“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matthew 24:42).
Did you know that there are 22 signs of the time when Jesus will return to earth? You can find them in Matthew 24-25. Jesus is not wordy in what He tells us, but with precision He carefully picks what He shares. Isn’t it quite amazing that He spent two whole chapters telling us about the end times? It was a monumental teaching.
The last generation won’t pass away until these signs have taken place. Some of them have taken place before, but in the generation when Jesus returns to earth, every one of these signs will be happening. This is biblical information that we must know, study, and observe because God is warning us in advance. We must be aware of the season and take this seriously. Studying the end times will be an anchor in our lives and will help us to know how to maneuver through difficult days. We must be prepared and not let our hearts get discouraged as the days grow darker, but seek to understand what Jesus is saying.
Let’s look at the Parable of the Fig Tree in Matthew 24:32-34, because in his teaching Jesus is shifting to a pastoral exhortation on how to live and respond in the end times. A parable is an illustration or story that sheds light on the spiritual truth so that it is easy to grasp. The word “learn” is in this parable three times and means to be intentional. We must set our heart towards understanding the end times because it takes a determined effort.
We must learn watchfulness. When the branch is tender with leaves you know it is summer. These are time indicators so we can know what is coming. If we think about a thunderstorm, the dark clouds show us that we must be watchful because it is approaching. If we don’t run inside, we will get wet.
My grandfather did not take heed when a thunderstorm approached his Minnesota farm one warm summer evening. He was out on his tractor with his two sons when a terrible thunderstorm hit their land. A bolt of lightning suddenly struck him causing everyone to fly off the tractor. That bolt of lightning took his life when my father was only a young boy at the age of 13. It was sudden and swift. There was no longer time to run inside. Earlier there was the need to take heed and be watchful regarding those dark clouds, but my grandfather continued working and took his chances that all would be ok. But it wasn’t, and my father grew up until the age of 94 without a father.
Mt. 24:5-31, show us through the signs of the times that the day of the Lord is near and that we must take this seriously. We can’t be out in a thunderstorm when things suddenly change. We see in this parable important indicators of His coming, so that we can prepare in advance. Every calamity in biblical history was prophesized ahead of time. Look at the Flood, Egypt, the fall of Israel, and the others.
God is giving us insight into the generation when the Lord returns. He is warning us that the coming of the Lord is near, and is exhorting us to watch because we don’t know the hour. The Father only exclusively knows the day and the hour. He is reasserting the importance of the signs to be a predictor of his coming. We must prayerfully watch for the signs. The increasing of these 22 signs that have been promised for over 2000 years clearly point to the season of His return.
We can compare this with the days of Noah when people are drinking and having a good time. There was rebellion. We must realize two important truths. The world will not recognize these prophetic signs of the times, and they will be apathetic and live as they always lived. But remember Noah and how the flood suddenly came. Judgment was swift. God prophesizes for ages about it, but the fulfillment was sudden. It will happen quickly, just like the strike of lightning was for my grandfather.
Like in Noah’s day, many today are more concerned about the world, but we are not to let our hearts be weighed down by all its’ cares. It’s a snare to catch us by surprise if we are not prepared.
“For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark” (Matthew 24:38).
How to Apply the Parable of the Fig Tree
God wants us to prepare our hearts. Here are some ways we can prayerfully watch:
- Learn from the parable of the fig tree and Matthew 24-25 - Know that these 22 signs will take place in the generation the Lord returns.
- When you see the storm clouds approaching, seek to understand and line up your heart with God's truth.
- Watch for the signs of the times in a spirit of prayer and reverence.
- Take heart and set to diligently study all the Scriptures about the end times.
- Be careful of the seriousness of deception in the end times.
- Know that these are times that God has ordained for the fulfillment of His purposes on earth.
- Know that this will be a special time for God's people and that the beauty of Jesus will be revealed in a glorious way.
- Seek to keep your heart at peace.
Let’s realize that in the darkest of hours, those who are prepared will shine brightly. Studying about the end times has helped me to understand, prepare my heart, and live above the storm. Let’s be prepared by carefully studying, prayerfully watching, and radically living for eternity. Let’s set our minds and hearts on things above.
"If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory" (Colossians 3:1-4).
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