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God’s Word for You

Luke 21:29-31 the kingdom of God is near

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, March 7, 2019

29 Then he told them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, indeed, all the trees. 30 When they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is coming. 31 In the same way, when you see these things happening, you know that the kingdom of God is near.

There are some people who do not understand this little parable because they want to take the application of the fig tree from one part of the Bible and insist that it means the same thing here. If Jesus cursed a fig tree to symbolize God rejecting Israel (Mark 11:13-21), does that mean that we must think of this fig tree in verse 29 as Israel? “Yes,” someone might argue, “since we do that with dreams and visions, so that the meaning (for example) of the color white in one part of Revelation, which is worthiness and righteousness (Revelation 3:4), we take to be the symbolic meaning of the color white in the other parts of the book (Revelation 4:4, 6:11, 7:13-14, 19:14 and other places).” The problem with this is that, while it’s a fine application of symbolism in symbolic parts of the Bible, when Jesus cursed the fig tree it wasn’t a vision or a parable, it was an actual, historic event. Also, does every symbol need to apply to every parable? Parables have their own internal meaning. If Jesus sometimes refers to his mother as “woman” (John 2:4; John 19:26), does that mean that every woman in every parable is Jesus’ mother? What would that do to the Parable of the Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-9)? Beware of claims that this parable preaches the restoration of the Jews in the Last Days. It is shameful that this kind of nonsense infects Christian churches, but it’s utterly ridiculous that it also penetrates American foreign policy.

Jesus even goes out of his way to involve more than fig trees with what he says here, using a conjunction known as καὶ (kai) ascensive, which should be translated “and even,” or “indeed.” He is talking about more than fig trees, but trees in general. This parable is not about the restoration of the unbelieving Jews, but of the value of the signs of the Last Days. Trees know when summer is coming, not because they think but only because they feel. So it will be with the whole earth. The world (the planet) does not think, but it senses the approach of the change, just as a tree senses the approach of warmer weather. So the increasing number of fulfilled signs of the Last Days will tell us that the end is truly near.

These things Jesus shares with us to warn us and to comfort us. They are a warning that we need to repent of our sins and be prepared for his return. They are a comfort that his return will certainly come, and we will be carried forever into heaven, to the place he has prepared for us, because he loves us.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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