Matthew 24:32 "Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near.”
Most of what I am putting down in this study is either influenced by, or taken directly, from David Eells’ book, “Hidden Manna for the End Times”. Some of it came to me by the Holy Spirit, but I can’t remember what parts came from where.
The question is, what is the lesson of the fig tree? Bear with me. We need to go on a scripture journey. I hope I can make all this clear.
ASV:Revelation 12:1 And a great sign was seen in heaven: a woman arrayed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of twelve stars; :2 and she was with child; and she crieth out, travailing in birth, and in pain to be delivered. :3 And there was seen another sign in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and upon his heads seven diadems. :4 And his tail draweth the third part of the stars of heaven*, and did cast them to the earth: and the dragon standeth before the woman that is about to be delivered, that when she is delivered he may devour her child. :5 And she was delivered of a son, a man child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron: and her child was caught up unto God, and unto his throne. :6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days.
This passage is said to refer to natural Israel (the woman), and Jesus (the man child), and in a sense it does. But I think its chief lesson for us is this: The woman is the church. The man-child is a first-fruits company of believers, who are forerunners, who have been/will be birthed by the church for a specific purpose.
If the passage is looked at as referring only to natural Israel, then the “thousand two hundred and threescore days” has to be figurative, not literal, which begs the question, what does that number mean? According to Eells, a first-fruits company of believers has a specific mission during the last three and a half years of the seven year period of what is commonly called the tribulation.
There is a teaching in Christendom about sonship (see Rom. 8:12-24) which, if properly understood, helps explain why this would need to happen. It also explains why there is so much being said about what has come to be called the institutional church, and why so many disciples of Jesus are leaving that institution. In sonship teaching, there are two kinds of believers—children and sons. It’s analogous to Jewish tradition in which a man-child, reaching the age of thirty, is endowed by his father with all the rights of the father, including his identity. It is not bestowed automatically. The father must deem the child worthy, because of the complete authority that goes with it. Jesus was given this authority by his Father when he was thirty years old, when he was baptized. (Matt. 4:17, Mk 1:1, Lk 3:22-23), at which point, the Father declared Jesus to be His Son.
*See Rev.6:13; Matt.24:29; Is. 34:4
All of God’s children are called to be sons, but at present most are children. And though many are called, few will be chosen (Matt. 22:14—the “many” in this passage includes all of mankind, but among the children of God, all are called-but not all will be chosen). One of the purposes of the tribulation is to purge the Church of the world system, the harlot that we are so infected with. That’s one reason why it’s absurd to think we will be raptured before the tribulation. There are other reasons, too, which show the wisdom and the glory of God, not to mention the fact that He is going to honor us through His purposes for us during the tribulation.
At the very end of this teaching, I’ll show how it’s biblically impossible for us to be raptured at any time but the end of the tribulation. I’ll also show how the Jewish marriage ceremony indicates a post-trib rapture, not a pre-trib rapture as some are claiming.
In His desire to bring all His children into sonship, God is calling out from the “church” a first-fruits company of believers who will have a throne room experience which will equip them to nurture the woman who gave birth to them, with the purpose of introducing her to the fullness of relationship with Jesus. This nurturing will take place during the last 3½ years of the tribulation (vs. 6). It is the lesson of the fig tree which many throughout history, like Enoch, have discovered that makes sonship possible, even if it is not known in those terms.
Let’s go back to Matt. 24:32--"Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near.”
What are branches? John 15:1-5 tells us that Jesus is the vine, we are the branches. In Isaiah 60:21, God’s people are referred to as branches. Thus, Isaiah 11:1, which is a Messianic prophecy, actually speaks of two entities, not one.
ASV:Isaiah 11:1 And there shall come forth a shoot out of the stock of Jesse*, and a branch out of his roots shall bear fruit.
