Thursday, September 9, 2010

Olivet Discourse: The Fig Tree Symbol

Dr. David R. ReaganPDFBy Dr. David R. Reagan

Concerning the fig tree parable, what is the symbolic meaning of the fig tree?

I believe the fig tree is a symbol of the nation of Israel. My reasons for this conclusion are twofold:

  1. The fig tree is used as a symbol of Israel in both the Old and New Testaments.

  2. The day before the Olivet Discourse Jesus had put a curse on a fig tree, causing it to wither. This was a symbolic prophecy that the nation of Israel would cease to exist because of their rejection of Jesus as their Messiah. Then, the next day, He reminds His disciples of the fig tree and says, "Watch it. When it blooms again, the generation that sees that will witness My return."

The Fig Tree Withered

Over four hundred years ago the Puritans seized on this passage and argued that one day Israel would be re-established and that when that happens, the generation that witnesses it will be the generation that will experience the Lord's return.


The Fig Tree Restored

Some deny that the fig tree has any relation to Israel whatsoever. They argue that all the parable means is that just as the blooming of the fig tree is a signal that summer is near, so also, the coming together of all the signs Jesus mentioned will be an indication that He is soon to return.

I would agree that the parable carries this meaning, but I still believe that the fig tree was selected because it symbolizes Israel. And by using this common symbol of Israel, Jesus gives us a more precise time for His return. I think this is important because I believe God wants us to know the season of His Son's return (1 Thessalonians 5:1-6). He does not wish that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

I think it is interesting that in Matthew 24 Jesus speaks very clearly and precisely for 28 verses (verses 4-31) about the signs that will lead up to His return, and then, suddenly, at verse 32, He shifts into symbolic language by telling a parable. Why did He suddenly switch to coded words?

I believe it is because the parable contains a prophecy about a very specific event that will clearly reveal the season of His return, and that event is the re-establishment of the nation of Israel. He wanted to limit the understanding of this key event to those who have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. As 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6 puts it, there is no reason for the Lord's return to overtake believers like a thief because they are "sons of light and sons of day." In other words, they have the internal illumination of the Holy Spirit to understand passages of Scripture that are unintelligible to unbelievers.


What is the generation that will see the fig tree reblossom? Find out as we continue with the next segment in this "Olivet Discourse" series!

15 comments:

SeanOsborne said...

When this Spirit-led series is completed it will be the eschatological benchmark for the study of Matthew 24. Amen.

Rodney said...

The text says plain and simple that we are the children of light and the day, that the appointed time of wrath upon an unrepentant mankind will come suddenly upon them. At the same time we find further in this context that we believers will not be caught unaware, for as we see the signs such as an increase in immorality, apostasy, and unchecked violence and wickedness, we will know the time of the Rapture is upon us.

It is also interesting that in this context we see the phrase "peace and safety" or peace and security, this implies a global peace pact. This also identifies with the Apostle Paul in his clarification concerning the timing of the Rapture in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. This proves my point that the Rapture is not a signless event and occurs simultaneously with the overspreading of Apostasy and the revealing of the AntiChrist.

Ask yourself this question based on the scriptural text, How do we truly as believer identify the Son of Perdition or AntiChrist? Perhaps many will answer regarding his rise to power in relation to the 10 kingdoms or spheres of global power. Clearly the AntiChrist is revealed by the confirmation of the covenant between many nations as recorded Daniel 9:27.

In conclusion we as believers will be able to clearly identify the time of our departure. This does not take away from the PreTrib thought pattern, for I believe that our departure will be simultaneous with the signing of this Covenant of Death and Hell. Just as the Days of Noah and the Days of Lot, we will be removed the same day that the wrath of God begins to fall upon the earth and the Time of Jacob's Trouble is initiated.

Rodney said...

The context also in this passage alludes to judgement coming as labor pains, when we examine the judgements recorded in Revelation, there is no doubt that each judgement is more devastating than the former one, ultimately leading to the culmination of finality found in the arrival of Yeshua as conquerer and Great King.

Expected Imminently said...

Hello Rodney
So why was Paul and the others expecting the Rapture of the Church.

Imminent means overhanging, about to fall, like the sword of Damocles. The rapture COULD have occurred when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple. By then, all the personal prophecies made by Jesus were fulfilled.

The signs are all for Israel and the 2nd Coming (including the birthpangs)and none for the Church's Rapture.

As The Lord has delayed His coming for His Bride, we are in a position to hazard a guess when the Trib may hit. But not the Rapture.

hartdawg said...

not to bring yet another trick point, and this is not my point, in fact i want to counter it so here it is: the fig tree represents isreal but the word generation means race so he`s saying the jewish race will never pass. the point he brings is this: if jesus was talking about a future generation he`d have used the word "that" generation not "this" generation. how can i counter that?

Expected Imminently said...

Hartdawg

Thayers.
This = outos.
a. ‘this one, visibly present here’. According to the nature and character of the person or thing mentioned …
b. It refers to a subject immediately preaching the one just named.

So THIS generation concerns the generation Jesus was speaking about i.e. the generation that sees the Fig Tree.

Rodney said...

