Q. I recently heard a new “take” on the fig tree mentioned in the olivet discourse and to me this looks like the most scripturally grounded, the author keys points were these:
“What does the fig tree represent? Does it represent the nation Israel? What does the putting forth leaves represent? Does it speak of Israel’s becoming a nation in 1948? Does the budding of the fig tree mean that we can approximate the time of the rapture? How can we know the correct interpretation?”
I know that while you do not believe Israel is the fig tree in mentioned here, you do believe that the generation that sees the “nationhood” of Israel will be likely to witness the 2nd coming, but where is the scriptural proof that Israel becoming a nation was the starting point of “the signs” based on Matthew 24? So far, you have been the best at explaining your position, but are this author’s points valid? As always, your insight into this interpretation will be greatly appreciated.
A. As you’ve noted, I’ve never believed that the fig tree reference in Matt. 24 applies to Israel’s rebirth. Nor do I believe that there’s anything in Matt. 24 concerning the Rapture. You have to remember that the Olivet discourse, though contained in three Gospels, is meant for Israel, not the Church.
The fig tree is among the last to get it’s leaves in the spring, so when it begins to bud you know that summer is really near. What I think Jesus was saying is that when the people of Israel see all the end times signs He described, they’ll know that His return is really near. That was the lesson of the fig tree. It’s a comparison, or parable.
As for a prophecy of Israel’s rebirth that signals the time of the end has begun, look to Ezekiel. His detailed prophecies of the End of the Age are given chronologically. Chapters 36 and 37 predicted Israel’s rebirth as a nation . Chapter 38 said it would happen after the land had long lay desolate and had recovered from war. It’s people would be gathered from many nations. (All of this clearly happened in 1948, and not before.) Chapters 38 and 39 then describe a great battle where the Lord will intervene and bring His people back into a covenant relationship with Him. This hasn’t happened yet, but when it does it will signal the beginning of Daniel’s 70th Week. During that period the signs Jesus spoke of will appear making it clear that His return is near.
Several of these signs require that Israel be a nation in its Biblical land and in covenant with God (such as the existence of a Temple, Sabbath keeping people in Judea fleeing from their homes, etc). It seems logical then that Israel’s rebirth is a major factor in determining when the End Times began.
(Ezekiel 40-48 talk about life in Israel during the Millennium.)