Jesus can’t be a branch, because then He would be one of many. Jesus is the stock, or root, or trunk. Out of Him would grow a people who would be a branch, exactly paralleling the passage in John 15. In fact, I believe Jesus was referring to this Isaiah passage in John 15. Reading on in Isaiah 11, we see the destiny of the believer:
11:2 And the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah. :3 And his delight shall be in the fear of Jehovah; and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither decide after the hearing of his ears; :4 but with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth; and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. :5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist, and faithfulness the girdle of his loins.
*See vs. 10; also, Rev. 22:16
As disciples of Jesus, we are to become one with Him, doing the will of the Father, exactly as Jesus does. As is the case in a natural body, we will be one entity; the body will not be separate from the head. They will be one and the same. Christ as the head, we as the Body of Christ. When we judge, it will be as if Jesus Himself were judging. When we rule, it will be Jesus who is ruling. The above passage, which is clearly about Jesus is also clearly about us. Not us as individuals, but us, corporately. Individually, we are not Jesus. Corporately, we will be one with Him. Consider these passages. Note especially vs. 9:
NASB: Psalm 2 :1 Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing? :2 The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, :3"Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!" :4 He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them. :5 Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, :6 "But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain." :7 "I will surely tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. :8 'Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the very ends of the earth as Your possession. : 9 'You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware.'" :10 Now therefore, O kings, show discernment; Take warning, O judges of the earth. :11 Worship the Lord with reverence And rejoice with trembling. :12 Do homage to the Son, that He not become angry, and you perish in the way, For His wrath may soon be kindled. How blessed are all who take refuge in Him!
Clearly speaking of Jesus. Compare it to this. Note especially vs. 5:
NASB:Revelation 12:1 A great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars; :2 and she was with child; and she cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth. :3 Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. :4 And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child. :5 And she gave birth to a son, a male child, who is to rule all the nations with a rod of iron; and her child was caught up to God and to His throne.
Now look at this:
ASV:Revelation 2:26 And he that overcometh, and he that keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give authority over the nations: :27 and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to shivers; as I also have received of my Father:
The first passage, Ps. 2, is clearly about Jesus himself. The second is traditionally considered to be about Jesus. The third, Rev. 2, refers to those who overcome in His name. What belongs to Jesus belongs to us as well, by the will of the Father.
NASB:Colossians 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. :13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, :14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. :15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. :16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. :17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. :18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. :19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, :20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. :21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, :22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—:23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. :24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions. :25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, :26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, :27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
This verse is really exciting!
ASV:John 17:21 that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be in us: that the world may believe that thou didst send me.
God’s plan is for His children to be one with the Godhead! Do you believe Jesus and the Father are one? God’s plan is for us to be one with God!
OK. Back to the fig tree.
The Song of Solomon may contain the most important end times scriptures. It becomes very easy to decipher this book when you recognize three important characters in the book. Actually, there are at least five characters, but I want to address three here. They are:
1. The Bride, or the Shulamite woman;
2. The Bridegroom, or Solomon;
3. The virgin daughters of Jerusalem.
The identities of the Bride and the Bridegroom are obvious- the Bride is the Church, the body of Christ, in ultimate fulfillment of her destiny. As Bride, she is analogous to those who attain sonship; the sons of God. This is the first-fruits manchild of Rev. 12. The sons of God designation is interchangeable with the Bride.
The bridegroom is Jesus.
The Virgin Daughters of Jerusalem represent the woman who gave birth in Rev. 12. They are also the Ten Virgins of Matt. 25. They represent those of the Church who are not yet ready to be the Bride, or to be the sons of God. They are children. They must become sons. As the parable indicates, some will respond to the man-child and become sons—the Bride. Some will not.
Read Matt. 24:32 once again:
--"Now from the fig tree learn this parable. When its branch has now become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that the summer is near.”
