A Parable For Truth
Matthew 24:32-36 (Jesus speaking)
32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When its branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away. 36But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
One out of every 30 verses in the Bible mentions the subject of Christ’s return. Of the 216 chapters in the New Testament there are well over 300 references to the return of Jesus Christ.
Only four of the 27 New Testament books fail to mention it. That means that 1/20th of the entire New Testament is dedicated to the subject of our Lord’s return. In the Old Testament such well-known and reliable men such as Job, Moses, David, Isaiah and Jeremiah and Daniel and most of the Minor Prophets, gave major attention to the Lord’s return.
Christ, when He was here on earth, spoke about His future return. Those who lived on following the death and resurrection and the ascension our Lord and followed His teachings who established the churches and wrote the Scriptures in the first century, always mentioned our Lord’s return in their preaching and in their writings. So, when people wonder why we always mention the coming of the Lord, we’re not fanatics and we’re not dooms-day-sayers. We’re just trying to be Biblical, and I personally believe that it’s the message of the hour.
Be it teacher or preacher, when we have the truth of Christ’s return firmly fixed, we then have a perspective on life that you cannot get from any other study.
Matthew 24:3-14 (Jesus speaking)
3And as He sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto Him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of Thy coming, and of the end of the world? 4And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 8All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. 10And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 11And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 12And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 13But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.14And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.
His disciples questioned Him in Verse 3, above, “…as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? and Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. 5For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. 6And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there shall be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted and shall kill you; and ye shall be hated of all nations for My name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
Jesus is going to use some illustrations, as He always did, to try to help them understand how this all fits together. Jesus was the greatest storyteller of all the Bible speakers. He used parables often as He shared truth.
In Matthew 24 in four verses Jesus used a parable to explain an important truth.
Matthew 24: 32-35 (Jesus speaking)
32Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When its branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near: 33So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away.
Jesus told them the meaning of the parable. Jesus’ parables were given to us to help us to understand. The parable of the fig tree, following the teaching concerning what shall be the sign of the end of the age, is given to us so we can understand this truth in a better way.
In Verse 34, above, Christ is not talking concerning the disciples; He’s talking concerning a future generation. He is not talking to Israel, the nation. Israel was and is His chosen people, the apple of His eye as stated in Scripture and we know from Scripture that the Jewish nation will not pass away, ever.
You better be on Israel’s side for God is on their side and God is going to preserve them. I believe that the generation spoken of here is not the generation that Christ was speaking to here, but it was to the generation that would see the signs He talked about in Matthew 24.
In other words, the generation that sees the signs will be the generation that sees the Son of God coming in the sky, the generation that sees the signs developing that Jesus spoke about as recorded in Scripture.
I believe it will be that generation who will see the coming of Jesus Christ in all of His glory, Matthew 24:34 (above), and the fulfillment of the parable of the fig tree. It fits together. The idea is the budding of the fig leaves means that it is not long until summer. The generation that’s alive when the signs occur will not have long to wait for Christ’s return.
As the Books of Revelation and Daniel make clear, the time of the Tribulation is seven years and the “great tribulation” is the last 3 ½ years of those seven years, so, seven years would fall within the easy range of a generation.
What Jesus is saying is this: When the generation begins to see the things mentioned, when the Rapture has taken place and the Man of Sin is revealed and all of these things that Jesus has been talking about here happens, the generation that sees those things will not pass away until Jesus comes in all His glory.
He just used that as an illustration to help His disciples understand the prophetic program of the Scriptures. The Christians will not be here then. We’re not in this generation.
Our generation, if we have trusted the Lord, we’re going to be with the Lord. The generation that is on this earth and sees these things, will be the generation that sees the Second Coming of the Lord. There is only a seven-year space between beginning and the ultimate end. The Bible teaches that the Rapture will take place before the Tribulation.
In Revelation Chapters 2 and 3 the word “church” is everywhere, but in Chapters 4, 5 and 6 of Revelation you will not find the word church. Those chapters tell us about The Tribulation that is coming upon the earth. Do you know why you do not find the word “church”? The Tribulation is on earth and we’re in Heaven! We, the redeemed, are the Church! The Church, the Bride of Christ, left this earth to spend eternity with God!
2 Peter 3:10
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
It is not possible for the Word of God to not be fulfilled, including what Jesus says about the end times. Some people think that not believing, they can somehow make it not true. God’s Word will never pass away. His Word is true.
Jesus could come today, so we must be ready, waiting and watching, and He tells us to “occupy until I come.” The Christian life begins with faith, but that faith must lead to spiritual growth.
