Studies in Matthew 24

The Budding Fig Tree

Three Angels Broadcasting Network

Program transcript

Participants: Pr. Stephen Bohr


Series Code: SMTF

Program Code: SMTF000011

00:35 Shall we bow our heads for prayer?
00:39 Father in heaven, what a joy it is to be in Your presence.
00:43 We thank You for being our Father.
00:46 And for caring enough for us,
00:48 that You would give us Your word,
00:50 so that we will not be ignorant about the final events
00:54 that will take place upon this earth,
00:56 before the coming of Jesus.
00:58 We ask, Father, that as we study today,
01:01 that Your Holy Spirit will be here to guide our thoughts,
01:05 and also to soften our hearts.
01:08 I ask not only for those who are gathered here,
01:10 but also all of those who are watching
01:14 this on worldwide broadcast.
01:17 And I thank you, Father,
01:18 for hearing and answering our prayer,
01:20 for we ask it in the precious name of Jesus. Amen.
01:27 I'd like to invite you to open your Bibles with me
01:29 to the passage that we are going to take a look at
01:33 in our study today.
01:35 It's found in Matthew 24:32-35.
01:42 Matthew 24:32-35.
01:48 The title is "The Budding of the Fig Tree."
01:53 Now I'm gonna read those versus,
01:54 and then we're going to take a look at their meaning.
01:59 Jesus is speaking here and He says this,
02:02 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree.
02:07 When its branch has already become tender
02:11 and puts forth leaves,
02:13 you know that summer is near.
02:17 So you also, when you see all these things,
02:22 know that it is near at the doors!"
02:26 Assuredly, I say to you,
02:28 this generation will buy no means pass away
02:32 till all these things take place.
02:35 Heaven and earth will pass away,
02:37 but My words will by no means pass away."
02:43 Now I would like to share with you
02:45 the way in which most
02:48 conservative Christians today interpret
02:52 what this passage says about the fig tree.
02:55 Basically they say that the fig tree
02:58 in these versus represents the nation of Israel.
03:03 And the "Budding of the Fig Tree"
03:06 represents the fact that Israel was reestablished
03:10 as a nation in the year 1948.
03:15 In other words they believed
03:17 that Jesus here was giving a specific prophecy
03:21 about the re-birth of the Jewish nation in 1948
03:27 after the terrible Holocaust of the Jews
03:30 during the Second World War.
03:32 In fact many dispensationalist writers,
03:36 many conservative Christian writers have said
03:41 that this is the greatest sign of the imminent
03:45 coming of Jesus Christ to planet earth again.
03:49 In fact they believed that most of those
03:50 who write on Bible prophecy today,
03:53 conservative Christians that is say,
03:56 that this is the greatest sign
03:58 that the coming of Jesus is even at the doors.
04:04 Now we want to take a look at this
04:06 and find out whether Matthew 24:32-35
04:12 are speaking about the re-birth of the Jewish nation or not?
04:18 Now allow me to say as we begin our study
04:21 that in the Old Testament,
04:23 the fig tree does represent the nation of Israel.
04:29 Not only does the fig tree represent the nation of Israel,
04:33 but also the vineyard is a symbol of literal Israel.
04:39 I would like to read Hosea 9:10 as a text,
04:45 where the Jewish nation is compared to a fig tree
04:50 and also to a vine or to a vineyard.
04:54 Hosea 9:10.
04:59 God is speaking here about
05:01 when He found Israel in Egypt and then delivered them.
05:05 It says there, God is speaking,
05:08 "I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness.
05:14 I saw your fathers as the firstfruits
05:18 on the fig tree in its first season.
05:23 But they went to Baal Peor,
05:25 and separated themselves to that shame.
05:29 They became an abomination like the thing they loved."
05:34 And so very clearly in this one verse,
05:37 God compares Israel to grapes--
05:40 by the way if you want another passage
05:42 that compares Israel to a vineyard,
05:44 you could read all of Isaiah Chapter 5,
05:48 where Israel is compared to a vineyard.
05:50 And you'll notice also here
05:52 that Israel is compared to a fig tree.
05:57 We're talking about literal Israel now.
05:59 So it is true that in the Old Testament,
06:03 the fig tree and the vine or the vineyard
06:06 are symbols of national Israel or of literal Israel.
06:12 Now the question is, what about the New Testament?
06:15 Does the New Testament also present
06:18 literal Israel or national Israel
06:21 under the symbol of a fig tree and a vineyard?
06:26 The fact is, that the gospels make it very, very clear
06:30 that both of these still symbolized
06:33 literal Israel in the times of the New Testament.
06:38 I invite you to go with me in your Bibles
06:40 to the Gospel of Matthew Chapter 3,
06:44 and I would like to read versus 9 and 10.
06:48 Matthew 3:9-10.
06:52 This passage is speaking about the message and mission
06:57 of John the Baptist.
06:59 And just to give you a little chronological detail
07:02 which is very important,
07:03 John the Baptist began his ministry
07:06 approximately six months before Jesus began His.
07:10 In other words John the Baptist began preaching
07:13 about half a year before Jesus began His public ministry.
07:19 And we all know that John the Baptist
07:21 had the intention and the purpose
07:23 of preparing the way for the coming of the Messiah,
07:26 for the coming of Jesus Christ.
07:29 Now John the Baptist was baptizing in the Jordan River.
07:33 And I want you to notice
07:35 the call that he made to those who came out to his baptism.
07:39 Matthew 3:9-10.
07:42 And there are certain details
07:43 that I'm going to stop and amplify.
07:47 He said this, "Therefore bear" What? "Fruits."
07:54 This is verse 9, remember that.
07:56 "Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance."
08:01 Two key words, they're supposed to repent
08:04 and they're supposed to bear, what? Fruit.
08:07 Notice, this is actually verse 8,
08:09 let's go to verse 9.
08:10 "And do not think to say to yourselves"
08:13 Notice this "We have Abraham as our father."
08:18 Who would be the ones who would say,
08:20 Abraham is our father?
08:22 It would be the literal Jews.
08:25 It would be national Israel
08:27 who would say, Abraham is our father.
08:31 So to whom is John the Baptist speaking here?
