Christ's Second Coming, Christians' mockers, deliberate ignorance, devasting (fall & winter) realities, dispensational ages, Fig Tree mini-parable, ignorant for ignorance sake, last-day scoffers, Mount Olivet Discourse, mountain-top (summer) experiences, self-imposed spiritual blindness, teetering or seesawing
…in the last days, mockers are going to have a heyday. Reducing everything to the level of their puny feelings, they’ll mock, ‘So what’s happened to the promise of his Coming? Our ancestors are dead and buried, and everything’s going on just as it has from the first day of creation. Nothing’s changed.’ They conveniently forget that long ago all the galaxies and this very planet were brought into existence out of watery chaos by God’s word. Then God’s word brought the chaos back in a flood that destroyed the world. The current galaxies and earth are fuel for the final fire. God is poised, ready to speak his word again, ready to give the signal for the judgment and destruction of the desecrating skeptics. ~ 2 Peter 3:3-7, MSG
Isn’t it fascinating to know that nearly 2000 years ago a virtually unschooled Galilean fisherman could prophesy so accurately about the derisive nature of twenty-first century scoffers? What equally should be fascinating is Peter’s specificity. While it is noted that scoffers are not a new phenomenon, because, indisputably, the world always has had impudent people who boldly ridicule true believers in God, however, Peter’s “last-day scoffers” are a peculiar group. They are an extreme version of an increasing number of obstinate deriders. These “last-day scoffers” have improved upon the art of contradiction, persecution, and verbal abuse. More important, Peter’s “last-day scoffers” are members of the “…generation [that] will not pass away until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:34, ESV; bracketed word is this blogger’s emphasis).
The above scriptural reference comes from Jesus the Christ’s Mount Olivet Discourse—in particular, the portion pertaining to the Fig Tree mini-parable. The Lord’s uninterrupted Mount Olivet Discourse is found in Matthew chapters 24 and 25 (parts also are found in Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21), and this particular conversation is considered to contain the most important prophecies about end-time events.
Throughout this very long conversation, Jesus the Christ gives His disciples a descriptive process on “how to” determine those world events that will point to His Second Coming and, consequently, the end times. For example, early during this conversation, Jesus the Christ answers His disciples’ questions, in Matthew 24:3, about “…when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Beginning in Matthew 24:5, Jesus the Christ builds on one sign after another, as He moves from describing a literal interpretation of the prophetic end time world events to a symbolic one that begins in Matthew 24:32. The Lord’s use of the Fig Tree mini-parable in Matthew 24:32-35) effectively customizes His teachings, because He now is tailoring His predictions found in Matthew 24:6-31 to a practical application. Jesus the Christ says:
From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35, ESV)
For centuries, scholars have held variant opinions concerning who the “generation” is that Jesus the Christ refers to in Matthew 24:34. However, most twenty-first century Bible prophecy scholars agree that the fig tree refers to Israel, and they also agree that the “generation” that either saw or learned about Israel’s May 14, 1948 restoration is the “generation” that Jesus the Christ says will not pass away until all of the biblical prophetic statements He makes in Matthew chapter 24 have been fulfilled.
Now, if the twenty-first century Bible prophecy scholars are correct, then this present-day population, which consists of people who either were born before or after 1948, is living in the end times. In other words, they are the prophesied generation to see or learn about the fulfillment of the Jewish people’s return to their Promised Land, and the prophesied generation to see or learn about the nation of Israel being born in a day prophecies (cf. Isaiah 49:21, Isaiah 66:8).
It is an undeniable fact that Israel is a nation again, and it is irrefutable that this nation has scattered Jewish people who still are returning home to the Promised Land, even on this very day. Therefore, the 21st-century people should be able to recognize and know that the Bible’s symbolic Fig Tree’s budding and blossoming refer to both the literal Fig Tree’s spring-time events and the literal nation of Israel’s historical spring-time events, the latter of which specifically include their May 14, 1948 rebirth as a nation, and their June 5th-10th, 1967 Arab-Israeli War, the latter of which resulted in Israel regaining control of Jerusalem.
Likewise, there can be no doubt that the symbolic Fig Tree’s budding and blossoming also point to the fact that the nation of Israel’s historical spring-time events are leading to this world’s next “season’s” natural and supernatural harvests. This next “season” that Jesus the Christ mentions is summer, and His prophesied summer-time season is both the literal and metaphorical time when the harvests of figs, wheat, and grapes begin (cf. Jeremiah 51:33; Joel 3:13; Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43; Matthew 24:31; Matthew 24:32-36; Mark 13:28-32; Luke 21:29-33; Revelation 14:14-16; and Revelation 14:18-20).
Certainly it is a fact that the first harvest of ripened figs in Israel occurs during the Jewish summer-time month of Tammuz, which is the month that corresponds to the western world’s summer-time months of June and July. Additionally, it is a fact that in Israel the main wheat harvest begins a month earlier in the summer-time month of Sivan, which is the month that corresponds to the western world’s late spring/early summer months of May and June. This wheat harvest in Israel usually is finished by the Jewish summer-time month of Elul, which is the western world’s late summer/early autumn months of August and September. Moreover, Elul also is the Jewish summer-time month in which the vintage (grape) harvest and the second fig harvest begin, after the completed wheat harvest. The grape harvest, however, is normally finished by the time of the autumnal equinox.
In case the main points in the last two paragraphs have been missed, for the record, the cursed or withered Fig Tree represents or symbolizes the prophesied scattered Jewish people, who begin, again, in 70 A.D. with their worldwide Diaspora. In 70 A.D., the Jewish nation comes to an end, as the Romans actively and methodically begin to drive Jewish citizens of Israel from their ancient homeland (cf. Jeremiah 26:18; Micah 3:12; Matthew 21:18-22; Matthew 24:2b; Mark 11:11-14, 20-26; Luke 19:44). Nearly 40 years earlier, the Lord not only prophesied this Jewish Diaspora in Matthew 24:2b but also He cursed/withered the literal nation of Israel and the metaphorical Fig Tree (cf. Matthew 21:18-22; Mark 11:11-14, 20-26) in the Jewish spring-time month of Nisan, which was a time when neither the literal nor the metaphorical Fig Tree was able to produce either natural or spiritual fruit. By the way, the Jewish spring-time month of Nisan corresponds to the western world’s early spring-time months of March and April.
However, even though the Lord curses/withers the literal and metaphorical Fig Tree, by the time of the Jewish Feast of Pentecost, on the 6th of the summer-time month Sivan (May/June), the literal firstfruits of wheat and the metaphorical firstfruits of the spiritually born again, saved (justified), and filled with the Holy Spirit Jewish believers are reaped. Then, after the Jewish people’s complete expulsion, which followed the final 135 A.D. destruction of Jerusalem, and the running of a plow over all or part of Jerusalem, and after the Jewish people are banned from the land of Israel, it becomes clear that God has had a plan to bring Gentiles into His chosen community of faithful believers, while simultaneously bringing the Jewish community of those who were supposed to be faithful to ruin so that He later can restore them to their rightful place in said community of faithful believers (cf. Romans 11:25b-26a).
For this last reason, Jesus the Christ’s cursed/withered metaphorical Fig Tree is indeed forever cursed/withered, because that old flawed human form of spirituality that came from trying to keep the Mosaic Law no longer could produce any spiritual fruit that is acceptable to God (cf. Matthew 21:43; Romans 11:25b-26a). That is why, in the Jewish summer-time month of Tammuz (June/July), the metaphorical Fig Tree first is restored as God’s naturally chosen country and then later, when Israel gains control of Jerusalem, the literal nation of Israel as a whole (each Jewish person living in Israel or in other countries around the world) now is able to begin producing, in Tammuz (June/July) and Elul (August/September), both the Fig Tree’s natural harvests of ripened figs AND the spiritual harvest of ripened figs.
Now the above information brings the reader to Tishri, which is the Jewish autumnal month that follows Elul. Moreover, Tishri is the month that corresponds to the western world’s autumnal months of September and October. More important, Tishri is the month for the Fall Feasts of Rosh Hashanah (Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles).
The point now is that even if we tried to stop summer or autumn from coming, there is no way that we could ever succeed in stopping either the literal summer or the symbolic “summer” from happening. We also neither can stop from happening the natural season nor the prophesied “season” that follows summer. For sure, after “summer” will come autumn, and this is the “season” for Jesus the Christ’s Bride to be raptured, for His Second Coming bodily return, and for the end of the ages of humanity, as we have known mankind!