People who have a genuine Christian experience are not likely to fall prey to apostate false teachers. The best defense against false teaching is to study God’s Word, the Bible, verse by verse, book by book, Genesis through Revelation, on your own time, daily, and know truth and live out the truth. It is time for the child of God to be alert and knowledgeable about the content of the Bible and to spend time daily in prayer and worship of God.
2 Peter 2:1-6, 9
1But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction 2And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. 3And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. 4For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an example unto those that after should live ungodly; 7And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked.
9The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished:
Counterfeits are nothing new. Satan is an example, and he has been hard at work ever since he deceived Eve in the garden.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15
13For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. 14And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. 15Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
The devil has false Christians as followers.
John 8:44 (Jesus speaking)
Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
And one day the devil will present to the world a false Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:8, 9
8And then shall that wicked one be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of His mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of His coming: 9Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.
Notice: This verse is speaking about the Antichrist.
Since these false teachers really have nothing to give, how are they able to attract followers? First, these false teachers are eloquent promoters with their vocabulary, inflated words that say nothing. They are so successful in that they appeal to the base appetites of the Old Nature. This is part of their bait.
19Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
This Scripture shows us the many different kinds of bait the apostates have available for baiting their traps. Pride is one of the sins of the flesh and apostate teachers like to appeal to the human ego.
Faith is only as good as the object. A pagan may have great faith in his idol, but the idol can do nothing for him, but when you put your faith in Jesus Christ, that faith will accomplish something because God always keeps His promises.
1 Kings 8:56
Blessed be the LORD, that hath given rest unto His people Israel, according to all that He promised: there hath not failed one word of all His good promise, which He promised by the hand of Moses His servant.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
Sin always promises freedom, but in the end brings bondage. It promises life but instead brings death. Sin has a way of gradually binding a person until there is no way of escape, apart from the gracious intervention of the Lord.
The apostates brought their followers into bondage by means of lies. Our Lord brings us into freedom by means of truth.
John 8:32 (Jesus speaking)
And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
This world is not our home. We’re strangers and pilgrims in this world headed for a better world, Heaven.
II Peter 3:14
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of Him in peace, without spot, and blameless.
Then in Verse 17, Peter tells us to beware.
2 Peter 3:17
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.
2 Peter 3:18
But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.
To grow in grace means experiencing trials, and even suffering the lessons learned in the school of grace are always costly lessons, but they are worth it. The separated Christian must constantly be guarding himself lest he be led away into error; he also must be constantly growing in grace and knowledge. This requires diligence! It demands discipline and priorities.
Nobody automatically drifts into spiritual growth and stability; however, anyone can drift out of dedication and growth.
1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him;
Just as the boat needs the anchor, so too the Christian needs the Word of God.
The child of God is “born” with everything he needs for growth and service.
II Peter 1:3-8
3According as His divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him that hath called us to glory and virtue: 4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. 5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Spiritual maturity is one of the greatest needs in churches today. God is looking for mature men and women to carry on this work and sometimes all He can find are little children who cannot even get along with each other.
First of all, it is essential that we have been “born again.” Apart from spiritual birth, there can be no spiritual maturity. In the book of James, he tells about spiritual maturity. The truly born-again Christian is patient in testing trials. The book of James is a good instructional book of the Bible that we should read. It tells us that we are to rejoice “under the cross” we might have to bear and if we need wisdom, to ask for it, to hearken to the Word, not show partiality to the poor, to be loving and merciful, to be a giving Christian. Chapter 3 tells us to bridle our tongues, even though small, but a powerful instrument; it can do great harm or much good. Chapter 4 we are to strive against rash judgment of others and be mindful of the uncertainties of life. Chapter 5 says to be patient under affliction, to pray in adversity and to pray for each other.
When Jesus compared the Word of God to a mirror as we study the Word of God, we are looking into the divine mirror and seeing ourselves as we really are, and James is warning us that we must be honest about what we see and not merely glance at the image and walk away.
We must obey no matter what the cost. It may be easy to attend a Bible study, share the lesson and discuss it, but it is much more difficult to go out into life in the workaday world and practice what we have learned, unless we are willing to obey. The Lord is not obligated to teach us. It is essential that we be prepared for some extra trials and testings, for whenever we are serious about spiritual growth, the enemy gets serious about opposing us.
Christian growth is not automatic, as is physical growth. It is something that we must work at constantly. Not everyone who grows old, grows up. A mature Christian is one who is happy serving the Lord. They are useful and they are encouraging to others.