Background to a soon-coming prayer campaign, Part 2
Mar 30, 2017
Jews today are from two main branches: Sephardim and Ashkenazim. The Ashkenazim are from Eastern Europe and, according to The Jewish Encyclopedia, are Turkish-Mongolian converts to Judaism in (640-760 A.D.). The Sephardic (“Spanish”) Jews have their roots in Judea and Jerusalem that was destroyed in 70 A.D.
These Sephardic Jews were dispersed after the destruction of Jerusalem and were scattered throughout many of the Mideast nations. A large portion of them moved to Spain, where they remained until expelled by Queen Isabella in 1492.
Because the Sephardic branch has its roots in the New Testament era, they were the ones that conflicted with Jesus during His ministry. Judea was represented prophetically by the fig tree in Jeremiah 24, where we find two kinds of “figs” (i.e., Jews), some evil and some good.
When the time of Jesus’ ministry approached, a prophet named John the Baptist was sent to preach repentance to prepare the way. He also announced that a complaint had been lodged against Judea in the divine court, and that a “visitation” (or investigation) had begun to see if the charges were true. We read of this in Luke 3:8, 9,
8 Therefore bring forth fruits in keeping with repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham for our father,” for I say to you that God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. 9 And also the axe is already laid at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
John was executed by King Herod before the conclusion of the visitation, so Jesus continued the investigation for the next three years. Toward the end of the time, He told a parable in Luke 13:6-9,
6 And He began telling this parable: “A certain man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it, and did not find any.” 7 And he said to the vineyard-keeper, “Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ 8 And he answered and said to him, “Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.”
The fig tree still not bear fruit, for Jesus knew that the nation would reject Him, thus refusing to repent, as John had commanded. Finally, in the final week before His crucifixion, when Jesus found a fig tree with many leaves but no fruit, He saw that it prophetically represented the nation of Judea. So He laid a curse upon it, saying, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you” (Matthew 21:19). The tree was withered by the following morning.
A few days later, Jesus commented on the fig tree, saying in Matthew 24:32, 33,
33 Now learn the parable from the fig tree; when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; 34 even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.
Jesus had been speaking about the time of His return, tribulation, and the destruction of Jerusalem. He was hinting that the timing of these events was linked to the fig tree’s return to life, and especially when it “puts forth its leaves.” Most evangelical and Pentecostal Christians understand this to be the establishment of Israel in 1948, and I agree with this. Where I differ with mainstream thinking is where many believe that this prophetic fig tree will bear fruit. As I see it, Jesus prophesied only that it would bring forth more “leaves.” If it bears fruit, as so many say, then Jesus prophesied falsely in Matthew 21:19.
God is not satisfied with leaves. Fig leaves have been a problem since Adam (Genesis 3:7), as they represent a man-made covering for sin, that is, a carnal self-justification. God is looking for fruit, not leaves.
Hence, since 1948 the prophetic fig tree, known as the state of Israel, has not borne fruit to God, nor has the nation heeded the call to repentance that John the Baptist issued. There are, of course, individual Jews who had repented, even as Jesus Himself had disciples in the first century, but individuals do not constitute the nation itself. To bear fruit, the government itself would have to issue an official proclamation that Jesus is King. That has not been done, nor will it be done.
The purpose of the second chance—prophesied by the fig tree coming back to life—is to give the nation one more opportunity to repent prior to the final and permanent destruction prophesied in Jeremiah 19:10, 11. If Jerusalem had been fully destroyed in 70 A.D., then the fig tree could never have come back to life at a later time. Hence, the establishment of the state of Israel was necessary to fulfill Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24:32, 33.
The problem comes when Bible teachers proclaim that the nation of Israel will soon bring forth the fruit that God requires. If this were to happen, Jeremiah 19:11 would fail, and Jesus’ prophetic curse in Matthew 21:19 too would fail. Both Jeremiah and Jesus would prove to be false prophets. That, of course, will never happen.