Expected Imminently, picture in your mind for a moment the scene of Elijah passing the mantle to Elisha. So it is that the Church will pass the mantle to Israel. This is depicted in the aftermath of the Gog/Magog battle in Ezekiel 39:29 as well as Joel 2:28-29.

The Apostle Paul also puts forth a warning in Romans 11 referencing Israel identified as the cultivated olive tree having their branches broken off because of disbelief, yet the Gentile believers must not boast, but fear. For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God; on them which fell severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off-Romans 11:21-22.

The promise to Israel is that they will be again grafted, that suggests that we will be removed simultaneously in this process. Therefore the restoration and redemption of Israel coincides with our departure. When Israel is again grafted by the sealing of the Holy Spirit we will be on our way home.

This is but one other reason why I do not believe in the Rapture being a signless event.

Anonymous said...

Just a question, Hartdawg, If generation means "race" and if the Jews are Jews in the past and in the present, then he couldn't use "that" because it would signify a different "race." This is interchangeable because both in the time he was speaking and in the future they would be the SAME people....My head hurts....DianefromKY

Expected Imminently said...

Rodders me old mate! Haven't a clue what your on abaht?

A change of context makes a pretext while fiddling the cotext, so shan't strain me brain on that notion, thank you very much!

Toodlepip!! :D

Pssst! No signs for the Rapture.

hartdawg said...

diane and ei
ECXELLENT POINT!

Gideon said...

EI,

Absolutely.

No signs of the rapture, just like there were no signs of the flood.

Nathan Jones said...

Welllll, one could argue both sides. Indeed, for the Rapture there is nothing that has to happen for it to proceed. But, there are plenty of signs that show the Lord's soon return IF one is a believer in Christ and can fit them into the big picture.

With the Flood, once Noah was on the Ark and the animals were all loaded up, he didn't know exactly when the rains were coming, but the signs were certainly there that it would happen very soon.

In both the Flood and Rapture cases, the signs are overly abundant. After all, who couldn't miss an Ark sitting in a plain as animals 2x2 rounded themselves up and stowed away on the boat?!? For the Rapture, Israel being a nation once more and other signs like nature are evident.

Key is, one has to be a believer to have any hope of seeing and understanding them. For the unbeliever, well, that's why they're called "unbelievers." The signs are all around, but they have no clue what they mean, other than something "big" is in the works.

Expected Imminently said...

With huge respect, I cannot see the Scripture where Jesus says of the Fig Tree “When it blooms again”; surely this is reading into Scripture what isn’t there?

The leafing of the Fig and all the trees is a metaphor, a symbolic ‘sign’ for the Jews to look out for and recognise that ‘all these things’ indicate the ‘time’ has come.

Matt 24:33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see ALL these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.

“See ALL these things”; this is plural and the leafing of a tree/s is a singular event, one type of sign.

I read this to mean the list of signs given earlier – nation against nation and kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilence, earthquakes in different places.

ALL THESE events collectively are the signs the ‘leaves on the trees’, indicating the nearness of Daniel’s 70th Week; the time of Jacob’s trouble; the Tribulation of seven years (the fruition of prophecy.)

Eventually the Jews will see the main sign of the Abomination of Desolation standing in the Holy Place.

I cannot see where it refers to ‘when the cursed fig blossoms again’.

Generally the Vine represents NATIONAL Israel. The Fig represents Israel in Faith with God’s Covenant into which The Church is grafted. Imo

Beside, I know God punishes Israel, but where in the O.T. is an example of God actually ‘cursing’ Israel? (May be there, but I just haven’t noticed it?)

I am so sorry I cannot agree with you over this, but I still love you! :)

SeanOsborne said...

Expected Imminently wrote...
"With huge respect, I cannot see the Scripture where Jesus says of the Fig Tree “When it blooms again”; surely this is reading into Scripture what isn’t there?"

EI,

Also with huge respect, what Dr. Reagan is referencing must be taken in the context of the Lord's words and the subsequent days in which He spoke them to the disciples.

The point of reference is the account in the Gospel of Mark, chapter 11, of Jesus' cursing of the fig tree. What occured the day prior to Jesus' curising of that tree (verses 1-11)? What occured the next day (verses 12-19)?

And then the very next day after that what occurs? (the events of Mark 11:20 through all of Mark 12 and Mark 13 occur sequentially on the same day!)

On this same day, after Jesus' teaching in Jerusalem and the Temple, He answered the disciples question in parables, and in Mark 13, verses 28 thru 31, He gives them the in-context parable of the fig tree.

The cursing of the fig tree, representing Israel not in season to recieve Him or bear fruit, is foretold in His prophetic parable as being the specific sign of the age of His future coming.

Dr. Reagan is precisely correct in his language describing what occured between Jesus and His disciples on those days with respect to the fig tree representing Israel.

Blessings,
Sean

Expected Imminently said...

Hello Sean
When I saw the start of your comment, I thought you were going to rootle me out of lala land for saying 'we are grafted into the FIG tree'. Obviously I cant see the wood for the trees. At least I can tell figs from olives in my mouth uurgh.

Sean, you and Dr Reagan may be absolutely right, but at present,I view 'The Fig Tree' differently. I'm still growing and very willing to have 'dead wood' chucked on the fire - so who knows for the future?

Thank you for your comment, I will continue to consider what you have said.
Big hug X