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Most Recent Update
Jan. 17, 2012
The Sign of the Fig Tree
(Signs of the End of the Age)
The subject is, "The Sign of the Fig Tree", and this is what I like to talk about. I just returned from the land of Israel for the seventeenth time and, the Lord willing, will go back again in a few months. And I like to talk about that land. I do not get tired of seeing it. Turn to the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, if you please, as we talk about the sign of the Fig Tree. In the 24th chapter of Matthew the disciples get Jesus by Himself and they say, "Tell us, when is it going to happen? What is it going to be like on earth when You come again? What is the sign of Your coming and of the end of the [age]?" (Read Matt. 24: 3.) Jesus proceeds to give a whole list of indications. And, in the process of doing so, He says in verse 32, "Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know...".
Knowing For Sure
You can know for sure. Not guess, maybe, suppose, or perhaps, but know, K-N-O-W. I told you in another message that's a very good word. But if you want to know something for sure, you don't get it out of the philosophy classes of the university, you get it right out of the Bible. That's where the absolute truth is located. Jesus says you can know for sure. "...that when the branch of the fig tree is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know summer is nigh:..." (It's coming, very close.) "So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things,..." (Matt. 24: 32 - 33) (Nathan does not always quote/write Scripture word for word.).
Signs of His Coming
Now, I only dealt with one of these that He calls, "all these things" so far. I did mention some of them indirectly, but now let me just rehearse briefly again what's (the things) in this chapter that Jesus talks about. The disciples said, "What's the sign of Your coming?" He said, "Well, there's going to be religious deception (apostasy)." I talked about that in another message. Then He said, "There would be an increase in all kinds of catastrophes like, wars and rumors of wars, and there will be a increase in famine, earthquakes, and pestilence. And there would be strange sights in the heavens." He said, "People would lose their minds worrying about what's happening on earth." He said, "Nations shall be in such a state of perplexity they will not know which way to turn." He said, "Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the time of the end comes."
And Jesus said, "Now, when ye (you) see all these things begin, then you look up because that's when you're leaving." (Read Luke 21: 28.).
It will be my purpose through all these messages to try to show you that all these prophecies are leaping to fulfillment in a manner that has never happened before in history. And it all proves one thing. Jesus is coming again, soon. So we're dealing with the passage where He says, "...learn a parable of the fig tree;..." (Matt. 24: 32).
"...that it is near,..."
What does He refer to by the word "it?" It simply refers to the thing the disciples were asking about: His coming. They said, "Tell us, when are You coming? What's the sign of Your coming? What will it be like when You come again? What's the sign of Your coming and the end of the [age]?" That's what they asked, and that's what He's answering. So He's saying you can know that it is near when you see the fig tree budding. When you see all these things, just like the fig tree. You see the budding of the fig tree then you know that summer is near. And when you see all these prophecies being fulfilled, then you know that My coming is near. And I'm trying to tell you, and will continue in each of these messages, that's exactly where we are now.
So Jesus says,
This Same Generation
"Verily I say unto you, This generation..." (Matt. 24: 34)
The Greek says,
Which generation is that? Well that's the generation that is alive when this end time sign starts. When for the first time in the history of man there is a world war, and all over the world they are talking about war and peace, and war and peace. And all these things coming to fulfillment in a manner that is unlike anything that has ever happened in history. When these things happen, Jesus says, then this same generation that is alive when it starts will not have all passed off until it's all over. That's what He's saying. "...this same generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.". Don't waste time in verse 34 trying to figure out how many years there are in a generation, that's irrelevant. What He is talking about is the lifetime of one man. And I think because I was born in the time of the first world war that it's my generation that He's talking about. Therefore, I believe, those who are my age will not have all died until the Lord will have come. That's not setting a date that's forbidden. We do not know the day or the hour. The signs of the times, yes, that we are supposed to know. "You're Children of the Light, and that day will not overtake you as a thief in the night. You're not the children of the darkness," Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. So we're expected to discern these signs, and that's why Jesus gave them. (See I Thes. 5: 4 - 5.). So now as we study them, let the Holy Spirit allow you to visualize what is happening and speak to your heart concerning the fact that you ought to be ready for that moment when He comes. So He says, "...this same generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.". It is surely going to happen.
Jesus says in verse 35,
The Fig Tree is Israel
The fig tree in the Bible is used as a symbol of Israel, and I would like to give you four prophecies that tell us about this miracle land. So when we talk about the sign of the Fig Tree we are really talking about Israel. And when we see what has happened in relation to God's chosen earthly people and the prophecies that have leaped to fulfillment in this present generation, it's enough to get excited because it proves the King is coming.
