Question 2: The Signs of Christ’s Return
In Part Four, I mentioned the "blindness" that would prevent Israel from recognizing the Antichrist, the Man of Sin. When he commits the "abomination of desolation," their blindness will be removed (Mt. 24:15; Mk. 13:14; and Lk. 21:20). Jesus tells them what will take place, and when those living in that day see and understand it, then those who are in Judea must flee! It is my understanding that all of the world's Jews will have returned when the Antichrist made the seven year peace covenant with Israel.
Christ’s return will be immediately after the three and a half years Israel is "on the run." This period is called the Great Tribulation (Mt. 24:29). His coming will be so bright that it is compared to the entire sky being filled with lightning (Mt. 24: 27). Ironically, the sun is darkened and His brightness is all the more spectacular (Mt. 24:29)! During the first half of the seven year Tribulation, God had sent two witnesses to declare the Gospel of Christ (Rev. 11:3-12). As a result, all peoples will see His coming and mourn because they all will know He is Israel’s Messiah (Mt. 24:14, 30).
The Parable of the Fig Tree (Mt. 24:32-36)
Nearly all those who interpret the Parable of the Fig Tree, identify the tree as Israel. There are a few passages that refer to Israel being symbolized by the fig tree (Jer. 24:1-10; Hos. 9:10; Nah. 3:12, etc.), but Jesus did not say to watch Israel. He said that when “ye shall see all these things” occur, His coming is near. What things are they to see? The things that He previously described in chapter twenty-four! A fig tree putting forth new leaves is a sign that summer is coming; the events of the seven year period known as The Tribulation are signs that Jesus is coming. The fact that Jesus said, “all these things” which is plural, and not “this thing” (the Fig Tree’s growth is a singular sign), tells us He was using the parable in the context of the chapter. What we have here is a simile, or symbolic language showing a comparative relationship between two things: new growth is to summer, as seven years of events is to His coming.
Therefore, the generation that sees the events of the Tribulation occur will be living when Christ returns. Well, that is logical if one thinks of a generation as a length of time, or of a people living at a specific time, because the Tribulation is only seven years long. However, the Greek word genea, here translated "generation," is the root for the word genealogy, and is more likely being used to describe the nation. It is translated "nation" in Mark 7:26, Galatians 1:14, and Philippians 2:15. The Tribulation is the work of God to bring a people, a nation, to repentance and to faith in Jesus Christ, their Messiah. Jesus told Israel to flee (Mt. 24:16). He was saying that those Jews (the family, the race, the nation) who are living during the Tribulation, that they should not lose hope, because He is coming to their rescue.