« ElőzőTovább »
again, we have in the 5th and 6th verses, · Let him take hold of my strength, that he may make peace with me, and he shall make peace with me. He shall cause them that come of Jacob to take root; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit." They must make peace with him who is at the right hand of God, then they shall blossom, they shall strike their roots downwards, and the budding forth of more fruits shall be seen until the world shall be filled with its glory. For the time of singing is come: the very
words of the song we have in the same prophecy. In the 26th chap. it is said, “In that day shall this
in the land of Judah ; we have a strong city, salvation will God appoint for walls and bulwarks. Open ye the gates that the righteous nation which keepeth the truth may enter in.” The Fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell, is a symbolic prediction of the revival of divine life in the long desolated Jewish nation, the time of which our Saviour said, “Now learn the parable of the Fig tree.” When ye see these things come to pass, ye know that summer is nigh even at the doors. The circumstances under which our Lord
them these parables are also very peculiar and equally instructive. He had closed his public ministy: he had spoken to the people that awful warning, Ye shall not see me hence forth until
say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” He had retired from Jerusalem and in company with the apostles had gone to the Mount of Olives. It was the close of a toilsome day, it was at the close of a day of no common instruction, and no common circumstances in the history of the people who then heard him probably for the last time. There he
was, probably about the time of sunset, seated on the Mount of Olives with Jerusalem's temple right in his view: he had said to his disciples that there should not be left one stone upon another that should not be thrown down, and the disciples came to him with a three-fold question, in which, in their ignorance of the divine purposes, they had disarranged divine events: "And they asked him, Master, when shall these things be ? and what shall be thy sign of the coming and of the end of the world ?”
In order to understand our Saviour's answer, we must see clearly what the question was.
They asked him when should the temple be thrown down? What should be the means of knowing when he should be coming? And what should be the signs of the end of the dispensation? A difficulty is created in our Saviour's answer by a misapprehension of what he declares in the last words of our text, “ Verily, I say unto you this generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." The fulfilment of anything in scripture does not mean the complete taking place of all that has been predicted; but the proof of the truth of the prediction, and so when it has begun to be accomplished it is declared in scripture to have been fulfiled. The Greek word here properly means come into existence, whenever therefore the other words that are used for this expression mean that it has proved true, as you will find by reference to Matthew 8th chap. and 16th and 17th verses, when our blessed Saviour stood
the Jewish people and performed miracles of goodness, that these miracles were to prove that he was that being who was to do these works, as had been foretold of him in the 53rd chap. of Isaiah, accordingly
“ When the even was come they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils, and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick : that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet saying, himself took our infirmities and bore our sicknesses." Doubtless St. Matthew did not mean to say that the 53rd chap. of Isaiah, from which these words are quoted had not predicted in addition to what is given here, the crucifixion of our Lord who was wounded for our transgressions, and bruised for our iniquities, but that amongst other things that were predicted which took place in this event in which our Lord performed these miracles of goodness, that was proved to be true that Jesus was the one to whom the prophet referred.
In the 6th chap. of the 1st book of Kings and the 1st verse, we have another example of a thing said to be done when it had began to be done. “ And it came to pass in the 480th year after the children of Israel
come out of the land of Egypt, in the 4th year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month Tif, which is the second month, that he began to build the house of the Lord." The marginal reading is, that he built the house of the Lord which is the Hebrew expression there, but we paraphrase it by saying, he began to build. Just as in this case it is said Solomon built the house of the Lord in the 4th year of his reign, not indeed completed, but that he began it in that year, so Christ here says that this generation shall not pass till all these things come into existence; that is, begin to be accomplished, “That that generation should not pass until the truth of our blessed Lord's words should be seen." When we come to examine his own prophecy
we shall find that he did not intend to assert that every event that was there predicted was to come to pass during their lifetime. If you look at the 21st chap. of St. Luke, and the 24th verse, you will find that in this very prophecy he speaks of a long period much beyond the life of those who were then living. They shall fall by the edge of the sword; and shall be led away captive into all nations, and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” Here then our Lord himself predicts an interval between the ruin of Jerusalem and the restoration of the same in which the Gentiles are to have their time of probation when he was to be the light of the Gentiles, and to give to them that same probationary dispensation which had been given to the Jews of old. But now is the accepted time, now is the day of salvation.
If then we would learn the parable of the Fig tree as our Saviour gives it to us here, it arranges itself in the following order.
I. The preaching of the gospel with persecution.
These are subjects which we could not take up at the close of a sermon, I therefore propose to resume them again this evening.
But, brethren, let us not leave God's house without thinking of the solemn lesson which this parable of the Fig tree brings before us. It is predictive, setting briefly but clearly before us, the outline of the world's history; and it is also morally instructive, setting before us in the standing and position of the Jews, the present responsibilities of the Gentiles. If the Lord made the vineyard of the Lord of Hosts, the house of Israel, and the men of Judah, his pleasant plant, and if the blasted, withered Fig tree was an awful warning to the Jews of God's impending judgments, assuredly we have no reason to expect that there shall be a less holy, a less righteous dealing with nations much more favored. We have not a yoke put upon us such as was put on them. We have a larger outpouring of the Spirit given to us than was given to them.
We have means of grace more full and refreshing than theirs. We have opportunities of instruction, more teaching, more responsibilities than theirs. We have therefore on the one side a greater opportunity of blessing, and on the other side we have a greater condemnation of judgment. Let us remember the warning with which our Lord closes those very admonitions which he derives from the parable of the Fig tree.
Let our loins be girt about, our lights burning, ourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord. “Blessed is that servant whom his Lord when he cometh shall find so doing.” “ Take heed lest your hearts be at any time overcharged with surfeiting and drunkenness and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares." The Jewish Fig tree has began to bud and the Gentile times are beginning to come to their close.
The decay of the one, the revival of the other appears to be at our doors. It becomes us solemnly to learn of the parable of the Fig tree, and examine our hearts, and try our thoughts, and test our characters, to search and see whether we have not only the leaf of profession but the fruit of righteousness; whether God's holy Spirit has wrought in our hearts that faith in the cross of his Son, that Spirit