The question that leaps to this blogger’s mind is: If people can know that a particular “season” is coming, before it gets here, because they have based their knowing upon the preceding “season’s” series of events, how is that Peter’s “last-day scoffers” are so blind? If one is to believe Peter, then the answer to this question is that the “last-day scoffers” are NOT blind because they might lack the ability to perceive and grasp the signs of the times.
The truth of the matter is, many of these “last-day scoffers” are blind because of their own volition. That is to say, they eagerly have chosen to close their eyes to the increasing number of counterfeit christs, fake gospel teachers, and bogus godly prophets, as well as deliberately closed their eyes to the growing amount of erroneous para-biblical literature by authors who are passing off their works as scholarly and as prophetic wisdom, primarily because these “blind” people prefer to follow, instead, their own wicked desires (cf. 2 Peter 3:3-7). Moreover, because these “last-day scoffers’” main goal is to seek to crumble believers’ biblical foundations, they willingly have chosen not to pay attention to the true signs of the times so that they, these “last-day scoffers” who are led by their own sadistic desires, can scorn Gospel believers by openly mocking sin, salvation, and believers’ faith.
In short, the “last-day scoffers” will attempt to destroy believers’ biblical trust that primarily is in the promise of Jesus the Christ’s Second Coming. It is written:
Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. ~ Matthew 24:29-30, ESV
This biblical prophecy, the promise of Lord’s Second Coming, is one of the main Christian beliefs to which true believers hold fast. Since the “last-day scoffers” cannot deny that the Lord declared His Second Coming, they will seek to persuade believers that His Word is hollow—they will try to find something to use to convince believers the Lord neither can return nor will return, like debating that Jesus the Christ was just a man who died. Then too, they will declare that He never had any intentions on returning to this Earth.
Furthermore, through the perfect art of ridicule, the “last-day scoffers” will laugh at believers’ faith and Christian dogma, and then contemptuously ask believers: “…Where is the promise of his coming…” (2 Peter 3:4a, ESV)? Then, in an attempt to uproot believers from their faith and their “…blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of [their] great God and Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13, ESV; the bracketed word is this blogger’s emphasis on a verse that clearly is an absolute reference to Jesus the Christ’s Second Coming), the “last-day scoffers” will use faulty logic to argue that, since the Lord has not appeared yet, therefore, it is certain that He will not appear in the future. In essence, these blustering “last-days scoffers’” are really saying that “it doesn’t take a rocket scientist…” to come to their conclusion, which is that “…since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4b, ESV). Everything, they will claim, has remained the same on this Earth from its origin until the present day.
Contrary to these “last day scoffers’” popular opinions, everything has not remained the same. For example, believers now have the guarantee that Jesus the Christ is coming back again, and that His Second Coming will be a physical, visible event (cf. Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 24:27; Matthew 24:30; Matthew 24:40-41; Matthew 25:31-32; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; 2 Peter 3:10; Revelation 1:7; Revelation 19:11-16). Indeed, this specific “blessed hope” of believers is the very reason why these “last-day scoffers” will take pleasure in laughing at any references to the Lord’s Second Coming, simply because they know that since His crucifixion on the cross, since His resurrection from the grave, and since His ascension into Heaven, no one to date has seen on Earth Jesus the Christ in His physical body.
This lack of a visible physical appearance also is why “last-day scoffers” verbally will attack believers, unceasingly, so as to weary them and cause them to question what they say they believe. These scoffers will seek to weaken and undermine believers’ conviction to stand by their right to choose the report of the Lord, by arguing that since the patriarchs have died without having the benefit of witnessing the Lord’s Second Coming, then, His promised return is, thus, null and void. These “last-day scoffers” will maintain that, if Jesus the Christ were going to make good on His promised return, then by now there would have been some definitive signs that would have alerted people to His Second Coming, but, instead, “…all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:4b, ESV).
