“And He spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees.” (Luke 21:30)
In the Scriptures, there are three specific trees that are used as euphemisms for Israel; the vine, the fig tree and the olive.
In Scripture, the vine is the symbol of Israel’s spiritual privileges; the fig tree symbolizes Israel’s national privileges and the olive tree symbolizes Israel’s religious privileges.
“Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it. Thou preparedst room before it, and didst cause it to take deep root, and it filled the land. The hills were covered with the shadow of it, and the boughs thereof were like the goodly cedars. (Psalms 80:8-10)
The Psalmist is here painting a graphic picture of Israel being removed from the soil of Egypt and being transplanted into the fertile soil of Israel.
Once the “Vine” was transplanted it began to grow and spread over the land, until in the words of the Psalmist, it sent out its boughs unto the Mediterranean Sea, and its branches unto the Euphrates river, as in the reign of King Solomon.
“Now will I sing to my Well-Beloved a song of my Beloved touching His Vineyard. My Well-Beloved hath a VINEYARD in a very fruitful hill (Canaan): and He fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the CHOICEST VINE, and built a Tower in the midst of it, and also made a Winepress therein.” (Isaiah 5:1-2)
The olive tree is used to symbolize Israel and the Church by the Apostle Paul:
“For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee.” (Romans 11:16-18)
The Apostle Paul refers to the good olive tree (Israel) and the wild olive tree (the Gentiles). The good olive tree was “good” because it was separated, or set apart, (holy), whereas branches from the wild olive tree (the Gentiles) are grafted in.
“For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree?” (Romans 11:24)
Notice carefully that the good olive tree (Israel) is NOT rooted up and destroyed with the wild olive tree planted in its place. That would be the case if the replacement theologians were right and that the Gentile Church has taken the place of Israel.
“For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob:” (Romans 11:25-26)
Instead, the good olive tree remains alive and gives life to both the good tree and the wild tree. The Church does not supplant or replace Israel, it is grafted in to the existing tree.
Paul explains that “blindness in part is happened to Israel until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.”
That is to say, during the Church Age, God’s attention is focused on the Gentiles until that last Gentile (whom God foreknew would be saved) has been saved, bringing in the full number of Gentile believers.
When every Gentile that is going to be saved has been saved, THEN. . .
“. . . the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17)
The fig tree is the third, and most often-used symbol for Israel. The Bible teaches that as He sat upon the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him to ask Him “what will be the sign of Thy coming?
In His reply, Jesus listed three major signs recognizable to the Jews.
- The appearance of the “Abomination of Desolation” spoken of in Daniel 9:27 (the revelation of antichrist).
- The sign of the Son of Man appearing in a cloud (Acts 1:9, Matthew 24:30)
- The sign of the Fig Tree – symbolizing the regathering of the Jews into their own land.
The fig tree is a particularly appropriate symbol in that on the fig tree, the fruit appears BEFORE the tree blossoms. The Bible says that first, Israel is regathered into her own land, and only after that does the nation “blossom” with the return of the Husbandman.
The restoration of Israel is like the budding of a fig tree in the springtime symbolizing a tree about to blossom — symbolic of Israel’s national privileges.
The “fig tree” began to put forth its leaves on May 14, 1948, beginning the countdown to the end of the Church Age at the Rapture and kicking off what the Prophet Jeremiah called “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble.”
But is there some way of confirming that?
According to Bible prophecy, in the last days, there will come into existence, a revived form of the political Roman Empire. The Prophet Daniel predicted that the antichrist will be a prince of the people that would destroy the city and the sanctuary (Jerusalem and the Temple).
In 1948, as Europe struggled to rebuild, six nations in Western Europe signed the Benelux Customs Union, beginning the process of European unification that was codified in March, 1957 with the treaty of Rome.
And so, a unified Europe looks back to its foundation on January 1, 1948. Is that significant? We’ve examined this question before, but it is worth going back to for another re-think.
