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The Parable of the Budding Fig Tree

(Matthew 24:32-35)

The parable in Matthew 24:32-35 reads:

Now learn this parable of the fig tree: When its branches become tender and it puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near: So also when you see all these things, know that it is near - at the doors.”

When spring comes and a fig tree starts to put forth its leaves, then it is time for the figs to come out and be part of the fig tree.

So, Jesus is saying, the signs are the leaves. He said previously “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, “I am the Christ,” and will deceive many.” (24:4-5) Today, in the world are many false prophets who adamantly claim to be Jesus Christ. There are people of the Hindu faith and there are New Age people who profess to be an incarnation of Christ.

Many people talk about false prophets being within the Christian church, which is something we will discuss later. In a totally separate category, there are thousands of deluded people in mental hospitals who say they are Jesus Christ! These people need medication and love, not condemnation!

Jesus has said that in the last days there will be certain signs to watch for. These signs include the fact that you will “hear of wars and rumors of wars” and the scripture warns you “not to be troubled,” for all these things must come to pass,” (Matthew 24:5-7). Today, we are seeing these things on TV, radio and the internet. Countries today are continually at war, according to the current media releases: everyday more people are being killed by hate.

Jesus said in the same passage (Matthew 24:7), “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom and there will be famines, pestilences and earthquakes in various places.” The AIDS virus is killing millions of people and you could call this a type of modern pestilence invading the world. There are many famines in Africa and starvation in other developing countries. Farmers are familiar with the locust and mice plagues that devastate their hard work. In recent times, we have heard of increasing earthquakes happening worldwide. “These are all the “beginning of sorrows” (v.8). They resemble labor pains the earth is suffering before the great and terrible Day of the Lord is birthed. The tsunamis, earthquakes, famines, diseases and viruses are all the “beginnings of sorrows”.

Scripture says, “They will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you.” (v.9) Record numbers of Christians are being killed for the sake of the Gospel right now in some parts of the world.

The signs include: “Many will be offended and betray one another and will hate one another,” (v.10). You only have to preach the true Gospel today to offend people. I know the humiliation of being called a false prophet but God knows my heart. My doctrine was extremely off track before medication and even after medication for many years I misunderstood the doctrine of grace, but I have always exalted the Lord Jesus Christ as God’s only Savior for the human race.

The one problem with deception is that, when you are deceived, you do not know it. It often takes new knowledge to bring you out of your deception. When you are in a delusion, you are deluded. When you know that you are deluded: you are not deluded anymore. (This is “Matthew” theology!)

Many Christian leaders perform signs, wonders and miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and yet they are called false prophets by other denominations. I would be careful about which man of God I would call a false prophet.

Some people in the church believe that prophets and apostles no longer exist today, so anyone who claims to be one of these people is called a false prophet! However, Hebrews 13:8 says; “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever.” The ministry of Jesus has never, nor will ever change; not in this life anyway. None of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit have disappeared from the modern church: they are all still in operation! If Jesus is the same: so too is The Holy Spirit. It’s absolutely foolish to think that there could only be false prophets but no true prophets of God today.

On the other hand, there are many people claiming to bring the words of an Archangel or Jesus Himself or God in New Age bookshops. These books should be avoided and their readers need to be told the true Gospel for they are being deceived by the devil. There is a book called “Conversations with God” which is dangerous. There are many people in the New Age claiming to channel Jesus and these are people who I would call false prophets and they lead many astray. The book called “A Course in Miracles” is dangerous too. Many other New Age books are leading millions of people astray: they are false. They say that they are speaking on behalf of God, but I believe that it is not the God of the Bible but a false god.

According to the scriptures, the signs of the end times include, “Because of lawlessness, the love of many will grow cold,” (Matthew 24:12). Let me illustrate this. I know of a Pastor who has a disabled son. One day, his son fell in a small gap between the train and the platform. The people on the station, rather than come to his rescue, just started to step over him and did not even worry if he was still there when the train took off! The Pastor was appalled! He could not get anyone to help him pull his son free. This describes love gone cold.

