Two thousand years ago, Jesus answered His disciples’ questions about the impending destruction of Jerusalem and His return at the end of our world as we know it. Jesus painted a picture of false messiahs, war, and famine that will increase with frequency and intensity as the end grows near. He then gave other signs to include a terrible time of destruction like never seen before or again and put it in the context of the terrible ruler we like to call the Antichrist.
He then gave hope by revealing that He would return and gather the faithful just after that terrible time. Probably wanting to get His disciples’ attention, Jesus said something to the effect of, “. . . when you see this, you’ll see that.” Jesus actually used the following analogy, which had been used for centuries by the likes of Job and probably others (i.e. Job 39:27-30): “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures (eagles in some translations) will gather.” This is the first “when you see this, then you’ll see that” moment. The first occurrence is misused to support a Preterist end-times theology. The second, which utilizes the fig tree, has been misused by many to support a pre-tribulation rapture theology:
But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near. Then He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. —Luke 21:28-31.
Again, Jesus is only stating, “When you see this, then you’ll see that” in a similar fashion as the verse about the eagle and carcass in Matthew 24:28. Unfortunately, some allegorize the budding fig tree parable to symbolize Israel and its becoming a nation in 1948.
So, when we see the signs of the times such as the terrible time of destruction and oppression by the Antichrist and the darkening of the sun, moon, and stars, we’ll know our redemption and gathering will be near. Again, when we see this, we’ll then see that.
Will you recognize the events that signal Jesus’ return and our gathering?