December 14, 2008
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
As we come to this edition of THE WEEKLY WORD, I want to draw your attention to these Holy Ghost inspired words of the Apostle Peter;
13 But according to His promise we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells.
14 Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless,
15 and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you,
16 as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. [2 Pet. 3:13 – 16 NASB]
The Apostles Peter and Paul had an interesting relationship. They were of course prominent leaders in the first century church. They had some definite differences of opinion. Paul was the minister to the Gentile branch of the church, and Peter remained loyal to the Jewish branch of the church. Interestingly, God directed Peter to preach to the first Gentiles in Acts 10.
Later, Peter began teaching that Gentile believers should be circumcised as a sign of their conversion to Christ. Paul said he “withstood Peter to his face.” He accused Peter of being two-faced and acting one way when he was with the Jewish believers and another way when fellowshipping with Gentiles. [See Gal. 2:11 – 13]
Toward the conclusion of Peter’s ministry, he made it clear that Paul preached certain things difficult to understand. Paul had received numerous revelations from God when he spent lengthy time in prayer in the desert of Arabia. [See Gal. 1:17, 18] These revelations were penned in Paul’s epistles, and no other apostle had received such illumination from God. If Peter said some things were difficult to understand, them we must make a great effort today to expound and explain certain scriptures.
There are very often passages of scripture that seem “clouded” or hidden to us. What is the problem? Is God trying to be mysterious and to keep us in the dark? I don’t think so. Our greatest hindrance seems to be trying to look at the Bible and understand it from a Western perspective. The Bible is an eastern book. The Bible was written during a 2,500 year time period and from an eastern concept of society and ancient history. To better understand the many unusual passages in the Bible, one must research the historical setting, the original meaning of the words, and the context in which they were written.
I will attempt to do that in our little study of some difficult prophetic scriptures.
1. THE PARABLE OF THE FIG TREE:
32 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! [Matt. 24:32, 33 NKJV]
In Matthew 24, the disciples asked Christ for the sign of His coming and the end of the age [Matt. 24:3]. After a lengthy discourse describing wars, famines, pestilence, deception and cosmic signs, Christ concluded with the Parable of the fig tree. Normally, when Christ spoke in a parable, it was a story with a hidden meaning that He often revealed privately to is disciples.
In this case, He simply said, “Learn the parable of the fig tree.” Then He stated a known fact: When you see the fig leaves, you know summer is near. Through the years it always appeared to me that this parable was incomplete, that there was something deeper. Is it possible that the disciples were already aware of a fig tree parable, and needed no further explanation? I believe that the answer is, yes. I believe that the fig tree parable to which Jesus referred is hidden in a most unusual passage in Song of Solomon 2:8 – 13. I like most of you probably would never have viewed Song of Solomon as prophetic in nature. However, after viewing these passages and meditating upon them, I began to see the picture of the fig tree that Christ’s disciples were already aware of!
The Song of Solomon is a book about a bride and a bridegroom. In this passage, the bride (the church) is waiting for her bridegroom to appear. He has been observing her from the secret place from behind a wall in the upper lattice (heaven). Suddenly, she hears his voice. The Lord will descend with a shout and those in the grave will hear His voice. After the voice, he is seen leaping on the mountains and skipping on the hills. When Christ returns for the church, His feet will not touch the ground, but He will be in the air, above the hills and mountains; and He will skip from mountain to mountain to gather the dead in Christ and the living to Himself!
Interestingly, in verses 10 and 13, the bridegroom states twice, “Arise my love.” Why two times? I believe this a reference to the resurrection and the catching away of those who know Christ! In the New Testament, the dead will be called to rise first, and then we who are alive will be transformed and called to meet Him in the air. The bridegroom says twice, “Come away!” John saw a preview of this event when He was told by the voice from heaven to “come up hither.” [See Rev. 4:1, 2]
The voice of the bridegroom, His call to the bride, and His command to arise and come away happens when the “fig tree puts forth her green leaves.” This alludes to the late spring months, just before summer. Could this be a clue as to the season at which the Lord will rapture the Church? You will have to pray about that one on your own.
The Weekly Word is found in Luke 21:36. Here the Bible says,
36 Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” [Luke 21:36 NKJV]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson