Olivet Discourse: Matthew 24:32-33

What does a fig tree have to do with Israel? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

These verses are ones dispensationalists point to. We’re supposed to look at Israel and see what’s going on God’s eschatological time clock by looking at them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t hold up and it can be seen just by looking at the discourse itself. Let’s look at verses 32-33.

32 “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. 33 Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door.

Now notice that Jesus singles out the fig tree. Since He’s doing that, He must be talking about Israel. After all, fig trees represent Israel. Right? Well, let’s see about that.

First, look at Luke 21.

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

Jesus says the fig tree and all the trees. What other trees are we supposed to look at here? Second, Jesus says what is near at that time is the Kingdom of God. Has the Kingdom of God come at all or not? We could be spending more time looking at the Kingdom later on.

If you do a search for fig trees, there’s really nothing about them that show that they are meant to be a symbol of Israel. In a parable in Judges 9, the plant kingdom asks the fig tree to be their king. Now if the parable is about the people of Israel looking for a king, it’s saying Israel is going to Israel asking Israel to be their king. Make sense to you? It doesn’t to me either.

Also, in Matthew 21, Jesus curses a fig tree that we are often told is meant to symbolize Israel, but if that is the case, and I think a strong case can be made for that, then dispensationalists have a problem. After all, the fig tree is cursed to never bear fruit again. If that’s the case, then we would expect Israel to never bear fruit again. I hold such an interpretation with hesitancy as I believe God could use national Israel in the future.

Let’s also consider how many people made their predictions based on Israel. In 1948, Israel became a nation and people were making predictions based on that. After all, a generation is supposed to last forty years and this generation was supposed to not pass away until everything took place. Think such a thing seems far-fetched? Not at all. A few decades ago, a man named Edgar Whisenant rocked the Christian world with a book on 88 reasons the rapture will take place in 1988. As we can tell, he was wrong.

To dispensationalists reading this, even though you disagree with me on Preterism, please at least try to get your camp to stop writing books like that. They only embarrass us further. There has been great harm done to the body of Christ by people trying to predict events from an eschatological perspective by what they see going on in the news.

Some people then decided the six-day war was what started things. Nope. Wrong again. That was in 1967 and again, nothing happened 40 years later.

Could it just be that maybe the nation of Israel being established doesn’t have eschatological meaning at all?

Now some people might saying, “Are you saying we shouldn’t support Israel?” Not at all. Whether we do or not, it is not because the nation is supposedly that of God. It’s because if a nation is doing what is right, we should support it. One reason I personally think we should support Israel is they are a great buffer against Islam in the Middle East.

So dispensationalists, there’s nothing here about the fig tree representing Israel. The passage doesn’t work. Now if you interpret it as referring to the signs within the passage and not about the establishment of Israel, then it works just fine.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Liked it? Take a second to support Deeper Waters on Patreon!