Matthew 24:32-33 (The Parable of the Fig Tree; the Rapture Revealed)

After predicting the destruction of Jerusalem and its magnificent temple Jesus has been responding to His disciples’ request for a sign for when such things would take place, which they associated with the end of that age and His coming to establish His kingdom of righteousness (Mat 24:1-3).  In answer, He has warned first and repeatedly against false christs and false prophets who would arise promising people deliverance from the bondage they were under to their worldly enemies (Mat 24:4-5,11, 23-26).  It was for this reason that they had rejected Him as their true Messiah, who came to deliver from the bondage they were under to sin and their enemy the devil.  As sin is what keeps man in bondage to the ruler of this world and its kingdoms, the deliverance Christ came to bring was far greater than what anyone at the time realized, and the only means to a true lasting salvation out of the kingdoms of this world into God’s eternal kingdom of righteousness and peace.  But for those who would not believe, and in their hearts resisted God, the deceitful nature of sin prevented them from seeing past their love for the world to understand this truth that in man’s fallen state can only be perceived through the eyes of faith; cf. 1Co 13:12-13, 2Co 5:7, Heb 11:6.

Jesus has also warned that the desire for a worldly salvation by those who rejected Him would result in wars and rumors or wars, famines, and even earthquakes as the earth itself would groan under such hardened sinfulness of men (Mat 24:6-8).  This would lead to tribulation for His disciples who would not war along with them (Mat 24:9-10,12-13).  It would also lead to a time of great tribulation for those who refused to love the truth that could save them.  For rather than losing their life by fleeing from the world without looking back to seek refuge under the Lord’s wings of refuge, they would be deluded to save their lives in the world by seeking refuge in the false security of a worldly Jerusalem.  There they would become trapped, gathered in bundles out of Christ’s kingdom as tares to be burned (Mat 24:15-22).  And there, and then, in the darkness of that tribulation the sign of the Son of Man would shine forth like lightning as the light of the truth would become clear, both to those who were being destroyed, and to those who were being gathered into His kingdom of righteousness; cf. Mat 3:11-12.

What does Jesus now say in regard to the signs He has given in answer to His disciples’ request?  See Mat 24:32-33.  What is the significance of the parable of the fig tree and summer being near to the time of year it was at that very time?  As the branches of the literal fig trees had become tender and were putting forth their leaves (cf. Mar 11:13), in what way was that also happening in a spiritual sense?  I.e., as the sap had begun flowing first with John’s and then Jesus’ ministries, what events were just about to take place as the long-dormant promise was about to spring to life?  See Acts 2:36, 1Co 15:3-4, etc…  In what way did those events that were about to blossom bring forth the gospel that would be proclaimed throughout the whole world and result in Christ’s kingdom of righteousness being established in and by the Church?  Cf. Mat 24:14, Acts 2:37-41.  At the same time, in what way were those events also the start of the signs that would culminate in the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple 40 years later?  Cf. Luk 23:27-31, Acts 4:10-12, 7:51-52, etc…

What is the significance that summer is not a single day or point in time but a season or an interval of time?  I.e., what is the significance that Jesus didn’t say something like, “When you see the holiday decorations go up in Walmart, you know that Christmas is near”?  Shall we then necessarily expect that a singular event to mark the establishment of His kingdom—such as a secret rapture into heaven as it is popularly imagined today—is about to take place when we see happening the signs Jesus has given?  Was that the expectation or the experience of the disciples in the years that followed as they saw happening the signs Jesus had given?

What does Jesus mean in saying to His disciples that when they see happening all the signs He has given, that He, or it (see NAS text note, KJV, NIV) is near, right at the door?  See Luk 21:28-33.  As Jesus’ disciples observed that the signs He gave were happening over the next 40 years, in what sense was He right at the door, knocking, with the promise of His kingdom to all who would open to Him?  Cf. Rev 3:20, 2Co 6:1-2.  In what sense did they in fact see the kingdom of God coming in power and great glory as it spread throughout the entire known world, setting people free from the bondage of sin and their enemy the devil?  At the same time, in what sense was He also right at the door as a Judge about to execute judgment upon the disobedient nation of the Jews?  Cf. James 5:9.

While the spread of the gospel and the establishment of Christ’s kingdom was more like a season of growth that we see in summer, what singular event did happen that was a fulfilment of Jesus’ words and a culmination of the signs He gave?  How was that singular event the exact opposite of what those who had rejected Him were expecting?  In what way is the expectation that many Christians have today for a secret rapture similar to the expectations many Jews had in the first century for the Messiah to provide a supernatural salvation from their enemies even though they had rejected the real salvation from sin that He came to bring?  Think: in what way have many Christians today rejected the gospel call to repentance in favor of easy-believism and eternal security?  Is it possible that the singular event they are expecting could also turn out to be the exact opposite of their expectation?  Cf. Mat 24:40-41 and the popular understanding that these verses refer to people being raptured away to heaven, and consider that they actually refer to them being taken away in judgment, just like in the days of Noah as the immediately preceding context indicates.

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