In 1972 Hurricane Agnes, Downgraded to Tropical Storm, Floods My Hometown
My hometown sits in Wyoming Valley, which lies between the Pocono and Endless Mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. Flowing through the center of Wyoming Valley is the Susquehanna River—the longest river on the East Coast, and the “mother” river to the Chesapeake Bay. Essentially, this mighty and formidable river meanders through, or on the fringes of, several of my state’s valleys, and winds along many of my state’s cities, towns, and communities.
More to the point, the broad, shallow waters of the Susquehanna River are considerably narrower at my hometown; all the same, the river’s width does not lessen the way the Susquehanna magnificently outlines the northwestern border of my hometown. Though visually the Susquehanna River is a most splendid part of my gloriously stunning valley, in contrast to this river’s enjoyably elegant regality, the Susquehanna River is often very treacherous. For example, on a number of occasions, the majestic Susquehanna River has flooded the entire downtown portion of my hometown, destroying much property, including coming very close to damaging beyond repair the homes and personal belongings of some of my relatives, who still to this day do not live far from downtown, or the banks of this river.
For sure, nature plays an integral part in the lives of my family and friends who live in and around my hometown. We all, of course, either have witnessed firsthand, seen old black-and-white photographs, or have heard about the enormous amount of rubble and the numerous hours of clean-up efforts that invariably come after every major flooding. Even after every time the dikes have been raised, there continued to be a possibility that the powerful Susquehanna River still could flood our city. Knowing this truth, we faithfully and carefully watch for signs that will let us know that nature is about to harass our town yet one more time—signs such as hurricanes, torrential rains, high winds, unseasonable temperatures, sudden thawings, rapid runoffs from thick snowpacks or several weeks of ice buildup, and the like.
There are other signs of nature that we watch for, too, and many of them are less worrisome and quite beautiful. For example, where we live, we are fortunate to experience four distinct seasons, and each one is breathtaking, and each one comes with its own signs that let us know when a new season has begun.
In our youth, we learned rather early how to recognize these seasonal signs. Some of those amazing signs that nature still gives to us—signs that let us know the seasons have shifted are: violent winds swaying trees; the darkest evening of the year; snow on roofs; sleds on porches; red-breasted robins in yards; balmy breezes gently caressing faces; the smell of honeysuckle and lavender, everywhere; track and field games; bees and wasps; fireflies; sweltering heat; fire hydrants substituting for Niagara Falls; block parties; wild blackberries and raspberries; fresh corn and tomatoes; the winnowing of wheat; the southward flight of birds; bonfires; football games; and smells that fill the air, like those of roasted chestnuts and golden, reddish brown leaves that the wind rustles.
When the chestnuts and leaves’ smells wed together, and their complementary scents rise from the ground to the heavens, causing our noses to tilt automatically in their direction, there truly is nothing quite as wonderful to behold other than when our eyes witness the dust devil that lifts to great heights those same leaves that were once at our feet. Those leaves twirl and swirl in the mini-whirlwind, until they end up dancing with the foliage on mountaintop branches that seem to touch the Earth’s roof. These are seasonal signs, and they teach us to govern ourselves accordingly, in all of our affairs.
Wyoming Valley & Susquehanna River in Luzerne County, PA
Moreover, although nature’s signs mostly alert us about upcoming changes we can expect to happen, nature’s signs also can inform us about abrupt alterations in the usual patterns that could catch us off guard, especially if we are not watching for them. Even though nature normally will let us know about sudden seasonal abnormalities, while we were young children who were still learning these signs, we definitely were unaware of many of the seasons’ deviations and quirks. Suffice it to say that nature’s indoctrination can be quite uncomfortable at times.
In spite of everything, it is absolutely true that experience is indeed the best teacher, and “she” taught us how to make the necessary adjustments to nature’s mood swings. I dare say that we learned almost as much about nature’s changes from our experiences with “her” as we did from all of the wisdom shared by those who’ve “been there and done that” before we came along. Proof positive is the time when we experienced our first Indian Summer worth mentioning.
It was our fifth northeastern Autumn, and consistent with this season the temperature had dropped so that the mornings were cool enough that we had to don medium-weight coats, or jackets, or wool sweaters, or layered fleece wear. For days, as we headed for the door, our mothers stopped us from leaving and told us to go back and get the necessary outer garments. Each time, we obeyed.
