Dec 252010

Mark 13:28  KJV  ”Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When her branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is near:”

This is an almost exact, word for word parallel with Mathew 24:32 in the KJV.

The last parallel is:  Luke 21:29-30 KJV  “And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand.

Any commentary on any of these three should tell us the same things on the issues presented.  Lets see what some highly respected premillennial, dispensational theologians have had to say about it.  That’s all this is.  Just did some quote mining, but in context.

“[Hal] Lindsey taught that within a generation (a generation equals forty years) of Israel’s becoming a nation again, the Lord would return (Late Great Planet, p. 43). This was based upon his interpretation that the fig tree in Matthew 24:32 is a symbol for the reconstitution of Israel as a nation. Thus, the generation (Mtt. 24:34) that saw Israel become a nation would also see the Second Coming. Since Israel became a nation in 1948, many believe that Lindsey implied Christ’s return would occur by 1988. . . . none of Lindsey’s mentors agreed with his view.”  Thomas Ice

“Such an interpretation, coupled with tendencies to ‘date-set’ have led to numerous problems. The issue mainly concerns interpretation (hermeneutics, the rules by which we interpret Scripture.) Although a fig tree is associated with teaching concerning Israel in numerous contexts (e.g., Hos. 9:10; Mtt. 21:19; Mark 11:13; Luke 13:6), the focus of these passages is on using the fig tree as an illustration rather than an identifier for Israel. And so it is here. This can be seen by evaluating the meaning of the fig tree in terms of the immediate context. (As an aside, the immediate context is perhaps the most important element in determining authorial intent.) When we look at the larger passage, we see that Jesus is using the fig tree as an analogy, not for Israel, but for the principle that its leaves are a sign that summer is near. Similarly, “when you see all these things, know that it is near” (Mtt. 24:33). When they see what things? The various signs and events that Jesus has just described in the preceding verses. Thus, the fig tree is an analogy which teaches how those at that time will know that the Second Coming is near. To couple it specifically to indicating the rebirth of Israel goes beyond what can be supported by the context.”  Tony Garland, Th.M., Th.D.

Source for above quotes.

“A very popular interpretation of this passage considers the fig tree as a type, or illustration, of Israel. According to this view, the fact that Israel in the twentieth century is back in the land constitutes a budding of the fig tree, and may be taken as conclusive proof that the Lord’s return is near.”

“Actually, while the fig tree could be an apt illustration of Israel, it is not so used in the Bible. In Jeremiah 24:1-8, good and bad figs illustrate Israel in the captivity, and there is also mention of figs in 29:17. The reference to the fig tree in Judges 9:10-11 is obviously not Israel. Neither the reference in Matthew 21:18-20 nor that in Mark 11:12-14 with its interpretation in 11:20-26, gives any indication that it is referring to Israel, any more than the mountain referred to in the passage. Accordingly, while this interpretation is held by many, there is no clear scriptural warrant.

A better interpretation is that Christ was using a natural illustration. Because the fig tree brings forth new leaves late in the spring, the budding of the leaves is evidence that summer is near. In a similar way, when those living in the great tribulation see the signs predicted, they will know that the second coming of Christ is near. The signs in this passage, accordingly, are not the revival of Israel, but the great tribulation itself. Lenski, accordingly, is correct when he states that “all these things” mentioned in Matthew 24:33 refer to the preceding context.That Israel’s presence in the holy land is a dramatic evidence that the age is approaching its end may be supported by other passages, but this is not the point here.”

Commentary on Mathew, “Thy Kingdom Come”, by John F Walvoord; ISBN 825439698

“The first of these parables, the lesson of the fig tree illustration, is a widely noted passage. For example, my good friend Hal Lindsey teaches that the fig tree represents Israel,…”

“I agree with so much of what Hal teaches in the area of Bible prophecy, but on this particular passage I have to disagree with him, even though I used to hold this view myself in the early  70s. I held the view then because the most influential book upon me at the time concerning Bible prophecy was Hal’s Late Great Planet Earth. (I still believe that Late Great is an excellent book to introduce people to Bible prophecy and recommend it.) I tend to agree that the fig tree is some times used as a symbol for national Israel (see Judges 9:10–11; Jer. 8:13; Hosea 9:10; Hab. 3:17; Hag. 2:19; Matt. 21:19; Mark 11:13, 20–21; Luke 13:6–7). However, whether or not the “fig tree” is a symbol for Israel is not what a proper understanding of this passage turns upon. I think that is a non-issue when it comes to interpreting this passage. I also agree with Hal that the establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 is prophetically significant and indicates that we are likely near the beginning of the tribulation, but I don’t think that the parable of the fig tree is support for such a view.  The basic problem with Hal’s view is that he takes the parable of Jesus and turns this illustration into a prophecy. Christ is simply illustrating that when one sees a fig tree (In Luke’s version of the same treaties Christ says in 21:29, “Behold the fig tree and all the trees.”) begin to put on leaves (in the spring), then you know that the next season is approaching (summer). Christ then concludes, “even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” Thus, in the context, our Lord does not put an emphasis upon Israel as a symbol. He is saying that when you see the events of the seven-year tribulation take place then you know that His second advent is near.  Hal and other who hold that view have taken Christ’s illustration, which was meant to demonstrate a point about verses 4 through 31, and created a prophecy out of thin air, which does not even exist. The prophecy that Hal has created is that Christ’s coming will occur 40 years after the founding of the modern state of Israel. Christ’s illustration was not intended to be a prophecy about anything; it is an illustration about the preceding context. It should be clear by now that such a view is wrong, especially since we are over 15 years beyond his 40-year prediction. Therefore, it does not matter how long a generation is, since the events of 4 through 31 will take place within a seven-year period. That generation that sees the events of the seven-year tribulation will not pass away (in other words, it will not take hundreds of years or a long time) until Christ’s second coming (see 24:33). This first parable drives home the point through illustration what Christ said in 24:29–30: “But immediately after the tribulation of those days . . . they will see the Son of Man coming.”