Now look at Song of Solomon 2: 10-13. The Bride is speaking, telling what her beloved, the Bridegroom, has said to her:
:10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away. :11 For, lo, the winter is past; The rain is over and gone; :12 The flowers appear on the earth; The time of the singing of birds is come, And the voice of the turtle-dove is heard in our land; :13 The fig-tree ripeneth her green figs, And the vines are in blossom; They give forth their fragrance. Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.
Notice what is happening in vss. 11 and 12; summer is near. The comment about the branch in the Matthew passage corresponds to the one about the green figs in the Song passage. They point to the fact that one of the signs of the times is that these called out ones, the first fruits man-child, is emerging. The approach of summer brings the promise of fruitfulness; the Church, the Body of Christ will finally be the fruitful vine, or fig tree, that has always been God’s plan for us. We will finally achieve our destiny*. This is beginning to happen now, with literally millions leaving the institutional church in order to actually be the Church (See George Barna, Frank Viola, and others). And in vs. 13, we have the fig tree. This passage perfectly parallels Matt. 24:32. This is no accident! But what is the point? The point is at the end of verse 13: “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.”
Jesus wants us to come away with Him. Obviously, and as most believers know, God desires, even requires intimacy with Him, and with each other. I want to look at a couple of passages that deal with this idea of coming away.
Isaiah 26 is a chapter which explains in several details exactly where we are, or rather, what the condition of the world and the Church is, at this exact moment in history. We won’t deal with the whole chapter here, though, just a couple verses.
ASV:Isaiah 26:20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. :21 For, behold, Jehovah cometh forth out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.
Here is the idea of coming away; the time period is clearly during the tribulation. Compare this to Matt. 6:6.
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber, and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father who is in secret, and thy Father who seeth in secret shall recompense thee.”
God is looking for those who will enter into intimate communion, i.e., communication, fellowship, with Him, with nothing and no one as a go between. What many cannot see (yet) is that they have not done this! Most, if asked, would say they have done this, but these same people have a hired servant, i.e., a paid clergy as a go between, as a mediator. This is a serious, serious error, but many cannot see this as yet**. They pay someone to remove from themselves the difficult task of seeking God to the point of becoming one flesh with Him. Now, I said earlier that it is corporately that we become the Body of Christ, but to do this requires that we have one-to-one communion with Him. Then, when we come together, we have true communion one with another and with God at once.
* From almost the moment I was born from above and started going to “church”, I have been dismayed and amazed that so many of the people of God are oblivious to the fruitlessness of the Church as compared to our destiny as revealed in scripture.
**I am not suggesting that no one who goes to a church which has a paid clergy can enter into true communion with God
Read I Cor. 11:17-34 (the communion passage) with this in mind, and see how this works
I believe the lesson of the fig tree points to the Song of Solomon and the intimacy that marks this entire book. As such, the book has much to teach us, and not only about intimacy. Look at chapter 1: 4-7
:4 Draw me; we will run after thee: (The Shulamite prays the King draw her; as a result, “we”, which includes the virgins, will run after Him.) The king hath brought me into his chambers; (This corresponds to Rev. 12:5, where the man-child is caught up to the throne. It also refers to intimacy in general) We will be glad and rejoice in thee; We will make mention of thy love more than of wine: Rightly do they love thee. (The virgins love the king-they just don’t know Him as they ought) :5 I am black, but comely, Oh ye daughters of Jerusalem, (The bride says she is black, from working in the sun. Refers to being outcast, not fitting in. She is different from the “daughters”. If this were not so, she would have no reason to tell them she is black.) As the tents of Kedar, As the curtains of Solomon. :6 Look not upon me, because I am swarthy, Because the sun hath scorched me. My mother's sons were incensed against me; (This requires a little bit of a leap, but I believe the mother’s sons are the leaders of the “church” which have and will reject and persecute the called out ones.) They made me keeper of the vineyards; But mine own vineyard have I not kept. (Institutional “church” life tends to keep people so busy with “church” stuff—what I call churchianity—they never are introduced to real spirituality. Thus there are a lot of Marthas, but not many Marys) :7 Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, (The bride speaking to the Bridegroom) Where thou feedest thy flock, Where thou makest it to rest at noon: For why should I be as one that is veiled (One that is veiled has been betrothed) Beside the flocks of thy companions? (She wonders, since she is betrothed to the King, why she should have to feed her flock beside the flocks of the King’s companions, instead of feeding directly with the King’s flocks. This is exactly what so many people who are leaving the institutional church are feeling)
This is already very long, and I could go on, but will stop here concerning the fig tree, except to re-emphasis that it is all about communion and intimacy*, and knowing God as He is, not necessarily as we’ve been taught. As promised, I will address as briefly as possible the subject of when the rapture occurs.