Their argument, in short, is that nothing has changed, and, because they believe that nothing has changed, they neither see any reason to fear God nor see any reason to fear that the world, as they know it, will come to an end. However, Peter keenly debates the blindness of these “last-day scoffers.” He shows their fallacious, stinking thinking about “the world being unchanged” premise. Peter specifically points out how these “last-day scoffers” have a spiritual blindness that corresponds to the one which Jesus the Christ predicts in the Olivet Discourse. The Lord says:
For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. ~ Matthew 24:37-39, ESV
Peter, thus, reminds the “last-day scoffers” that the world has not remained unchanged. One major difference that he references is the flood in Noah’s day, in which all “scoffers” and unbelievers perished—everyone who paid no attention to the signs of the times. Concerning this major world change, Peter says that these end time spiritually blind will:
…deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. ~ 2 Peter 3:5-6
Put differently, there was a deluge that covered this entire world, but the “last-day scoffers” have chosen to ignore this widely known, undeniable, proven, published, and accepted fact!
Apparently, these “last-day scoffers” are those who have not learned, or who have not accepted, this ancient truth, because they either have not wanted to know, or have not wanted to accept it. They have chosen, rather, to be ignorant for ignorance sake. Therefore, according to Jesus the Christ, their spiritual blindness is unto death, as was the spiritual blindness of the people in Noah’s day. Indeed, just as God’s promised wrath, a long time ago, was poured out upon the Earth, assigning a watery death to all but eight humans, He also has promised, once again, to destroy by fire this current world’s evil men and women, and to bring the end-time age in which they live to an end, and to do it swiftly (cf. 2 Peter 3:7-12). Moreover, Peter uses this promised future wrath of God, not to frighten believers, but to encourage them, so that they will continue to trust that God will fulfill ALL of His promises.
Judging by Peter’s prophetic description of the “last-day scoffers” and Jesus the Christ’s prophetic description of world events, twenty-first century’s true believers can conclude that they are living in the end times. Although there are many people who will argue that the world has been in this so-called “last and evil days” status for centuries, the current evidence that these individuals also will have to consider is that before this twenty-first century there NEVER has been such a preponderance of the Bible’s prophetic signs that are more characteristic of the end times than the ones that are happening right in front of twenty-first century’s genuine believers’ eyes.
Yes, over the years, since long before, and even during, the time of Jesus the Christ’s Olivet Discourse, there always have been wars and rumors of wars, diseases, sicknesses, famines, and various kinds of “natural” disasters. Then too, after the time of the Lord’s ministry, there always have been nations rising up against nations; there always have been “natural” disasters; and there always have been diverse kinds of sicknesses, diseases, and famines. Additionally, there always have been scorners, scoffing at the promise of Jesus the Christ’s Second Coming. However, the fact is that not until the latter half of the twentieth century has there been so many of the prophesied signs existing simultaneously and happening so frequently (cf. Matthew 24:6-43). Never before this dispensational age could anyone say that the world has been this ripe for the Messiah’s second appearance.
There are numerous biblical prophetic events foretelling the First and Second Coming of Christ, and the end of the ages. ALL of His First Coming and some of His Second Coming prophetic events have been fulfilled completely, and others will not be fulfilled until the time of the Rapture, the seven-year Tribulation Period, and thereafter. However, all of these prophetic events (those that have manifested and those yet to be seen) should serve as a litmus test, deciding for the observer if he or she will yield to sound reasons for believing in and holding onto his or her belief that the Lord is soon to return.
Just like there can be no doubt that summer invariably follows spring, and fall always follows summer, we also can bet our bottom dollar that all of the events happening in this world today clearly indicate that this world is teetering, or seesawing, from mountain-top (summer) experiences to devastating (fall and winter) realities. If summer is the time of full bloom, ripened activities in nature, then what equally is important about nature is that much of what has ripened and bloomed out in summer will begin to revert back to its barren, lifeless condition by late fall and on in through the winter. Therefore, there is a short window of opportunity, a fleeting moment, before the Great Harvest of souls for Christ has to take place in order to preserve the ripened fully blossomed lives from falling away, or from being destroyed—naturally and spiritually speaking. Perhaps that is why Jesus the Christ’s return for His CHURCH is defined as an event that will happen in a “twinkling of an eye” (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:52), a “now you see it, now you don’t” scenario—here today, gone tomorrow adage.
Consequently, in order for true believers to enjoy a continuous mountain-top experience in the Lord, He has to return and pull them out of this world at the height of their maturity (a perfect Bride of Christ who is without spot or blemish), because EVERY “thing” about this world’s events points to a future earth-shattering change.