08:34 He's speaking to national Israel.
08:37 And notice, he calls them to repentance
08:39 and he calls them to bear what? To bear fruit.
08:44 So notice again verse 9,
08:46 "And do not think to say to yourselves,
08:48 We have Abraham as our father.
08:52 For I say to you that God is able to raise up
08:56 children to Abraham from these stones."
09:01 By the way, Jesus was not only pointing
09:04 to literal stones there next to the river.
09:07 Actually, He was referring
09:09 in symbolic language to the Gentiles.
09:13 You see the Jews at that time believed
09:15 that the Gentiles were stones because they had stony hearts,
09:18 hearts that had not been circumcised.
09:20 They also called the Gentiles, swine
09:24 and they called the Gentiles, dogs.
09:27 So imagine being called a swine,
09:29 and being called a dog, and being called a stone.
09:32 So John the Baptist is saying, listen,
09:35 God is able to raise up children of Abraham
09:38 from these stones or from these Gentiles.
09:41 I want you to remember that the Gentiles
09:43 come into view here.
09:45 And then notice verse 10.
09:48 "And even now the axe is laid at the root of the trees."
09:54 So is there a mention of a tree here?
09:56 Absolutely, at the root of the trees,
09:59 therefore every tree singular,
10:03 every tree which does not bear what?
10:07 Good fruit, what's gonna be the end of it?
10:10 Is cut down and thrown into the fire.
10:15 Now let's review the elements of this passage,
10:17 because it's very, very important.
10:19 You have a call to repentance.
10:21 John the Baptist is calling national Israel to repentance.
10:25 He's saying, don't think that there's something special
10:28 in the fact that you're literally children of Abraham,
10:31 because God can raise up children of Abraham
10:33 from these stones or from these Gentiles.
10:36 He says, the key is that the tree produce what?
10:40 Fruit, good fruit.
10:42 And if the tree singular, does not produce good fruit,
10:46 it obviously is gonna be cut down
10:48 and it is going to suffer judgment.
10:50 It is going to be thrown, where? In the fire.
10:54 Now this is the first tree episode
10:56 that I want us to remember.
10:57 There are three that we're gonna look at in the gospels.
10:59 This is the first one.
11:02 Now let's go to the second reference to a tree.
11:06 Notice Luke Chapter 13
11:08 and we're going to read versus 1 to 9.
11:11 Luke 13:1-9.
11:15 By the way, this is taking place
11:18 according to those who have studied
11:19 the chronology of the gospels.
11:21 Approximately two and a half years
11:23 into the ministry of Jesus,
11:25 in another words if you figure six months
11:27 that John the Baptist preached before Jesus began His ministry,
11:30 plus two and a half years of Jesus ministry
11:33 at this point from John till when Jesus told the parable,
11:37 you have a period of three years,
11:39 that's very significant.
11:41 Notice Luke 13:1-9,
11:44 and you're going to see the same themes
11:46 that we read in Matthew Chapter 3.
11:49 Notice verse 1.
11:52 "There were present at that season some who told Him"
11:57 that is Jesus "About the Galileans
12:01 whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices."
12:06 And of course they felt self-righteous,
12:07 they said that didn't happen to us because we're righteous.
12:10 Notice verse 2.
12:12 "And Jesus answered and said to them,
12:15 "Do you suppose that these Galileans
12:17 were worse sinners than all other Galileans,
12:21 because they suffered such things?
12:24 I tell you, no, but unless you" What?
12:29 Did we find that word already in Matthew 3? Yes.
12:33 But unless you repent you will all likewise, what? Perish.
12:41 Now notice verse 4, "Or those eighteen
12:44 on whom the tower of Siloam fell and killed them,
12:48 do you think that they were worse sinners
12:50 than all other men who dwelt in Jerusalem?
12:54 I tell you, no, but unless you" Here's the word again,
12:58 "Unless you repent you will all likewise perish."
13:05 So He's talking to this group of literal Jews
13:09 who are feeling very self-righteous
13:11 and they say, these calamities don't happen to us
13:14 because we're righteous.
13:15 They only happen to those people because they were sinners.
13:18 And Jesus is saying, unless you repent
13:21 the same thing is going to happen to you, you will perish.
13:24 And now Jesus is going to illustrate
13:27 this lesson with a parable.
13:30 Notice what we find beginning in verse 6
13:32 and I'm gonna interpret the symbols that we have here.
13:35 "He also spoke this parable." A certain man."
13:40 By the way this certain man is God the Father.
13:43 I'm gonna go interpret the symbols as we go along.
13:46 "A certain man" that is God the Father, "had a fig tree."
13:51 What does the fig tree represent?
13:53 We've already noticed from the Old Testament.
13:55 The fig tree represents Israel.
13:58 So God the Father had a fig tree Israel,
14:02 planted in his vineyard.
14:04 The vineyard represents the world.
14:06 See the fig tree is planted in the midst of the world.
14:10 Israel was planted in the midst of the world.
14:13 And now notice, "And he came seeking fruit."
14:17 What does fruit represent in scripture?
14:20 You all know that in Galatians Chapter 5,
14:22 it speaks about the fruit of the what?
14:25 The fruit of the spirit?
14:27 And of course, the first fruit is love.
14:29 And there and there are many others
14:31 long suffering, peace, joy, etcetera.
14:34 "And so he came looking for fruit on this fig tree."
14:38 He's looking for fruit
14:39 from the nation of Israel in other words.
14:43 And now notice the tragic story.
14:45 It says here, in verse 7,
14:50 because it didn't have fruit because he found none,
14:53 it says in verse 6.
14:55 Then verse 7 says, "Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard,"
14:58 By the way the keeper of the vineyard is whom?
15:00 The keeper of the vineyard is Jesus.
15:02 He got the Father, chose the nation of Israel
15:06 and he put it under the tutelage or under the care of Jesus.
15:10 So it says, "Then he said to the keeper of his vineyard
15:14 'Look, for three years" do you understand the chronology now?
15:18 Six months John the Baptist had been preaching.
15:21 This is two and a half years into the ministry of Jesus,
15:24 that's a total of three years.
15:26 So he says, "Look for three years
15:29 I come seeking" what?
15:32 Fruit on this fig tree and find none."
15:36 Are these the same basic themes
15:38 that we found in Matthew Chapter 3?
15:40 A tree, that needs to bear fruit.
15:43 If it doesn't bear fruit, it will suffer judgment
15:46 and be cast into the fire? Absolutely.
15:49 So notice what the owner of the vineyard says,
15:53 because no fruit is found, because the fruit of the spirit
15:56 is not found during this period of three years.
16:00 The owner of the vineyard says this, "Cut it down."
16:05 He said the same thing that John the Baptist said.
16:08 Sure, we have the same themes in this parable.
16:11 Cut it down.
16:13 Why doesn't use up the ground?
16:17 And now notice, "The vinedresser
16:20 or the keeper of the vineyard loved this fig tree.
16:24 And so it says in verse 8, "But he answered
16:27 and said to him, 'Sir, let it alone this year"'
16:33 How many more years? One more year.
16:37 How long did the ministry of Jesus last?
16:41 Three and a half years, right?
16:45 How far into the ministry of Jesus
16:47 and John the Baptist are we at this point? Three years.
16:51 How many years left in the ministry of Jesus?
16:54 One year.
16:56 So this is Jesus saying, this last year of My ministry,
17:00 I'm going to dedicate special attention to this fig tree.
17:04 Verse 8, "But he answered and said to him,
17:07 'Sir, let it alone this year also,
17:11 until I dig around it and fertilize it.
17:15 And if it bears fruit, well.
17:19 But if not, after that you can"' what?
17:23 "You can cut it down."
17:27 Is this parable connected with what John the Baptist taught?
17:30 Absolutely. It speaks about a tree.
17:33 It speaks about fruit.
17:36 It speaks about cutting it down if there is no fruit.
17:39 It speaks about repentance.
17:41 And even the chronology fits
17:43 the ministry of John the Baptist
17:45 along with the ministry of Jesus.
17:48 Now the parable ends there
17:50 and you're left with the question.
17:53 Did this fig tree produce fruit in its last year?
17:59 The fact is that you don't know at this point in the story.
18:02 Jesus closes the parable in suspense.
18:05 By the way he did the same thing
18:07 in the Parable of the Prodigal Son.
18:09 You know the prodigal son was not the one who left home.
18:12 The prodigal son was the one who was at home.
18:15 He was lost at home.
18:17 You know, and his father goes out to him
18:19 and he tries to reason with him.
18:21 And the story ends without us knowing
18:24 whether the older son was convinced
18:26 by the arguments of his father or not.
18:28 You see the older son represented the Jewish nation.
18:31 They said we've served you.
18:33 We've done everything you said.
18:34 And we deserve the reward not those Gentiles who are sinners
18:38 and they wasted everything that you have.
18:40 You know if anybody deserves a party, it's us not them.
18:44 And so the parable ends in suspense.
18:47 You don't know at this point,
18:49 one year before the end of the ministry of Jesus,
18:53 whether this fig tree, whether the Jewish nation
18:56 actually bore fruit and was not cut down.
19:00 Of course, we who are living in the 21st Century
19:03 can look back and know the end of the story.
19:05 But at this point they did not know the end of the story,
19:07 whether national Israel would accept this calling
19:11 and bear the fruit of the spirit or not.
19:15 That's the reason why we need to go
19:17 to a third passage that refers to this tree.
19:21 You see the last week
19:22 of the ministry of Jesus on this earth.
19:25 It is actually taking place on the Monday
19:28 before His crucifixion.
19:30 We meet this fig tree again.
19:35 This is almost at the end of that last year
19:38 of the ministry of Jesus.
19:40 Notice Matthew 21:17-19.
19:44 Matthew 21:17-19.
19:50 Same tree all over again.
19:52 But now we're going to know the destiny of the fig tree.
19:56 We're going to notice that it did not bear fruit
19:59 at the end of that year.
20:01 It says there, beginning in verse 17,
20:05 "Then He left them and went out of the city to Bethany,
20:10 and He lodged there.
20:12 Now in the morning, as He returned
20:16 to the city, He was hungry."
20:20 What was Jesus hungry for?
20:21 He was hungry for the fruit of spirit, right?
20:23 He was hungry.
20:25 "And seeing a what? A fig tree.
20:29 Is that the same fig tree that He spoke about
20:30 in His parable in Luke Chapter 13? Absolutely.
20:33 It says, "And seeing a fig tree by the road,
20:38 he came to it and found nothing on it but leaves."
20:44 Any fruit? No fruit.
20:47 And said to it, "Let no fruit
20:51 grow on you" until 1948.
20:56 Is that what it says? That's not what it says.
21:00 Jesus actually says,
21:04 "Let no fruit grow on you ever again."
21:10 Now what part of ever again don't you understand?
21:13 It says, let no fruit grow on you ever again.
21:18 And immediately the fig tree, what? Withered away.
21:25 Now notice the passage in Mark 11:20, 21.
21:29 This is taking place the very next day.
21:31 Mark 11:20, 21.
21:36 Now in the morning as they passed by,
21:40 they saw the fig tree, notice this,
21:43 dried up from the roots.
21:49 Let me ask you what happens
21:50 when the tree dries up from the roots?
21:54 Will it grow again? No, absolutely not.
21:59 What would you do with the tree like that?
22:00 You have to what? Cut it down, of course.
22:04 So it says, "Now in the morning,
22:06 as they passed by, they saw the fig tree
22:08 dried up from the roots.
22:10 And Peter, remembering, said to Him, "Rabbi, look!
22:16 The fig tree which You cursed has" what?
22:20 "Withered away."
22:22 By the way, do you know what happened
22:23 to the Jewish nation in the year 70?
22:25 The City of Jerusalem was burned.
22:29 Do you remember what John the Baptist said?
22:31 He said that if the tree did not bear fruit
22:33 it would be cut down and cast where?
22:37 And it would be cast into the fire.
22:39 That's exactly what happened with national Israel,
22:43 because of the rejection of the Messiah.
22:47 Now I would like to take a few moments
22:49 also to speak about the vineyard, even though
22:52 this is not brought forth in Matthew Chapter 24,
22:56 still because the vineyard is a symbol of Israel,
22:59 I think we need to also take a look at a parable
23:02 that Jesus told in Matthew 21:33-46.
23:08 And I'm going to interpret this parable as we go along.
23:11 Do you remember then Hosea 9:10,
23:14 the vineyard also represented Israel.
23:16 So we notice the fig tree,
23:17 now let's talk about the vineyard,
23:19 the other symbol of Israel.
23:21 Verse 33, here another parable.
23:26 "There was a certain landowner" by the way that's God the Father
23:30 "who planted a vineyard." That's Israel.
23:35 "And set a hedge around it."
23:37 That's the law of God.
23:39 "Dug a winepress in it and built a tower."
23:43 That's the temple.
23:45 "And he leased it to vinedressers."
23:47 That's the Jewish leaders.
23:50 "And went into a far country."
23:52 That is to heaven is the far country.
23:54 Are you getting the picture of what this is saying?
23:57 Now notice verse 34,
24:00 "Now when vintage-time drew near,
24:03 he sent his servants to the vinedressers."
24:06 By the way these servants that are sent
24:08 are those that are sent before the Babylonian captivity.
24:11 God sent many prophets to Israel to get them to come back
24:14 to the Lord, to follow the way of the Lord.
24:16 That's the stage that's been mentioned here.
24:18 So it says, "Now when vintage-time
24:20 drew near, he sent his servants to the vinedressers."
24:23 This is before the Babylonian captivity.
24:26 "That they might receive its fruit."
24:28 So God expected fruit.
24:30 He says, I've given you all of the advantages,
24:31 I fertilized you, I watered you,
24:33 I've given you all of the blessing
24:35 above every nation on earth, now I expect some returns,
24:38 I expect the fruit of the spirit.
24:41 Verse 35, "And the vinedressers
24:43 took his servants, beat one, killed one, and stoned another."
24:48 Is this what they did with the prophets
24:50 in the Old Testament? Yes.
24:52 In fact Jesus tells about it in Matthew 23:36.
24:57 Again He sent other servants.
24:59 By the way this is after the Babylonian captivity.
25:02 So he sends other servants more than the first.
25:06 Prophets like Zechariah, Haggai, Malachi, Zerubavel,
25:10 Joshua the high priest, many, many individuals,
25:14 after the Babylonian captivity.
25:16 But notice what happened to them.
25:17 They did likewise to them.
25:21 And now notice, "Then last of all."
25:25 Does that have some finality to it
25:26 when it says, last of all?
25:28 Is this the last straw? Yes, it is.
25:31 Then last of all He sent His son, who is that?
25:35 Jesus to them, saying, they will respect my Son.
25:41 But when the vinedressers saw the son,
25:43 they said among themselves, this is the heir.
25:47 Come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.
25:53 Who are those who said that?
25:55 Let us kill him and seize his inheritance?
25:57 It was national Israel.
26:00 Verse 39, "So they took him
26:02 and cast him out of the vineyard."
26:04 Did Jesus die outside of Jerusalem,
26:07 outside the gate according to Hebrews?
26:09 "Yes, and killed him."
26:12 Now Jesus is going to ask a question,
26:15 "Therefore, when the owner of the vineyard comes,
26:17 what will he do to those vinedressers?"
26:21 They said to Him, "He will destroy
26:24 those wicked men miserably,
26:27 and lease his vineyard to other vinedressers"
26:31 who would those be?
26:33 Those would be the Gentiles, exactly and lease his vineyard
26:37 to other vinedressers who will render to him the what?
26:41 "The fruits in their seasons."
26:43 So did the original recipients produce fruit?
26:47 No. So God is saying, I'm going to give my vineyard
26:50 to another people who will bear the fruits there off.
26:55 Verse 42, "Jesus said to them,
26:58 "Have you never read in the Scriptures,
27:01 'The stone' that is Jesus,
27:03 "The stone which the builders rejected
27:05 has become the chief cornerstone.
27:07 This was the Lord's doing,
27:09 and it is marvelous in our eyes'?
27:12 Therefore I say to you," Notice this,
27:15 "The kingdom of God will be" what?
27:18 "Taken from you and given to a nation bearing" the what?
27:25 "The fruits of it."
27:27 Was the kingdom taken away from national Israel,
27:29 according to Jesus?
27:31 Absolutely, whom was it given
27:33 to according to the Book of Acts?
27:35 It was given to the Gentiles
27:37 who received Jesus as Savior and Lord.
27:40 Notice verse 44, "And whoever falls on this stone
27:44 will be broken," Jesus is the stone,
27:46 "but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder."
27:51 Now when the chief priests and Pharisees
27:54 heard His parables, they perceived
27:57 that He was speaking of, whom?
27:59 That He was speaking of them.
28:04 Now let's go back to the fig tree episode
28:06 in Matthew Chapter 24.
28:09 The argument is that fig tree, the budding of the fig tree
28:13 represents national Israel and that this budding of Israel
28:18 as a nation in 1948 is the greatest sign
28:22 of the imminence of the coming of Jesus.
28:26 The fact is if you read these versus carefully
28:29 you're gonna notice that it is not this sign
28:32 that shows that the coming of Jesus is imminent,
28:35 but actually it says there, when you see all these things
28:39 know that His coming is near.
28:42 It's not that one particular sign
28:44 that shows that the end is near.
28:46 It is the whole accumulation of signs,
28:49 because in Matthew 24 it says,
28:51 "When you see all these things, then know that it is near."
28:57 Also in Luke 21:29-31,
29:02 we find a very interesting detail
29:04 about the fig tree that is not found in Matthew Chapter 24.
29:09 And I want you to notice this very important detail.
29:12 By the way what I'm saying is that in Matthew Chapter 24,
29:15 Jesus is not refereeing to the fig tree
29:18 as representing national Israel.
29:20 He's simply saying, you know,
29:22 when you see the fig tree budding,
29:24 you know, that the summer is near.
29:25 So, you know, when you see all these signs,
29:28 it's a sign that Jesus is soon to come.
29:31 In another words, the fig tree
29:32 has no particular relevance or important
29:34 as the symbol of Israel and Luke proves that.
29:38 Notice Luke 21:29-31.
29:42 "Then He spoke to them a parable,
29:45 'Look at the fig tree,'" and now don't miss this point
29:48 "Look at the fig tree and what?
29:52 "All the trees."
29:53 Is there something specifically important
29:55 about the fig tree in itself?
29:56 No. it says, look at the fig tree and all the trees.
30:01 "When they are already budding,"
30:04 not only the fig tree but when all of the trees are budding
30:08 "you see and know for yourself that summer is now near.
30:13 So you also," notice this
30:15 "when you see these things happening,"
30:19 not just the-- you know,
30:21 the sign of the budding of the fig tree
30:23 but when you see all these things happening
30:25 "know that the kingdom of God is near."
30:31 Now I want to go to another episode
30:33 that speaks about the fig tree and in this passage the fig tree
30:37 is particularly significant as a symbol of Israel.
30:41 Go with me to John Chapter 1 and we'll read verses 43 to 48.
30:46 John 1:43-48. This is the encounter of Jesus
30:52 with one of His disciples, Nathanael.
30:55 And you probably read this before,
30:58 but now let's take a look at some of the details here.
31:01 John 1 beginning with verse 43,
31:05 "The following day Jesus wanted to go to Galilee,
31:09 and He found Philip and said to him, 'Follow Me.'
31:13 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter.
31:19 Philip found Nathanael and said to him,
31:21 'We have found Him of whom Moses in the law,
31:26 and also the prophets, wrote--Jesus of Nazareth,
31:30 the son of Joseph.' And Nathanael--"
31:32 Notice that at first he's incredulous.
31:34 He doesn't believe. "And Nathanael said to him,
31:37 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth?'
31:41 Philip said to him, 'Come and see.'
31:45 Jesus saw Nathanael coming toward Him,
31:48 and said of him, 'Behold,--"
31:50 A what? "An Israelite indeed."
31:57 Now let me ask you if there is an Israelite indeed
32:00 must there be Israelites not indeed. Absolutely.
32:05 By the way, this is becomes very clear
32:08 when you notice the Greek word that is used here.
32:11 It's the Greek word 'Alethinos'
32:14 which is better translated 'genuine.'
32:17 In other words a better translation would be "Behold,
32:21 a genuine Israelite, in whom is no deceit."
32:28 The word "deceit" here is the word 'pseudos'.
32:31 The word pseudos, there is no lie,
32:33 there is no deceit,
32:35 there is no counterfeit in Him, in other words.
32:39 Now, if there are genuine Israelites,
32:42 if Nathanael was a genuine Israelite.
32:45 Let me ask you,
32:46 must there be Israelites who are not genuine?
32:50 Sure, in fact the new International Version
32:52 instead of translating 'Israelite indeed'
32:56 it translates 'a true Israelite',
33:00 'a genuine real Israelite' in other words.
33:04 Now the interesting thing is, if you read verse 49,
33:08 when Jesus finally finds Nathanael,
33:11 He finds him sitting where?
33:14 He finds him sitting under a fig tree.
33:17 Now isn't this interesting?
33:20 In fact, going once again to verse 48,
33:23 it says "Nathanael said to Him, 'How do You know me?'
33:28 Jesus answered and said to him,
33:30 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the" What?
33:33 "When you were under the fig tree, I saw you."
33:37 Now, what I find interesting here is that
33:39 the true Israelite was sitting under the symbol of Israel.
33:44 In other words, Nathanael was a true Israelite
33:47 and he was sitting under a fig tree
33:49 which was a symbol of what? Was a symbol of Israel.
33:54 In other words what wee find here
33:56 is an indication that there are genuine Israelites
34:00 and there are counterfeit Israelites.
34:04 Now the question is, how do you distinguish
34:06 the genuine from the counterfeit?
34:08 Is it simply because you know, you're a genuine Israelite,
34:12 because you have Jewish blood flowing though your veins
34:16 or because you live perhaps in Jerusalem
34:18 or perhaps your last name is Goldstein or Goldberg?
34:22 You know, I don't think so.
34:23 In fact I know that that's not the case.
34:25 Do you know what made Nathanael a true Israelite indeed?
34:30 Verse 49 explains it, when Jesus spoke to Nathanael
34:35 and He said, "You are a genuine Israelite."
34:39 What did Nathanael confessed?
34:42 He says, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
34:48 In other words, Nathanael recognized Jesus as the what?
34:52 As the Messiah. That's what made him true Israel.
34:57 So you have this true Israelite
34:58 because he confesses Jesus Christ
35:01 and he's sitting under the fig tree
35:03 which is a symbol of Israel.
35:06 All of these things merge together
35:08 to indicate what a true Israelite is.
35:11 In other words there is genuine Israel
35:14 and there is counterfeit Israel.
35:16 Genuine Israel are those who received
35:19 Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord.
35:22 By the way, Jesus also made this distinction.
35:25 Notice John Chapter 8 and we'll read several texts here,
35:30 John 8:37-45. John 8:37-45.
35:37 Did Jesus believe that there are Jews
35:39 and then there are Jews?
35:41 He most certainly did.
35:42 What is that defines a true one from a counterfeit one?
35:46 Notice John 8:37,
35:50 Jesus says to those literal Jews who are listening to Him,
35:54 "I know that you are Abraham's descendants,
35:58 but you seek to kill Me,
36:00 because My word has no place in you.
36:03 I speak what I have seen with My Father,
36:06 and you do what you have seen with your father."
36:09 Now Jesus is gonna reach a very climatic
36:12 and disturbing argument in a few moments.
36:16 He says, "I got my Father and you have your father."
36:19 Verse 39, "They answered and said to Him,
36:22 "Abraham is our father."
36:24 Jesus said to them, "If--" Notice, this is a big 'if.'
36:28 "If you were Abraham's children--"
36:30 Is Jesus denying that they are Abraham's children here?
36:33 Of course, he's saying, "If you were."
36:36 Which means that they are what? That they are not.
36:39 He saying, "If you were Abraham's children
36:42 you would do the--" what?
36:44 "The works of Abraham."
36:46 So are they Abraham's children
36:47 according to the definition of Jesus?
36:49 Absolutely not. They are but they aren't.
36:51 Notice verse 40, "But--"
36:55 Say, if you were Abraham's children you know,
36:58 you would do the works of Abraham,
36:59 "But now you seek to kill Me,
37:04 a Man who has told you the truth which I heard from God.
37:08 Abraham did not do this."
37:11 In other words, what Jesus is saying
37:12 is you claim to be the children of Abraham.
37:14 Abraham look forward to My day,
37:16 he loved Me when he saw Me
37:18 from a far and you want to kill Me.
37:20 So how is that you say that you are Abraham's children
37:23 if he loved Me and you want to kill Me?
37:26 He's denying that they are Abraham's children.
37:29 Notice, Jesus continues saying in verse 41,
37:33 "You do the deeds of your father."
37:36 Then they said to Him,
37:38 'We were not born of fornication.
37:39 We have one Father, God.'
37:42 Jesus said to them, 'If--'"
37:44 Notice once again the key word, "If God were your Father--"
37:49 Is Jesus denying that God is their father? Yes.
37:52 "If God were your Father you would love Me,
37:55 for I proceeded forth and came from God
37:58 nor have I come of Myself, but He sent Me.
38:02 Why do you not understand My speech,
38:05 because you are not able to listen to My word."
38:08 And then Jesus says something very politically incorrect,
38:11 He says, "You are of your father the devil."
38:15 Were they literal Jews?
38:17 Were they literally children of Abraham?
38:20 Yes, they were but were they really Jews
38:22 or children of Abraham?
38:24 No, because they had to have the faith of Abraham.
38:26 So notice verse 41,
38:28 "You are of your father the devil
38:29 and the desires of your father you want to do.
38:32 He was a murderer from the beginning,
38:34 and does not stand in the truth,
38:36 because there is no truth in him.
38:38 When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources
38:42 for he is a liar and the father of it."
38:46 Do you see the contrast here?
38:48 Nathanael, there was no deceit, there was no lie.
38:53 And in Jesus there was no what? In Jesus there was no lie.
38:59 By the way the great Apostle Paul
39:01 also confirms what Jesus taught
39:03 in "The Parable of the Fig Tree, in the Parable of Vineyard"
39:07 and what He thought in John Chapter 8
39:09 as well as in John Chapter 1.
39:11 Let's notice what the Apostle Paul says,
39:13 because most Christians today use the Apostle Paul
39:16 and they say, "Well, you know,
39:18 the Apostle Paul believed that God had two peoples,
39:20 the literal Jews and then He turn to the Gentiles.
39:23 And then when the times of the Gentiles are over--
39:25 we'll have a lecture on the times of Gentiles later on,
39:27 then the church is gonna be rapture to heaven
39:30 and then God is gonna pick up of a literal Jews again,
39:32 with nation Israel again."
39:34 Let's see what the Apostle Paul defines as true Israel.
39:38 Romans 2:28 and 29. Romans 2:28 and 29.
39:45 This is explicit.
39:47 It's hard to understand how anybody in the world
39:50 could misunderstand what the Apostle Paul is saying.
39:53 "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly."
39:59 Let me ask you,
40:00 are there outward Jews that are not really Jews,
40:03 according to the definition of the Apostle Paul? Absolutely.
40:06 He says, "For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly,
40:10 nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh."
40:14 See, the Jews were distinguished by their circumcision.
40:16 He says, "Circumcision doesn't make you a Jew."
40:19 Verse 29, "But he is a Jew who is one--" What?
40:24 "Inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart,
40:29 in the spirit not in the letter
40:31 whose praise is not from men, but from God."
40:37 So let me ask you, are there Jews
40:39 and then are there Jews?
40:40 Absolutely. What is a true Israelite?
40:44 A true Israelite is one who has accepted
40:47 Jesus Christ as Savor and Lord,
40:49 their heart has been circumcised by Jesus
40:52 and their life is under the control of Holy Spirit
40:55 because it says here
40:57 "In the spirit not in the letter."
40:59 Of course the Jews love to live by the letter.
41:02 Notice, Romans Chapter 9:6-8.
41:05 And by the way,
41:06 when I speak about the Jews of Christ day
41:08 I am not-- this is not any reflection
41:10 on any individual who is a Jew today.
41:14 God loves the Jews, intensely.
41:16 He loves them with a deep love.
41:19 And by the way, it's not saying
41:21 either that Israel cannot exist as a nation.
41:24 I am simply taking
41:26 the biblical definition of what true Israel is,
41:30 what a true Jew is according to scripture,
41:33 because it has huge prophetic implications.
41:36 Notice Romans 9:6-8, Romans 9:6-8.
41:42 Here the Apostle Paul says this,
41:44 "But it is not that the word of God has taken no effect."
41:47 Now, notice this,
41:49 "For they are not all Israel, who are of Israel."
41:54 You'll say that's ridiculous.
41:56 So not all Israelites are Israelites?
41:59 That's what the Apostle Paul is saying.
42:01 So what is that, that determines a true Israelite?
42:05 "Nor are they all children
42:08 because they are the seed of Abraham."
42:10 Not everybody is Abraham's child
42:13 just because he descends physically from Abraham.
42:16 "But, In Isaac your seed shall be called.
42:20 That is, those who are the children of the flesh,"
42:24 there is literal nations Jews.
42:27 "Those who are the children of the flesh,
42:29 these are not the children of God
42:33 but the children of the promise--"
42:35 that is the promise of the Messiah
42:37 "are counted as the seed."
42:39 How could the Apostle Paul be more explicit than this
42:43 about the identity of Israel?
42:44 You see, God has transition
42:47 from literal Israel as a chosen nation,
42:50 national Israel as his chosen nation
42:52 the fig tree apostatize and therefore it withered up
42:56 and it was burned in the fire in the year 70.
42:59 That doesn't mean that literal Jews could not be saved
43:01 who become linked with Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
43:04 Then they become true Jews.
43:06 That's why you have a huge number of Jews these days
43:09 that are becoming messianic Jews.
43:12 Notice Galatians 3:26-29. Galatians 3:26-29.
43:19 Here the Apostle Paul says this,
43:21 "For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.
43:26 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ--"
43:31 Notice this, "Into Christ have put on Christ."
43:36 So if you are baptized, you put on Christ.
43:39 What is the implication?
43:40 Verse 28, "There is neither Jew nor Greek,
43:43 there is neither slave nor free,
43:46 there is neither male nor female,
43:48 for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
43:51 And if you are Christ then you are Abraham's seed,
43:56 and heirs according to the promise."
43:59 What determines whether you are Abraham's seed?
44:01 It's not where you live,
44:03 it's not what kind of blood you have,
44:04 it's not what your last name is.
44:07 It has to do with whether you have linked up
44:09 your life with Jesus Christ as your Savior and as your Lord.
44:15 By the way, the Apostle Paul
44:17 had this very, very clear in his own life experience.
44:20 Notice what we find in the Book of Philippians 3:3-8.
44:25 Philippians Chapter 3:3-8.
44:30 He's reminiscing about his own experience.
44:34 So we should listen very careful to the Apostle Paul,
44:36 because he's not just giving a discourse in theology,
44:40 he's speaking about his own practical life.
44:43 He says this, "For we are the circumcision,
44:49 who worship God in the Spirit,
44:53 rejoice in Christ Jesus
44:55 and have no confidence in the flesh."
44:59 What according to the Apostle Paul
45:01 is the true circumcision?
45:03 It's not being a literal Jew,
45:05 it's not been a national Israelite,
45:07 He says circumcision are those who worship God in the spirit,
45:11 rejoice in Christ Jesus and have no confidence in the flesh.
45:16 And then he explains
45:17 what he means by confidence in the flesh.
45:19 He says, "Though, I also might have confidence in the flesh."
45:22 Now he's gonna describe what it means to be in the flesh?
45:24 It means to be a literal Jew
45:26 or a little literal national Israelite.
45:29 He says, "Though, I also might have confidence in the flesh.
45:33 If anyone else thinks
45:35 he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so."
45:38 And then he gives a list.
45:40 He says, "Circumcised the eighth day,
45:43 of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin,
45:46 a Hebrew of the Hebrews, concerning the law of Pharisee,
45:51 concerning zeal, persecuting the church,
45:54 concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless."
45:58 So he says if you want to have confidence
46:00 in being a literal Jew and being a Pharisee
46:03 and the tribe of Benjamin and zealous for the law etcetera,
46:06 hey, here's the prime example of it.
46:10 Now what else does he say?
46:12 Notice verse 7, "But what things were gain to me
46:17 these I have counted loss for Christ."
46:20 Well, none of these things counted anything,
46:22 he says, "Except for Christ."
46:25 Verse 8, "Yet indeed
46:26 I also count all things loss for the excellence
46:31 of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord,
46:35 for whom I have suffered the loss of all things,
46:37 and count them as rubbish, that I may gain--"
46:42 Whom? "That I may gain Christ."
46:47 Are you understanding what this is talking about?
46:50 Is Jesus then saying in Matthew Chapter 24
46:54 that the reestablishment of the literal Jewish
46:57 national Israel in 1947 was a fulfillment of prophecy?
47:01 Listen folks, when you read the prophecies
47:04 in the Old Testament, God told Israel,
47:07 "If you forsake me and you do not listen to my voice,
47:11 I am gonna scatter you among all nations.
47:15 But if when you are scattered you repent,
47:19 and you're sorry for what you've done,
47:20 and you come back to me,
47:22 I will gather you once again to your land,
47:25 and I will heal you."
47:27 Let me ask you, what was that scattered national Israel
47:31 when Jerusalem was destroyed?
47:32 It was the fact that they refused to listen
47:35 to the voice of Jesus, their Messiah.
47:38 And therefore what happened to them?
47:40 We read in Luke Chapter 21 and also Luke Chapter 19,
47:44 they were scattered among all of the nations, weren't they?
47:48 So let me ask you,
47:50 did they all suddenly come to believe in 1948?
47:54 Did they repent?
47:55 Did national Israel say,
47:56 "Oh, we're sorry that we crucified the Messiah?"
47:58 You know, "we now receive Him
48:00 as our Savior and as our Lord." Did they?
48:02 No, they were restored to Jerusalem in unbelief.
48:10 But that goes against everything
48:12 that bible prophecy contemplates.
48:15 In other words that restoration in 1948
48:17 was not a fulfillment of prophecy,
48:20 it was a political circumstance that took place.
48:24 In other words, they could never
48:25 have been restored in 1948 as God's chosen nation
48:29 in their land as a fulfillment of prophecy,
48:31 unless they repented and receive Jesus Christ as Savor and Lord,
48:36 because that's the total pattern in the Old Testament.
48:39 No one is rewarded in unbelief.
48:43 Repent and be converted that your sins will be blotted out.
48:47 If we confess our sins,
48:49 He is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins
48:52 and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
48:54 There is a condition
48:55 that had to be fulfilled for Israel to be restored.
48:58 And the condition to this day has never been fulfilled,
49:03 because national Israel with the exception
49:05 of the Messianic Jews is still rejecting Jesus Christ
49:10 as their promised Messiah.
49:12 I would like to read a couple of passages,
49:15 very significant passages from the writings of Ellen White
49:19 about the Jewish nation, about national Israel.
49:25 The first is found in the journal
49:29 "Review and Herald", February 25, 1896.
49:33 And these are strong words
49:36 but it's in harmony with what Jesus thought.
49:39 Did Jesus teach that if He was rejected,
49:42 the result would be scattering and destruction
49:45 and being burnt by fire, absolutely.
49:48 Notice what she says, "The curse rests upon Jerusalem.
49:55 The Lord has obliterated those things
49:59 which men would worship in and about Jerusalem,
50:03 yet many hold in reverence literal objects in Palestine,
50:08 while they neglect to behold Jesus
50:10 as their advocate in the heaven of heavens."
50:13 There's people who'll say,
50:15 "Oh, if I could just visit the holy land,
50:16 if I could just walk where Jesus walked."
50:19 What Ellen White is saying is the curse is upon all Jerusalem.
50:22 It's not a holy place anymore.
50:23 You know what makes a place holy?
50:25 The presence of Jesus.
50:27 Jesus left the temple, it said,
50:29 "Your house is left onto you what?" Desolate.
50:32 And you will not see me again
50:34 until you say blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord
50:38 which is referring to His second coming.
50:40 The second statement is found in "Review and Herald"
50:44 June 9, 1896. This one is even stronger.
50:48 She says this, "How many there are
50:51 who feel that it would be a good thing
50:54 to tread the soil of old Jerusalem,
50:58 and that their faith would be greatly strengthened
51:01 by visiting the scenes of the Savior's life and death."
51:07 Then she says this,
51:08 "But old Jerusalem will never be a sacred place."
51:14 So much for the rebuilding of the third temple.
51:18 "But old Jerusalem will never be a sacred place
51:21 until it is cleansed by the refining fire from heaven.
51:28 The darkest blot of guilt rests upon the city
51:31 that refused the light of Christ.
51:35 Do we want to walk in the footsteps of Jesus?
51:38 We need not seek out the paths in Nazareth,
51:42 Bethany, and Jerusalem.
51:44 We shall find the footprints of Jesus by the sick-bed,
51:47 by the side of suffering humanity,
51:50 in the hovels of the poverty-stricken and distressed.
51:54 We may walk in these footsteps, comforting the suffering,
51:58 speaking words of hope and comfort to the despondent.
52:02 Doing as Jesus did when He was upon earth,
52:06 we shall walk in His blessed steps.
52:09 Jesus said, "If any man will come after me,
52:12 let him deny himself,
52:14 and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
52:17 When the sin-cursed earth
52:20 is purified from every stain of sin,
52:23 when the Mount of Olives is rent asunder"
52:26 this is after the millennium,
52:27 by the way according to Zechariah 14.
52:30 She says, "when the Mount of Olives is rent asunder,
52:33 and becomes an immense plain;
52:36 when the holy city of God descends upon it,
52:39 the land that is now called the Holy Land
52:43 will indeed become holy.
52:46 But God's cause and work will not be advanced
52:50 by making pilgrimages to Jerusalem.
52:53 The curse of God is upon Jerusalem for the rejection
52:58 and crucifixion of His only begotten Son.
53:01 But God will cleanse away the vile blot.
53:05 The prophet says,
53:06 "I saw a new heaven and a new earth,
53:08 for the first heaven and the first earth are passed away,
53:11 and the sea is no more.
53:13 And I saw the holy city, New Jerusalem,
53:16 coming down out of heaven from God,
53:18 made ready as a bride adorned for her husband."
53:25 So is prophecy being fulfilled in the Middle East
53:29 with national Israel? Absolutely not.
53:34 When will prophecy be fulfilled with literal Jerusalem?
53:38 Only after the millennium,
53:41 when the feet of Jesus split the Mount of Olives,
53:44 a plain is open so that the New Jerusalem
53:46 can come down and rest upon that plain.
53:50 Then the presence of Jesus and the holy city
53:53 will make that place once again holy
53:57 and will be cleansed from the blot that was placed upon it
54:01 because of the rejection of the only begotten Son of God.
54:05 You know what the devil has done?
54:07 By taking text like this one
54:09 about the fig tree in Mathew Chapter 24,
54:12 he has focused all eyes of Christians upon the Middle East.
54:18 You read books on Bible prophecy today,
54:21 you cannot find a single book in bookstores,
54:25 in evangelical bookstores where there's anything
54:28 other than prophecy being fulfilled
54:30 at some point in literal Israel.
54:33 They teach that literal temple
54:36 is gonna be rebuilt on the temple mount.
54:38 There's gonna be a little literal antichrist
54:40 who will sit in that temple
54:42 and he will raise up a literal image
54:45 and he will rule for a literal three and a half years
54:47 and he will persecute the literal Israelites.
54:50 And so what people do?
54:52 As a result of this preaching
54:54 of the false prophet of Revelation Chapter 13,
54:57 all of the eyes of the people are directed to the Middle East.
55:00 They say, "1948, look the greater sign
55:03 Israel was re-established as a nation at that date,
55:07 therefore we've to look over there
55:09 for the fulfillment of Bible prophecy."
55:12 The sad thing is, because everybody
55:15 is looking over there for the fulfillment of prophecy,
55:18 prophecy is fulfilled in Rome and in the United States
55:23 and no one can see the fulfillment of prophecy,
55:26 because they are looking in the wrong place.
55:31 You see the devil is an expert at misdirection.
55:35 You know, in football there is a play,
55:39 a running play it is called a counter-play.
55:43 Those of you who you are into football
55:44 know what I am talking about.
55:45 Its when the ball carrier,
55:48 the half-back or the full-back carries the ball
55:52 and all of the blockers on the line move in one direction
55:57 and so all of the contrary team thinks
56:00 that the one who is carrying the ball
56:03 is moving in that direction
56:04 because all of his blockers are blocking in that direction.
56:08 But then the deception is in the fact
56:11 that instead of him running around that end
56:14 where the blockers are blocking,
56:15 he fools everybody and he takes an end-around on the other end
56:19 and many times makes many yards.
56:22 It is a misdirection play.
56:24 And that's exactly what the devil is doing
56:27 with what's happening in Bible prophecy.
56:29 People are looking at the Middle East
56:31 for the fulfillment of prophecy, it is a distraction.
56:34 In other words it is a misdirection
56:37 to the fulfillment of Bible prophecy
56:39 and therefore when prophecy is truly fulfilled
56:42 here in the United States and in Rome
56:45 and with the nations of the world,
56:47 people just cannot grasp it, they cannot see it,
56:50 because they are looking in the wrong place.
56:54 So folks, the short of all of this is that
56:57 God wants us to be true Israel.
56:59 God wants us to receive
57:01 Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.
57:03 The final warfare will be against the real Jews,
57:07 the spiritual Jews, those who have a heart
57:09 circumcised by Christ and by the Holy Spirit,
57:13 they will rise the enmity of the world against them,
57:16 not literal Israel.
57:18 And at the end,
57:20 Jesus Christ will intervene to deliver
57:23 His true spiritual Israel,
57:24 because He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.


Revised 2014-12-17