The confusion lies in men’s blindness in not seeing the difference between Israel and Judah. They assume that the Jews are Israel, when in fact the term “Jew” is short for “Judah” (or a Judean). The Israelites were from the ten tribes that split from Judah in 1 Kings 12:16, 19. The northern House of Israel later were taken captive to Assyria. The Jews of Judah survived that captivity, but were taken to Babylon 120 years later. From then on, the two peoples were separated and remained distinct to the present day.
The prophets give Israel many prophecies of restoration, including the one in Jeremiah 18:1-10, where Israel is pictured as a lump of wet clay being shaped by a potter. The clay was marred, so it was beaten down and remade into another useful vessel. But in Jeremiah 19, when the prophet begins to prophesy about Judah and Jerusalem, that nation is pictured as a jar of hardened clay, which was then smashed in the Valley of ben-Hinnom, never to be repaired or rebuilt.
The contrast cannot be more obvious. In 1948 a Jewish state was established, but they called it Israel in order to make it appear that they were fulfilling the prophecies of the ten tribes—that is, the wet clay in Jeremiah 18:1-10. In reality, however, they were setting themselves up for the time when the old jar would be smashed in the Valley of ben-Hinnom.
The fall of the Israeli state, then, will not cause prophecy to fail. The Jews cannot fulfill the prophecies of the restoration of biblical Israel. Each has its own set of prophecies to fulfill. But God has blinded the eyes of the church in order to allow the fruitless fig tree to come back to life and to see if it can bear fruit. The church has prayed and interceded for “Israel” for nearly 70 years now, faithfully fertilizing the tree and hoping that it will bear fruit.
If they had known the truth, they might not have found motivation to fertilize the tree for so many years. Their efforts have had a small measure of success insofar as individual Jews are concerned, but there is no biblical prophecy indicating that the nation itself will be saved.
We are now in 2017, which is the 70th year since the Palestinian Resolution (November 29, 1947). I believe that God has given the Jewish state 70 years in which to bear fruit. In effect, they have been given back the 70 years that they spent in Babylon. But instead of repenting, they sought to take control of the Babylonian system, and thereby became part of the beast itself.
They did not heed Jesus’ warning in Matthew 21:44, so they will be crushed by the stone that hits the Babylonian image on its feet and toes. The timing of Jerusalem’s destruction, then, is tied to the destruction of the beast system itself, which, as we have shown, is due by the end of 2017. One cannot separate it. This is a Jerusalem event as much as it is a Babylon event. God intends to set His people free from all forms of bondage, whatever its source—Babylon, Sodom, Egypt, Jerusalem, or the flesh itself.
The call of God is still the same. He is looking for fruit—the fruit of the Spirit. The prophecy in Isaiah 27:6 tells us through whom this fruit will come:
6 In the days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will blossom and sprout; and they will fill the whole world with fruit.
Yes, Israel will bear fruit, but Judah bears only leaves. Do not be fooled by the label that the Jewish state has chosen for itself. It may call itself Israel, but it is not biblical Israel. Israel and Judah were two separate nations. The tribes of Joseph were in Israel, and the specific birthright holder was Ephraim, “fruitful.” His father Joseph was given the Fruitfulness Mandate, for Genesis 49:22 says, “Joseph is a fruitful bough” (ben, “son”). The Dominion Mandate, or Scepter, was given to Judah (Genesis 49:10) temporarily “until Shiloh comes.”
So we have now come to the year 2017, when we are preparing to see the final act on the great stage of history. As we too are participants, we are either supporters of fruit-bearing Israel, or supporters of the leaf-bearing fig tree of Judah, which calls itself Israel. This is a conflict between Jesus and the chief priests to see who is truly called as the King-Messiah.
Let us be on Jesus’ side of this conflict, so that we avoid becoming another Judas which betrays Jesus to those who would usurp His throne.