"God's Patience has a Time Limit" - Pastor Bill Hoganson -www.calvaryanaheim.org
2 Peter 3:8-9
I've been studying Bible prophecy for over 50 years. I no longer have any doubts that we are living in that last generation of which Jesus spoke. The exponential increase of converging prophetic signs make this obvious! God's patience has a time limit, as confirmed the parable of the fig tree! Let's take a look...
We read in 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NKJV) - 8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. ... 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering He's patient toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. Peter declares that God is patient. True! But there is a flipside: God's patience has a time limit. Eventually, God's patience will end...
God's demonstrated patience in the Old Testament, has always had a time limit, with a start point and an end point. In the New Testament, Jesus also put a time limit to God's patience in His parable of the fig tree, which we will examine shortly. But, let's first look at the O.T.
Consider Noah's day. God told Noah in Gen 6:3 (NKJV) - And the LORD said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever God's time limit, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years." God gave Noah 120 years to build the Ark. While Noah built the Ark, he was instructed to warn his generation of coming judgment. Peter comments on this in 1 Peter 3:20b (NKJV) - "...the Divine longsuffering God patiently waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared,..." God assigned a 120 year time limit to His patience; after that, the flood judgment would come!
We find another example of God's time limit on his patience when He spoke to Abraham about the Amorites in Gen 15:15-16 (NKJV) - 15 Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. ... 16 But in the fourth generation they Israel shall return here to the LAND of promise, for the iniquity or sin of the Amorites is not yet complete." Here, God tells Abraham that after Israel lives four generations in Egypt, the iniquity of the Amorites will have reached a point of no return. At that point, God's patience ends with His instructions to Israel to drive the Amorites out of the LAND.
Another example of God putting a time limits on His patience is found in Jeremiah 25:11-13 (NKJV) -11 And this whole land of Israel shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years. ... 12 'Then it will come to pass, when seventy years are completed, that I will punish the king of Babylon and that nation, the land of the Chaldeans, for their iniquity,' says the LORD; 'and I will make it a perpetual desolation. God put a time limit of seventy years on Babylon's iniquity. After that, His judgment will fall upon them.
In all three O.T. examples, God puts a time limit on His patience. God consistently warned people before He brought judgment. Just as God put a time limit on His patience in the ancient past, so today, He has given our generation a time limit. Jesus gave us God's time limit with His parable of the fig tree.
Matt 24:32-34 (NKJV) - 32 Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. ... 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near-at the doors! ... 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. How does God establish a time limit in this passage? There are two important pieces to this prophecy: 1) the meaning of the "fig tree" and its leaves shooting forth, and 2) the meaning of the "generation."
Firstly, what does the "fig tree" symbolize? For that we turn to the O.T. where the fig tree is often used as a symbol of Israel's national prosperity. The prophet Joel not only used the fig tree as a symbol of prosperity, but he used the fig tree as symbolic of Israel's destruction and restoration. Let's take a look...
Joel 1:6-7 (NKJV) - 6 For a nation has come up against My land, Strong, and without number; His teeth are the teeth of a lion, And he has the fangs of a fierce lion. Joel prophesies an invasion of Israel... ... 7 He the invading nation has laid waste destroyed My vine, And ruined My fig tree; He has stripped it bare and thrown it away; Its branches are made white. God refers to Israel as "My fig tree," which the foreign nation "laid waste." Here, the destruction of the fig tree symbolizes Israel's destruction.
Again, Joel uses the "fig tree" as a symbol for Israel. But, this time, the "fig tree" is symbolic of Israel's return to the LAND, as follows: Joel 2:22-23 (NKJV) - 22 Do not be afraid, you beasts of the field; For the open pastures are springing up, And the tree bears its fruit; The fig tree and the vine yield their strength. ... 23 Be glad then, you children of Zion Israel, And rejoice in the LORD your God; For He has given you the former rain faithfully, And He will cause the rain to come down for you- The former rain, And the latter rain in the first month. Just as God prospered Israel with the "former rain," in ancient times, so God will again prosper Israel in the future with the "latter rain" resulting in the fig tree yielding its strength.
So, in Joel 1:6-7, God described the death of "My fig tree" as symbolic of Israel's destruction. In Joel 2:22-23 God described the "fig tree" yielding its strength after Israel returns to the LAND.
Now, enter the N.T., where Jesus cursed a fig tree the morning after He rode the donkey into Jerusalem. We read Matt 21:18-20 (NKJV) - 18 Now in the morning, as He returned to the city, He was hungry. ... 19 And seeing a fig tree by the road, He came to it and found nothing on it but leaves, and said to it, "Let no fruit grow on you ever again." Immediately the fig tree withered away. ... 20 And when the disciples saw it, they marveled, saying, "How did the fig tree wither away so soon?" The focus should not be on how quickly the fig tree died, rather, the focus should be on "why" did Jesus destroy this fig tree?
