THE LAST DAYS OF BABYLON Part 7, THE JUDGMENT

Goodnews Christian Ministry

"He who obeys the commands will come to no harm, and the wise man knows there will be a time of judgment." ---Eccl. 8:5

CHAPTER 29

The Withered Fig Tree

"I would like to go harvesting there, says God. But there are no grapes on the vine, no figs on the fig tree: even the leaves are withered.
This is because I have brought ravagers to ravage them."

Jer.8:13

_____________

A death sentence has been commanded for the world by the Law in response to sin. This is the meaning of the withered fig tree. Jesus, obeying a directive from God, commanded the leaves on that tree to wither as a warning to mankind.

Many Christians are appalled that this event is even chronicled in the scriptures. Silently they ask, "How could anyone whom the world calls 'God' do such a thing to a helpless tree?"

To startle a sleeping civilization. Jesus withered the fig tree in Jerusalem so that people would be shocked into understanding that sin has launched the world toward a catastrophic end, and anyone who does not bear the fruit of righteous behavior will come to an end with it.

God wanted us to know that our reconciliation with God is serious business. We are all in the process of dying, and a tree in Jerusalem gave its life to show us that we can stop that disintegration in its tracks. We can be cured of inevitable death and live forever.

The future of this planet is not sunshine and roses. The Bible says the future is cloaked in calamity, and anyone who does not break with sin will be swept away by the disaster that is coming -- a calamity of Satan that will not simply consume just one tree in Palestine but burn to a cinder every tree on the face of the earth.

God sent Jesus to save all who would listen to Him-- to redeem all who are willing to follow the only path that successfully skirts the death that lies ahead.

To make clear what rejection of His path implies, God manifested an example that was abundantly documented in Israel's ancient scriptures -- all the Old Testament prophecies about withered fig trees.

He wanted everyone to understand just what these passages truly say: (Joel 1:7; 1:12; 2:22; Hosea 2:12; Is.34:4; Jer.8:13; Hab.3:17; Na.3:12; Ps.105:33; Hab.3:17; Micah 7:2; Amos 4:9). The deathblow that is coming will crash down on good and bad alike.

The Bible teaches us that the tribulation will be catastrophic. The Church will collapse as fully as the governments that surround them. Everything will be destroyed. Nothing physical will remain. Every tree on earth will die because of mankind's sins. This is why Jesus gave us a sign so serious.

His prediction foretells total apocalypse, and only the good will survive.

"For a nation has invaded my country, mighty and innumerable; its teeth are the teeth of lions, it has the fangs of a lioness. It has laid waste my vines and torn my fig trees to pieces; it has stripped them clean and cut them down, their branches have all turned white." (Joel 1:6-7).

"The earth is mourning, withering, the world is pining, withering..." (Is.24:4)

"The heavens are rolled up like a scroll and their armies all drop like leaves, like vine leaves falling, like falling fig leaves. For my sword has drunk deep in the heavens...See now how it slashes through Edom, through the people I have condemned to be punished." (Is.34:4-5).

The pages of the Old Testament are filled with prophetic descriptions of ravaged fig trees. They are there because God placed them there in preparation for Jesus who would unveil the secret meaning of this mortal decay before the gaze of the House of Israel.

Because it didn't bear fruit when the Master stood before it, even fruit out of season, God ordered Jesus to strike the tree dead in front of the eyes of the whole world. That was the sign. The forewarning of the ultimate prophecy.

God wanted the world to see that Jesus was God in their midst -- powerful and fearsome, yet still the gentle voice Elijah had forseen (1 Kings 9-13) -- sent by the Almighty to warn the world about the incalculable disaster approaching it, and to lead anyone who would follow His divine Voice to the safety God had prepared.

The fig tree proved to the world just what its apostasy in ignoring His Presence and rejecting His message would mean -- that it would leave them powerless to escape the dreaded wrath described in the Bible which sin is bringing down on the world -- all the terrible signs and events that are predicted to precede the coming of God.

"The harvest of the field has been ruined. The vine has withered, the fig tree wilts away. Pomegranate and palm and apple; every tree in the field is drooping. Yes, gladness has faded among the sons of men. Priests, put on sackcloth and lament. Ministers of the altar, wail. Come, pass the night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God. For the house of our god has been deprived of oblation and libation." (Joel 1:12-13).

