Life-Study of Lukeby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 21:5—22:46 the Man-Savior prepares the disciples for His death. As part of this preparation, He tells them of things to come (21:5-36). We have seen that these things include the destruction of the temple (vv. 5-6), the plagues between the Lord’s ascension and the great tribulation (vv. 7-11), the persecution of His disciples in the church age (vv. 12-19), and the great tribulation and the Lord’s coming (vv. 20-27). In this message we shall go on to consider what the Lord says concerning the disciples’ redemption and the overcomers’ rapture (vv. 28-36).
In 21:28 the Man-Savior says, “And when these things begin to happen, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” In this verse “redemption” surely refers to the redemption of our body, that is, the transfiguration of our body. Paul speaks of this redemption in Romans 8:23: “Even we ourselves groan in ourselves, eagerly expecting sonship, the redemption of our body.” In Philippians 3 he speaks of the transfiguration of our body: “The Lord Jesus Christ, who will transfigure the body of our humiliation, conforming it to the body of His glory” (vv. 20-21). Therefore, the redemption in Luke 21:28, the redemption that is drawing near, is not the redemption of our spirit or soul but the redemption of our body. We shall experience this redemption at the Lord’s coming back.
In 21:29-31 the Lord tells the disciples a parable: “Look at the fig tree and all the trees; when they are already sprouting leaves, you see it and know of yourselves that the summer is already near. So also you, when you see these things taking place, know that the kingdom of God is near.” The fig tree, signifying the nation of Israel, was cursed in Matthew 21:19. It passed through a long “winter,” from the first century to A.D. 1948, when the nation of Israel was restored. That was its branch becoming tender and putting forth its leaves.
This fig tree is a sign to the believers of the end of this age. The fig tree becoming tender (Matt. 24:32) signifies that life has come back. The sprouting of leaves in Luke 21:30 signifies outward activities. Winter signifies the time of being dried up, the time of tribulation, whereas summer signifies the age of the restored kingdom (Luke 21:30-31), which will begin at the Lord’s second coming.
In verse 30 the Lord speaks of summer being near, and in verse 31, of the kingdom of God being near. However, in the Bible the word “near” does not mean that something will happen within a few days or even within several years. To the Lord an event that will take place in two thousand years may still be regarded as near, because with Him time and space do not mean anything.
When I heard about the re-formation of Israel in 1948, I was excited. I said to myself, “Look, the end of the age must be near. The nation of Israel has been under the control of the Gentiles since the time of Nebuchadnezzar. Now Israel has been re-formed as a nation.” I thought that probably in just a few years the Lord would come back. But thirty-six years have gone by, and the “leaves” are still sprouting. Even though Jerusalem was returned to the Jews in 1967, we can still say only that the time is “near.”
In 21:32 and 33 the Lord goes on to say, “Truly I tell you that this generation shall by no means pass away until all things take place. The heaven and the earth shall pass away, but My words shall by no means pass away.” The word “generation” in verse 32 is not the generation according to age or people, as the generations in Matthew 1:17. Rather, this is the generation according to the moral condition of the people, as the generation in Luke 11:29-32 and Proverbs 30:11-14. “All things” in verse 32 refer to the things predicted in the foregoing verses. The word “until” implies that some things have not yet taken place. Therefore, more time is needed for all things to take place.
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