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The Second Coming of Jesus and the Parable of the Fig Tree

The disciples asked Christ what would be the sign of His coming and the end of the age. We don't have time to review all the signs, but you can click the following link: Signs of Christ’s Coming. After Jesus spoke about some of the signs, He shared the Parable of the Fig Tree, a prophetic parable relating to the timing of the end of the age. Again, I would remind you that we will not know the day or the time, but the people of God should be aware of the season. Here's the parable:

29He told them this parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees. 30When they sprout leaves, you can see for yourselves and know that summer is near. 31Even so, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near” (Luke 21:29-31).

There are two possible interpretations that I am aware of: The first concerns the nation of Israel. In this interpretation, the fig tree symbolizes the nation of Israel. There is little scriptural evidence to support this theory, for Israel is chiefly symbolized as a vine (Isaiah 5:7).

1) In this view, the nation of Israel (established in 1948 and growing in territory through five successive wars, viz. 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982) is like the leaves of a fig tree sprouting before summer, i.e., summer being the picture of the Second Coming of Christ. In this interpretation of the parable, the growth of the fig tree's leaves resembles the increase in the nation's size since its birth in 1948. Since the nation's establishment, Israel has secured territory on the Golan Heights from Syria in the country's North East, the West Bank of the Jordan River, Southern Lebanon, the Gaza Strip, and the Sinai Desert from Egypt. As of today, April 2023, much of this territory has been returned. If this interpretation is correct, why did Jesus mention the phrase “and all the trees?” (v. 29). I do not believe Jesus' reference to securing more territory by the State of Israel is a viable interpretation of the parable.

2) The second interpretation, the one I believe, is that just as new leaves and new growth occur on a deciduous tree before its fruitings, such as a fig tree and other similar trees, it is a sign that summer is soon and the harvesting of the tree's fruit close at hand. In this view, when you see the signs of the times that Jesus had already mentioned taking place (Luke 21:8-11, and 25-26), you will know that the coming of Christ is soon to take place, symbolized here as summer and the time of harvest. I believe this interpretation to be verified by Jesus’ usage of the words these things in the following verses:

9And when you hear of wars and tumults, do not be terrified, for these things must first take place, but the end will not be at once” (Luke 21:9).

28Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28).

31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near (Luke 21:31).

Jesus said, “When you see these things happening, you’ll know that summer is near” (the coming of Christ). As we look around us at what is going on, the signs that Jesus spoke of in Luke 21, Matthew 24 and 25, and Mark 13 are beginning to occur, and we should prepare ourselves for His coming. Are you walking in anything that displeases God? Please get rid of it! Seek after Christ with all your heart, and may you be found in Him at harvest time. Keith Thomas.

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To read this topic in depth, go to the All Studies box on the Home Page, click on the Gospel of Luke, and scroll down until you come to study 57. Luke 21:29-38. The Parable of the Fig Tree.


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