Friday, May 31, 2019

Pressed Figs

As a result of his own sin, Hezekiah - who's actually been a pretty good king for much of his reign - is afflicted with a terrible disease that he's told will kill him. He repents, turns back to God, and begs for his life, and he is healed. But his healing requires the application of pressed figs. 

If you know me, you know that one of the themes I really pay attention to in the Scripture is tracking the figs through God's story. 

In fact, figs are so prominent and prevalent in God's story that I think there's good reason to believe that the forbidden fruit that started this whole mess of sin was itself a fig. One good reason to believe this is that there is no fruit mentioned more often by type in all of Scripture than the fig. (Perhaps the pomegranate, but it is most often referred to as a material representation and not as the actual fruit itself - see the building of the Tabernacle and Temple.)

So how does this work in the case of Hezekiah's illness? Why would pressed figs, the fruit of sin, be used to heal his disease?


Hezekiah sins, although he hasn't really led a life of sin. His kingship has actually gone pretty well, and he's done a good job of helping the people return to the Lord. But at some point, he starts to think he knows better than God - to believe in his own knowledge over the Lord's and simply doesn't ask for God's advice. This is exactly what Adam and Eve were thinking was going to happen to them - they were going to eat the fruit of this tree, their eyes would be opened, and they would know at least as much as God and wouldn't need Him any more. Once they knew, they believed they knew better.

But then, Hezekiah realizes what he's done. He recognizes his own sin and is convicted of it. He discovers that he had a sin of arrogance and knowledge, believing himself to have known better, but it has not paid off for him. It wasn't true/real. What he thought he knew, he didn't know, and now he knows only that he never really knew it. So he turns to God and repents of his sin.

Then God, in all His glory and majesty, takes the fruit that promised knowledge and presses it, squeezes all the life and good and sweetness out of it, mashes it together and makes a paste, and covers Hezekiah's body in it.

Are you seeing the symbolism here? A fruit with nothing left to offer is used to heal the affliction of a man who attempted to live by what the fruit claimed to offer.

It's the fig tree in Jerusalem all over again.

Remember this story? Jesus is walking through Jerusalem with His disciples when they come up on a fig tree that isn't bearing any fruit. Jesus curses it, and it never bears fruit again. Doesn't even come close. Kind of like, perhaps, a tree promising the knowledge of good and evil that hasn't made men any smarter on the subject but has instead turned them to sin. The tree Adam and Eve ate from never bore the fruit it promised for them, so Jesus curses it right there in the streets and now, there's no hope or promise of fruit ever again.


If you ever want to have some biblical fun, follow the figs. They're everywhere, and they may tell us a lot about what we thought we were getting but never really got. 

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