The Jewish People and Their Beginning
So turn with me first of all to a prophecy in the book of Genesis, chapter 12, that will give us in the first place the announcement of the origin of these people. The Jewish people had a beginning and you read about it in prophecy in the twelfth chapter of Genesis.
"Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto [the] land that I will show thee:" (Verse 1)
Abram was not a Jew. There were no Jews. And I'm using that in a broad sense now. Anybody here inclined to be technical, all right, for you it's Israelites. Paul used it in a broad sense and that's the way I'm using it. There were no Israelites, and Abraham was a Gentile. But God was looking for a man, and He found him over in the Mesopotamian Valley in the ancient land of Babylon. And He talked to him and this is what happened. God said to him.
"...Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto the land that I will show thee:"
There's the prophecy. I want to deal with four of these, and this is the first one.
A Great Nation
God announces that through Abram, later called Abraham, the friend of God, He will bring into being a nation and religion through whom the Messiah will come, who will bring blessing to the whole world, and those people will be the Jewish people. Though He doesn't name them as such at this point, they are to come out of the loins of Abraham. So God says, "...I will make of thee a great nation...". Now that prophecy was given about four thousand years ago. And it's the number one prophecy in this message. It has to do with the origin of these people, it tells where they came from. They came from Abraham. Now whenever God makes one big prophecy He often delights to throw in some fringe benefits in the form of additional prophecies. He doesn't charge any extra for them, just throws them in. And it's delightful to look at them. He says in connection to this big promise that He made to Abraham that He's going to make of Abraham a great nation.
God Blessed Abraham and Made his Name Great.
Now God has kept His word. The descendants of Abraham all revere and honor him. He is considered a great man by people everywhere. You never hear anybody speak evil of Abraham, the friend of God. You see, he is the father of all the Jews because he is the father of Isaac, who is the father of Jacob, who was the father of all the children of Israel. So the Jews honor and revere him. And he is also the father of all the Arabs because the Arabs are descended from Ishmael, who was Abraham's son also. Not the son of promise, but Abraham's son just the same. And there's more than a hundred million Arabs. There are some 12 to 15 million Jews. In addition to that, Abraham is the father of the Christians. The Bible calls him our spiritual father. So all the Christians honor and revere him. So between all the Christians, all the Jews, and all the Arabs, there are a lot of people in this world that honor Abraham. And when you go to the mosque in Hebron, built over the cave of Machpelah where Abraham lies buried, you'll find all three of these groups in the same house of worship. Now that is unique, but that's true. So God has a way of keeping His word.
"And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed." (Gen. 12: 3)
Now that's a big order, but God delights to fulfill His promises. God has indeed, blessed those who blessed the Jew, cursed those that cursed the Jew.
God Destroyed Adolf Hitler and his Army
The outstanding example in history of a nation that has cursed the Jew is Germany in my lifetime and the lifetime of most of you here. You see a man by the name of Schickle Grewber, you high school students will recognize him, as Adolf Hitler, decided that he was going to rule the world. He boasted that the Third Reich would last a thousand years. And when their fuehrer came to power, he proceeded to build his military and it began to rule and for awhile some of the nations of the world thought that Adolf Hitler with his German army was invincible. But Adolf Hitler made one terrible and fatal mistake. He proceeded by the most barbaric fashion that you can imagine to murder and to butcher some six million, six million mind you! Not thousand, not hundred thousand, but million! Six million! Of God's chosen earthly people, who descended from Abraham, through Isaac, through Jacob, concerning whom God said, "Those that curse thee, I will curse."
My Visit to the Concentration Camp at Dachau, Germany.
Not too long ago I was in Germany, in the spring, preaching for about a hundred and fifty evangelical missionaries there in the Black Forest and what a mountain top experience that was. And our own missionary, Rodger Pew, took me to see one of the Nazi concentration camps where they murdered and butchered the Jewish people, the concentration camp of Dachau. And I still get shivers up and down my spine when I think of what I saw. The horrible atrocities that were committed there by supposedly civilized people can't begin to tell you all of them, but just a few. We went into a big room and there were indications in the ceiling that there had been something there. I was told that the Jewish people were herded in here and told that it was a shower. And when they were in the doors were all locked and sealed and the gas was turned on, and they were gassed to death. Then there was another long building with a long series of chambers, furnaces, and there is where they were cremated. When we visited Jerusalem, the guides will never take you there unless you insist on it, but often I do. On Mount Zion there is a museum, and in that museum you can actually see cakes of soap made from the flesh of Jewish people by Adolf Hitler's henchmen. The atrocities that Adolf Hitler committed are absolutely satanic and horrible. And young people, don't ever tell me that education is the answer because at the time when that happened, it was considered the very zenith of educational achievement to have a Ph.D. from a university in Germany. And it was Germany that put Hitler in power and it was Hitler that murdered and butchered in the most barbaric and devilish and satanic fashion you can imagine, six million of God's chosen earthly people. Now God said, "Those who curse thee, I will curse." And Adolf Hitler boasted his Third Reich would last a thousand years, it lasted just a little over a decade until it went down in ashes and ruins. And Adolf Hitler with it. God kept His word. By the same token, God said, "Those that bless thee, I will bless."
