How does one interpret the Fig Tree Prophecy?
On the March 8th edition of the radio program Prophecy Update, I was interviewed by Bill Salus, author of the popular Psalm 83-themed book Isralestine and evangelist on the end times website Prophecy Depot. Bill and I spent much of the interview discussing how mankind is living on borrowed time. The fact that all the end times Bible prophecies are presently stage setting evidences that the return of Christ in the Rapture could happen at any moment.
The Fig Tree Prophecy
Bill Salus: This other question from your book Living on Borrowed Time is very important. How do you interpret Matthew 24:32-35?
"Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away."
Dr. Reagan: We had a very interesting scattering of responses there. Twenty people responded to this question and there were two who did not. Of the 20 who responded, ten took the position that, yes, it does refer to Israel. They believe that the fig tree is the symbol of Israel. The passage speaks of putting forth leaves. Jesus was prophesying that the state of Israel would be re-established in the end times. That was our majority view.
There were others who said they didn't think that this passage had anything to do with Israel. They had good biblical arguments about why they believe what they believe. I think that it was interesting that Tim LaHaye took the position that he did not believe that passage referred to Israel. He felt that it simply referred to all of the signs coming together in the end times.
Bill, what was your position on Matthew 24:32-35?
Bill Salus: I do believe that Israel is the "super sign" of the end times, and so that was what Christ was saying in Matthew 24. He actually gave a whole specific list of end times signs in response to the questions of the apostles, and then He said, "Now learn this..." So, in other words, Jesus singled the fig tee out as the super sign. I was among the 10 who would say that, yes, the fig tree rebudding refers to Israel.
Dr. Reagan: I find it very interesting that Tim LaHaye has changed his position in just in the last few months. He suddenly decided that he was wrong about the meaning of the fig tree. He decided that he really did believe that indeed the fig tree does apply to Israel. That's a major change for him. He often will speak up and say to the effect, "On the basis of studying this, I've decided it doesn't mean that. It means something else." He's always in a very fertile state of mind which isn't stuck in certain interpretations.
Bill Salus: I did read in your magazine about Tim LaHaye's change on the interpretation of the fig tree. He gave Old Testament quotes from Hosea and Jeremiah where you do see Israel pictured as a fig tree as the symbol of the nation of Israel.
Dr. Reagan: That symbol is very important, because the nation of Israel is pictured that way. To me, the whole context of Matthew 24:32-35 also emphasizes Israel is the fig tree. A day or two before Jesus gave that passage, He was walking over the Mount of Olives and He suddenly put a curse on a fig tree. It actually dwindled before His very eyes. That's what I call "symbolic prophecy." The fig tree represents Israel. What Jesus was showing there is because Israel had rejected Him as Messiah, God was going to pour out His wrath upon the nation. The nation would be set aside for awhile. Then, a couple of days later, Jesus says, "You remember that fig tree? Watch it. One day it will bloom again, and when that happens, all these things are going to occur."
In the fifth and last segment of my interview with Bill Salus concerning the converging end times signs, we'll discuss how to interpret Daniel 12:4.