Monday, September 24, 2007

Is Israel the Fig Tree? Did Christ Promise to Return to Our Generation?

I recently had a discussion with a woman on a debate forum. She has been claiming to her friends that it’s a 100% fact that the abomination of desolation will take place within a few years and that Christ will come back in less than seven years. While attempting to instill some reason within her, a discussion arose about the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24. Sue claimed, as many do, that Jesus taught that the fig tree represented Israel, that the fig tree growing leaves was symbolic of Israel becoming a nation, and that Christ will return to the generation that sees this event.

Here's the verse:

Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. (Matthew 24:32-34)

While I would never say that Christ will not come back in our generation, I feel that it’s important to avoid getting sucked into pop culture prophetic interpretations. Below is a portion of my discussion with Sue in an attempt to scripturally and logically show her why the parable of the fig tree teaching that Jesus delivered on the Mount of Olives does not teach what she believes it to teach. I hope you will see why this Hal Lindsey fig tree teaching is absurd, and I think you will certainly find that Sue did not become a fan of yours truly!

Sue's comments are in bold lettering.

Look, Jesus told us that when Israel becomes a nation again, this generation will not pass away.

The fig tree in Matt. 24:32 is not a symbolic message speaking of the Jews obtaining Israel. It is simply a parable, just as Jesus said it was:

"Now learn the parable from the fig tree.."

It's a general statement about ALL trees, and the fact that when they put forth leaves, obviously summer is near. Similarly, when we see the things Jesus teaches of in Matt 24 we will know He is near.

Luke proves that He truly speaking of trees in general and not Israel.

"Behold the fig tree and ALL the trees..." Luke 21:29

Simply a parable! God help you. Why do you even bother to believe that Jesus died for our sins? Do you believe the parable of the seeds? Or maybe that is just a story about seeds? Maybe, Jesus was just telling us how to plant a garden?

Thanks for the sarcasm and rudeness, but you have a misunderstanding of parables. In the parable of the seeds Jesus actually teaches what the meaning of the parable is by explaining what the seeds are, what the soil represents and what the outcome is of each. And you would not, nor would anyone, ever say it meant anything else or that there was some hidden, secret meaning to the parable.

The parable of the fig tree in Matt 24 and Luke 21 is exactly the same. Jesus gives the short parable and then, just as He did with the parable of the seeds, He explains what it means. When the TREES (plural) grow leaves we know that summer is near. Explanation? Just like the trees indicate that summer is near, the end times signs, abomination, etc, indicate that He is near. You won't add to scripture in the parable of the seeds, so why would we add to scripture with this parable?

And you've ignored the Luke passage that speaks of "all the trees." Does that mean when all the lost nations become nations again Christ will come back in that generation? Of course not, but YOU would have to say that it does in order to be scripturally consistent.

In Mark 11:13 Jesus shook the fig tree and said that it would die. This symbolizes that Israel has been blinded. In fact, not only does this speak about Israel, but, specifically, the temple. Read the scripture. But, to you, it probably means that your God kills trees that He doesn't like.

Again, Jesus gives the answer to the parable, and tells us what He meant without mincing words or adding a Hal Lindsey type of deep meaning that is not indicated. Please don't poop out on me now! Please keep reading!

Mark 11:20-24
As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Being reminded, Peter said to Him, "Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered."

And Jesus answered saying to them, "HAVE FAITH IN GOD. Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, BELIEVE that you have received them, AND THEY WILL BE GRANTED TO YOU.

Jesus had faith and his request was granted. It showed the disciples that faith can move mountains. That is the answer to the parable and Jesus PLAINLY explained it. Faith can move mountains! But this time you've completely ignored the answer to the parable that Jesus gave and created another Israel application. Is this because of your desire to prove that Christ HAS to come back in this generation?

In Jeremiah 24, God specifically tells us that figs are referring to Israel. Read this.

Sure. In THIS passage figs represent Israel. Does that automatically mean that all references to figs are references to Israel? If so, and to be consistent, you must also say that that all references to seeds are references to the word of God as it is in the Matthew 13 parable. This doesn't add up.

Now if you still wish to believe that it was just a story about trees, then you should read these scriptures. This is a very good scripture.

Luke 12:54-56
He said to the crowd: "When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?

Now you're calling me a hypocrite. Nice. Sorry I've tried, with the utmost patience by the way, to help those that have been misled by teachers that attempt to add to and to create hidden, secret meaning to God's word. Sorry you don't like it when someone disagrees with you and plainly explains scripture in an attempt to help you understand. I feel as if I couldn't have been more gracious in my communication with you.

There's quite a bit more to this discussion, and you may view it in its entirety here, if you would like. So that you will know who is saying what on the forum, my screen name is "smackbucket."

Monday, September 17, 2007

Far Be it From God That He Should Have a Son!

Did you know that the above statement is boldly pronounced on a monument within the Islamic mosque located on the Dome of the Rock where the Jews formerly worshiped God in their temple? This fact alone made Joel Richardson’s (pen name to hide his true identity) book, Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah, worth reading, in my opinion.

He approaches the subject of the end times with the view that there is a very good chance that Islam will be the main player, from the covenant to the Antichrist to Armageddon. He shows the parallels that Islam shares with Christianity when it comes to the end of the world. But there’s a twist. These paralles are more like polar opposites.

Not only does much of Islam see their Mahdi, their awaited messiah, as one who will rule the world politically, militarily and religiously, they believe he will confirm a covenant with Israel for seven years and will offer Jews and Christians a chance to follow Islam and live. Those that refuse will be killed. Starting to sound familiar yet?

The Mahdi’s sidekick will be Jesus. Not your Jesus, though. This Islamic Jesus will come and convince many that the first century Jesus was a liar, and he will behead those that cling to their Christian faith by refusing to reject Christ. Richardson ties the Muslim Jesus to what we understand to be the false prophet in Revelation chapter 13.

The Dajjal is what the Muslim’s view as the Antichrist, and coincidentally, the Dajjal is actually our Jesus. But not to worry (insert sarcasm), the Islamic Jesus will destroy Him by his great power proving that our Jesus Christ was not who He claimed to be.

The only scriptural disagreement that I had that comes to mind was with his interpretation of the 7th and 8th kings of Revelation 17:10, and his thoughts on the revived Roman empire. Though I am not a fan of the label (revived Roman empire) I do see a biblical connection of the final beast empire to the sixth beast empire, Rome. What this connection means, though, I’m undecided and refuse to commit myself to a conclusion.

Richardson did a great job interpreting scripture and presented just about every passage in way that made me feel that we are likeminded individuals with a common force driving us. I’m not ready to commit to this idea that Richardson lays forth, but I believe that Antichrist: Islam’s Awaited Messiah is a book that every follower of Christ should consider reading because of the times we live in, and in order to understand the satanic enemy that we are dealing with. They hate America, Jews, Christians and the one true God, Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A Great Conversation With an Extreme Liberal

“The Americans and the Jews are the terrorists! And look at this map. This shows all the Palestinian land that the Jews have stolen from them. It’s their land and the Jews are killing them with America’s help to take what is not rightfully theirs!”

This is a statement made to me by one of my customers this morning. Sharon (fictitious name) is a local activist that is about to marry an Iranian Muslim she has known for five months. As she threw around terms like Zionist rag (referring to The Jerusalem Post) and spoke of despising Zionist Jews and fundamentalist Christians I had to wonder if Sharon was going to remain my customer (though I distance myself from being lumped into the “fundamentalist Christian” camp).

I wanted to address the deception she was buying into, but wasn’t sure how to begin the conversation without enraging her passion any more that it already was. I was certain that if I didn’t pick my words wisely and wasn’t led by the Spirit that this customer relationship would end in a negative way, so I responded to most of her statements with an, “Oh really?” or an, “Are you sure about that?”

But then she said that she was a Quaker, and I knew what to do. I knew it was time to participate with gentleness, but without a fear of how this relationship might end.

“You’re a Quaker?” I responded. “I thought Quakers had a core belief in Jesus?”

“Oh yes, we do.”

I replied, “Well now I’m confused (not really, though). The things you’re claiming don’t line up with what the Bible teaches, and it seems to me that if you want to be on God’s side as a woman who believes in Jesus you should want what He wants. What if God gave the Jews the land of Israel, and what if it is actually the Arabs that are wrong in claiming that the land is theirs?”