We link this event to what took place the day before, on Palm Sunday, when Jesus called for the destruction of Jerusalem: Luke 19:41-44 (NKJV) - 41 Now as He drew near, He saw the city Jerusalem and wept over it, ... 42 saying, "If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. ... 43 For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, ... 44 and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation." The following morning Jesus cursed the fig tree, which is strongly linked to Jesus' call for Israel's destruction the day before.
Two days later, on the Mt. of Olives, Jesus brought up the fig tree again to His disciples, as follows: Matt 24:32-34 (NKJV) - 32 "Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. ... 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near-at the doors! What "things" will be seen? They will witness the "great tribulation" and see Jesus' "return to earth" as explained in Matthew 24:21-22, and 30. So, how does the fig tree "putting forth its leaves" fit Jesus' timeline? Jesus' answer: ... 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Jesus said, that this generation shall witness and see all these things taking place, before that generation passes away.
Jesus' prophecy about the "fig tree" lines up well with Joel's prophecy of the "fig tree," as follows:
1. Just as Joel 1:6-7 used the "fig tree" to symbolize Israel's coming destruction by Babylon in 586 BC, so Jesus' curse on the 'fig tree" symbolizes Israel's coming destruction by Rome in 70 AD.
2. Just as Joel 2:22-23 used the "fig tree" to symbolized Israel's return to the LAND in prosperity after 537 BC, so Jesus' parable of the "fig tree" is symbolic of Israel's return to the LAND in prosperity after 1948.
Secondly, what did Jesus mean by "generation?" The Greek genea is translated generation and may refer to the Jewish race. So, the "Jewish race" (genea) will not pass away until all these things be fulfilled. However, that is only partially correct. The definition of generation (genea) also pertains to a definite, given time period. The Amplified Bible properly translates genea as "...the whole multitude of people living at the same time, in a definite, given period." In other words, "all these things" that are to "take place" have a definite and specific time period during which a whole multitude of people are living. The "generation" Jesus spoke about has a start point and an end point that affects a multitude of people.
The starting point for this generation is dependent upon what Jesus meant when He said ...when the fig tree ...puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near (Matt. 24:32). What did Jesus mean? Let's give it a try, as follows: Just as you know that summer is near, when the "fig tree" puts forth its leaves, so you will know that Jesus' return to earth is near, after Israel is back in their LAND in prosperity.
Technically, Israel was officially back in their LAND, after they reborn as a nation in 1948. Is the "fig tree" putting forth its leaves, in Matthew 24:32, a prophecy of Israel's rebirth in 1948? That appears to be the case. That being true, Matthew 24:32-34 also puts a time limit by mentioning that "this generation will not pass away before all these things be fulfilled."
How long is a generation? If the generation countdown began with the rebirth of Israel in 1948, and if the last person in that generation dies at age 100, then that generation will end in 2048. But, what if someone in that generation dies at age 120. Then that generation ends after 2068. The point is, we don't know for certain when the generation will end, but it does have a limit, that only God knows. In any case, God has given the generation born after 1948, somewhere between 100-120 years to repent. Since there will be no repentance and things will only get worse, then Jesus will physically come to earth within the next 30-50 years (after 2019). Seem far-fetched? Just food for thought! ��
Peter wrote that "scoffers will come in the last days" "saying where is the promise of His coming?" (2 Pet 3:3-4). The scoffers will proclaim "Israel has been replaced by the Church!" "Israel doesn't fit into God's plans anymore" they will cry, while protesting "where is the promise of His coming to the earth to reign over Israel?" Then they will falsely declare "Jesus' coming will take place when we all meet, not on earth, but in heaven at the general resurrection of the dead!" "What does Israel have to do with Jesus' coming," they will complain. Seventy percent, or more, of today's so-called Christian leaders believe this lie...
But, in fact, Jesus tells us that He is coming to earth, to reign in Israel, and He has given us a time frame as to when that will take place, in His parable of the fig tree! But, time is running out on His patience...
To summarize the parable of the fig tree:
1. God's countdown to the earth's judgment began in 1948, when Israel was reborn as a nation!
2. The generation born after 1948 is currently witnessing this countdown, and its associated signs!
3. Just as we know that summer is near, as the "fig tree" puts forth its leaves, so we know that Jesus' return to earth is near.
4. Jesus will physically return to earth within 30-50 years.
5. When does the Rapture take place? ...at any moment! ��
God bless you as you seek Him... Pastor Bill Hoganson