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Parable of the Fig Tree

Matthew 24:32-35
32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away.
KJV

Matthew 24:32-35 presents a parable that has created many interpretations among scholars. What does the fig tree symbolize?


It would seem two conclusions may be drawn from the Old Testament usage of "generation." First, as indicated above, it would not appear to specifically apply to the nation of Israel. Second, the measure of a generation is vague and depends upon either context or further information provided by the context. This, as is also argued above, rules out the concept of interpreting "generation" as a fixed time-period.

 

The "generation," then, is that group of people alive when the events of the end times commence. This generation is those who are alive when God's plan blossoms into the events we call the Tribulation, the period culminating in the Second Coming of Jesus. The generation alive at that time will see the final fulfillment of the signs of the end of the world.

 

This group will include national Israel, so, in a sense, Israel is included in the parable of the fig tree, but only because many other prophecies, mostly those of the Old Testament, remain to be fulfilled for Israel. There will be Jews alive in "this generation" to witness the concluding events of God's plans. This conclusion will include the restoration of national Israel as was promised by many of the Old Testament prophets.

This understanding raises one additional interpretation of "this generation." It is not exactly a different interpretation as much as it is a gloss on the idea that "generation" truly means national Israel. Under this view, the "generation" of Jesus' day was those who steadfastly rejected Him as Messiah. This was national Israel. National Israel remains even today a nation who refuses to accept Jesus as Messiah. Therefore, this "generation" has persisted for 2,000. It will continue to exist until the Second Coming. Accordingly, "this generation" existed at the time Jesus spoke and will continue to exist until His Return. Under this view, this verse of Matthew becomes a prophecy against the nation.

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