“How is that possible. Look at this map,” she said.

“Have you heard of Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael? Have you heard that Isaac became the Jewish nation while Ishmael became the Arab nations?”


“What if that is where this all began? What if your map only shows the recent history of the land, and what if God originally told Abraham that his son Isaac, and not his son Ishmael was the genuine inheritor of the land of Israel?”

Stunned, she said, “Well, I don’t think God would have said such a thing. Maybe Abraham said it though.”

As she pointed to a poster board covered with liberal news articles she continued, “This is my life’s work, and what you’re saying goes against it.”

My reply? “Well, what you’re saying goes against my life’s work which is, in part, the understanding and study of what is in the Bible. There’s nothing wrong with us disagreeing, and I don’t want to lose all the money you would give me as a future customer,” I lightheartedly proclaimed, “But I have to point out the contradiction when you say you believe in the Jesus of the Bible but have devoted your life according to the opposite of His plan. I would be glad to show you the verses in the Bible that show what I am saying so that you can judge for yourself.”

“I’d love to see that. Can I have your e-mail?”

There was more to this conversation, but that was the meat of it. So I went back to work, and about a half hour later she came out onto her back porch to give me a brochure for an interfaith peace gathering and to conclude our conversation. Very seriously, she said, “I only have one question. According to the Bible are the Jews going to continually kill the Arabs and are the Arabs destined to be wanderers without their own land?”

I could see the shock in her face as I explained that it will actually be Islamic nations that are possibly aligned with other nations that will kill most of the Jews before it’s all over, and that in the end God will still give the land to the Jews.

“Wow,” I thought to myself as I could see the sadness in her eyes. Yet, I felt hope as it seemed as though she had a genuine desire to know what the Bibles said. It seemed like she believed that what the Bible said was true, and I had to wonder, and hope, that this would cause her to search the Scriptures for answers rather than to simply believe liberal agenda (and probably her Arabic fianc├ęs’ agenda). Throughout this conversation I could also tell that she was very shocked by what was coming out of her Podunk window cleaner’s mouth!

Stay tuned for my reply to her concerning the history of the covenant made with Abraham, the land’s rightful owners, the rejection of Christ by the Jews, their dispersion and the final outcome of the land of Israel. This could get interesting.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11/01 and Beyond

Old Thoughts Revisited

I've received a lot of e-mail about my article where I compared Matthew 24 and Luke 21, and as I've watched my stat counter I've noticed a ton of people reading it within the last month even though the piece is from January of 2006 (why very few of you leave comments, I don't hem). Plus, it's one of my favorite posts because of all of the details, scripture analysis, and time that went into the project.

Because of these three things I thought that I would post a link for it again to make sure that everyone knows it's here. If you would like to know why I think that Matthew 24 and Luke 21 are not referring to the same events, and that one speaks of 70 AD while the other is entirely futuristic in content, click here. I think it goes against what a lot of people think and teach, but I also think you will agree with me if you read the entire article.

It's a fairly long, three part article, but I think it shows an interesting detail within the Bible that displays just how fantastic the study of prophecy can be, and how fun it is when things piece together while searching for answers. Give it a read if you have a 15 or 20 minutes to spare.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Christ is Coming This Week!

Don't let the title fool you, I'm not the one doing the predicting, but it will certainly be interesting to see what unravels at the message board led by a certain misguided individual. They have claimed that God has told them that the rapture will take place this week between the 10th and 14th, and it appears as though there are quite a few people that believe this tale. As I've read some of their messages it appears to me that most of them are pretty young, and it angers me to think about the consequences of this person's deception once it's proven to the followers that they have been led astray. It can be a hard thing to recover from.

Here is the message board, and I'll even throw another one in for free. Here's a web site predicting that He will come by summer's end.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Complete Muslim Control of Temple Mount?

If you haven't heard, you should. If it's true I can't believe it's a wise move by Israel. World Net Daily reports that, "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office today presented the Palestinian Authority with a formal plan in which the Jewish state would forfeit the Temple Mount – Judaism's holiest site – to Muslim control, according to top Palestinian sources." Read about it here and here.