumcised, they broke the law and by doing that, they were under the bondage of Sin. It was morelike a double-edged sword: what happens to the man who is not circumcised but yet, kept the Law? He was condemned under Sin. What also happens to the one who is circumcised and yet broke one of the Laws of Moses? That person was also condemned under the bondage of Sin.
So all (the Jews and the Gentiles) have sinned and have come short of the glory of God. No one could ever again boast of having access to God because God could not stand Sin. This is the reason why there must be another way introduced by which human beings can be saved. The Jews refused to understand this fact and grew in their pride because it was difficult for them to bear the grunt of ever being condemned and relegated to the same pedestal as the Gentile. Pride, they say comes before a fall. Jesus made this clear to them as a reason for stepping out of Heaven.
In driving home His point Jesus capitalized on one of the stories they brought to Him as a report. They had come to tell Him that the Pilate had mixed human blood with that of the animals when they offered their sacrifices. There was nothing He could say about the debacle because it might be another ploy or effort to catching Him at His words; rather He began to focus on the reason for His stepping out of Heaven to planet Earth. He asked a question: “do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? He answered His own question, “Not at all.” He then continued by saying “Unless you turn to God, you too, will die”. He again reminded them about the eighteen people in Jerusalem, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them. He asked the same question again, “Do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites?” Before they could answer the question, He did, “Not at all” and said, “Unless you turn to God, you too, will die.”
He concluded His series of questions and answers by telling them a very significant story about the Nation of Israel coupled with what the future held for them in God’s agenda. He told them the story about the man who had a fig tree planted in his front yard; the man had come to this particular tree expecting to find fruits on it, but alas, there weren’t any to be found on the tree. Immediately he lamented to the gardener and said to him, “What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting to find fruits and not one fruit have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?”
The Gardener pleaded on the behalf of the tree; he told the owner of the front yard that he would dig around the tree and fertilize it for another year and if the owner of the vineyard comes back after a year and finds nothing on the tree, he would have no choice but to allow the owner to make that decision of cutting down the tree so that the ground could be used for something productive.
What was Jesus saying about this tree?
The owner of the vineyard (front yard) is GOD: expressing disappointment at the fruitless tree. He has looked for fruit for three years but found none. He is the one who justly decides to destroy the tree when nothing was produced by this tree. Obviously, expecting to see fruits on this tree meant that under normal circumstances, the tree was expected to bring forth its fruits. The contrary was the case here and the justification on the side of God to bring down the tree.
The gardener in this story was JESUS: he pleaded with the owner of the vineyard for a little more time in case the tree would start to bring forth its fruits. He interceded for more time to water and fertilize the fruitless tree, and the owner responded in patience. There were few months before crucifixion; there were more miracles to come especially the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, which would cause many of the Jews to repent, turning back to God.
The fruitless tree represents the NATION OF ISRAEL. The fruit of repentance wasn’t forth coming from them. The Jews had the revelation from God, they had the Prophets, the Sacred Scriptures and the adoption but they botched it and were already in the apostate. They had departed from the true faith and the living God, thus creating a system of works-righteousness that was an abomination to God.
The three years represented the period JOHN THE BAPTIST and JESUS had been preaching the message of repentance throughout Israel. The people were warned about the coming Messiah, asking them to bring the fruit of repentance because according to John the Baptist, the ax was already laid at the root of the tree. The Jews instead of responding to the Prophet became offended at the idea that they had to repent leading to their rejection and acceptance of the Messiah, Jesus.
Apostle Paul described them as a people who had the zeal for God but without the appropriate knowledge and therefore their fall from the grace that was extended to them was inevitable: Paul readily admitted that the Jews are impressively energetic regarding God—but they are doing everything exactly backward. They didn’t seem to realize that this comprehensive setting-things-right that is salvation is God’s business, and a most flourishing business it is. Right across the street they set up their own salvation shops and noisily hawk their wares. After all these years of refusing to really deal with God on His terms, insisting instead on making their own deals, they have nothing to show for it.
The knowledge of our ignorance is the doorstep of the temple of knowledge – C H Spurgeon