God Blessed America
The outstanding example of a nation that has been good to the Jew is America. In all of history there's been no nation that is so God blessed as has been America. There's no good reason in history why the United States of America should've become the greatest, the richest, the freest, the most powerful, most wonderful nation in all human history, but that's exactly what happened. There really are two reasons, but they're not in the history books. One is that from America more missionaries and more money went out to the ends of the earth to tell the good news that Jesus saves. And God blessed America because of the missionary enterprise. By the same token no nation in all history has been so good to God's chosen earthly people, the Jews. And therefore, God likewise blessed America, and between those two things, America has been more God blessed than any nation in all of history. God said it would be so and it has.
All Nations Are Blessed
And He said,
That's partly fulfilled, but still waiting to be fulfilled when the descendant of Abraham, through Isaac, through Jacob, the heir to David's throne, comes to reign as King of Kings, from the city of Jerusalem, when He settles all the problems of the world and brings in at last perpetual peace. I'm talking about the coming of the Prince of Peace Himself. The king is coming, remember? Well, it's going to happen. Part of it has been fulfilled already, the rest will be. But once again in verse 2, "...I will make of thee a great nation...".
That's the main prophecy here, and it is the announcement of the origin of these people.
The Jews in Egypt
Now Abraham did what God said. He went into the land and God blessed him. But some seventy years later the descendants of Abraham found themselves down in the land of Egypt in the land of bondage. And there in Egypt they spent four hundred years. And under the taskmaster of the Egyptian slave drivers they cried out to God for relief, and God provided that relief. He sent Moses to deliver them. And Moses came to Pharaoh and said, "Pharaoh, let my people go." Pharaoh said, "I will not." Moses said, "Oh yes, you will, when God gets through with you, you'll be glad to get rid of us." And you know about the plagues. And finally, when they had a funeral in every family throughout the land of Egypt where there was a male child, even Pharaoh himself lost his son. In every family where they had a male child, there was a funeral and Pharaoh finally said, "All right get out of here. Take anything you like just get out as fast as you can."
They Crossed the Red Sea on Dry Ground
So Moses led them out of the land of bondage, the land of Egypt, toward the Red Sea. And when they approached the shores of the Red Sea they heard the thunder of galloping hoofs in the background, and they looked back and saw a cloud of dust and they saw Pharaoh and his army approaching. And now they got nervous. Pharaoh's army behind them, the Red Sea in front of them, no bridge, no way to get over, and they wondered what to do. But God, who had brought them thus far, was there. And He told Moses what to do and the waters parted and stood up straight on both sides, and they walked over without getting mud on their sandals. Dry ground it says. And when they got on the far shore they looked back and sure enough, Pharaoh was determined to follow and he came right down into the bed of the Red Sea, and when his chariots were coming across, their war chariots ready to come and take back the slaves once again. God let go, and those waves came sloshing together with a mighty splash. And like the Negro spiritual says, "Pharaoh and his army got drowned." And Miriam the sister of Moses got so happy she started to dance and sing on the shore and lead the people, and they had a real celebration on the shore of the Red Sea.
They're About to Enter the Promised Land
Forty years later because of their unbelief, Moses finally brought them through the wilderness, wandering to Mount Nebo, that is the mountain of Moab. Today that would be the country of Jordan. And there he stood on the mountain and looked all over the promised land. He could look way up to the north and he could see the Sea of Galilee. I know he could because I stood there myself and you can see it. Moses much older then I but then he didn't even wear glasses. The Bible says, "...his eyes were not dim, and his [strength] was not abated." (See Deuteronomy 34: 7.). And you can look over and see the hills of Galilee, you can see the hills of Samaria, the hills of Judea. And you can see the Dead Sea below, lying there 50 miles long, lowest spot on earth, saltiest water on earth. There Moses stood with the children of Israel, but he couldn't enter the land because one day he lost his temper. God told Moses to speak to the rock and he was mad at the people so he took his rod and he struck the rock and God said, "All right, that did it, you won't get to go in now." So at this point Moses must say good-bye to his people and walk up the hill to his own funeral, which most people never get to do. Most people get carried in an ambulance, but Moses just hiked up the mountain and God buried him, the Bible says. But before he said good-bye to his people he said, "Now I want to tell you something. You're going in under Joshua, and when you do, remember this," (Deuteronomy chapter 28).