Then suddenly, without warning, the days changed from cool, crisp, breezy mornings to warm, dry, gentle-wind blowing days, with cloudless, clear-blue skies that were sunny and bright. On the very first day of this weather change, we headed for the door as usual, and as usual our mothers admonished us about our inappropriate seasonal apparel. We humored them, knowing all the while that once we were out of sight we would shed our coats, or jackets, or sweaters, or sweatshirts, and do the things that young, preschool-age children did most, especially on days like this one—we ran, played dodge ball, played hopscotch, jumped rope, rode bicycles, and, most important, worked up a sweat.
When we returned to our homes that first evening with our outer garments in our hands, and soaked from our heads to our toes from our perspiration, our mothers scolded us and told us that we were “flirting with death.” As children, we really couldn’t conceive of death, so we just listened to what our mothers said about Indian Summer’s aftereffects. We listened, but we did not hear them, which was evident by our own actions, for, on the very next day, which was just like the day before, there we were coatless, or jacketless, or sweaterless, or sweatshirtless, once again.
Even though we didn’t hear—comprehend totally—what our mothers first told us about Indian Summer, on that long ago yesterday, in the days that followed that day, the veracity concealed in their “flirting with death” warning soon was revealed to us. As a result, we were able to deposit that valuable nugget of truth in our minds. We, however, did not cash in our savings right away, but had let them grow with interest until we had matured and had been blessed with children of our own.
Although we didn’t use what our experience confirmed about our mothers’ daily “flirting with death” warnings until we imparted our gained wisdom to our own children, without a doubt, our mothers’ wisdom immediately registered with us on the very day we woke up with frogs in our throats and were suffering from a fever. Being troubled by aches and pains, and dealing with persistent coughing, sneezing, and itchy runny eyes also made it easier for us to understand their “flirting with death” caveat, because we felt like we would die! There can be no doubt that our experienced physical signs were manifestations of our ignorance that spoke volumes then, and still speaks volumes to us now, about what we didn’t know would happen to us if we played it fast and loose with nature. Now, whenever the folly of our youth came to mind, we not only remembered the physical signs that underscored our ignorance but also we owned our shame associated with not obeying our mothers’ instructions to keep our outer garments on, even though wearing them would have made us feel a bit overheated.
What we learned was, although the days were warm, dry, sunny, and bright, the Summer season had ended months ago. Indeed, our first noteworthy Indian Summer not only had fallen in Autumn but also had fallen just weeks before Winter officially started. She—Autumn—happily gave us that rude awakening. As a result, we discovered that we could not treat Autumn’s Indian Summer as if those days were the same as Summer’s days.
Needless to say, we were caught off guard. This particular Autumn’s Indian Summer caught us frolicking without a care, kicking up our heels while we were coatless, or jacketless, or sweaterless, or sweatshirtless. She—Autumn—soon showed us the error of our ways. That Autumn’s Indian Summer had lulled us into a false sense of freedom, causing us to choose to behave in ways that would be detrimental to our health. The upshot of nature’s trick, other than our bodies’ reactions to it, was that the memory of our foolishness would stay with us and, as previously mentioned, would become that valuable wisdom that we had hoped to impart to the ones we wanted most to listen to us when we educated them about how NOT to get caught “flirting with death.”
Yet, as sure as Summer turns to Autumn, the repeated cycle of childish impertinence toward our mothers’ wisdom also came back around. Just like we initially paid our mothers no mind, our children paid no attention to us. They not only ignored our warnings but also ignored the seasonal signs connected with Autumn’s Indian Summer. Consequently, our children foolishly went about doing what we did—they discarded their outer garments and exposed themselves to the devious elements.
Now, even though it could be argued that Indian Summer never killed anybody, if someone were to talk to our children, or to us, about it, we all would testify that, by preferring to have faith in the sweet seduction of Indian Summer’s days that boasted of a guaranteed enjoyable time, and/or by being ignorant of Autumn’s abrupt changes, we caused our bodies to undergo unnecessary sickness, which, though not life-threatening, did make us feel as though old Death had come to get us. Bottom line: We flirted with death!
