I remember first reading this passage as a young girl and finding the wording highly amusing. Naughty figs? I guess I had just always correlated the word “naughty” with the word “children.” I laugh now at my naivete. I was subsequently enlightened to the fact that the old English definition was “bad” and so my vocabulary expanded. Nevertheless, that phrase from Jeremiah was indelibly fixed in my memory.
Yet looking at this passage again with a broader understanding and closer examination, I find in two baskets of figs something of deeper significance.
A basket of rancid figs. A basket of ripe figs.
Symbolic representations of the people of Israel. Those taken into captivity and those left behind.
And I begin to ponder the fact that the good figs are representative of those in captivity.
It seems strange. For wouldn’t the captives be represented by the bad figs?
Yet perhaps freedom is not appreciated without captivity.
Perhaps captivity was but a means to awaken them from their spiritual slumber.
Perhaps blessings could not be appreciated without the experience of captivity and the jubilation of release.
Despite the temporary benefits of captivity however, God’s people were not destined to remain slaves. Freedom was theirs, if they would but claim it.
My unfocused gaze is directed out my window as I contemplate my own life. Am I still in captivity?
I have to admit the realization is altogether possible. Yet the experience of being a captive has taught me many lessons.
It has allowed me to relate to other captives.
It has taught me the value of freedom.
It has taught me lessons of warfare.
It has shown me Love in a way otherwise impossible.
And so I am in gratitude for captivity. Yet I am in greater gratitude for freedom, although it might not be fully mine yet.
For after the horrors of captivity, freedom is truly sweet…