We're getting to the second prophecy now in this message. The first one in Genesis 12 had to do with the origin of these people 4,000 years ago.
The Jews Were Scattered All Over the Earth
And now in Deuteronomy 28, we read,
All these blessings if they're true and faithful and loyal and loving and obedient to the Lord Jehovah who brought them miraculously out of Egypt. But where there's an "if" there's always an "if not" and we come to the alternative in verse 15, "But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all His commandments and His statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:".
The Blessings and Curses
And Moses spells out the curses and it's all trouble. Trouble, trouble, trouble. But in connection with the blessings, the essence of what Moses said was, "If you're true and loyal and faithful to the Lord, when you get into the land under Joshua you'll have two things primarily, military protection, and material prosperity." That is to say, first of all, no army on earth will be able to drive you out. God will be with you. Second place, you'll never lack for anything that you need. He will provide everything. Your crops will grow abundantly, your herds will increase rapidly and you'll not suffer from the canker-worm, nor from drought, nor from other things that destroy the crops that agriculture produces. You'll just flourish and live abundantly in the land. That's the essence of what Moses told them. Well, God by divine inspiration gave Moses divine information and Moses spells it out. Prophecy number two has to do with the announcement of the dispersion of these people. Remember they're not yet in the land. They are on top of the mountains of Moab overlooking the land they are about to enter. And now, it is announced they're going to be scattered because God who knows the end from the beginning knows that they're going to be a stiff-necked and stubborn and rebellious people. And so He tells Moses to tell them what's going to happen. And in verse 64 we have the number two prophecy in this message.
"And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other;..." (Deut. 28: 64)
There is the announcement of their scattering in verse 64. So I repeat, in the twelfth chapter of Genesis, we have the announcement of the origin of these people. Four thousand years ago it was given. Thirty five hundred years ago we have the announcement of the scattering of these people and it's in Deuteronomy 28: 64.
The Jews Enter the Land That God Gave Them
Well, they went into the land under Joshua. They walked down the mountain and Joshua did what God commanded, the waters of the Jordan parted, and they went through on dry ground. They came to Jericho on the other side. They marched around the city according to the formula that God gave and at the right time they blew the trumpets. And what do you think happened? The walls came tumbling down like the Negro spiritual says. And they overran the city. So it was that wherever they went God gave to them the land that was under their feet. Cities were ready to occupy, the fields were flourishing with crops, and the herds were all there. It was a land, therefore, that the Bible says flowed with milk and honey. But unfortunately the prophecy of Moses came to be fulfilled because God knew what they would do, and He announced it ahead of time. He didn't tell them that (they would worship idols) He just knew what would happen, and so He foretold what would happen and it did happen! Joshua gave a powerful sermon and he said now all of you have got to choose. You know, God always demands that you choose, choose Him or choose Satan. It's one or the other. So Joshua said, "...choose you this day whom ye will serve;...as for me and my house,... we made our decision, we're going to ...serve the Lord.". (See Joshua 24: 15 - 21.). So the people said, "All thou sayest we will do." But they didn't. Oh for a little while they did, but not very long. They watched the Canaanites, and saw how they worshipped in the groves and they said, "We would like to do it like that."
Canaanites were the most wicked people who ever lived. There isn't anything worst than what they did. And the Jews watched them, and saw that they worshipped in the groves and in connection with their worship they engaged in immorality. And then they brought their offspring and burned them as human sacrifices while they worshipped the Devil. And would you imagine it? These chosen earthly people who were destined to bring in Messiah, the Redeemer of the world, who were to represent the great Jehovah, the Creator of the universe among the pagans of the world, they imitated the Canaanites and finally came to do the same thing. And God waited, and He waited and He waited. For one thousand years in round numbers we can say He waited. Oh they had a revival now and then, briefly, but it always-drifted back again into the sins of the Canaanites. God raised up godly kings, priests, and prophets from time to time, but it was never permanent.
The Jews Were Scattered Throughout the World
Finally God couldn't stand it any longer. He ordered the armies of Assyria to come in from the north, and the armies of Babylon to come in from the east. And they took two kingdoms, it was divided, you know, and they were scattered. The prophecy of Moses was thus fulfilled.
