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

Deeper Waters Podcast 3/25/2017: Michael Chung

What’s coming up Saturday on the Deeper Waters Podcast? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Kings. We don’t really think about them much today. Here in the West, we live with a president over us and several governing bodies like Congress and the Senate. Washington is a large organization with numerous parties involved. It’s hard for Westerners to think about a king.

Yet if the Bible is true, we do have a king. Even non-Christians have this king. Their not acknowledging Him doesn’t change that He is the king. This king is Jesus. Jesus is the last king of Israel and the current ruling king of the universe.

What can you learn from this person? What did He go through in His life? I decided that it would be good to look at the Passion of Jesus and discuss how it applies to our life and how we can learn about Jesus and His response to suffering and what He saw as worthwhile in life. To do that, I decided to have Michael Chung come on. He is the author of the book Jesus, The Last King of Israel.

So who is he?

Michael Chung

According to his bio:

(BS, The Ohio State University; MDiv, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School; Ph.D. University of Nottingham) has taught at Fuller Theological Seminary-Texas, Houston Baptist University, Calvary Theological Seminary-Indonesia, and Houston Christian High School. He is also the author of Praying with Mom (2012) and has published academic journal articles in North America, Asia, and Europe on Gospels, Paul, Spiritual Formation, New Testament Theology, and Missiology. He has also done missions and pastoral work.

Not only will we be discussing the last week of Jesus, we will spend some time on some issues that are troublesome to Christians and scholars alike. The first will be the anointing of Jesus. Do the accounts contradict? Even the number of days looks to be mentioned. The second is the cursing of the fig tree. Does this really fit in with the character of Christ?

Mainly, we will be looking at what Jesus did during His passion. How did Jesus approach it? What did He do with these moments that would be the last ones of His fully public ministry? How did He handle problems of failure among His disciples? Who was it that He wanted to go and spend His time with? The way a person dies can reveal a lot about them and if Jesus knew that He was going to die, what does the way He spent His time reveal about Him?

Also, briefly if anyone is interested, we didn’t do a show last week due to my being out of state for a funeral, but we hope to make it up this week with this interview. I hope you’ll be looking forward to this one showing up on your podcast feed. Please also go and write a review of the Deeper Waters Podcast and let me know how you like the show. I’m working hard on getting the best for you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters