Matthew 24:32-51 Part 1

As we move on now to verses thirty-two and beyond, Jesus is still responding to His disciples’ desire for information.  Remember they had said (verse three), “tell us when these things shall be and what shall be the sign of Your Parousia and consummation of the age.”  He hasn’t been interrupted since then!  This is a continuation of His response to them.

And He has been very specific with them about what will take place.  There’s no mystery about any of it – the prophets had foretold every bit of it on numerous occasions in their warnings.  And Jesus has already said once that all of it would happen “in this generation” (23:36).  And now He’s ready, from verse thirty-two on, to speak to their “preparedness.”

Those who “Faith” in the words of the prophets and the words of God’s Messiah will be ready; but those who don’t will participate and have their place in the judgment that is certain to come.

Now.  As Jesus speaks to them about getting prepared for all that’s about to take place (starting verse thirty-two), the first thing He refers to is the parable of the fig tree!  (And remember, back in chapter thirteen… a parable is a “dark saying” which is meant to exclude – not a teaching device to enlighten the masses!)

And Jesus is referring to the whole parable of the fig tree, and not just the “piece” of it that He mentions here.  He wants them to “learn the parable (i.e. the underlying meaning – the parabolic significance) of the fig tree;” and the He adds something to it.  Just as (in the whole parable of the fig tree) the branches and leaves signal the onset of summer, all the things that He has just gotten through saying signal the onset of His Parousia and consummation of the age!

And, since He is referring to the whole parable, we must remember all we’ve learned in the past concerning the fig tree.  The wonderful goodness and sweetness and nutrition of the fig, and the overshadowing coolness and shade of the tree itself, were used all through Scripture as signs of God’s great covenantal blessings and covering over Israel.  A covenantal Jew sitting under a fig tree in Israel is the prophetic image of God’s blessings found time and again in the Scriptures!  There were many other signs and metaphors concerning these things, of course; but the fig tree is prominently included.

And in their proclamations of judgment and disaster to come upon this idolatrous nation, the prophets naturally turn to what will happen to the fig tree, because it represents those covenantal blessings!

The tree is pictured as withered and giving no shade; in other places it is seen as burned in the searing heat of God’s wrath; and in others the unripe fruit is shaken or blown off in God’s righteous indignation.  So the prophets use what will happen to the fig tree to signal what will happen to the blessings and protection of Israel under God’s Covenant!

And remember, in that same light, Jesus Himself approached the “fruitless” fig tree (back in chapter twenty-one, verses nineteen through twenty-one).  And signifying what the prophets foretold, He pronounced it unfit and unfruitful forever!  And it died from its roots overnight!

Since figs begin to develop earlier than the new branches and leaves (the flowers being inside the fruit), a fully leafed tree signaled a tree that was already full of fruit!  But that tree had no fruit at all.  So, it was an imposter.  It gave every reason to believe that there was fruit… but there was none! 

That’s a picture of Israel as a hypocrite!  And she would be cut off from the covenant!  So the parable of the fig tree that we need to remember here includes all of those things concerning covenantal Israel.

Now, one thing interesting here before we continue….  The Greek word for fig tree in the Scriptures is “Sukn.”  And figs that grew naturally (non-cultivated) in Israel are sometimes referred to in Scripture as “Sukamore” – sycamore trees!

And what’s so interesting about this is that when Jesus was coming toward Jerusalem from Jericho – with the huge crowds around Him – it was Zaccheus who climbed up into a sycamore tree to see Him.  And Jesus came over to him and told him that he was coming to his house!

And it was Zaccheus who said to Jesus, in confession, that he had, in the past, been involved in the extortion of money and was now paying restitution!  Well the Greek word translated “extortionist” here really means a parasite flatterer, a hanger-on to someone with great power, and who was an informer for pay… one who courts favor by false adulation and servility.  In other words, an imposter – a hypocrite!

The Greek word is sukophantn; in English – a sycophant!  A parasite, tale-bearing flatterer!  The word comes from the root word for fig tree!  Apparently the word originated from those who were thought to be friends and loyal family members, but who turned out to be informers on those who picked figs and exported them against the law!  So a “sukophantn” was an imposter-hypocrite who used informing on others in order to ingratiate himself to power!  This man, Zaccheus had confessed to being a “sukophantn.”

So when Jesus approached the “sycophant” (Zaccheus), he was in a “sukomore” (fig tree) – the whole event being an integral part of the whole “fig tree parable,” and all of it indicating the imposter/hypocrite status of Israel.  Israel had been a sycophant nation to surrounding pagan powers!

So then, when Jesus approached the tree that had leaves but no fruit… and cursed it forever, it was the imposter/hypocrite nation of Israel that would soon be cut off from the covenantal root and die!

So, all of this was recalled when Jesus (verse thirty-two) instructs His disciples to “learn the parable of the fig tree.”  And then He says to them (without mentioning any fruit on the tree), “when its branch shall become tender and it shoots out the leaves, you know that the summer is near.  So you, when you see all these things, you know that it is near at doors.”  (My Parousia and Consummation of the age)

In other words, when the disciples see all the things happening that Jesus has described (from the prophets), they should know (just like the barren fig tree was withered) that hypocrite Israel was about to be cut off and destroyed!

And then in verse thirty-four He says to them (the second time, and in the strongest Greek negative possible) that in no way would this generation pass until all these things came to be!

All the phenomena; the false prophets and teachers; the wars and fighting and killing; the lawlessness and entrapment (even among families); the proclamation of the Gospel in the nations and the persecution of the apostles and the Church; the coming of the Roman armies; the disintegration of God’s “heaven and earth” paradise on earth – the nation of Israel; the escape of God’s elect; the great tribulation; the “dayspring” dawning of a new covenantal age….  In no way would this generation pass until all these things came to be!

Just as that barren fig tree puts forth its leaves, and you know summer is near, so when you see all these things you should recognize the inevitability of what is about to occur (in this generation!).

Now Jesus says that “it is at doors” (verse thirty-three).  To us that’s rather “obscure” – especially the literal translation – “at doors.”  As we conceive of the idea of a “door,” for example we would think of arriving at the house… turning a knob and pushing the door open; or pulling a lever and opening the car door.  The “door” is built on hinges, and it swings open or shut.

But in the Scriptures and in the Hebrew mind the opening, or orifice, itself was the door.  Caves, for example, had doors… the opening to the cave!  Jesus’ tomb had a door (opening to the tomb); and a great stone was rolled in front of the door in order to seal it.  Separating the temple proper from the Holy of Holies was a great drapery – a veil, if you will.  But the entrance to that inner room was a “door.”

Now, as we’ve said a number of times before, we have images in Scripture that we must understand.  For example Jesus once said, “I Am the Door.”  He was access to the sheep!

There are also indications in Scripture that the Hebrews thought of God’s creation/universe as solid (not empty as we conceive of it); and there are Biblical images of “doors” in it.  Jesus alludes to the “doors” or “gates” to the narrow path and the broad way.

We also recall the visions of the temple in the prophecy of Ezekiel.  An incredible amount of visionary and prophetic energy was spent on the numbers and locations of the “doors” – the openings – into the New Covenant temple.  And those openings are eternally open!

His vision indicates that the older, man-made temple had been closed to the people.  On the one hand it was closed to the Gentile pagan nations; and on the other it was closed to the covenant people by hypocrite priests and pharisees!  Even though the temple entrances (and the wilderness tabernacle before it) had inlaid gold images of the things that were prominent at the entrance of the throne-room of God, the elders of Israel, by their hypocrisy, had effectively closed off the people’s access to God!

But because of God’s Messiah, the New Temple had no such blocked accesses!  The body of Christ has wide open doors to God at the North, South, East and West, for all the peoples of the earth, because Christ is the “door”!  The Parousia of Christ, at the time Jesus was speaking to His disciples, was “at doors.”  The Kingdom of God was “entering” this creation/universe.  The consummation of the age and the Parousia (coming) of Christ was “at doors” to open access to God for all His people!  The “doors” to the graves of the dead all over the earth were opened to resurrection and “life” in Christ, because He came back out of the “door” to Hades.

You remember when God gave Moses the Law of the sacrifices, the animal sacrifices and the tabernacle and the priests were all “copies” or “images” of this.  The writer of the New Testament letter to the Hebrews understood all of this very well and made it the central theme of his letter!

In chapter nine he says that without shedding blood there is no remission of sin.  The “door” of the tabernacle was a copy of the entrance to God’s throne-room.  And, inside, the blood of sacrificial bulls and goats and sheep, which was sprinkled on the tabernacle and on the priests and on the people, pictured the great work that Jesus would accomplish when He died on the cross to remove the sin and guilt of his people!


