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Olivet Discourse (Part 4) - Mat 24:32-51

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V. Section 4 - Mat 24:32-35 c/w (Mar 13:28-31; Luk 21:28-33) - The parable of the fig tree.
1. After answering the question of what the sign of His coming and the end of the world would be, Jesus then returns to the question "when shall these things be" (the destruction of Jerusalem).
A. It was as if He said, "Now let me get back to your original question of when the temple will be destroyed".
B. He did so by telling a parable of the fig tree.
C. We know that Jesus switched back to the first questions for two reasons:
i. He used the key words "these things" in Mat 24:33-34 which were the very words the disciples used in their question, "when shall these things be?" (Mat 24:3).
ii. Secondly, He again begins to tell them of signs to look for to know when these things are near.
a. When speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus told them that they could KNOW that it was near (Mat 24:32-33; Luk 21:31).
b. When speaking of the Second Coming, Jesus told them that they COULDN'T KNOW when it would happen (Mat 24:36,39,42-43,50; Mar 13:32-33,35).
iii. If Jesus did not revert back to answering the question of "WHEN shall these things be" (the destruction of Jerusalem) in verses 32-34, and by "these things" He was referring to everything He had just said including verses 30-31 about the Second Coming, then His words in verses 32-34 were meaningless. Woodrow says it well:
iv. "Now then, what did Jesus mean when he spoke of “all these things”? He had just spoken of the Second Coming. Was this a continuation of what he had just spoken, or was he here returning to the original line of thought? If we take it to refer to everything that Jesus had just previously mentioned, the passage would have to read something like this: ‘When ye see the sun darkened, the moon not giving her light, the stars falling, the powers of heaven shaken, the sign of the Son of man in heaven, all tribes mourning, the Son of man coming in the clouds, the trumpet sounding, the angels gathering the elect from around the world: when ye see these things you will know that it is near, even at the doors.” What possible sense would there be in saying that when the Lord is seen coming in the clouds, and all these other things, that they would then know that the Second Coming was nigh? This would be an inconsistent statement." (Ralph Woodrow, Great Prophecies of the Bible, page 90-91)
2. The parable of the fig tree (Mat 24:32-33).
A. What does the fig tree represent?
i. The dispensationalists say that Israel is the fig tree.
a. On his note on Mat 21:19, Scofield wrote that Mat 24:32-33 is "a prophecy that Israel shall again bud." (C.I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible, page 1028)
b. This is a strange interpretation, given that it is cited in a verse in which Jesus says to a fig tree, "Let no fruit grow on thee henceforward for ever. And presently the fig tree withered away." (Mat 21:19)
ii. Even if Israel was represented by a fig tree in the scripture, Jesus was not referring to Israel as a fig tree in Mat 24:32-34.
a. Jesus didn't refer to only the fig tree in the Olivet Discourse, but He said, "Behold the fig tree, and all the trees" (Luk 21:29).
b. If by the fig tree He was referring to Israel "budding again", then He was referring to all nations (all the trees) budding again, which would render the passage meaningless.
iii. The parable of the fig tree is a simple illustration from nature that when people see trees sprouting leaves, they know summer is near.
iv. As they could know that summer is nigh by the leaves sprouting on trees, so when the disciples saw "these things" (the things Jesus spoke of in verses 5-22) they could know that the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple were just around the corner (Mat 24:33).
v. Furthermore, when they saw "these things", they would know "that the kingdom of God was nigh at hand" (Luk 21:31).
a. The kingdom of God was at hand beginning in the days of John the Baptist (Mar 1:15).
b. The kingdom of God is the institution of the NT church (Luk 22:29-30) which was being pressed into (Luk 16:16) by baptism (Mat 21:31 c/w Luk 7:29-30) by both Jews and Gentiles prior to 70AD.
c. The nation of Israel had been God's church (Act 7:38) and kingdom (1Ch 17:14; 2Ch 13:8) for about 1500 years.
d. Jesus reformed the church at His first coming (Heb 9:10).
e. For about 40 years, the church and kingdom were in a transitional period while the temple still stood.
f. Jesus told the Jews that the kingdom of God would be taken from them and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof (Mat 21:43).
g. The transition of the kingdom from the nation of Israel to the nation of God's believing elect (Jew and Gentile) (1Pe 2:9) was complete after the destruction of Jerusalem.
h. At that time the kingdom of God would enter into its fullness and present form.
i. When the disciples saw all "these things" happening of which Jesus warned them, they would know that the kingdom of God was nigh at hand, in other words, it was just around the corner (Luk 21:31; Rev 12:10).
B. Jesus then answers the question of "WHEN shall these things be?".
i. He said that "THIS generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Mat 24:34).
ii. This - II. Demonstrative Adjective. 1. a. Used in concord with a noun, to indicate a thing or person present or near (actually or in thought), esp. one just mentioned
iii. Generation n. - 5. The whole body of individuals born about the same period; also, the time covered by the lives of these. In reckoning historically by ‘generations’, the word is taken to mean the interval of time between the birth of the parents and that of their children, usually computed at thirty years, or three generations to a century.
iv. Therefore, "this generation" was the people who were present when Jesus uttered those words.
v. Therefore, all "these things" (the things leading up to and culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple) would happen before the generation of people in Jesus' day had passed.
vi. Luke records that "This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled" (Luk 21:32).
a. The "all" that would "be fulfilled" (Luk 21:32) is all that was written concerning the destruction of Jerusalem: "For these be the days of vengeance, that ALL THINGS WHICH ARE WRITTEN MAY BE FULFILLED" (Luk 21:22).
b. It is undeniable that Jesus was speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem in verse 22: see Luk 21:20-22.
vii. "This generation" was an evil and wicked generation slated for destruction (Mat 12:39-45).
viii. Jesus said that all the righteous blood of all the prophets whom the Jews killed over the years would come on "this generation" and would end with Jerusalem being left desolate (Mat 23:29-38).
C. In order make his futuristic interpretation of the parable of the fig tree work, Scofield redefined generation to mean "race, kind, family, stock, breed" and he concluded that "The promise is, therefore, that the generation -- nation, or family of Israel -- will be preserved unto "these things"; a promise wonderfully fulfilled to this day." (C.I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible, page 1034)
i. Not only is it not consistent with the other usages of "generation" in the book of Matthew, Scofield's definition is not consistent with himself.
ii. In commenting on Mat 23:36, Scofield understood well what "this generation" was: "It is the way also of history: judgment falls upon one generation for the sins of centuries. The prediction was fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70." (C.I. Scofield, The Scofield Reference Bible, page 1032)
iii. Furthermore, there is another problem with Scofield's interpretation.
iv. "Strangely enough, those who hold that the word “generation” in Matthew 24 means the Jewish people as a race also hold the belief that the Jewish race will never pass away. But if Jesus meant that the Jewish race will not pass away until these things are fulfilled, and if the Jewish race will never pass away, his words were meaningless and he did NOT answer the question: “WHEN shall these things be?”" (Ralph Woodrow, Great Prophecies of the Bible, page 92-93)
D. Jesus' words were so sure that they will outlast heaven and earth (Mat 24:35).
i. Notice that Jesus did NOT say: "This generation shall not pass, till heaven and earth pass away."
ii. Nor did Jesus say: "Heaven and earth shall pass away, but this generation shall not pass away."
iii. It is Jesus' words that will not pass away and will outlast heaven and earth, not the generation of which He spoke.
iv. In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus was speaking of "this generation" which was the one to whom He was speaking; He was not speaking of a generation at the end of time.