Our ignorance notwithstanding, neither our children’s first notable Indian Summer, nor ours, holds any fond memories, because every new Indian Summer brings to mine bittersweet images of our foolishness that left us underdressed and susceptible to Autumn’s seasonal departures. Yet, ironically, as God would have it, our learned wisdom about earthly seasonal shifts is precisely what Christ wants us to rely on so that we can apply that understanding to the weightier supernatural meanings embedded in His fig tree parables (cf. Matthew 21:17-20; Matthew 24:32-36; Mark 13:28-32).
Unquestionably, there are natural signs—what we can see, hear, smell, taste, and touch—that can enlighten us about the changes in weather patterns. If we are sensitive to these signs, mindful of them, and prepared for them, we will be able to govern ourselves accordingly; conversely, if we are insensitive to, ignorant about, or unprepared for these signs, we will suffer the consequences. Likewise, there are spiritual signs—what we can discern is happening in the Spirit (invisible) realm—that can enlighten us about the changes soon to happen in the physical (visible) realm. If we are sensitive to these signs, mindful of them, and prepared for them, which would be the case if we let the Holy Spirit’s supernatural explanations supersede our natural understandings, we will be supplied with godly wisdom, understanding, and knowledge that will defy their worldly counterparts.
Without a doubt, Christ teaches us that we need to be cognizant of spiritual signs. That’s why He uses this world’s natural seasons to explain the supernatural principles at work in the Kingdom of Heaven, and why He warns us to be sensitive to, aware of, and prepared for the changes the spiritual signs inform us about, or suffer the consequences. For example, in His mini-parables about the fig tree, Christ is informing the spiritually sensitive, watchful, and equipped believers about how to avoid the perilous times that await foolish children of God who cannot discern the spiritual warnings of the time, even though they are able to distinguish, in the natural, imminent seasonal changes.
Christ teaches that ONLY mature Christians who are on meat will be able to recognize the current last-days and end-time signs and govern themselves accordingly so that they are prepared for the parousia—the Second Coming of Christ. Those believers who are on milk—carnal babies—as a matter of course, will be caught not wearing their necessary spiritual attire, and, thus, will have been deceived by their own false sense of well-being. They will be rich with worldly wisdom, knowledge, and understandings, but they will be spiritually poor! Therefore, these carnal babies only will have an outward religiosity—they will appear to be spiritual—but there will be no true spiritual fruit in them for them to give to their Lord and Savior when He comes for them.
Consequently, when Christ comes back in the clouds, first to gather His Bride (His last-days CHURCH or Body of Christ believers), and once again to gather His end of harvest crop/flock (His end-time wheat/sheep), there will be many spiritually unproductive people who will feel the curse of the Tribulation Period (withering) instead of experiencing the blessings associated with the Rapture, or the Millennial Kingdom to come. As Christ teaches in Matthew 24:32-33 and Mark 13:28-29, believing and unbelieving people will know what season it is by nature’s observable modifications, but ONLY spiritually discerning people will be able to recognize, and be prepared for, the season of Christ’s Second Coming, even though they will NOT know the exact hour of His return (Matthew 24:36, and Mark 13:32).
Being prepared for Christ’s Second Coming, no doubt, is the reason why Jesus gives the explanation He does for why He withers the fig tree in Matthew 21:17-21 (cf. Song of Solomon 2:8-13; Jeremiah 8:13, 24:8, 29:17; Hosea 9:10; Micah 7:1; and Nahum 3:12). His explanation specifically is meant for those who are spiritually discerning.
Without a doubt, spiritually mature believers know that Christ curses the fig tree in Matthew 21:19, because this tree did not have any early fruit on it. Early fruit would have meant that the literal fig tree was physically alive and producing edible fruit (would have little green knobs that drop off, as people pull on or shake the tree for fruit). Agriculturally speaking, the early fruit that doesn’t fall off before summer would become the ripe figs of the second harvest. Spiritually speaking, this early fruit would symbolize a spiritually alive nation of Israel that would be capable of bearing the kind of fruit that would satisfy God, like that fruit that would be reaped during the spiritually early and late harvests (day of Pentecost’s birth of the CHURCH and Fall Feasts’ end-time Harvest of souls, respectively). Instead, Christ finds both the literal fig tree and the symbolic nation of Israel spiritually dead and barren, having only outward signs of life, which is why it is impossible for the literal fig tree and symbolic Israel to produce any fruit to offer to their Creator, before the Lord’s atoning sacrifice has been fulfilled.