“Therefore it was necessary (the writer to the Hebrews says) that the images (or copies) of the things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifice than these!  For Christ has not entered the holy place made with hands (the tabernacle, or the temple), which are copies of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the Presence of God for us.”  (Hebrews nine, verses twenty-three through twenty-four)


Once a year the Jewish high priest would take the blood of the sacrifices through the “door” into the Holy of Holies – the place where God’s Presence was manifested… above the Ark of the Covenant.  This is the very image of Jesus our High Priest, Who entered into the very Throne-room of the Father and appeared before Him as His Own sacrifice!

He was offered one time, for all time, for the remission of sin.  The Hebrew’s writer continues…

 “not that He should offer Himself often, as the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with the blood of another – He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once, at the end of the age, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.”


God’s salvation is based on the sacrificial crucifixion of His Son.  And it is sufficient to put away sin in a way that the animal sacrifices was not.  The animal sacrifices were repeated – not as a remission of sin, but as an image of that which was to come!

But the tabernacle in the wilderness, and the great Solomonic temple, as beautiful as they were… with all the inlaid gold carvings of the things representing the entrance to God’s throne-room… were only a copy of the real.  It’s an image.  The God-man, Jesus Christ, was the only One Who could remit the sin of men and pass through the door into the Presence of God for us.

And having done that, His Presence at the right of God the Father in the Glory-cloud/Throne-room would be manifested in His Parousia and consummation of the age.  It was “at doors.”  The doors to the Kingdom would be opened; (it would come in) the doors to the temple and to the Holy of Holies would be opened.  He, Himself, is the “door” to the Father.

“When you (He says, verse thirty-three) see all these things, you know that it is near at doors.” (Verse thirty-four), “Amen I say to you, in no way (again, the strongest Greek negative) in no way will this generation pass until every one of these things comes to be!”

“The heaven and the earth, it (not the plural “they,” but it) will pass away; but My Words shall by no means (strongest Greek negative again) shall by no means pass away.”  It,” the heaven and the earth, is the prophetic designation for God’s paradise on earth – Israel (right out of Isaiah sixty-five).  It will pass away.  It is “at doors.”  Every one of these things will come to be in this generation!

Now, no one knows the exact day – as Jesus says in verse thirty-six – neither the angels of the heavens know what day it is!  Only the Father knows.

But, He says to His disciples, I’ll tell you this:  the Parousia of the Son of Man will be just as in the days of Noah!  (verse thirty-seven)  It will be like the flood!

Everyone was busy doing what was right in their own eyes; they were carrying on with their normal lives – eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage – living as if there was no God; living completely unaware of the righteous indignation of a holy God; living as if there was no flood of judgment about to come upon them.

For a hundred years they teased and reviled and despised and mocked and persecuted Noah who, at the command of God, was building an immense ark in order that he and his family would be baptized in the waters of the flood and be saved!  It was built right before everyone’s eyes.  And as Jesus says in verse thirty-nine, they didn’t know!  And the deluge came and took all!

And so would be His Parousia! (verse thirty-nine)  And just as with Noah and his family, some would know… and anticipate… and expect what was coming; they would know – because of the words of the prophets and the Words of Christ and his apostles.  And they would do what He said!  Having prepared themselves with the Word of God and faith in Christ, when they saw the legions of Rome entering the Holy Land, they would escape… and flee to refuge – because the great tribulation was coming!  The Parousia (Presence) of Christ and the consummation of the age was “at doors!”

But all the rest, in darkness and unbelief, trusting in pseudoprophets and pseudoteachers, living completely unaware of what was coming – they would suffer the consequences of all the blood of the righteous from Abel to the present.

Two men would be working the fields, and one would obey and flee the wrath to come; he would be received, the other sent away.  Two women would be grinding – one would obey, but the other would continue to live as in the days of Noah (verse forty and forty-one).  Those two verses have absolutely nothing to do with a supposed “rapture,” as some would have it; but the “receiving” of the obedient elect of God, and the “casting away” of unbelievers.

As we conclude this morning, Jesus says (verse forty-two), “Watch therefore that you not know in what kind of day your Lord comes.”  “Lo, I told you beforehand….”  Be prepared… and watch for the things I’ve told you from the prophets.

Although you don’t know the specific day in which your Lord comes, watch that you not know the “kind” of day.  I’ve told you all the things that will happen; and I’ve warned you to watch for them.  Now… be ready for the “sign of the Son of Man in Heaven!”

Be ready to flee.  Be ready for the deluge.  The Son of Man has entered into the Presence of God and has assumed all power in heaven and earth.  And His Parousia is “at doors.”