*Actually, since doing this study, God is showing me there is much more to the lesson of the fig tree. But He hasn’t completely revealed that mystery to me yet.
ASV:Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat upon them, and judgment was given unto them: and I saw the souls of them that had been beheaded for the testimony of Jesus, and for the word of God, and such as worshipped not the beast, neither his image, and received not the mark upon their forehead and upon their hand; and they lived, and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 20:5 The rest of the dead lived not until the thousand years should be finished. This is the first resurrection. 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: over these the second death hath no power; but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The event described here can only be taking place after the tribulation, not before, since included are those who did not receive the mark of the beast. Even if one says (as some do) that the mark of the beast is not literal and doesn’t necessarily take place only during the tribulation, the passage makes it clear that there is only one resurrection of the righteous, unless there is a third resurrection after the Great White throne judgment. But there’s no evidence for that.
The first sentence in vs. 5 is parenthetical. The second sentence, indicating the first resurrection is referring to those in vs. 4. Thus, one and only one resurrection of the righteous. I Cor, 15:52 tells us clearly that the rapture and the resurrection of the righteous dead happen at the same time: “… in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
Now, if there is only one resurrection of the righteous, and that resurrection happens at the beginning of the tribulation, then those who are saved during the tribulation cannot be resurrected. Matt. 24:29-31 makes it clear that the rapture happens “after the tribulation of those days”.
24:29 But immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun shall be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: :30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. :31 And he shall send forth his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Looking back at I Cor. 15:52, we see that the rapture/resurrection happens at the last trump. This is described in Rev. 11.
11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there followed great voices in heaven, and they said, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign for ever and ever. :16 And the four and twenty elders, who sit before God on their thrones, fell upon their faces and worshipped God, :17 saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God, the Almighty, who art and who wast; because thou hast taken thy great power, and didst reign. :18 And the nations were wroth, and thy wrath came, and the
time of the dead to be judged, and the time to give their reward to thy servants the prophets, and to the saints, and to them that fear thy name, the small and the great; and to destroy them that destroy the earth.
At the sounding of the seventh, and last, trumpet, we see in vs. 15 that “(t)he kingdom of our world has become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and he shall reign forever and ever.” This is the moment Jesus assumes ownership of the earth. It is imperative that, in order for this to happen, He must become one with His body, which is to rule and reign with him. Now this doesn’t mean necessarily that we couldn’t be raptured/resurrected before this happens, but it makes sense that, since Jesus will rule with His Bride, that He assumes rulership at the moment He and His Bride become one flesh. And vs. 18 bears this out. As we can see, this is the moment the servants and saints receive their reward, that is, at the moment of resurrection. Is it reasonable that we would receive our glorified bodies seven years prior to getting our reward? No! Our glorified bodies are PART OF the reward! The rapture/ resurrection takes place in Rev. 11:15-18.
Concerning the Jewish wedding feast, which some have claimed points to a pre-trib rapture, it’s important to note that, while the ceremony lasts for seven days, the ceremony takes place at the home of the bride (earth) and the bride is not taken to the home of the bridegroom until after the seven days, where the marriage is consummated, and the two become one flesh. This according to The Zondervan Pictoral Encyclopedia of the Bible.