We have seen how the prophecy of the 7 TIMES of the GENTILES has now been fulfilled in the Restoration of Israel to her Land in May 1948 and the recapture of Jerusalem in June 1967 bringing it back under Jewish dominion, so that the Times of Gentile dominion over Israel and Jerusalem have finished. God warned Israel in Leviticus 26 that He would discipline her for her sin with increasingly severe Cycles of discipline if she did not repent.
In the 4th Cycle of discipline she would lose dominion (self-rule) to a foreign power and in the 5th Cycle she would be evicted from her Land. Now during the time of the Judges she moved into the 4th Cycle on seven occasions but each time she repented and regained dominion after a few years. She went deeper in sin during the time of the Kings and as a result God sent Babylon to put her under a stronger discipline. She was taken into Captivity to Babylon for 70 years (5th Cycle) and given over to Gentile Dominion (4th Cycle) for a long extended period of time (7 TIMES) so that even after the 70 years was over and they returned to the Land she was still under Gentile dominion (4th Cycle). Then when Christ came and Israel rejected Him, this resulted in her moving back to the 5th Cycle, being evicted from the Land and scattered to the nations in 70 AD. Thus AD 70 did not mark the start of the Times of the Gentiles. They were already under Gentile (Roman) dominion before then. The Times of Gentiles had already started 600 years before in the time of Daniel and Jeremiah. The events of AD 70 simply marked an intensification of discipline within the Times of the Gentiles as a result of her rejection of Messiah, moving her from Cycle 4 (her standard state during the Times of the Gentiles) to Cycle 5 (being scattered to the nations).
However despite Israel’s sin and God’s firm discipline of her in removing both her dominion (4th Cycle) and her Land (5th Cycle), this would only be for a time, after which God promised to restore her again to her Land and also to restore her dominion in the Land.
This would happen at the end of the Times of the Gentiles:
“They (Israel) will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles UNTIL the TIMES of the GENTILES are fulfilled” (Luke 21:24). So when these Times of the Gentiles are fulfilled these two disciplines will be reversed: (1) Israel will be restored to her Land and (2) her dominion in the Land will restored, which in God’s sight requires her to regain control of Jerusalem. Obviously He had restore her to the Land before restoring her dominion.
So (1) He restored her to the Land moving her from the 5th Cycle of discipline to the 4th Cycle, which was completed in May 1948. Then (2) He completed the restoration of her dominion (moving her out of the 4th Cycle) in June 1967 (for Israel’s dominion has always directly connected to her rule over Jerusalem, her capital).
Thus we have recently seen the the rise of Israel again at the end of the Times of the Gentiles with her Restoration to the Land, her Rebirth as a nation and her Regaining control over Jerusalem. Jesus taught that this event was the major sign that we are near the End of the Age (within a man’s life-time), through the Parable of the Fig-Tree which tells the story of the Fall and Rise of Israel, with Israel rising again in the time just before the Tribulation.
Matthew 24:32-34: “Now learn the Parable of the FIG TREE: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that Summer (the Kingdom) is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it(the Kingdom) is near - at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.”
It is clear that the first thing to look for is the FIG TREE, but what is it? The Fig-Tree in the Bible represents ISRAEL, as a nation.
Jeremiah 24 shows Israel in captivity as 2 baskets of FIGS, both good and bad. This is because they are scattered and no longer a Fig-Tree (a nation) that is planted in the Land.
Amos 8:1,2: “Thus the Lord GOD showed me: Behold, a basket of summer fruit. And He said, “Amos, what do you see?” So I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” Then the LORD said to me: The end has come upon My people Israel.”
Hosea 9:10: “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the Fig Tree in its first season.”
Joel 1:6,7: “For a nation has come up against My Land...He has laid waste My vine, and ruined My Fig Tree. He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; its branches are made white.”
The Fig-Tree as the nation of Israel planted in her Land is also confirmed by Jesus’ use of this symbol in Luke 13:6-9.
Thus the major sign of being in the end-times, just before the Tribulation is the reappearance of Israel as a living nation.
Jesus had started this Parable of the Fig Tree earlier, so when He talked about the Parable of the Fig-Tree in Matthew 24:32, He was not introducing something new, but was referencing something they had already heard about from Him. He was guiding them to understand what He was saying in the light of what He had previously revealed about the Fig-Tree. By referring to the Parable of the Fig-Tree, Jesus indicated that the Fig-Tree has a symbolic meaning which He intends us to understand. In fact He had already previously made this meaning perfectly clear to His disciples, so they would have immediately known what He was talking about. Once this is understood then it becomes clear that those who say that the FIG-TREE has no special symbolic meaning are wrong.
