Fig Newtons in the Bible

Did you know that people in the Bible ate Fig Newtons? Not the product which goes by that brand name, of course – but something which closely fits the description. Heck, I don’t even eat the brand name anymore. Walmart sells a generic brand of “fig bars” which I think are even better tasting than the famous Nabisco product we all grew up with. Certain scriptures speak of eating “fig cakes,” which just has to be the same kind of thing. I am not even sure if a practical alternative method of eating figs exists. The Bible verses which refer to fig cakes include:

1 Samuel 25:18: Abigail wasted no time. She quickly gathered 200 loaves of bread, two wineskins full of wine, five sheep that had been slaughtered, nearly a bushel of roasted grain, 100 clusters of raisins, and 200 fig cakes. She packed them on donkeys. – NLT

1 Samuel 30:12: They gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins, and he ate; then his spirit revived. For he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. – NASB   

Isaiah 38:21: Now Isaiah had said, “Let them take a cake of figs and apply it to the boil, that he may recover.” – ESV

Fig trees themselves are spoken of in the Bible often, usually involving some sort of symbolic meaning. Sometimes a fig tree was representative of the nation of Israel. Other times, they symbolized prosperity and blessings. In the Promised Land, every man would eat from his own vine and sit under his own fig tree. It is interesting that Jesus cursed a barren fig tree when he passed by it in Matthew 21:18–22, and it withered immediately. This strange miracle was tied to a lesson in the power of faith, but also seems to have a connection with the parable of the fig tree in Luke 13:

Luke 13:6-9: Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’

“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” – NIV

Jesus told that parable immediately after a warning to repent or perish. The example of a tree which bears no fruit being compared to an unrepentant sinner is a familiar picture in scripture. A barren fruit tree is worthless to the owner of the property. God is the owner of the earth, and you are a tree in His vineyard. Are you producing fruit?

Matthew 7:19: Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. – NIV

…Scary stuff. Jesus tells us that we shall know a tree by its fruit, and that a good tree does not produce bad fruit. Notice, however, that in the parable of the fig tree some extra time is given to the bad tree. The caretaker convinced the owner to give it another year while he fertilized it some more. Jesus is our caretaker. He fertilizes us. The man who owns the tree, however, will not wait forever! He had already waited three years and is giving the bad tree just one more year, thanks to the caretaker.

There are many Bible passages speaking of the longsuffering, merciful nature of God. He sent His son here to die on the cross for our sins. He waits a very long time for many of us, and Jesus steps in and buys some of us even more time. But He will not wait forever. There is a point of no return, if you continue to reject the sacrifice of His son.

Romans 1:28: And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. – ESV

God will give you over to your debased mind at some point. When that happens, you will no longer have spiritual help in coming to recognize the need to ask forgiveness of your sins. When God gives up on you, you are toast – quite literally. Don’t let that sad day overtake you! Ask Jesus for forgiveness and help, right now. Let the fertilizer of His word produce fruit in you, so that you may grow in his garden (and avoid the fire).

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