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What the Bible says about Delay in Judgment
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Luke 13:8

The owner's waiting signifies the delay of vengeance, to give Israel an opportunity to repent. Knowing that the vineyard's owner had every reason to be disappointed with the barren tree, the keeper intercedes for the tree's life, asking for another year. He does not plead for its indefinite existence, but for an opportunity to stimulate it into fruitfulness by imposing more dramatic measures. If it bears fruit after further treatment, then the keeper knows that the owner will be pleased to allow the tree to remain in the vineyard. The keeper asks only for the owner to postpone judgment.

In the intercessory plea of the keeper, we have an illustration of Jesus' reluctance to let Israel go. During His life, Jesus prayed for fruitless Israel to repent (Matthew 23:27; Mark 1:15; Luke 23:34). In answer, God sent the apostles to provide Israel another opportunity to repent, as they fertilized Israel with God's truth (Matthew 10:6; Luke 24:46-47; II Timothy 2:25-26).

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

Luke 13:9

That the owner wants to destroy the tree but the keeper prays for its continued life for another year is not a case of the owner being full of wrath and the keeper defying him. The owner and the keeper have the same goal: to help the tree to produce fruit, if possible. Similarly, both the Father and the Son are angered by sin. Any thoughts Christ had toward Israel were also the thoughts of the Father (John 5:19; 10:30). Even though He is longsuffering, Jesus agrees with the owner of the vineyard in cutting down the tree if it refuses the offer of help (Hebrews 6:4-6; Proverbs 29:1). The Son never denies the right of the Father to destroy, and both agree in offering grace to the sinner at the best time.

Since the vineyard and the tree planted in it belong to the owner, he has a right to expect it to bear fruit—or to destroy anything barren or useless on his land. Some people falsely believe this delay means judgment will not come against them. However, the owner clearly says to cut the tree down if it ultimately does not produce fruit—a righteous decision since it would be given every opportunity to bear fruit. If a tree does not produce fruit, it wastes valuable resources and occupies needed space where a fruit-producing tree could stand (John 15:2-6). Within this parable stands a warning for anyone to whom God has revealed His truth: Do not delay producing good fruit (I Peter 4:17-19; II Peter 3:3-10)!

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Barren Fig Tree


 




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