Jesus had previously introduced the Fig-Tree (Israel) into His teaching. He had already shared the first part of the Parable of the Fig-Tree with them which prophesied the coming FALL of Israel (her removal from the Land, which was fulfilled in AD 70) and now in Matthew 24 as He speaks on the end-times, He now brings the Parable to its conclusion by revealing that the Fig-Tree (Israel) will RISE again (be restored as a nation in her Land) and that this miraculous event will be the major sign to the nations that they are living close to the End of the Age when God will judge the world.
This Parable is therefore in two parts (Israel’s Fall and Rise):
(1) HER FALL. Jesus came to the Fig-Tree (Israel) to inspect its fruit (faith) and found none so He announced that He will cut it down and remove it from the Land.
Jesus started the Parable of the Fig-Tree in Luke 13:5-9:
“I tell you, no; but unless you repent you will all likewise perish.” He is warning Israel of the danger of coming judgement.
He also spoke this Parable (to confirm this warning):
“A certain man (JESUS) had a Fig Tree (ISRAEL) planted in his Vineyard (the PROMISED LAND), and he came seeking fruit (FAITH) on it and found none.
Then he said to the Keeper of his Vineyard (the FATHER),
‘Look, for three years (the Ministry of Jesus) I have come seeking fruit on this Fig Tree and find none. Cut it down; why does it use up (waste) the ground?’ (notice that the cutting off of Israel will result in her removal from the land).“But He answered and said to him, ‘Sir, let it alone this year also, until I dig around it and fertilise it. And if it bears fruit, well. But if not, after that you can cut it down.’”
In this Parable, Jesus is warning Israel of a coming destruction. Jesus is the man who ministered for 3 years to Israel (the Fig-Tree) which was planted in the Land (the Vineyard). He came looking for faith and found none and so at this stage He asked the Keeper (God, the Father) to cut the tree down because it was using up the ground but not fulfilling its purpose. The Keeper then requested that it have one more year of grace before judgement falls. If it responds - then good. If not - then after that year, Jesus would cut Israel off, which would result in her being expelled from the land.
Now Jesus ministry was 3 and a half years, so this happened six months before the Cross. The extra year then ended six months after the Cross. Therefore when Israel did not repent, Israel must have been officially cut off spiritually by Jesus six months after the Cross for not bearing the fruit of faith. In turn this resulted in her destruction and removal from the land by the Romans in AD 70, as Jesus had predicted on many occasions.
This cutting off of Israel in AD 33, six months after the Cross, was such an important event that it must have been clearly marked. Indeed, it is recorded in Acts 7 with Stephen’s prosecution speech and martyrdom where the leaders of israel confirmed their rejection of Christ. At this point Israel was spiritually cut off from the favour of God, and this favour was transferred to the Gentiles (see Romans 11 where Paul describes how the natural branches have been cut off and the Gentiles grafted into the Olive Tree, the place of God’s favour and anointing). Immediately after the cutting off in Acts 7 we then see God releasing the Gospel to the non-Jews (Acts 8).
Jesus symbolically acted out this coming judgement by cursing a Fig-Tree because it failed to bear fruit (symbolic of Israel in unbelief as in Luke 13:6-9). This judgement of God caused it to wither from its roots (Mark 11:12-24, Matthew 21:18-19).The judgement started immediately (but invisibly - at the roots, the trees’ source of life), but was only visibly manifested some
time later (’the next day’). This was fulfilled in AD 33 when Israel was cut off spiritually, and then in AD 70 this judgementwas manifested when Israel was expelled from the Land. So the Cursing of the Fig-Tree was another episode in the Parable of the Fig-Tree confirming the Parable in Luke 13.
He cursed the Fig-Tree on the day after the leaders of Israel officially rejected Him as Messiah-King when He presented Himself to Israel as her King at His Triumphal Entry.
Matthew 21:18-22: “Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. Seeing a Fig Tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, “Let no fruit grow on you ever again.” Immediately the Fig Tree withered away. And when the disciples saw it (the next day), they marvelled, saying, “How did the Fig Tree wither away so soon?”
It immediately started to wither from the roots upwards, and by the next day the whole Tree was visibly withered (Mark 11:20). As before, the Fig-Tree represents Israel. Jesus had come to it, but found no fruit (faith), only leaves (religion).
Thus Jesus symbolically acted out upon the Fig-Tree the Divine discipline and judgement that would soon come upon Israel.
Israel had a call from God to bear fruit that the nations could eat. That is, she was to believe in God and His Messiah andcommunicate that faith to the world. She was specially anointed by God to be blessed and to be a blessing (Genesis 12:2). But even after the grace of Messiah had been poured out upon her, she was in unbelief (fruitless). This curse on Israel of her continually not bearing fruit signified that God was giving Israel over to her unbelief (her blindness and hardness of heart) for an extended period of time. Jesus also said: “no man shall eat fruit from you again” (Mark 11:14). This indicates that He was withdrawing her anointing to be God’s witness to the nations.