There are leaves on Christ’s fig tree, so the vegetation is a sign that this fig tree also should have fruit on its branches. However, the fig tree’s outward appearance is deceiving, because when Christ and His disciples draw nearer to the leafy fig tree, it becomes increasingly obvious to Christ and His disciples’ natural senses that this tree is not what it pretends to be. The literal interpretation, here, is simple. The fig tree does not have one tangible fruit on it for them to see, smell, taste, hear, or touch.
The spiritual symbolism, however, is fourfold: (1) figuratively, the fig tree represents the fruitless nation of Israel—a nation with outward religiosity, but no inner spirituality from which “good fruit” can manifest; (2) figuratively, the fig tree represents fruitless Christians, Laodicean, last-days believers in Christ who also have an outward religiosity, but no spirituality from which “good fruit” can manifest; (3) figuratively, the fig tree represents the Divine Judgment that will fall upon Israel for “Her” spiritual barrenness (not being able to produce holy and righteous fruit)—cursed to wither; and (4) figuratively, the fig tree represents the Divine Judgment awaiting carnal believers for their spiritual barrenness (not being able to produce holy and righteous fruit)—cursed to wither.
It should be noted here that the salient events, which occur after what Christians call Palm Sunday, are both natural and spiritual signs integrated within the teaching pertaining to Christ’s cursing of the fig tree. Those events are: Christ’s cleansing of the Temple, for a second time; Christ’s dealings with the questions about authority, paying tribute to Caesar, the resurrection, the Great Commandment, and the coming Messiah; Christ’s teachings on the interconnected parables of the fig tree, the two sons, the wicked tenants, the Marriage Feast (or Great Supper), the ten virgins, the talents, and the sheep and goat judgments; and Christ’s atoning sacrifice.
Here are the circumstances and events leading up to Christ’s cursing of the fig tree. Christ has come to Jerusalem to celebrate His final Passover Feast, which always happens in the Spring season. This feast’s celebration is in remembrance of the slaying of Egypt’s firstborn (cf. Exodus 12:6, 12, 29; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:1-3); the actual flight time of the Israelites’ exodus from out of Egypt, and the time when the Israelites ate the first Unleavened Bread meal in haste (cf. Exodus 12:8, 11; Leviticus 23:6). Christ, the Lamb of God, also knows that He has come to Jerusalem when He did, because this is the season of His crucifixion. His hour is swiftly approaching; it is nearing the time for Him to lay down His life for the sins of the world. It is nearing the time for Him to become the final Passover Lamb.
Moreover, in this first century A.D. Spring season, God’s appointed time for the Israelites’ Firstfruits harvest season will be fulfilled by Christ, because He is there in Jerusalem to fulfill the consecrated firstborn male child mandate (cf. Exodus 13:2), the freewill firstfruits offering homage (cf. Deuteronomy 16:10), the firstborn or firstfruits of the brethren, as well as the firstfruits of every creature Scriptures. Christ, thus, is in Jerusalem at Passover time so that He can become the firstfruit of the dead—the first One of many who will be resurrected and then glorified, and who will never die again (cf. Matthew 27:52-53; Romans 8:29; 1 Corinthians 15:20; Colossians 1:15, 18)!
It is during this death and dying setting, which takes place at the beginning of Israel’s new agricultural year, that Christ curses the fig tree (cf. Matthew 21:18-19). Then, a day or so following the cursing and withering of the fig tree, right after teaching about His parousia or Second Coming (cf. Matthew 24:29-31), He teaches the fig tree parable of Matthew 24:32-36.
In each of His fig tree mini-parables, Christ is maintaining that ALL things (natural and spiritual) have an appointed time, that ALL things (natural and spiritual) appear after a series of events, and that ALL things (natural and spiritual) are accompanied by observable and comprehensible signs. For this reason, in the barren fig tree parable of Matthew 21:17-20 and the fig tree parable of Matthew 24:32-36, Christ is making an important comment about spiritually discerning people being the ones who understand how the sensually observable signs in nature relate to the spiritual signs from Heaven—the signs that warn believers of His prophesied parousia. Indubitably, the people who actually will “see” the symbolic leaves budding again on the withered symbolic fig tree (Israel), and those who will govern themselves accordingly by getting their spiritual “houses” (temples) in order, are the spiritually discerning believers of the 21st century.
