Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Words Unfading and Unchanging

praying with a cup of hot tea and a Bible
Author Biography

    Paul's a Regent University professor who has authored three books and written widely on Church history and theology. He's also a worship leader, husband, and father of three who enjoys spending time with his family.

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Dr. Paul J. Palma - Professor, Regent University Biblical Studies & Christian Ministries

“Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away” (Matthew 24:32-35 NIV).

The scrumptious fruit-bearing fig tree undergoes a remarkable rate of seasonal change. Like other deciduous trees, the fig tree loses its leaves each year. During the late fall and early winter, its plush green leaves fade to yellow and drift to the ground. Come early spring, the leaves reemerge, and the tree shimmers green again. As summer rolls in, so does the tear-shaped brownish-purple fruit of the tree. The delicious fig, in the Northern Hemisphere, is in season from late summer to early fall. This versatile fruit can be eaten or prepared in various ways—enjoyed fresh or dried or processed into jam, rolls, biscuits, and other desserts. As fall ends, the enchanting seasonal cycle of the fig tree repeats itself.

In Matthew 24, Jesus describes the annual coming out of the fig tree’s fruit as a sign. Just as the tree’s tender fruit serves as a sign that summer is here, so will many signs presage Jesus’ Second Coming. While the precise day and hour of Christ’s Return remain unknown (v. 36), He encourages the disciples to be alert and stand guard. Before Jesus’ glorious return, there will be an escalation of war, famine, earthquakes, persecution, false messiahs, and false prophets (vv. 7, 9–11, 24). God’s people today still await the culmination of history. We ready ourselves for adversity of many kinds and guard ourselves and those we love against those seeking to lead us astray.

Alongside Jesus’ warning, however, are words of profound consolation. Although the events of history—even heaven and earth—come and go, Jesus’ teachings and promises will “never pass away” (v. 35). The permanency of Jesus’ words harkens to His eternal and unchanging character. The One whom we await is Himself the God of history. Everyone in heaven and earth, and under the earth, will one day bow at His name (Philippians 2:10). Jesus’ everlasting Word propels our mission on earth forward. Indeed, He describes another sign of the end as the global, all-encompassing reach of the Gospel:

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come (Matthew 24:14).

Jesus’ use of the fig tree analogy is even more impressive when one considers the tree’s seasonal nature and the incredible amount of change it undergoes. The signs of the times, like the fig tree, serve a purpose. Yet, as with everything else, they come and go, bud and fade, linger and “pass away.” However, those who have placed their faith in Christ can confront adversity and change with the confidence that His guiding words remain a beacon to see us through.

Lord, we treasure Your abiding words, for every one of them will endure. No matter what lies ahead, we thank You for, and place our trust in, the words of Scripture that promise Your victory and ever guide us onward as we await that day.


Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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