The Bible also predicted the development of an apostate form of Christianity that will have world-wide authority. Revelation 13:11 describes this religious system as “having two horns like a lamb” — symbols of Christianity.
The World Council of Churches was born in Amsterdam in 1948. The WCC is not a ‘global religion’ but is the closest thing we currently have to a global religious authority that purports to speak for world-wide Christianity.
The Bible also predicts the rise of a centralized global economic authority that will become one of the antichrist’s principle methods of economic control.
The World Trade Organization — a trade organization empowered to regulate the global economy — saw its genesis in the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, enacted by the UN in 1948.
The Bible predicted that global economy will fall under the control of a single individual who will be able to regulate commerce down to the individual level — “That no man might buy or sell” (Revelation 13:17). Such individual control was impossible before the advent of computers.
Although computers had been invented during World War II, they were huge, bulky monsters that used notoriously unreliable and hugely inefficient vacuum tubes. The first computers were slower than a pocket calculator, filled huge environmentally sealed rooms and required enough electricity to power a small city.
That all changed in 1948 when Bell Labs patented the transistor chip, signaling the official birth of the Computer Age.
That final age would be marked by ‘rumors of war’ – (Matthew 24:7).
- The ultimate ‘rumor of war’ was the Cold War. It began with the Berlin Airlift of 1948. The Soviet collapse was a direct result of the cost of fighting the Cold War.
- Earthquakes began to show a marked increase in size, scope and intensity in 1948.
- The modern period of ethnic unrest can be traced to the death of colonialism beginning in 1948. Increasing ‘pestilence’ or deadly disease, can be traced to 1948, with the introduction of sulfa drugs and the over-prescription of antibiotics.
- Economic ‘kingdoms’ began with the first multinational corporations in 1948.
- The decline in world-wide morality can be traced to the moment that it became acceptable to use abortion as a method of birth control.
- The Japanese Eugenics Act — the first legal abortion on demand legislation ever passed in modern society — was passed in 1948.
- American Margaret Sanger was so impressed with the idea that she founded the premier abortion rights advocacy group — Planned Parenthood — in 1948.
- The Supreme Court ruled for the first time, that public schools could not use taxpayer funds for religious purposes, discovering in the process, the modern principle of “separation of church and state” (McCollum v Board of Education, 1948)
In 1948, Mao Tse Tung’s Communists chased Chiang Kai Shek’s nationalists off the mainland to the Island of Formosa and renamed itself Taiwan, and declared itself the legitimate government of China.
The conflict between the two Chinas further rearranged regional political alliances until they fit the alignment foretold by the prophets.
Other related events that trace their roots to the same year as the budding of the fig tree include; commercial television, holography, cybernetics, meteorology, the nuclear arms race, microelectronics, the Big Bang, the birth of NATO, the Cold War, the UN adoption of the UN Declaration of Human Rights, and the Kinsey Report that kicked off the “sexual revolution.”
Israel is the centerpiece of Bible prophecy. Its existence and history are proof positive of the accuracy of Bible prophecy. To this point in the historical record, Bible prophecy — where it can be proved at all — has proved to be 100% accurate, 100% of the time.
It continues to unfold before our eyes. We’ve only touched on the high points in the Big Picture, but the pattern is unmistakable. Events foretold to take place in a single generation, somewhere in time — events that can only happen once — are coming together — all at once and in THIS generation.
The same God that predicted what has already occurred with such unerring accuracy will continue to perform His Will until His Purpose is accomplished. Bible prophecy proves God is still on His Throne and is intimately concerned with the affairs of men.
“Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:” (Isaiah 46:9-10)
That promise has no expiration date. God’s blueprint for the future will continue to unfold with the same accuracy in the days ahead as it has in millennia past.
Prophecy is His signature of authenticity. And our confidence is well placed.
“And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.” (Luke 21:28)
Featured Commentary: About Time ~Wendy Wippel