Friday, April 13, 2012

120413 - Mark 12-13 - Fig Tree, Part II

Friday SOAP: Fig tree, part II - when these things begin to take place, He is near. What is the generation that will not pass away until all these things are fulfilled? Is it possible for us to make the same mistake as the religious leaders of Jesus' day, who identified a number of ways Jesus didn't fit the prophecies of Messiah.


S: “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
(Mark 13:28-31)

O: Taken with the last chapter's sign of the fig tree, it seems safe to say that the fig tree here represents Israel again. Jesus says, speaking of the fig tree's progressive growth, "so also.... you" and then "this generation will not pass away utill all these things take place..."

There are many, unfortunately, who "overthrow the faith" (2 Timothy 2:18) and say these things seen taking place signifies the stones of the Temple being thrown down. (Mark 13:2) Therefore, the gerneration seeing that would not pass away until all those things took place. They go so far as to say Christ was a false prophet if the generation of A.D. 70 did not see ALL the things Christ prophesied in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21 take place.

Of course unbelievers agree heartily and use this claim to say that Christ was indeed a false prophet. We must be prepared to be a little more careful to rightly divide the Word of God, which Christ here claims His words are. (Luke 16:17/Mark 13:31)

A test of a false prophet was for him to predict something that the people could anticipate shortly coming to pass. (See Deuteronomy 18:21-22) The prediction about the Temple is this prediction - it was fulfilled within the lifetime of those standing there. But it was fulfilled while Israel was a cursed fig tree. (Mark 11:12-20)

Some might believe that the birth of the Church represented Israel becoming tender and putting out leaves. Here's why I don't:

Then you will say, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.” That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off. And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again. For if you were cut from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and grafted, contrary to nature, into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, the natural branches, be grafted back into their own olive tree. Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion, he will banish ungodliness from Jacob”; (Romans 11:19-26)

God has not cast away His people - but in response to their unbelief, He has broken them off the Root (Rev. 5:5) and set them aside for a time, until the fulness of the Gentiles has come in. (See 1 Cor. 10:32) At some point, they will see Him Whom they pierced (Zech 12:10), acknowledge their offense (Hosea 5:15) and be saved.

So what will be the indicator - the branch becoming tender and putting out leaves? Some have said the Jewish state that was re-formed on May 8, 1948 (in fulfillment of prophecy - Isaiah 11:11, Zeph. 3:9) and others have said the return of the Temple Mount in 1967. As I think more carefully about the fruit Jesus was looking for and did not find on the fig tree and on Israel, though, I wonder if a temple might have to be rebuilt and worship re-established. Note that the prophecy doesn't specify FRUIT - a very noticeable ommission - but only the appearance of readiness for fruitbearing, like Mark 11:13. The generation which sees that come to pass will not pass from the earth until all these things are fulfilled.

A: In truth, rather than being a prediction proving Christ a false prophet, this prediction (like the sign of the Resurrection He gave them in Matthew 12:39-40, Matthew 28:6) is proof positive that all the rest of these things will come to pass, just as He said. Not one stone of the Temple is left standing on one another - only the retention wall we call the "Wailing Wall," remains, and it is not part of the Temple. In fact, the destruction of the Temple was so thorough that we still can't pinpoint exactly where it should be rebuilt!

We should know better than to set up a false dichotomy of "either this manifestly ridiculous thing happened" or "Christ was a false prophet." "All these things" (v. 30) would necessarily include everything which came before it, including the sign of the Son of Man coming (Mark 13:26, Matthew 24:30, Revelation 1:7) and the reaping of the angels. This reminds me of the Pharisee's excuses for not believing on Jesus in the first place: (John 5:16-18, 7:52, 9:29, 10:36; Matt 12:24-33) there were other ways to understand every point at which they found fault with Him. When we allow those in Christendom to make such claims, we provide the very same foothold for those who would reject Him now.

P: Lord, let your people speak truth about you and your coming and never draw others aside into foolish controversies.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Dale McCluskey said...

Great blog Mike

3:21 PM  
Blogger Mike Skinner said...

Oh, thanks, Dale! See you at church on Sunday!

4:27 PM  

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