Meg Lowman (whom National Geographic has named its real-life Lorax) calls fig trees “extraordinary, beautiful, and useful.” She explains in an interview about tree conservation that figs are her favorite kind of tree. She says that they are used for their medicinal properties in the Amazon and considered sacred in India.
A study in 2010 recorded the types of animals feeding on a particular type of fig tree in Malaysia. The researchers found that the tree supported many mammals and birds, a phenomenon noticed in many rainforest ecosystems around the world. They wrote,
…figs have often been referred to as keystone resources in tropical forests because they provide critical fruit resources during periods of scarcity. For example, forests in the aseasonal regions of SE Asia are mass flowering and thus produce large crops of flowers and fruits at irregular, often long intervals of up to several years. Between these events fruit production is very low and at these times figs are an important component in the diets of many animals (2).
In addition, many of the animal species that the researchers observed are threatened or endangered, making figs an important aspect of rainforest conservation. The researchers recommended planting more fig trees to provide additional fruit for these animals.
The Bible includes many references to fig trees as metaphors for producing spiritual fruit. In Luke 13:6-9, Christ says:
6 A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard, and he came seeking fruit on it and found none. 7 Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard, ‘Look, for three years I have come seeking fruit on this fig tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up the ground?’ 8 But he answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilize it.9 And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’
Knowing the amazing attributes of the fig trees within the rainforests makes this parable even more striking. Christ reminds us that it is necessary to continually produce fruit. And just as the rainforest fig tree helps support other species that are struggling, our fruit must be an outward show of concern for others. As members of God’s church, we should be necessary and reliable, a crucial part of our spiritual family, as the fig tree is intertwined with the lives of so many other animals.
Christ explains the parable of the sower in Luke 8, showing the importance of what we do when given the knowledge of God. He says, “As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” (Luke 8:15).
- Care for a Fig? 10 Delicious Things to Do with Fresh Figs – Ingredient Spotlight (thekitchn.com)
- Beware of Reading in our Feelings and Desires as His Word! (acts29.org)