Friday, September 22, was officially the first day of Fall (or Autumn, if you prefer). Whatever you call it, it will still be about 90 degrees in South Carolina (where I live) for a while. But as I look outside, I do notice unmistakable signs that the Fall season is upon, namely, the leaves are beginning to change color.
You can usually recognize what time of the year it is by just looking at the leaves. As Autumn begins, the leaves begin to change and fall from the trees. In Winter, the leaves of many trees are gone. In Spring, different colored blossoms begin to appear, and as the Summer approaches, those different colors give way vibrant green.
Jesus used the changes of the seasons perceived in trees as an illustration in Mark 13:28:
“From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. (Mar 13:28-29)
In the context, Jesus was using this illustration to teach his followers to recognize the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem which would come in A.D. 70. According to uninspired tradition, Christians did recognize the signs and got out of the city when the Romans came.
Some, however, have taken Jesus words in those surrounding passages (and others throughout Scripture) to be signs of the end of time. You may have heard about one who predicted Saturday September 23 as the end of the world, due to the positions of certain constellations and their supposed correlation with passages out of Revelation. These predictions have come and gone over the years, and none has been right so far (“No man knows the day or hour” – Mk. 13:32).
But we would do well to remember that every day is the last day for someone. Scores of people draw their last breath every day. For them, it’s as if the end has come. They’re judgment is fixed; it cannot be changed at this point.
The Scripture tells us that any day could be the last for any of us, (James 4:14, 2 Pet. 3:10) and so we must be ready. Jesus’ illustration of the fig tree was to emphasize to his followers the importance of recognizing the signs and being ready. For us, however, there may be no signs that the end has drawn near, and so, today is the day to be ready. Are you ready?
Therefore, you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. (Mat 24:44)