So, let's follow them now across a thousand years of human history, across the pages of your Bible to the book of Ezekiel chapter 36. In the thirty-sixth chapter of Ezekiel, we find the Jewish people out of the land of blessing, out of the place where they belong, over in the land of captivity, in the land of bondage, in the land of Babylon. But God isn't finished with them. He made some promises to Abraham, remember. And He keeps His word. But at this point in Ezekiel 36, He raises up the young prophet Ezekiel to do two things. First of all to tell them why they are where they are instead of back in the land where they ought to be. And then the second thing is to look across the span of years to the future, and tell them what He has in store for them in the future.
Scattered Because of Their Sin
So first of all Ezekiel 36 verse 16,
"Son of man, when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings: their way was before Me as the uncleanness of a removed woman."
What made God so furious? Well there are two key words here that spell it out. "...for the blood that they had shed upon the land, and for their idols wherewith they had polluted it:" (Ezek. 36: 18) (Blood and idols). And if you read Jeremiah chapter 19, verses 4 and 5, you'll discover that Jeremiah the prophet says, that they were guilty of burning their babies in the worship of Baal. Now that's devil worship. And taking their sweet little innocent heaven-sent babies and burning them on the altar as they worshipped Lucifer is the rock bottom of all sins. What could be worse than burning babies as you worship Lucifer! And that's what these people did. God's chosen earthly people.
God's Chosen People
And by the way don't envy them because you hear them called God's chosen people. They're God's chosen earthly people, and don't steal any of their promises, we have got enough of our own. And then remember the Christians are God's chosen heavenly people and that's far better. And God does not promise material prosperity or military protection to His chosen heavenly people. He does to His chosen earthly people. You see, with us He settles the books in heaven not here below and that's the difference. So never rob the Jews of their promises. I find the Christians often do that. They let the Jews keep their curses, but they want to still their promises, and that's not fair. The Jews need their promises. We've got enough of our own. And always distinguish between God's chosen heavenly people, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and God's chosen earthly people, born of the seed of Abraham through Isaac through Jacob.
The Armstrongs in California
And don't fall into the trap that is set by the Armstrongs in California who think they're the only preachers in the world that are right. And they are totally wrong! They're trying to make Jews out of all of us, and make this to be the promised land. And if they had their way you all would he keeping the feast of tabernacles. And that's nonsense, this is not the promised land. This is not Israel. And we are not Jews. And by the way, if you disagree with what I said, I didn't see anybody get mad enough to leave, but if you disagree with what I said just remember, those fellows have never yet told anybody how to be saved like the Bible tells it. The Bible says, "You accept Christ as your Savior. Invite Him to come into your heart, and you are born again."
"He came unto His own (that's the Jews), [but] His own received Him not."
Now if a preacher preaches that, he's preaching the truth. If he does not preach that he's false. So I make no apologies for telling you, the Armstrongs are false preachers. Well, continuing....
God Will Put Them in Their Own Land
In the book of Ezekiel, Ezekiel the prophet says, speaking for God in verse 23, "...I will sanctify My great name, which was profaned among the heathen (Gentiles), which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the Lord, saith the Lord God, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes."
Verse 24 is the great prophecy, number 3 in this message.
"For I will take you from among the [Gentiles], and gather you out of all countries, and bring...you into your own land."
Twenty five hundred years ago Ezekiel, the prophet off in the land of Babylon, by divine inspiration, records this information. And he announces, "One day God is going to reach out His mighty arm and gather back His people from all the countries of the world to which He has scattered them, and He's going to put them in their own land."
The United Nations thinks it's the land of the Arabs by the way they act. And I detected that the World Council of Churches thinks so too. But God says that land belongs to the Jews. And what's so selfish about that? I have a lot of Arab friends and I'm not being unkind to the Arabs. But there are some twenty Arab countries scattered all around that area involving a vast territory. So all right, let them have their countries. But what's wrong with letting the descendants of Jacob have one little parcel in the middle, about two hundred and seventy miles long, approximately the size of the state of New Jersey. They have one little country and God says it's yours. And when God says it's yours, you can be sure they're going to stay. Even though all the hundred and ten million Arabs in the world and all the two hundred and thirty million Russians, and all the forces of the devil and hell put together come against them they cannot drive them out. But I'm getting ahead of my story.
