*Credit to Dan Gochnour for some of the revelation here and challenging further study.
I’m coming to see that Jesus referenced the Old Testament more times and fulfilled more prophecies and types than most realize. Sometimes he did so very subtly, such as in Mark 11: 12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, he became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to see if perhaps he would find anything on it; and when he came to it, he found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. 14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And his disciples were listening.”
Ask yourself, why was this incident recorded? Was it just to show that Jesus was upset with a tree for failing to satisfy his appetite? No, Jesus did this for the same reason he did everything – because the Spirit of God prompted him to. Jesus was using natural things to illustrate a deeper spiritual reality, as he often did. The truth is, everything Jesus said and did related to the spiritual realm at it’s core.
Some say the first time something is mentioned in scripture, a precedent is set for that particular idea which applies for the rest of scripture. I don’t know about that, but it’s interesting. The first reference of fig leaves in scripture is in Genesis 3, immediately after Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: (Genesis 3): “7 Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings…
To understand what the fig leaf covering represents, you first have to see why Adam and Eve made these coverings to begin with. Genesis mentions two trees specifically – the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, which God forbade them to eat from, and the Tree of Life. The Bible says the first thing that happened when they ate the fruit of the forbidden tree is their “eyes” opened. This is huge. These obviously aren’t physical eyes, they are the “eyes” of the human soul. Their opening is the source of man’s religious fixation. The Bible calls soulish perception “carnality” or “fleshly.” God sees all that is human, temporal, and non-spiritual, both of the physical (actions) and immaterial (beliefs, motives) realms, as fleshly and utterly worthless.
Genesis 2:9 says both the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life were “pleasing to the sight and good for food.” But, Genesis 3:6 adds one extra element to the tree of knowledge as Adam’s wife saw it; it was “desirable to make one wise.” Is wisdom bad? Were Adam and Eve foolish before eating from this forbidden tree? No, of course not. This wisdom which the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil imparts is human, soulish wisdom, which is based on reasoning, knowledge, cunning, and skill, and it makes one aware of self. Eating from this tree will thus always hinder communion with God and entrance into His spiritual Kingdom (which Jesus said is within us), because when the soul’s eyes open, the spirit’s eyes shut. Adam and Eve got more than they bargained for, essentially trading away spiritual innocence and life to get self-awareness and human reasoning, knowledge, cunning, and skill. If you think about it, Christianity has largely done the same since very shortly after Pentecost.
After they ate, we immediately see a tremendous difference in the relationship between God and Adam and Eve. When the eyes of their soul opened, they suffered the “death” that God had said would come – the death of their spirit, of their innocence. God didn’t change, Adam and Eve’s perception changed. This is so evident by their actions – right away, they covered themselves, hid, and were fearful. For the first time, they became highly aware of self (“knew that they were naked”) and fearful. Self-awareness is the foundation of human fear. It caused Adam and Eve to perceive God as a fearful master to hide from and dress up self for, rather than a loving and trustworthy Father whose love and acceptance frees one from fear, shame, and pretense.
Here’s the progression of events in the garden: ate fruit –> eyes were opened –> saw their nakedness –> became afraid –> made covering of fig leaves –> hid from God. Here’s essentially what this means: dishonored God –> took on carnal perception –> became self-aware –> became fearful –> created myriad of ways to make themselves presentable to God (this is what “leaves” represent) –> abandoned and lost true fellowship with Him. This mirrors the overall history of God’s people, to the present day.
In part 2, probably coming in a few days, I want to look closer and more specifically at Jesus’ encounter with the fig tree. I believe it references the events in the garden and contains a prophecy which is being fulfilled right now. God bless you!