An Interpretation of Mathew 24-25 Part XXX,  by Thomas Ice

“Much confusion has resulted from many well-meaning people trying to identify the ‘generation [that] will not pass away until all these take place’ (Matthew 24:34). Some start this generation at verse 31 and believe that it’s talking about the generation beginning at the time Israel became a nation in 1948. The passage of time, of course, has disproved that idea. It’s better to interpret this verse in its context: that is, the generation that sees the events of the Tribulation will also see the coming of Christ and the other events leading to the end of the age. This avoids harmful speculations about the future, for no man knows the day or the hour (Matthew 24:36)”

“Charting the End Times”,  Tim LaHaye and Thomas Ice, page 37

Note:  this would be a change for LaHaye as just a couple of years before he implied the opposite in his book with Jerry Jenkins “Are We Living in the Last Days” on pages 56 and 57.  But maybe he didn’t write either of these statements as they could have been written by his partners.  I’ve heard that excuse from LaHaye’s camp before, however he signed his name to the books.

”Some have said that the budding of the fig tree speaks of the re-establishment of Israel as a nation (1948), seeing it as a precursor of Christ’s return. Several things work stronglyagainst that interpretation:

•Nowhere does Matthew 24–25 speak of Israel’s return to Palestine. In fact we do not find Israel’s return anywhere in Matthew’s gospel.  Jesus’ Olivet Discourse, in its flow of future historical events, has moved beyond Israel’s return portraying the Jews already in the land.

•Furthermore, Luke says in his parallel account “look at the fig tree, and all the trees” (21:29). Not just one tree is in view, but many. Thus Christ refers to trees in general and what they do in the spring, not to a particular fig tree that pictures Israel.

•In Matthew 24, the budding fig tree, rather than picturing Israel, depicts eleven signs that Jesus reveals in 24:4–24. Nine begin to occur in the first half of the Tribulation and two more appear in the second half.

Thus what we see unfolding is that as new leaves each spring signal the return of summer, so the signs Christ reveals will signal His return.”

The Parable of the Fig Tree Matthew 24:32-36”, by George E. Meisinger dean of Chafer Theological Seminary

“Many people believe the fig tree in Matthew 24:32 is Israel. They say the bursting forth of leaves represents the beginning of Israel’s statehood in 1948. However, there’s no way the disciples would have perceived His teaching that way. Remember that Jesus was teaching the parable to make things clear to them. For the new growth on the tree to refer to what happened in 1948 would be too obscure.

It’s not logically consistent to conclude that the life pulsing through the fig tree refers to the statehood of Israel.”  John MacArthur

From the audio series, “Signs of Christ’s Return; The Imminence of Christ’s Return”  audio tape # GC 2372, available at 1-800-55-GRACE

“It is doubtless true that the fig tree represents in other Scriptures the nation Israel,… but there is no occasion for this meaning to be sought in the present use of that symbol.”  ie. in Mat 24:32

Systematic Theology Vols 5&6” by Louis Sperry Chafer, Kregel Publications & Dallas Theological Seminary, 1976, pg. 127

“Luke expanded the imagery, quoting “Look at the fig tree and all the trees” (Luke 21:29).  Thus Christ was not calling attention to just the fig tree itself (as though the fig tree represented the nation of Israel, as has been quite commonly inferred).  Rather, Christ was calling attention to a truth that was pictured by something that characterizes all trees.”

“It is an Improper interpretation of this parable to insist that the fig tree represents the nation of Israel and that the budding of the fig tree represents the reinstitution of the national life of that people in 1948.”

The parables of Jesus: lessons in life from the Master Teacher”, by J. Dwight Pentecost, Kregel Publications, 1982, pp. 140&141

Well, it seems like some pretty big heads don’t think this fig tree parable is talking about Israel in 1948 or some would say at any time.  Remember these are ALLpremillennial, dispensational theologians.  Many are founders, presidents, or deans of prestigious seminaries.  There are many more from these men and others in the same camp.

Many times while gathering these quotes I noticed the authors would say that the bible indeed predicted 1948 but none say where, and all say not in this passage.  Smells like an unfounded presupposition to me.