Another sign is the increasing tribulation on earth. People are generally more selfish and suspicious of others than in times past. Self-centeredness blinds them to the needs of others. This attitude causes increasing hardship. Selfishness is the human key to the world’s suffering today. People overseas have died of diseases that safe water and medication could prevent. Clean drinking water, diseases, poverty and starvation could all be solved. The fact that the love of many is growing cold is a real sign today.

Only by pride comes contention” Proverbs 13:10 (Schofield King James Bible) Self-centeredness is rooted in human pride. Pride is expressed by frustration, anger and even timidity. We think that people or situations make us angry but this is not true pride makes us angry and causes us to negatively react. Even someone who is super quiet all the time has an issue with pride: they are afraid of being labeled ignorant so they say nothing. Jesus was never self-centered! He didn’t take personal offense. When He was angry, it was righteous anger. To stand up for righteousness for others isn’t prideful. But most times, our anger is related to a personal offense: not to righteousness. By denying self, as Jesus commanded, we will experience the abundant life. Inner anger and hurt will be defused once you commit to love God and others more than yourself. This requires great humility on our part.

So, many false Christ’s and false prophets will arise and show great signs and wonders to deceive,” (v.11). Some Christians witness genuine works of miracles, signs and wonders yet naturally assume that something is wrong because of warnings like these. There is a great lack of discernment and love in the Christian world, with brothers pulling down brothers.

The early Apostles walked in signs and wonders and this fact proved the power of God: they validated the message of salvation and thousands were saved. But in the last days certain people will arise who will deceive even Christians through lies and deceptions, being motivated not by the Gospel, but by human pride being gratified by fleshly desires

Deception must be disclosed by new revelation. People who are “false prophet” watchers: point a finger in accusation by the wrong spirit. They themselves may be full of fear and unbelief—unbelief in the fact that God is working through these people. Jesus said that a person’s lifestyle will determine what fruit they produce. If you listen to someone’s teaching with an attitude of pointing the finger, you will find fault in everything.

Part of the discourse on the signs says “If they say He (The Christ) is here or there or out in the desert, do not believe them,” (Matthew 24:26). When Jesus comes to collect His bride at the Rapture, (mentioned in Chapter 1) the whole world is ultimately going to know about it. Their eyes will be blinded to the event itself, but not to its consequences. Almost every family on earth will be affected by this catastrophic event. The unbelievers of the world will be left behind to make their own conclusions, unless God intervenes and sends angelic messengers to minister to them and to lead them to Jesus. You can be sure that the media will have some plausible explanation to suit their own agenda, but it won’t be the truth that they will proclaim!

Scripture records, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be dark and then the moon will not give its light and the stars will fall from the heaven. Then the Son of Man will appear in heaven and all the tribes of earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory and He will send His angels with a great sound of the trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds” (vv. 29-31)

Some Christians think that this passage refers to the time of the Rapture, but I’m not one of them. I may be in error, but I believe it is referring to an event that will occur some time after the Rapture on a Day that only the Father knows. My reason being is that at the Rapture, Jesus doesn’t set foot on earth but He will be in the clouds, when He snatches His saints up from the earth! (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18 see Chapter One.)

Therefore these verses must refer to the great and terrible Day of the Lord, when Jesus physically comes and sets His feet down in Jerusalem. His coming then, will be as the awesome and frightening Judge and Supreme King, to execute the wrath of God against all unbelievers and ungodliness, at an unknown date at the end of the seven year tribulation period. This return of Jesus is certainly not going to be simple, silent or secret. The whole world will know that He has come. He will first protect those who have believed in Him since the Rapture and then He will turn his attention to the great mass of fearful unbelievers on earth, who will be trembling in terror at His coming.

Aren’t you glad that you have Jesus as your very close friend in these last perilous days? Rejoice continually that believers have a bright future and let others know what is ahead.

Okay, that is the parable of the fig tree. These are all the signs. “When the branch becomes tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also when you see all these things, know that it is near at the doors,” (v.32).

I think I have spent sufficient time talking about the things that you need to look out for. Because all of these things are happening in the world today, I am confident that Jesus is certainly at the door. Keep your eyes focused on Him and this will motivate you to share Jesus with others.

To read more about Matthew Robert Payne or to know how to book him to speak at your church click on my name Matthew Robert Payne