The Preservation of the People
I was just telling you the prophecy that they're going to come back, now let me tell you how they came. God delights to make a prophecy and then He delights to allow so much time to pass that it seems impossible that prophecy can be fulfilled. If these people would have returned within fifty years it would not have been miraculous. But they didn't. They drifted all over the world to every continent on earth and to the islands of the sea. Century after century, and millennium after millennium until in round numbers we can say, twenty five hundred years had passed, and then all of a sudden, God said, "All right now, it's time to go home." And all over the world with the dawn of the twentieth century the Jews began to get restless. Deep down inside there was something inside that said, "I want to go home." Now isn't that strange? I think it is. First of all, it's miraculous that they were still around. If you think that's not true then let me ask you a question. Any of you have any Philistines as neighbors? Anybody have any Moabites living near you? How about Gerzites or Canaanites? No you don't. They went the way of the law of society a long time ago. But let me ask you, are there any Jews living anywhere that you know of? Yeah, you know! How come? It's the miracle of God's preservation of these people in exile. It took a miracle. Otherwise they would've gone the way of the law of sociology and there would not be any Jews left. If God was going to bring them back, He had to preserve them and preserve them He did. They went off to China, they went to India, North and South America, to Europe, to Africa, all over the world and where ever they went century after century, millennium after millennium they remained Jews. They did not lose their identity as to international origin. God preserved them in exile. Miracle number one. Then He put a strange, mysterious, miraculous desire inside their hearts to go home. Home to a land that they had never seen, home to a land many of their forefathers had not been to for a long time. But they want to go home. Now that to me is strange because my grandfather came from Germany, but I'm not German, and I have no desire to go back to Germany, that's not my home. I go there frequently, and it's a beautiful country and I enjoy going there, but I have no sentimental attachment, I don't get down and kiss the ground and weep and say, "Home." And I'm much closer to Germany than the Jews are to Israel. Many of them were away for many many centuries. So you see, I'm saying it's miraculous. First of all, the preservation of these people in exile, then number two: the desire to go home, and then the third miracle is the fact that they went. A great many of them went. It's one thing to say, I want to go, it's another thing to go.
Coming Home to a Desolate Land
They picked up and started going. From all over the world, just a few, but they came in the early part of this century. This century is the great century of prophecy explosion. So many prophecies leaping to fulfillment. Well, they found a difficult land. When they got there it wasn't like Joshua and Caleb coming in and finding everything ready to occupy. Now it was desolate. The prophets foretold it would be desolate. And that's the way it was. The hills were barren and rocky. You see, the Turks had cut down the trees to make railroad ties to build a railroad to Turkey. And then they also put a tax on trees and that did it. There weren't any trees from one end of the land to the other. So the hills were denuded of the topsoil as the rain fell, and they became barren and desolate and rocky, and many of them you see in the pictures they are still that way. And those of you who were there know all too well that's the way it is. But God said the land would be desolate, would not be allowed to produce for foreigners.
The Trees in Israel
But then He said, when they come back, He's going to do something with those hills. And I want to read it to you. It's in the eighth verse and it's tremendous. Thirty sixth chapter of Ezekiel verse 8. I think I indicated before that God delights to write with precision. And when He makes a prophecy He spells it out in no uncertain terms, not vague generalities, but precise language.
In the context He's talking about the day when He's going to bring them home, He says, "When they come back the hills of Israel will once again be covered with trees." He did not say how the trees would be destroyed in the first place. And He did not say how the trees would come to be planted, but both of these things did happen, and the second one is now happening. A hundred and twenty million trees have been planted on the hills of Israel. And some of those forests now are lovely evergreen forests, and in due time it will transform the whole climate of the state of Israel. And God twenty five hundred years ago said that when they come back, that's what's going to happen.
I like this book (the Bible) because God writes with such a precision that you can trust it. And you can know when He says that something is going to happen, that's what's going to happen! And He fulfills His prophecies to the letter.
The Jews Are Home
Well, the Jews started coming back in increasing numbers after the first world war when the Balfour Declaration declared that Israel should be a homeland for the Jews. The League of Nations first, and then the United Nations announced that that shall be the place where all the Jews of the world who want to go home can call home. And so they started to return, but there was no government there and much of the Turkish forces were destroyed by General Allenby and the British army had taken control. The world community, through the League of Nations said, "All right, Great Britain, you furnish a government for that land," and Great Britain did. Then came the second world war. There were not too many going because it was difficult. In the valleys where they should have been able to farm with fertile ground, there were mosquito-infested swamp lands, especially north and south of the Sea of Galilee. So they didn't come in too great numbers. But then along came the second world war, the story of Adolf Hitler, and the Holocaust, that I already talked about. So after all of that was over and six million of them were dead in the concentration camps, then the Jews of Europe knew that they would never have any place on earth where they could have dignity and independence on their own unless they went home, home to their ancient land, the land that God said belonged to them. So then they started going in great numbers.
