Learn this parable from the fig tree: Whenever its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also you, when you see all these things, know that He is near, right at the door. (Matthew 24:32-33 NET)
It’s summer. It’s hot! And, a lot of people are asking, “What in the world is going on?” Last night’s ambush of Dallas, TX police officers is just one more tragic example of all the unrest going on around us. There is political unrest. There is social unrest. There is financial unrest. There is moral decay. There are terrorist attacks. And, it’s not just America. It’s going on all over the world.
I’ve said this before, but everything that is going on in our world is unprecedented, in my life time. In times like these it’s not surprising that people are asking questions about the timing of all of this, and whether these events, this unrest, instability, and turmoil are signs of the end times? The answer to that is unquestionably, yes.
That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s all coming to an end tomorrow. It doesn’t necessarily mean Jesus is going to split the Eastern sky before we see another sunrise. He could, and He is going to come back, but with absolute certainty the events going on in our world are indicators that we are in the last days.
Now, before you rush out and max out your credit cards so you can leave all the debt to the antichrist, keep in mind that we’ve been in the “last days” ever since Jesus went back to heaven. In other words, on the timeline of human history, after the cross, the resurrection, and the birth of the Church, God has been moving this toward His conclusion.
In the text above, taken from what is known as the Olivet Discourse, some students of the Bible believe that the fig tree in this text is prophetically referring to the nation of Israel, and that when Israel became a nation again in 1948, that was a fulfillment of Jesus’ words here in Matthew 24, and is evidence that we are in the very last days.
Whether the fig tree is a prophetic symbol of the nation of Israel is a matter of debate. Honestly, I think arguments can be made either way. But what is without debate is the fact that, whenever Jesus taught on the subject of end times, He was emphasizing the importance of living ready. All of us are here for only a short while, and whether we’re alive when Jesus returns or not, we should live every day, every moment, as if it mattered, because it does.
As I said earlier, it’s summer, and many people are traveling, but this Sunday, if God allows me to, I’m going to bring a message from 1 John 4 that, God has impressed upon me, is as important a message as any I have preached at Cross Culture. If you’re in town I hope you can be there. If not, or if you’re serving this Sunday in Cross Culture Kids, I hope you’ll take the time to listen to the message once it’s online.
Pray for the families of those Dallas police officers. Pray for the families of the victims of terrorist attacks all over our world. Pray that Muslims would come to know the true God, who died so they could experience true life, instead of believing in a god who wants them to die and take other people’s lives in the process. And, pray for us, each of us who are followers of Jesus, that we would live with a sense of urgency to share the message of Christ with a world in desperate need of Him, before the summer ends, and the harvest time is over.
Do you not say, ‘There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest’? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. (John 4:35)
Dr. J. Clay Stevens is Lead Pastor of Cross Culture Church in Raleigh, NC. He is author of the book I Get It! Discovering How To Really live In The Promises Of God. His life mission statement is: "To take people from where they are to where God wants them to be."