Through God’s Word and the teachings of the Holy Spirit, 21st century’s spiritually discerning people discover that the withered fig tree’s rejuvenation fulfills the prophesied rebirth of Israel, which Christ metaphorically describes as the fig tree “…putteth forth her leaves…” (v. 32). This rebirth happens right before believers and unbelievers’ eyes, in God’s appointed time (20th century); after a series of events (70 A.D. Temple destruction; Jewish Diaspora; Muslim control of Palestine; World War I; World War II; the Holocaust); and this rebirth is accompanied by observable and comprehensible natural signs (Israel declares “Her” Independence on May 14, 1948, and the Six-Days’ War in June 1967 gains Israel control of the Sinai Peninsula, Golan Heights, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East Jerusalem—symbolic of budding and then putting forth leaves). Furthermore, the prophecy Christ makes about which generation would be the one that not only gets to witness this rebirth of the fig tree (Israel), but also the one that does not die out before everything prophesied comes to pass (v. 34) pertains to 21st-century Christians who spiritually are able to discern how 20th-century Israel’s budding and blossoming indicate the nearness of the end of the CHURCH Age and the Second Coming of Christ.
It is important to understand that in Matthew 24:32, in Mark 13:28, and in Luke 21:30 Christ is not making an inconsequential comment about spiritually discerning people understanding the sensually observable signs in nature, such as, actually “seeing” the leaves on a literal fig tree sprout and flourish. Nor is He making an insignificant statement about spiritually discerning people becoming consciously aware that the next season in nature is not far away. While it is true that unbelievers, carnal-minded Christians, and mature spiritually discerning believers all can observe nature’s signs and know what earthly season is swiftly approaching, as aforementioned, ONLY mature spiritually discerning people can understand how these literal signs in nature relate to the fig tree’s spiritual symbolism, and then apply that wisdom to their daily activities.
For this reason, Christ is letting the spiritually astute believers know that the end harvest, which is the second harvest season, or the time of the Latter Rain, is nigh. Here’s how they know this Divine Truth. Christ curses the fig tree days before He is crucified, and, as previously stated, He is crucified at Passover Feast time in Abib (Nisan)—the first month of the Jewish religious calendar, which is equivalent to the western world’s March or April. Christ’s cursing of the fig tree (Israel), thus, is His Divine Judgment, because He has been teaching righteousness and holiness for three years yet His teaching has had no lasting effect on the nation of Israel. Like the literal fig tree, Israel is NOT producing fruit—not even bearing early fruit during the firstfruits harvest season.
Since firstfruits harvest season begins at the time when ALL trees are supposed to be productive in Israel (cf. Nehemiah 10:37), the literal, natural fig tree has no excuse for not having any fruit on it. Indeed, the 15th of Shevat (the western world’s January or February) begins the New Year for Trees in Israel, and the 15th of Shevat is a day honoring the resurgence of life (rebirth) in trees. Moreover, during Shevat, the fig tree’s fruit buds first, and then the leaves begin to blossom for 4 to 6 weeks, or until the tree is covered with them. When the fig tree’s leaves are in full bloom, the fruit is ripe.
However, as previously mentioned, there are early figs (they are spring fruit, or the products of the Former Rain, first harvest) and in-season figs (they are the ripened summer fruit, or the products of the Latter Rain, second harvest). Furthermore, because all of the fig tree’s fruit does not ripen at the same time, this fact is why most of the figs are not completely ripe until the hottest part of the summer (and, prophetically speaking, why the largest harvest of believers will ripen during the most tumultuous and intense period in human history—the Tribulation Period)!
The point here is that even though there should be some early fruit at Passover time (in the Jewish month of Abib or Nisan—our March or April), Jesus finds no fruit AT ALL on the fig tree (not on either the literal tree or the spiritual nation of Israel). Christ, thus, has no other recourse but to wither the fig tree (both the literal tree and the literal nation of Israel). Furthermore, in Israel’s case, because the literal nation of Israel has been given a spiritual blindness (cf. Romans 11:8-25), Jesus knows that this spiritual blindness is why the spiritual fig tree also would not be producing any spiritual fruit at the time that He withers the tree.
For sure, both the literal fig tree and the nation of Israel are incapable of displaying a purer, more delightful sweetness until the flower inside the fig (or the regenerated spirit inside the Hebrews) blossoms and produces the “good work” the flower (spirit) is meant to produce—a ripened (matured) holy and righteously sanctified fruitful life. This is why Christ has to wither the fig tree and the nation of Israel. In other words, He has to do the Will of God and, thus, fulfill what has been prophesied about Israel.