VI. Section 5 - Mat 24:36-51 c/w (Mar 13:32-37; Luk 21:34-36)
1. Having just finished talking about the destruction of Jerusalem which would be preceded by signs by which the disciples could know it was nigh, Jesus then in contrast speaks of His Second Coming, the time of which could NOT be known (Mat 24:36).
A. When speaking of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jesus told them that they could KNOW that it was near (Mat 24:32-33; Luk 21:31).
B. When speaking of the Second Coming, Jesus told them that they COULDN'T KNOW when it would happen (Mat 24:36,39,42-43,50; Mar 13:32-33,35).
2. Furthermore, we know that Jesus switched topics from answering the question of "when shall these things be" to "what shall be the sign of thy coming and of the end of the world" because he opens up His comments with the word "but" which is a contrasting conjunction.
3. He then speaks of "that day" and "that...hour", rather than "those days" (Mat 24:36 ct/w Mat 24:19,22,29).
A. "That day" (Mat 24:36) is "the day" (Mat 24:38) of "the coming of the Son of man" (Mat 24:39).
B. "That...hour" (Mat 24:36) is the "hour your Lord doth come" (Mat 24:42) and the "hour...the Son of man cometh" (Mat 24:44).
4. Jesus likened the days that preceded the flood of Noah to the days that will precede "that day" of His Second Coming (Mat 24:37-39).
A. In the days leading up to the flood that destroyed the world, they were carrying on with the normal activities of life until "the day" that Noah entered into the ark (Mat 24:38).
B. They "knew not" that the world was going to be destroyed "until the flood came and took them all away" (Mat 24:39).
C. Jesus said: "SO shall also the coming of the Son of man be" (Mat 24:39).
D. So adv. - 1. In the way or manner described, indicated, or suggested; in that style or fashion. Contextually the sense may be ‘in the same way’, ‘by that means’, etc.
E. The Second Coming will happen in the same way: men will be carrying on with the normal activities of life and know not that the time of Jesus' return is near until the day of His coming.
F. Men will be working in the field and women at the mill on "that day", unaware that Christ's coming is imminent, and one shall be taken and the other left (Mat 24:40-41).
G. This will happen on the last day (Joh 11:24) when Christ descends from heaven to resurrect the dead and call His saints to meet Him in the clouds (1Th 4:16-17).
5. The day and hour of the Second Coming is as unknown and as unexpected as the arrival of a thief in the night, so we must always be watching (Mat 24:42-44).
6. We must never assume that the Lord is delaying His coming and become slack, but we must be ever vigilant because the Lord will come in "a day" when we look not for him (Mat 24:45-51).

For a master copy of the outline, click here: The Olivet Discourse