A Basket of Figs

This is the fourth of five sermons outlines I’ll be posting this week.


A Basket of Figs

I.                   
Introduction

a.      
In many figurative, prophetic passages, God
demonstrates the difference between the good and the evil using common,
everyday themes.
                                                              
i.     
Good figs versus evil figs (Jeremiah 24)
                                                            
ii.     
Fat Cattle and Lean Cattle (Ezekiel 34:20)
                                                          
iii.     
Wheat and Tares (Matthew 13:24)
                                                          
iv.     
Good fishes versus bad (Matthew 13:47)
                                                            
v.     
Wise and Foolish Virgins (Matthew 25:1)
                                                          
vi.     
Sheep and Goats (Matthew 25:31)
b.      
In Jeremiah 24, Jeremiah compares the good and
bad of Israel to Figs that are fit to be eaten and figs that aren’t even worth
to be thrown to the dogs.
c.      
 “The LORD shewed me, and, behold, two baskets
of figs were set before the temple of the LORD, after that Nebuchadrezzar king
of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim king of
Judah, and the princes of Judah, with the carpenters and smiths, from
Jerusalem, and had brought them to Babylon. 
(2)  One basket had very good figs,
even like the figs that are first ripe: and the other basket had very naughty
figs, which could not be eaten, they were so bad.  (3) 
Then said the LORD unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs;
the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they
are so evil.  (4)  Again the word of the LORD came unto me,
saying,  (5)  Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like
these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of
Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for
their good.  (6)  For I will set mine eyes upon them for good,
and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull
them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up.  (7) 
And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they
shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with
their whole heart.  (8)  And as the evil figs, which cannot be eaten,
they are so evil; surely thus saith the LORD, So will I give Zedekiah the king
of Judah, and his princes, and the residue of Jerusalem, that remain in this
land, and them that dwell in the land of Egypt: 
(9)  And I will deliver them to be
removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for their hurt, to be a reproach and
a proverb, a taunt and a curse, in all places whither I shall drive them.  (10) 
And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence, among them, till
they be consumed from off the land that I gave unto them and to their fathers

(Jeremiah 24:1-10)
                                                              
i.     
This is not the only time Jeremiah employed the
imagery of the evil figs, but this is the only place that it is expanded like
it is.
                                                            
ii.     
Thus
saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will send upon them the sword, the famine,
and the pestilence, and will make them like vile figs, that cannot be eaten,
they are so evil
” (Jeremiah 29:17).
d.      
The good-for-nothing figs of Judah would be
destroyed by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar, but the righteous remnant (even
those that weren’t taken into captivity) would be spared (For example see
Jeremiah 35 and 45).
e.      
Would you be considered a good fig or an evil
fig? That being said, would you be redeemed or destroyed from among the people?

II.                 
Are You a Good Fig? Are you Sure?

a.      
Though our city – the church – will never be
destroyed, our spirits will one day definitely leave our bodies (Hebrews 9:27).
                                                              
i.     
At that point our fate will be sealed. We are
judged based off of things done in the body – not out of the body (II
Corinthians 5:10)
                                                            
ii.     
This means that we need to be sure of our “good
fighood.”
                                                          
iii.     
We never know when we will die, and life is far
too short to waste anytime not working out our own salvation with fear and
trembling (James 4:14 and Philippians 2:12).
b.      
God, through the Holy Spirit that dwelt in
Peter, told us that it is possible to know whether or not we’re going to Heaven
(II Peter 1:5-10). There are 7 steps to making our calling and election sure.
                                                              
i.     
A Christian already has faith, but he must add
to that faith virtue.
                                                            
ii.     
Then they must add knowledge to that virtue.
                                                          
iii.     
From the knowledge comes temperance, and from
temperance comes patience.
                                                          
iv.     
Afterwards, one must add godliness to patience.
                                                            
v.     
Next comes brotherly kindness, and finally love.
                                                          
vi.     
Without taking these steps, one is in danger of
becoming unfruitful and barren. Jesus warned what would happen to unfruitful
branches.
1.      
John 15:1-8
2.      
We must strive to be fruitful in order to be
considered a good fig, wheat, wise, sheep, or any of the other many examples
God gave us to represent someone who lives righteously.

III.               
What if You Are an Evil Fig?

a.      
There are two categories of people who would be
considered evil figs if Jeremiah was preaching in the world today.
                                                              
i.     
The first category is those that have not yet
obeyed the gospel of Christ.
1.      
They can obey the gospel by repenting of their sins,
confessing that Jesus is the Son of God, and by being baptized into Christ
(Acts 17:30; Romans 10:10; Mark 16:16).
2.      
If you’re in that group, why stay unpleasing to
God any longer?
                                                            
ii.     
The second is those who have once obeyed the
gospel, but turned from the holy commandments given unto them and have been
entangled in the world once more (II Peter 2:20-22).
1.      
Like “wells without water,” these have gone back
into a life that Is vain and unprofitable. They are like the evil figs from
Jeremiah’s teachings.

                                                   2.    In order to become faithful once more, they must
repent of their sins                                                          and  confess their sins (I John 1:7). 

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