Now, agriculturally speaking, if a fig tree with leaves has no fruit, then it is destined to be barren for that entire season. Furthermore, Jesus teaches that natural trees, which do not bear good fruit, will be cut down (cf. Matthew 7:19; Luke13:6-9). Thus, the literal and figurative fig tree must be removed, and for the nation of Israel, the figurative fig tree, this removal begins to take place in 70 A.D., when the Romans actively start driving the Jewish people from their homeland. The Romans play a major role in the removal of God’s chosen people from off of the land He had promised would be theirs.
Equally important to note here is that the writer of the Gospel of Mark says that, after Christ withers the fig tree, He goes into Jerusalem, to the Temple, where He drives out of the Temple the ones who were buying and selling, and where He overturns the moneychangers’ tables and dove sellers’ benches (cf. Mark 11:15-19). There can be no doubt that the Lord does this because, like the barren fig tree, the activities in the Temple no longer were fruitful and wholesome but, instead, had become useless and of no physical or spiritual value. For this reason, Christ’s Temple cleansing foreshadows the prophecy of the Temple’s 70 A.D. destruction.
Concerning the literal fig tree, this tree has young tender branches that have sprouted leaves (cf. Matthew 21:19-20; Mark 11:13-14); however, appearances are deceiving, for there is no life in this tree. If this fig tree had new life in it, this fig tree most definitely would have fruit on it, regardless of whether or not that fruit is fully ripe (mature). Instead, the literal fig tree demonstrates that it only appears to be outwardly fruitful—displays outward signs of possibly being able to bear fruit (i.e., the leaves), but, in actuality, the tree is only faking its intentions, giving the impression that it is fruitful when there is no new life whatsoever in it.
Since Israel, too, is faking “Her” intentions, giving the impression that “She” is fruitful when “She” is just as barren as the literal fig tree, Christ’s cursing of the fig tree, thus, is really all about Israel, because “She” was supposed to have new life in “Her”—spiritual life. As it turns out, “She” only can display a hypocritical righteousness! So then, since the fig tree and Israel are barren–the fig tree is not able to bear physical fruit and Israel is not able to bear spiritual fruit, in spite of both of their outward appearance (fig tree’s leaves; and Israel’s display of religion, traditions, and outward form of worship)—the withering of the literal tree and the nation of Israel is the tree and the nation’s Divine Judgment.
Furthermore, Christ’s three years of ministry in Israel have proven His judgment to be accurate and fair. Why? Israel has not profited from Christ’s teachings, and so “She” is unable to produce spiritual fruit. The same is true of Laodicean last-days Christians. Their lukewarm attitudes, egotistic behaviors, and faulty logic cause them to conclude that they have everything they need to be the CHURCH that Christ is coming back to rapture. Their conduct and beliefs, however, have rendered them spiritually barren, on the inside, and, therefore, unable to produce spiritual fruit.
In every one of the above-mentioned cases (the literal fig tree, the nation of Israel, and the lukewarm last-days believers), their judgment is to ‘wither.’ Now, ‘wither’ does mean to dry up, die, shrivel, droop, or weaken, and any one of these judgments would be apropos for the physical fig tree. However, spiritually speaking, especially in the case of Israel and the Laodicean church, even though many Hebrews and Gentiles in this last generation might physically dry up and die, God still would have His remnant. That is to say, a ‘withered’ Israel doesn’t mean God’s chosen people (the nation as a whole) will be totally obliterated. Likewise, a ‘withered’ institutional church doesn’t mean Christian churchgoers (as a whole) will be absolutely vomited out of God’s mouth and into the Tribulation. In fact, God’s Jewish and Gentile 21st-century remnants not only are physically alive today, but also many of them are spiritually productive.
This last point brings up another meaning for ‘withered,’ which is “to lose freshness.” Where the whole nation of Israel is concerned, God promises that His unholy and unrighteous chosen people would experience a spiritual hunger and thirst (a Word famine), because His spoken and written instructions no longer are fresh in their minds. Indeed, both their love for Him and their obedience to His Word have faded. CONSEQUENTLY, when today’s Hebrews run to and fro trying to hear a Word from God, the majority of them only will discover that He is silent (cf. Amos 8:11).