The Jewish leaders knew their scriptures by heart, but they failed to draw the connection Elijah had given them between the terrible signs that herald God's coming and the gentle nature that is His Being.

They wanted a warlord, someone who would destroy the Roman Empire, so they rejected the gentle teaching of Jesus. Rejecting peace, peace eluded them and the sceptre passed to others. The ravagers came and went. (Jer.8:13).

The fate of Israel astonished the world, and for awhile, people woke up and took note.

Today the fig trees are wilting once again. The harvest of the pagans is drying up in a secular revolt that has tilted the world away from its Gospel past. And once again, Jeremiah's ravagers are beginning to cluster at the periphery, scepters in hand.

All the signs of God's appearance are happening again today, just as they did when He began to descend the mountain at Sinai -- but now they are occuring everywhere, not only before the tribes of Israel.

That is because Christ's return is almost at hand. The signs are not just for Jewish leaders, they are for everyone. And like the great portents of the biblical past, these current happenings herald once again the nearness in the skies of the heavenly Host and of the Great Judgment which is now so close to us.

In front of this great empyreal armada the promised ravagers have begun to appear -- those who are destined to devastate the earth in its sin.

Once again, there will be winds and earthquakes and great fires. But now there is more. The appearance just ahead will be greater than anything in the past so the signs which herald it will be far greater.

Immense armies, new plagues and diseases, floods, pestilence, wars and terror everywhere on earth -- even in the heavens above our heads.

Jesus said the signs of the last days would crescendo so violently they would manifest themselves throughout the universe -- in the sun and the moon and the stars. Comets crashing on planets, bombarding the earth; creating turbulence so frenzied, the oceans will become unmanageable.

The fig tree is beginning to wither now everywhere we look. But is anyone paying attention?

News agencies of international size, greater and more numerous than any mankind has ever assembled, stand ready to run off at a moments notice with untold thousands of camera's and reporters to cover the slightest wrinkle in society's fabric. Are they paying attention? No. They are all asleep. They see nothing.

They report the signs of the stirring, but they are blind to the cause. Worse, they scoff at anyone who tries to sound the alarm.

Because the Law has decreed the sentence, God cannot repeal it. That is why Jesus allowed himself to be placed on the cross to pay this penalty in our names. He did this because the sentence cannot be overruled, only fulfilled.

All God can do about the destruction ahead is to hold the storm of wrath back for a short while -- just long enough to rescue us from it's path.

Like the walls of water that He pushed apart at the Red Sea so the Israelites could pass to safety, God is holding back the wrath for us now.

For Him to continue to block the tribulation we have to repent of our sins in Jesus' name and follow the way He has commanded. It is our own faith that enables God to hold the disaster at bay, because in order to escape the wrath, we have to become one with Jesus Christ.

Yet scripture prophesies that, far from repenting, the world will do just the opposite. It will abandon the covenant and so make the disaster of the end inevitable. "...but instead of repenting for what they had done, they cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and sores." (Rv.16:11).

Failing to call on the mercy of God which could save the world and defer the terrible consequences of sin, the planet's people will wait in terror and hatred for the events of the last days to pass, hoping against hope that all the things they see descending on them is not the end of life but just a terrible moment in history.

Still, they will not repent. Instead, unlike Elijah, they will blame God for all the disasters they see.

And then it will happen. Darkened by the clouds of a burning world, the battlefield will meet the Judgment.

"The Day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then with a roar the sky will vanish, the elements will catch fire and fall apart, the earth and all that it contains will be burnt up. Since everything is coming to an end like this, you should be living holy and saintly lives while you wait and hope for the Day of God to come." (2 Peter 3:10-12).

At that moment, the sky will be rolled back and all the hosts of heaven will appear. Thrones will be set in place and the books will be opened and everyone will be brought to answer for the way in which they lived their lives.

The earth of the past will no longer exist -- it will be completely annhiliated by the forces which the Bible tells us that God will bring against it. (Is.24:18-20).

"I looked to the earth, to see a formless waste; to the heavens, and their light had gone. I looked to the mountains, to see them quaking and all the heights astir. I looked, to see no man at all, the very birds of heaven had fled."

"I looked, to see the wooded country a wilderness, all its towns in ruins, at the presence of God, at the presence of his burning anger. Yes, thus speaks God, 'The whole land shall be laid waste, I will make an end of it once and for all..."
(Jer.4:23-27).


The Last Days of Babylon


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