June 25, 2016

Fig-Leaves That Wither Away

Excerpt from Arcana Coelestia ~ Emanuel Swedenborg

And seeing a fig tree afar off having leaves, He came, if haply He might find any thing thereon: and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves; for the time of figs was not yet.  And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard it.  And they come to Jerusalem: and Jesus went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves;  And would not suffer that any man should carry any vessel through the temple.  And He taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of all nations the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.  And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy Him: for they feared Him, because all the people was astonished at His doctrine.  And when even was come, He went out of the city.  And in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.  Mark 11:13-20

"figs on the fig-tree" denote natural good; "leaf" truth, which in this case is "fallen." Likewise in Isaiah 34:4:  And all the host of heaven shall be dissolved, and the heavens shall be rolled together as a scroll: and all their host shall fall down, as the leaf falleth off from the vine, and as a falling fig from the fig tree.

The same is meant by the fig-tree which Jesus saw and found nothing thereon but leaves, and which therefore withered away (Matt. 21:19, 20; Mark 11:13-14, 20). Specifically, by this fig-tree there was meant the Jewish Church, in which there was no longer anything of natural good; and the religious teaching or truth that was preserved in it, are the "leaves;" for a vastated church is such that it knows truth, but is not willing to understand it. Similar are those who say that they know truth or the things of faith, yet have nothing of the good of charity: they are only fig-leaves, and they wither away.

(Arcana Coelestia 885)