Budding of the Fig Tree
Along with the doctrines of salvation and Christian living, the Second Coming of Christ is a dominant theme of the New Testament. In fact, the Old Testament is filled with prophecies of this event. It is the culmination of our salvation when we are glorified sinless and present with Christ for eternity.
The end time events begin with Christ returning to catch His Church up into Heaven in an event that has come to be known as the rapture of the saints. Though the word rapture is not used in the Bible, Jesus described this rapturous event of being caught up into the presence of Christ in John 14:1-3.
The Apostle Paul, writing by inspiration of God, gives us the most information concerning this event in I Corinthians 15:51-58, I Thessalonians 4:13-18. In Romans 8:23 it is referred to as the redemption of our bodies. Romans13:11-14 reminds us that we have no time to waste as we await Christ’s return, Paul also wrote to Timothy and Titus about this great event. II Timothy 4:8 and Titus 2:11-14.
The writer of Hebrews also mentions it in Hebrews 9:28.
The Apostle John refers to it in I John 3:1-3. The last promise and the last prayer in the Bible, found in Revelation 22:20 concern the Rapture.
The Olivet Discourse, found in Luke 21, Matthew 24-25 and Mark 13, is Christ’s answer to His disciples’ question concerning the course of this present age and end time events. It does not mention the Rapture of the Saints, for the privilege of announcing and explaining that event to Christ’s Church was given to the Apostle Paul after Christ had ascended back to Heaven and after the Church was supernaturally established at Pentecost.
However, the Olivet Discourse traces the history of this age to its consummation when Christ returns to this earth to reign. First, Jesus describes this present age as one characterized by wars and rumors of wars, as nations and kingdoms rise up one against another, as well as an age of natural disasters. He also describes the world-wide religious deception and persecution of Christians. He speaks of the universe-altering signs that appear in the last days before His return to reign on this earth in His glorious Kingdom.
In Luke 21:29-32 He uses fig trees and other trees in general to illustrate a point we must remember. When fig trees, as well as other trees begin to put forth their leaves and blossoms, we know that summer is coming. So when we see Jerusalem surrounded by armies and the cataclysmic events that follow, described in verses 20-28; those living on this earth will know that the end of this age has come and Christ is ready to reign over this earth.
The question that divides Christians is Who is the you in verse 31 and this generation in verse 32 referring to? Certainly they are the same group of people.
Some believe they were the disciples to whom Jesus was speaking. That cannot be possible, for they did not live to see all the prophesied events of verse 8-28
Some believe they were the people who witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem by the Roman army in 70 AD. Again, that cannot be possible for the same reason, even though they witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem and their temple.
In recent years when Israel returned to their homeland and became a nation in 1948, many Bible teachers began teaching that this was the “budding of the fig tree” and that this generation would see the return of Christ and the fulfillment of prophecy. Although all of this is supremely significant prophetically; time has shown that the adult generation of 1948 were not the generation to see the return of Christ. Most of them have died.
So who is the generation who is spoken of in verses 31-32? They are those who will be living in the midst of the cataclysmic events described in Luke 21:20-28. Though the people living in 70 AD witnessed the destruction of Jerusalem, there is going to be a future generation who will see Jerusalem surrounded by armies as Armageddon draws near. The events of 70 AD were but a foretaste of what is to come in The Tribulation under the Anti-christ.
One thing for certain is that the Church, the redeemed Body of Christ, will not be on earth to witness all of this. We will have been raptured into Heaven seven years earlier. For more on the rapture of the saints and the seven years of Tribulation under the control of Anti-christ, go to my series on PROPHECY.
In the next post, Lord willing, I will give you Scriptural reasons why the true Church will not go through the Tribulation on earth. We will have been caught up to Heaven before that begins. Christians will never know nor see the Anti-christ.
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