The Re-establishment of the Nation Israel
Now the Arabs got excited. The few Arabs that lived there were excited and they protested to the British. And pretty soon they started using military action in one way or another, violence against the British. And so the British pressured the Jews and wouldn't let them come in. Now the Jews began to fight and the British were in the middle. Arabs are fighting them from one side and the Jews from the other side. And so finally the British said, "Well, we're leaving, we're getting out of here." And they announced that at midnight following May 14th, 1948 there would be no government in the land of Palestine as they called it. They were quitting the mandate. And so it was that David Ben Gurion, a refuge from Poland, having come many years before to the land with one burning dream and desire, namely to see the re-establishment of the nation of Israel, stood up before a packed house in an auditorium in Tel Aviv. At 4 o'clock on the afternoon of May 14, 1948, he read a declaration that was destined to change the history of the world. It ended with these historic words, I now declare to be in existence, the State of Israel. And David Ben Gurion, I can tell you from personal conversation with him, knew exactly what he was doing. You know he was fulfilling prophecy to the letter. Look in chapter 37 in Ezekiel, verse 12 if you please. And you'll find that God had foretold that when the nation is again established it will be called Israel.
Ezekiel 37, verse 12,
I-S-R-A-E-L not Palestine, not Canaan, not Philistia, but Israel. And on the morning of May 15, 1948 when the Star of David was hoisted in the Holy Land the whole world knew that once again the State of Israel was in existence. The Arabs said, "It will be all over in two weeks. We're going to kill every Jew, we're going to drive them into the sea." But that was 1948, and since then we've had the war of '48, the war of '56, the war of '67, and the war of '73, and the Arabs lost every time. And there's no explanation apart from the miracle working power of God. God said it's going to be so, and that's the way it is. First of all, we have a miracle in the preservation of these people in exile; then we have the miracle of their desire to go home; then we have the miracle of their going home; and (fourth) we have the miracle of the resurrection of a dead nation. It never happened in the history of man until Ben Gurion said, "I now declare to be in existence the State of Israel," and then it happened. And then we must add quickly, (fifth) the miracle of preservation of this brand new nation. For within 24 hours after David Ben Gurion made his declaration there were five hostile armies on the march coming from all sides and they said, "We're going to kill every Jew and in two weeks it will be all over." I've already told you, there were four wars between then and now, and every time the Arabs lost ground. And if the United States and Russia hadn't stopped them they would've been in Cairo and Damascus by this time. But then it's probably not God's will that they shall be that far yet. When the Lord comes to reign His kingdom will go from the river of Egypt all the way to the Euphrates Valley. But how much territory they will get in the meantime remains to be seen. All I can tell you is what God says in this context, look at it in verse 9 of chapter 36. I'm going to be on your side.
The Fruit Trees in Israel
Oh there's something in verse 8 I should've told you.
I told you about the trees, but look at the fruit. Fruit! That's the number one crop of Israel. Jaffa oranges, you can buy in most of the super markets of the free world now.
It's Their Nation Forever
Well, God said, "I am for you, I'm going to be on your side." And that's the explanation for the fact that they have not lost, and they will not lose! And they will not be driven out.
Verse 12 says,
That's the verse that convinces me that though all the forces of Satan come against that little country, they cannot be driven out. Well Russia's going to try it and she's going to get the licking of her life. I rather think that she's going to do it after we have lifted, but I would not be surprised if it happens before. The battle of Gog and Magog, when Russia loses five out of every six that invade that land, is surely going to happen. Exactly when I don't know, but I think it's right in the beginning of the tribulation period.
Jerusalem Under Gentile Domination
Now briefly come to Luke 21, if you will please, to one more prophecy and this is very exciting.
It's a very interesting story. In Luke 21 we have the same Olivet discourse with certain things that Luke recorded which Matthew did not feel led to record. And so we read of Jesus' announcement, beginning with verse 20 and on through those verses, that Jerusalem is going to be destroyed. And He said, "When it happens don't stay, but flee into the hills." Well, it did happen. Jesus spoke in 33 A.D. and 70 A.D. General Titus came and he took the city, and he leveled it. He was so furious at them because they wouldn't give up. They ate their babies when they ran out of food. That's what Jesus said in this prophecy. (You can read Luke 21: 20 - 21 in your Bible.).
"For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled."
He knew what was going to happen, the mothers would have their babies snatched from their hands and they would be eaten for food when they were starving.
"...for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people." (Luke 21: 23)
From that time Jesus spoke in 33 A.D. until 70 A.D. that prophecy laid dormant, but then it was fulfilled, Jerusalem was leveled. In due time the people built the city again, so that what you see today was not there in the days of Jesus unless you look where they excavated and go down to a lower level. However much of it has been rebuilt in the way it was so you get much of the same flavor. But Jesus said, the Gentiles are going to reign and run this city, reign over and run this city and rule this city until the end of the age. And you know what happened? During all those years you have the Arabs, and the Turks, well, the Romans first, and British, and the Crusaders, you have all kinds of foreigners coming in and ruling and reigning over Jerusalem, but not one single day from the day that Jesus spoke until June 6, 1967, not one single day did the Jews have complete dominion of the old city, but on that day they got it. And when they got it General Moshe Dayan said, "We will never give it up." And I don't think they will.
