“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.”
Jesus’s words to His disciples in Matthew 24 are words of warning and instruction regarding the last days. Take a couple minutes right now to read Matthew 24.
You may have noticed that virtually the entire chapter is in red letters (Jesus speaking), and undoubtedly you noticed His focus on the signs of His return, the perilous times that will come, and a parable about a fig tree. In the midst of that parable comes our key passage for today (verses 32-34), explicitly telling us that when we see “all these things,” His return is near.
You read the chapter, and you know we are experiencing “birth pangs” in our world today. But, what’s up with that fig tree? The fig tree is Israel. The re-birth of Israel happened in 1948, and without that happening, the end times could not come. (See here and here for deeper insight regarding Israel as the fig tree.)
Jesus said that when you see the fig tree bloom (Israel back in the land), you know the time is near. In fact, the generation will not pass away until those things take place! So, what should we expect to see as these things take place? Great question! Here is a diagram that will help us clearly see and understand God’s Plan of the End:
This plan is divided into 5 phases:
- Phase 1: Church Age. The church age started when Jesus resurrected, leaving His followers to share the Gospel; and will end when Jesus snatches away believers in what we call the Rapture. The Church Age is known as “the time of the Gentiles,” as God made the Gospel available to Gentiles, allowing us to be followers of Jesus too. We are living in this phase, but the rapture is coming soon!
- Phase 2: Tribulation. Soon after the Rapture, the 7-year Tribulation will get underway on earth. While Tribulation rages on earth, believers (who were Raptured) will enjoy the 7-year Marriage Supper of the Lamb in heaven! Armageddon will mark the end of the second phase on earth, as Jesus will return to end that chaos! This is referred to as Jesus’s Second Coming, or His Glorious Appearing.
- Phase 3: Millennium. Believers who have been enjoying the marriage feast in heaven will return to earth with Jesus (His Second Coming) for a 1000 year reign, known as the Millennium. Satan will be bound while the Kingdom Age of Jesus commences on earth. It will be a millennium of peace, but then Satan will be loosed again at the end of that 1000 years.
- Phase 4: Great White Throne. Satan wreaks havoc while loosed, but soon faces his ultimate judgment, as do all his followers. That judgment is the Great White Throne judgment, and the Bible tells us that he will be cast into the eternal lake of fire (hell).
- Phase 5: Eternal State. Eternity is forever, whether you are a follower of Jesus or a follower of Satan. The difference is location, location, location! While followers of Jesus will spend eternity in the New Heaven and New Earth…that Jesus has gone to prepare for us, followers of Satan (those who do not follow Jesus Christ) will spend eternity in hell. Dear friends, there is no middle ground. We are either for Him or against Him. Heaven or hell…those are the choices.
As we look at today’s events through the lens of Scripture, it is clear that end time events are happening. This diagram is your GPS! All end time prophetic events described in Scripture fit into one of the five phases illustrated.
Indeed, Jesus is near. He is right at the door! The next event on the prophetic calendar is the Rapture, and we must be ready!
PS: Please continue to pray for Israeli elections next Tuesday (3/17/15). May God grant supernatural wisdom to the elected leaders of Israel.