In Scripture, Israel is the Fig Tree. The other trees include Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and Russia. The Fig Tree is the nation of Israel. After 1,877 years of oblivion (AD70-1948), the modern state of Israel was born on May 14, 1948. Those who were alive on that day constitute the Fig Tree generation.
Jesus said: “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Mt 24:34). That means the generation that witnessed the budding of the fig tree, the rebirth of Israel shall not die out or pass completely away before the coming of the Son of Man. Suppose the oldest person born before midnight on 14th May 1948 will die at the age of 100 years. It means the rapture will occur in the year 2048.
Jesus did not say that only one person will be left of those born before 14 May 1948. What Jesus said is that the generation that saw the rebirth of Israel as a nation is the generation that will witness His second Advent. The emphasis is on the fact that the last person in that generation would not have died before His return. That time latitude is wide. It means the rapture can take place from this moment to the time the last person in that generation would be at the throes of death. The wide time spectrum is enough to discourage us from speculating on the day and hour of rapture. Rather, the heirs of salvation should be concerned with preparations for the second coming of Christ and not dissipate energy on speculative time schedules that God has put in His own authority.
Again, focus on the general rapture of the Church should not diminish the importance of what I call the private rapture of saints. “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation” (Heb 9:27-28). When a person dies, he either goes to be with Christ or is forced into hell for punishment pending the time of the White Throne Judgment when eternal separation from God will be confirmed. Those who are with Christ are said not to have died but “sleeping.” Why are they sleeping?
Perfection of the saints must involve the inward and outward personalities of the believer. When a Christian dies, the body or outward personality is put in the grave. It is a body of corruption. It needs to be redeemed and clothed with incorruption. The redemption of the body will be done simultaneously for all sleeping saints, at the moment of rapture. The transformation will happen in a twinkling of an eye. It is not an event that can take place perfunctorily. The Marriage of the Lamb to His Bride is a single event. If those who die before the rapture are given glorified bodies, what would they be doing while the rest are still in the making?
The Body of Christ is one. We are the Church the one indivisible Body of Christ, Jesus being the Head of the Body, the chief cornerstone, knit together in baptism by one Holy Spirit, united in one hope and one faith in one Lord, Jesus the Christ and one God, the Father of all. A building is not complete when the last block has not been fitted in. So, until the last saint is sealed by the Holy Spirit into the Body, the Body of Christ would remain incomplete.
The job of the Holy Spirit on the earth is to form the Body and deliver same to the Head. He must complete His work before returning to the Father and His Son who sent Him. Imagine what would have happened if Eliezer was unable to persuade Rebecca to follow him to the master. Isaac who had left his home for the fields to await his bride would have been terribly disappointed and Eliezer’s journey to Paddan Aram would have turned out to be a total failure.
So, the redeemed saints have to ‘rest’ until the number was complete. The point to note is that the saint cannot do anything to alter the situation when he falls asleep. The dead cannot come back to the earth to do anything otherwise he might lose his salvation. Remember that as long as you are here on earth the propensity to sin remains. The teaching by some that ‘once saved always saved’ is a doctrine of the devils. The next event in the Plan of God is the rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ.