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Originally published in "The Lord's Coming Herald & Wesleyan Bible Prophecy Advocate," Summer Edition 2001

What Is The Budding Of The Fig Tree?

    First, the "budding of the fig tree" in Matthew 24:32-35 has nothing to do with the creation of the modern state of Israel.

Jesus' remarks about the budding of the fig tree in Matthew 24, rather, are in the context of a "parable."  And he goes on to tell us plainly what that parable means.

    "When you see the fig tree ["or any tree," for that matter, as Luke 21:29 states it] put forth leaves," Jesus said, "you know that summer is near"--that is, when you see this phenomenon happening in the natural world you know that the season is about to change. So likewise when the disciples were to see events of Matthew 24:15-22 take place, Jesus is trying to tell them, they should know that some great transition period, or "change of seasons," was in the making.

    The crucial point is this: the budding of the fig tree indicates the BEGINNING of summer, it does not indicate the beginning of the HARVEST time. The harvest time comes in the fall, at the end of summer, not at its beginning

    The budding of the fig tree, we repeat, was never intended by Jesus to indicate that the harvest time of his second coming was at hand, or near. It was only to indicate the "change of seasons" that would lead, ULTIMATELY, to that harvest time, had begun.

    Now this "change of seasons" Jesus referred to was the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A. D. That event marked a transition point—the absolute end of the old Jewish economy—which, though it was brought to naught and superseded by the new covenant at Jesus' death on Calvary, yet it persisted till divine judgment removed it entirely forty years later.

    In summary, the budding of the fig tree was originally given as a "parable" to indicate the change of seasons that took place in the first Christian century from the dominance of the old covenant economy to its replacement by the new. "This generation shall not pass till all these things be fulfilled"-- that is, until the change of season related to the destruction of the temple had occurred.  This all happened in the first century A. D. The budding of the fig tree parable of Jesus in Matthew 24, I repeat, has nothing to do with the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948! That idea is just somebody's "fruitful imagination." It has no basis in a sound exegesis of Matthew chapter 24.

    One more thought along this line before we move on. The "summer" season that began in the first Christian century continues still. The "harvest" time has not yet come, but it most surely will, and, we believe, is getting very close.

    "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled." This prophecy of Jesus in Luke 21:24 indicates a parallel of duration in continued existence. Jerusalem will remain under the Gentiles as long as the ages of the Gentiles lasts. That is because, in the eyes of God, the definition of a "Jew" has forever changed. According to the New Testament, he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, but he is a Jew who is one inwardly (Rom. 2:28-29). Modern Zionist, who now comprise the "Jewish" identity in the contemporary State of Israel are of questionable authentic Jewish ancestory themselves. Many of them are European Gentiles who have only taken on Judaism as a religion, and, as such, has little or nothing to do with actual racial decent. Many of thse Zionists, historically speaking, have been socialists, atheists, and communists, who practice no religion at all. Jesus point in Luke 21:24 is that the racial identity thing has ended, and we are not to expect a return to the significance of that form of Old Testament tribalism, as long as the world stands, for when "the times of the Gentiles" ends, so does the world itself.

    Now back to the "budding of the fig tree" parable. Yes, we believe the long summer period has almost ended, and the fall "harvest" time of Christ's second coming is drawing very near.

    That is all the more reason to be extremely interested in end-time Bible prophecy.

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