He judged the Fig-Tree (with fruitlessness) by cutting it off from its water supply (causing it to wither from the roots).Likewise, later in October AD 33, Jesus spoke the word to cut Israel off spiritually, resulting in her settled state of national unbelief concerning Himself. As the judgement on the Tree was manifested the next day, so the cutting off of Israel was manifested physically later in AD 70, when Jerusalem was destroyed and Israel was dispersed to the nations. This picture shows how Israel’s cutting off resulted in her fruitlessness - her spiritual blindness and hardening of heart concerning her Messiah in this Age (Romans 11:25, 2Corinthians 3:14-16).
(2) HER RISE - Jesus also predicted that the Fig-Tree (Israel) who FELL would also surely RISE again in the End-Time!:"Learn the Parable of the FIG TREE (Israel), when his branch is become tender, and puts forth leaves (not fruit) you know SUMMER (the Millennial Kingdom) is nigh" (Matthew 24:32). When they discovered the Fig-Tree withered from the roots on the next morning it made a deep impression on their minds.
Then it was later ON THE SAME DAY that Jesus gave His Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24, Luke 21, Mark 13) when He again talked about the Parable of the Fig-Tree, this time in the context of the End-Times predicting that the Fig-Tree (which had been judged) will rise again and become the major end-time sign. So when He talked about the Parable of the Fig-Tree in Matthew 24, the cursing of the Fig-Tree would have been fresh in their minds, which they knew was a symbolic act prophesying coming judgement upon Israel (from the Parable of the Fig-Tree in Luke 13). Therefore,
they knew that His teaching of what would happen to the Fig-Tree (Israel) in the End-Times was a continuation of His previous teachings on the Fig-Tree. He was saying that the same Fig-Tree that did not bear fruit at His first Coming and so was judged, would rise again in the time just before His Second Coming. We have the privilege of seeing both prophecies come to pass.
So, the Fig-Tree is Israel which was cut down and cursed by Christ for rejecting her Messiah. But she will spring up againand then we can know that Summer (the Kingdom) is near.
Luke confirms this: “Look at the Fig Tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that Summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the Kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29-31). Luke makes it clear that Summer
represents the Messianic Kingdom. The sign of being in the final generation before the Kingdom is the Fig-Tree with its leaves shooting forth, for all to see. All of history is moving towards the Kingdom (Summer) when Israel (the Fig-Tree) will bear mature fruit. In the Tribulation, especially by the end, as Summer approaches, this fruit (faith) will start to appear. In the Spring (the season before Summer) the Tree grows and puts forth leaves and these are signs that Summer is soon to come. So Jesus is saying that the sign of being in the time-season just before the end of the age is the reappearance of Israel on the world-scene.
The Fig-Tree is now putting forth its leaves for all to see. The Rebirth of Israel (1948) and her further growth (1967) is the clear-cut sign that we are in the last days of the Church Age! The Fig-Tree has reappeared and put forth leaves (but not fruit) as Jesus predicted! This confirms other prophecies that Israel as a nation will first of all be regathered to the land in unbelief (leaves only) and will only come to faith in Christ (bear fruit) later.
Next, Jesus went even further saying that Israel was God's Time Clock. The Rebirth of Israel would start the final countdown: "Verily I say to you, this generation (that sees the Fig-Tree) shall not pass away, until ALL THESE THINGS be fulfilled" (Luke 21:32). The generation who see this amazing Sign of the Fig-Tree (those alive to see the events of 1948) will not all die (pass away) before all the events of the Tribulation and Second
Coming are fulfilled. Jesus reinforced this amazing claim with great emphasis on its truth: “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (v33). The Clock started at Israel’s Rebirth and runs for a man’s lifetime.
Thus we can see the SIGN OF THE FIG-TREE and KNOW that we are IN THE LAST GENERATION. As Israel gets older and puts forth leaves, she is a sure sign of the imminent start of the Tribulation (the short transition into the Millennial Summer) when she will increasingly bear fruit. The Fig-Tree gives us the general, but not the exact time of Christ’s Second Coming.
1. Jesus was born at Tabernacles (15th Tishri) 2 BC which was October 12th on our calendar (John 1:1,14).
2. He was baptised and started His ministry on His 30th birthday (Tabernacles) 29 AD which was October 11th (Luke 3:23).
3. Therefore the 4 years of Luke 13:6-9 end on October 10th 33 AD (6 months after the Cross). This is therefore the key date for the cutting off of Israel from the favour of God and the transfer of anointing to the Gentiles (recorded in Acts 7, with Stephen’s martyrdom being the confirmation of that generation of Israel’s rejection of the Messiah and ripeness for judgement. This cutting off caused a removal of protection from Israel which led to her removal from the Land (the 5th Cycle) a few years later in AD 70.