Moreover, until the complete number of the Gentiles comes to Christ (cf. Romans 11:25), most of modern-day Israel will remain spiritually blind, and, therefore, ‘withered’ (famished and dehydrated). For this reason, Israel, as a nation of believers, will not be redeemed until the Tribulation Period, when the sealed, born again 144,000 remnant Hebrews witness to the Jewish nation as a whole, and to the entire left-behind world (cf. Revelation 7:3-4; 14:1-5). Until then, there will be a Word famine in the lives of God’s chosen people, and the majority of them will remain cut off from their necessary Bread of Life.
Then too, when spiritually mature believers look at today’s churches, they will see how carnal believers are hungering and thirsting for a ‘word’ from false teachers, preachers, evangelists, and so forth. Too many believers are replacing God’s Word with worldly New Age fables, wrong-thinking, and wrong-teaching doctrines. As a result, today’s Gentiles also are experiencing the Amos 8:11 “prophesied” lack of God’s unadulterated Daily Bread. That’s why these believers also are unable to discern and apply the spiritual signs relating to the imminent seasonal shift.
Even still, Christ’s Luke 13:6-9 fig tree parable provides convincing evidence of God’s love for the world and His wish that none perish. By allowing the parable’s gardener at least one more year to cultivate the soil in which the fruitless fig tree is rooted, this parable illustrates how God also gives Hebrews and Gentiles hope against ever having to be permanently cutoff from Him (from having to receive an eternal Divine Judgment). For sure, the irrefutable evidence of God’s love for ALL mankind is shown by His extended mercy—His gracious decision to lighten the original punishment for guilty ones, when righteous persons stand in the gap for them and plead their cases.
In Luke’s parable about the gardener and the barren fig tree, Christ is represented as the one who is standing in the gap and pleading for God’s extended mercy. Jesus intercedes on the behalf of both saved and unsaved persons, for Hebrews and Gentiles, asking the Father to delay His Divine Judgment and allow Christ a set amount of years to win more souls, as well as more time to mature those souls already won.
However, even though the fig tree planter and the gardener in the parable decide on a set time before an eternal Divine Judgment will be decided, only God knows when His Tribulation’s Divine Judgment will begin to pour out on the Earth and the people living on it! Nevertheless, if Luke’s fig tree (symbolic of Israel as a nation, unsaved Gentiles, and carnal-minded believers) still hasn’t produced fruit by the end of the Tribulation Period, which is a SET and definitive seven-year period for pruning and new growth, for sure that fig tree will receive its eternal Divine Judgment—it will be uprooted (cut down) and then thrown into the Lake of Fire!
Indeed, Christ, in Luke 13:8, really is asking God to give Israel (and Gentiles) some years of grace—the CHURCH AGE—with the hope that they will use this current time to repent of their wicked ways and turn back to God (to become spiritually discerning believers). If they refuse, they are to be uprooted (cf. Isaiah 5:1-7).
In Israel’s case, history records the actual disobedience of this nation, their spiritual blindness, which leads to the Hebrews’ uprooting—their literal eviction from their Promise Land. Their uprooting began in 70 A.D., and continued in 135 A.D., after the Roman Empire, in an attempt to suppress the Bar-Kochba (Kokhba) uprising, killed 538,000+ Hebrews. To multiply the impact of Romans’ hatred for the Hebrews, in this same year (135 A.D.), the Romans banned Hebrews from Jerusalem then plowed Jerusalem with salt. Also, in an attempt to destroy all memories of Jerusalem and the Hebrews, the Romans renamed the land Palestine to ensure that the Hebrews would not want to return to Jerusalem. Still, there was a remnant, in spite of this very effective uprooting.
There is always a remnant, and, praise God, there even will be a remnant of individuals who will survive the Great Tribulation. However, the spiritual signs that relate to Hebrews and Gentiles’ Divine Judgments are very clearly presented in Christ’s fig tree parables found in Matthew 24:32-36, Mark 13:28-33 and Luke 21:29-36. The problem then is whether or not we, who are His sheep, will hear our Savior and Great Shepherd when He tells us to stop our “flirting with death,” or if we merely will listen to Him and then head out the doors of our homes scantly dressed during the second harvest season, which is no longer swiftly approaching, but is already upon us. If we respond to His warnings in a nonchalant manner, then we, Jewish and Gentile believers, can expect not only to receive our uprooting, too, but also to receive our eternal damnation, should we enter the Tribulation Period and take on the Mark of the Beast!