Jerusalem Under Israeli Domination
So that's exciting because Jesus said, "That's going to happen at the end of the age." That means the age of the Gentiles is at the end. We can't name the exact day, but in terms of the long history now, we have reached that point where Jerusalem is in the hands of the Jews/Israelites. And all of this is exciting because it points to one thing. The fig tree is budding! The Jews are back in the land! They have their nation Israel! The Star of David is flying, and though their enemies all try to destroy them, they cannot do it. And they're waiting for a king. The same prophets that foretold they would come back told that they would have a king. And it says who that King is going to be. You trace the lineage both ways (through Mary and Joseph) you come to Jesus of Nazareth. So they're waiting for a king, they don't know that, but they are. The King is coming! He really is. But it's so exciting to me because, not because the Jews are in the land and all of that, but because this is an ongoing drama that I have been permitted to watch. After all these thousands of years think of it. Right here before my eyes these prophecies have leaped to fulfillment in my lifetime. Greatest period of all history to be alive. And it means one thing. I studied the script, I've seen the drama unfold. We're right at this point now where they're in the land ready for the king to come, but their King hasn't come! Not yet, because when He comes, He is going to bring His bride with Him. There has got to be a wedding and there can't be a wedding until the Bride arrives, and she is not there yet. She's still here. So maybe we better dismiss quickly and have you rush home and start packing and get ready to go. But then on second thought, I bet you would say, "I haven't got a thing to wear." And you would be right. So isn't it nice, the Lord says He's going to give us garments of Righteousness, which we'll wear to the wedding. And we're going to takeoff in a moment, without warning, by the way. So I come to tell you to get ready; we are going; we are leaving. Jesus said, "When all these things begin, then you look up for your redemption draweth nigh." (See Luke 21: 28.). And He said, "When you see the fig tree budding then you know for sure that it (the Rapture of the Church) is right at the door." (Read Luke 21: 30.). The countdown has started. You don't hear it, but it has started, and we don't know how many moments we are from the moment when the trumpet will sound, and away we'll go. So there's just one more thing to tell you, and that is, if you haven't made your reservation you better do it quickly because you just might miss the trip. Most of us here are going to heaven. But how sad it would be if anybody were left behind. So as we go to prayer tell the Lord that you would like to stay here, you don't want to go along. Or tell Him you want to go along. Tell Him you don't want to miss Heaven, you don't want to stay behind to end up in the fires of Hell. Tell Him you'll accept His condition for receiving the gift of eternal life. And that condition is, humble yourself, and ask Him to save you. Say, Lord, "I'm a sinner, I know I can't save myself, now come into my heart and save me." You say it in your own words, and He'll do the rest. Let us pray.
Our Heavenly Father, how we thank and praise Thee that Jesus loved us so much that He died in our place so that we could live in His place. "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Lord, we rejoice that it's "Not by the works of righteousness which we have done", but by His love, and mercy, and His grace. We've been redeemed by the blood of the Lamb. "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast." O Lord, we're so glad that You made it so plain when You said, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come in.". We thank You for the promise, Lord, and we hold You to it. Now if there's anyone, O Lord, that needs the Savior cause the Holy Spirit to bring such conviction that there will be a raging pounding of the heart as the battle goes on. Satan says, "Don't do it." And God says, "Do." But O Lord, we pray the Holy Spirit may be the One to have the victory as each individual who needs to make a decision makes the right one and invites the Savior in. We thank Thee, Lord, for the lesson "The Sign of the Fig Tree". We thank Thee that You could tell so far in advance what was going to happen and You told how You would bring about these people who would bring in Messiah. You announced their scattering, You announced their re-gathering and You announced their reoccupation of the Holy City, and, Lord, all these things have been fulfilled. So impress upon us, and give us spiritual discernment to see, Lord, that this is it! The end of the age is near, and we must be ready for takeoff without further warning. So grant, Lord, that if the rapture should take place today nobody here would be left behind. Help each individual that's unsaved to invite the Savior in and to be willing to make his decision public. And grant that every Christian might be fired up to be on the job for God, knowing that the time is short. We've got a lot of work to do. Tomorrow may be too late. Finish the message in every heart and bring great honor to Thyself, great glory to our lovely Savior in whose name we pray, Amen.
(See Rom. 5: 8, Titus 3: 5, Eph. 2: 8 - 9, Rev. 3: 20.).
The Nathan Meyer Bible Prophecy Association (BPA)
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