“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all these things have taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” (Matthew 24.32-35)
A parable of Jesus of the fig tree.
Preceding this parable in chapter 23 of Matthew Jesus has just excoriated the Pharisees and the scribes for rewriting, or adding to the Law of Moses, known as the “ takanot,” mostly concerning laws to restrict behavior, or to define rules such as tithing, labor on the Sabbath, adding to the peoples burden of keeping the Law of Moses. Finally placing on them the guilt of the persecution and death of all the righteous who had died at the hands of their fathers, from Abel to Zecharias. Then He makes a proclamation that until Jerusalem says, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD!”, they will not see His return.
Storming out of the temple Jesus’ disciples point out the beauty of the temple that took 46 years to build, and Jesus predicts it’s destruction which is also a picture of His death. The disciples ask when these things will happen, what will be the sign of Your coming, and the end of the age? Then He gives them warnings of the coming destruction of both Jerusalem and the world. The questions asked were presumed by them to be one occasion yet were concerning separate events. They had no vision of His going anywhere so they were not asking about His return, the phrase concerning “your coming” was in reference to His Kingdom that they thought would be established very soon. So their questions and His answers were on different pages altogether.
He answers the questions of the destruction of the temple and the scattering of Jerusalem, of His ascension and return, and the end times and destruction of this world. There are many parallels in the destruction of Jerusalem and the destruction of the world at Jesus second coming. That is why there is some confusion as to the timing and the words of Jesus that this generation will not pass away until these things begin to happen. Some believe that there was a second coming of Jesus in 70 A.D. at the destruction of Jerusalem, but it was spiritual and silent return, (Preterism). Yet verse 27 states “Just as the lightening flashes from the East To the West, so will the coming of the Son of Man be,” and verse 31, “And He will send forth His angels with a Great Trumpet and They will gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.” Friends there is no secret, silent, or hidden second coming of Jesus, everyone who is alive when it happens will know.
So now we have the parable, “Learn the parable of the fig tree: when its branch is tender and it puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see these things, (those just described), recognize that He is right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.”
Much of the prophecies in scripture are surely hard to understand, as we can see here the questions asked are not at all pertaining to what Jesus answered, as so many times when He was asked questions, His answer was not clear at all and only left the listener with more questions. Such is a lot of scripture written so that we might reach and wonder and study to gain insight, to know more. About three years ago after an event at the tent meetings a 17 year old boy came to me with his concern about his future. He wanted a job, an education, marriage, and to move away from his parents, to be on his own, and he wanted me to give him a definitive answer from God as to how to accomplish all this at once. I told him that life is like a trip from Chicago to California a man was planning. So he went to the auto parts store to buy a set of headlights that would shine from here to California. The man told him the best he had to offer only shone about two hundred feet in front of his car. This, I told the lad, was the best God would do for us. He would let us see tomorrow, but to be sure we had to live right today, tomorrow we could see a little further. So he should go to work on each of these things and not be anxious about God’s leading, but take another step each day.
Concerning end times we can be sure Jesus will come back, it won’t be secret or silent, and we don’t know much more than that, many people have very convincing arguments from scripture, but no one knows the hour or the day. We should be sure to love Jehovah, live holy, and love your neighbor.