Not wanting ANY of us to perish is why Christ, in His fig tree parables, does not focus on the closeness of Summer for Summer’s sake. He merely is making us aware of our knowledge of natural seasonal signs so that we either can use that knowledge to become spiritually able to discern EVERY spiritual season from each other, or to get ready to suffer the consequences. If we who are natural (unbelievers) and carnal (unnatural believers) can tell when Summer is approaching, then we also should be conscious of the fact that at the end of those three months Autumn will be upon us. Having this awareness, we should know that it is not Summer that should gain our attention as much as it is Autumn.
Autumn is the time of the Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashanah; the time of the first and last trumpets (Numbers 10:1-8), which relate to the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:52; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17); the time to receive glorified bodies; and the time of the Day of Atonement or Yom Kippur, when God decides if He’s finished dealing with Israel and this world—when He decides if He should extend mankind’s time or not. Autumn is the time when lukewarm Laodicean Christians will be vomited out of God’s mouth into the Tribulation Period; the time when the Antichrist’s grand deception will begin to mislead people into believing that he will bring peace to this troubled and terrorized world (his version of Indian Summer, which happens during the first half of the seven-year Tribulation Period); and the time when God begins to pour out His seals, trumpets, and bowls of wrath upon the entire world. Autumn is the time of Jesus’ Second Coming (His bodily return to this Earth); the time of the Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Ingathering or Sukkot—the time for the CHURCH (Bride of Christ) to emerge from the wedding chamber with Jesus the Christ, the Lamb and Bridegroom, before the Millennial Reign of the Lord starts; the time of the Marriage Supper of the Lord; and the time of Christ’s earthly Kingdom of 1,000 years of peace, prosperity, wellness, joy, and happiness—a true utopia.
If we are watching the signs of the time, and know when this described Autumn is about to start, then we also will know that our present-day Indian Summers or light afflictions that we already have suffered were only permitted by God so that we could be saved from the Antichrist’s Indian Summer, and the wrath of God that will cause some never before experienced unbearable afflictions. In short, Jesus the Christ’s natural and spiritual signs tell us that we do not want to have to go through any part of the Tribulation Period!
The signs of the time are everywhere! Summer has long past and Autumn is here! The questions we NOW need to know the answers to are: If we are not saved, do we want to receive our withered and cut-down state of being separated completely from having any spiritual relationship and fellowship with God? If we are not producing spiritual fruit, do we want to wait still one more year before we repent? Do we want to tumble smack into the Tribulation because of wrong-teaching or wrong-thinking and lukewarm tendencies, or do we want to become sold out for Christ, now? Do we really want the enemy to catch us underdressed, and, therefore, susceptible to fall for his wicked chicanery? Do we really want to continue to flirt with death—both physically and spiritually speaking, with the latter, believe it or not, being the most unpleasant and the most devastating of the two kinds of deaths?
Let’s not flirt with death. Let’s not be caught off guard, frolicking without a care until the day that we are lulled into a false sense of freedom that causes us to choose to behave in ways that would be detrimental to our physical and spiritual existence. Let’s learn the signs. Let’s watch for the signs. Finally, and most important, let’s be prepared for the signs by becoming spiritually able to discern them. Let’s be filled with the Holy Spirit, and let’s allow Him to grow us up, make us spiritually mature, through the teaching of all TRUTH so that we will be ready when Christ comes for His Bride, during the time of the Fall Feasts.
Hopefully, during this vitally unusual Autumn, God will allow some of the left-behind people to be as fortunate and yet as amazed as Elisha. Like Elisha, maybe some left behinders also might behold, witness with their own eyes, the mighty whirlwind that will be lifting to the greatest height their loved ones who were once at their feet. Their astonishment, prayerfully, will swiftly nudge their remembrance about this major seasonal sign (the Rapture) so that, finally, they will govern themselves accordingly, in all of their affairs, especially once they recall the biblical teachings about what happens after the Rapture. Then they too will get prepared, this time, for Christ’s bodily Second Coming, when He returns again for His end of the AGE vast Harvest!
Additionally, please read my blog entry “The Fall Feast of Trumpets’ Spiritual Realities”.