Therefore, it is imperative that true believers become well grounded in biblical truths so that they can be directed and encouraged by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God to maintain a firm conviction in what God has revealed to them in His Word, as well as through His prophets, teachers, pastors, evangelists, and apostles. Only after true believers have been rooted and grounded in biblical faith—have reached their full bloom and ripened state—will the prophetic world events become easier to notice and understand. Then, and only then, will many true believers know with certainty just what “season” it is. They will know that the end times are indeed “…near, at the very gates” (Matthew 24:33, ESV), and that Jesus the Christ is due, any moment, to show up and rapture His Bride from the start of the Tribulation Period, or the pending wrath of God.
The Old Testament prophets, Jesus the Christ, and the New Testament apostles have maintained that there are observable and comprehendible signs, accompanied by a series of events, that will alert true believers about the Lord’s Second Coming. While there are many biblical signs that prophesy end-time events, prophecy that has been fulfilled and that which is yet to happen, what is important is that it is not the number of prophetic signs, in and of themselves, that is the point!
The message is that it is a sad commentary on human life when there are those who consistently, persistently and willfully choose to be ignorant of instead of knowledgeable about the Lord’s Second Coming and the definitive patterns that signal this foretold prophetic event. What is unfathomable is how an unregenerate mind can weigh, ever so carefully, the evidence of worldly matters and draw a logical conclusion, yet this same mind can close itself off to spiritual truths—even those that unequivocally have been proven to be true, scientifically or empirically—as this mind resists the idea of a God who will intervene in human affairs and show Himself to be sovereign (the One who is in control of this world).
Being like the people in Noah’s day (full of unbelief, skepticism, and scoffing) will result in these kinds of people being left outside the Ark, so to speak. For true believers who hold fast to their faith in Jesus the Christ’s promise—His Second Coming—and those who also observe, understand, and believe in the signs of the times, they will know that they have something to look forward to that has all the earmarks of being super-spectacular. That “something” that they can expect is the Rapture, which will be followed by the Marriage Supper of the Lamb that happens after the seven-year Tribulation Period. Ultimately, true believers who are steadfast until the very end (until they have transformed and blossomed into the image of Christ) not only will be raptured out of this dying world (at the pinnacle of their Christian development) but also they will become kings and queens who will reign for one thousand years with Jesus the Christ, after He makes His second-coming appearance on this Earth.
Therefore, true believers (the Bride of Christ) should not fret over the workers of iniquity, such as people like the “last-day scoffers.” These impudent individuals’ scoffing only should serve to heighten true believers’ awareness that an astronomical change is soon to come. As Christ says, “Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (Luke 21:28, ESV). True believers, thus, can rejoice in knowing and believing that the Bridegroom swiftly is approaching the door of His betrothed and soon will take Her back to His home where She will partake of the unspeakable wedding feast that His Father has prepared in Her honor (cf. Matthew 25:1-13).
However, for the scoffing, non-believers, there is one answer that that they will one day have to give; they will have to declare, once and for all, whether they will serve God or if they will continue to serve the world and its systems. The bottom line is that scoffing, non-believers also will have to develop the same belief and faith of true Godly sons and daughters who maintain, both for themselves and their household, that they will serve the Lord and wait for His return. Ironically, there must be an unwavering steadfastness in the One whom the “last-day scoffers” deny is coming back—Jesus the Christ. Those who are scoffers now also not only must believe in Jesus the Christ as the Son of God, but also they must follow through with total submission to Him in order to receive the eternal life with God reward, or they not only will be left behind (like the unwise, unprepared virgins, and everyone except the eight people on Noah’s Ark) but also, if they survive the Tribulation Period, they will be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (cf. Matthew 25:46).
BLOGGER’s NOTE: (I wrote the original version of this blog entry in 2000, and I self-published that original version in the 2003 first printing of Sounding A Clarion Call. I also self-published every refined version of this article in subsequent printings of Sounding A Clarion Call.)
For more detailed information about the Fig Tree mini-parable and the Olivet Discourse prophecies, please see my blog entries Jewish Menorah Mirrors 7 Feasts: Reflections Made On 2011’s Feast of Trumpets; Listen to the Sound of Abundant Rain: The Water Pourer Is Flooding This Earth; The Fall Feast of Trumpets’ Spiritual Realities; Flirting With Death; and The Three Most Important Crops of Israel’s Seven Major Crops.