Signs which Jesus Gave
The Lord Jesus Christ gave various signs to help us identify the days immediately preceding his return to earth. Many are contained in what is known as the Olivet Prophecy – recorded in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21.
A Nation Reborn
Probably the greatest sign that Jesus gave concerned the rebirth of the nation of Israel. This came to pass in 1948, after almost 2,000 years during which the Jewish people were dispersed among nations all over the earth. Jesus predicted that dispersion when he warned that Jerusalem would be overthrown by the Romans.
“When you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is near … For these are the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled … there will be great distress in the land and wrath upon this people. And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles…” (Luke 21:20–24).
The Fig Tree
Immediately after these prophetic words in the Olivet Prophecy we have these words:
Then he spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away” (Luke 21:29–33).
In Scripture, the fig tree is symbolic of the nation of Israel. For example: I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor and separated themselves to that shame; they became an abomination like the thing they loved (Hosea 9:10).
For a nation has come up against My land, strong, and without number; his teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a fierce lion. He has laid waste My vine and ruined My fig tree; he has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white (Joel 1:6–7).
Further, Jesus told another parable about the nation of Israel using the same metaphor of a fig tree (Luke 13:6-9) and acted out another parable to the same effect when he cursed a fig tree which had become unfruitful (Mark 11:12-14). What Jesus was predicting was that the nation of Israel – pictured as a fig tree – would again revive and would do so at a time when many other nations were also achieving independence. That is exactly what has now happened to the nation of Israel.
Against all the odds and the course of history, in the middle of the last century, on the 14th May 1948, Israel was once again established as a nation in fulfilment of Bible prophecy.
In August 1947, the UN Special Committee on Palestine had recommended the termination of the British Mandate and the partitioning of Palestine into a Jewish State and an Arab State, with an international regime for Jerusalem.
Palestinian Arabs and the governments of all the Arab countries declared that they would forcibly oppose any implementation of these recommendations. The vote was taken at Flushing Meadow, New York on 29th November 1947 and was passed with a majority of 33 in favour, 13 against, 10 abstentions and 1 absent. There followed a time of unrest in the Middle East which continues to this day.
This is what Paul Johnson in his book “A History of the Jews” said of this period –
“Israel slipped into existence through a fortuitous window in history which briefly opened for a few months in 1947-8. That (too) was luck, or providence”.
How well we can see the hand of God in bringing His people home. No other nation has maintained a national identity after more than 1800 years of exile. The rebirth of the nation of Israel is a modern-day miracle and a standing testament the truth of God’s Word. The rebirth of the nation of Israel is the sign to this generation that the Kingdom of God is near. But the parable says “the fig tree, and all the trees”. Not only did Israel spring forth as a nation in the middle of the last century, so did many of the nations round about Israel as the colonial powers relinquished their physical presence in the Middle East. These events have a lot to do with the turmoil of the last days, as we shall see as this series continues.
Some Other Signs
Jesus gave many other signs about the state of the world immediately prior to his return. Look again at the passage we briefly considered earlier in this series. It carries on from the passage from Luke chapter 21 referred to above:
… And they (the Jewish people) will fall by the edge of the sword and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory (Luke 21:24–27).
These are details about world conditions now existing and we need to think about the implications of all that in the next article of this series.
By John Shepley
For more on this subject see this article here: Christ is Coming Soon!