Last time we were left with the fig tree cursed, withered, and unable to bear fruit. From our previous study in Matt 21:
"Was this the end of Israel in God’s plan? No. The Lord is saying that Israel, in rejecting her king, was forfeiting her privilege as head of the nations, for a season."
“No more from thee may fruit be -- to the age.”
-Matt 21:19 (Young's Literal)
We now see the withered fig tree again, starting to put forth leaves; showing signs of life and fruitfulness.
“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 all these things, you know that he is near, at the very gates. Truly, I say to you, this generation [Gk: "geneá" descended people, nation, age] will not pass away until all these things take place."
A withered Israel will come to life quickly. It will bud and put forth leaves. The Lord says this will be a clue as the closeness of the end of the age. Here is where I would depart from many dispensatonalists. I have placed this discourse in context of the Great Tribulation and there I must stay.
As the horrific events of the the previous passage in Matthew 24 are unfolding, Israel is starting to bloom. I think this represents the early part of the Tribulation. As the Antichrist confirms his agreement with Israel [Dan 9:27], Israel comes to life. This is also necessary for her to eventually bear spiritual fruit.
The Israel of this hour is a precursor, but not a fulfillment of scripture. Israel is in the land in unbelief. She has no sense of safety. Many Jews still live outside Israel. I think it must be there so prophecy can be fulfilled (and this may be semantics), but it is not the fulfillment itself.
Before I end, I must address:
"But concerning that day and hour no one knows..."
As the Lord is giving his disciples signs, he obviously is not saying "nobody will have any idea when any of this will happen, and they won't know even that it's happening." What he is saying is that, in response to the questions, he is not giving a date. Rather, he is giving signs for the prudent to discern.
In the present age (starting after the Book of Acts), we have 2 Timothy 3:1-9 to watch. As we watch there, we can see the stage being set for Matthew 24. But, again, Israel is not experiencing these things yet and the signs of Matthew 24 are not being fulfilled.
Do I believe these things will come to pass soon? Yes. But I base that on a number of scriptures (most recently my note on Daniel's 70 Weeks) and on watching the stage. The players are moving into place, but Matthew 24 concerns Israel at the center of God's plan again, and the events of the Great Tribulation ("the time of Jacob's Trouble").
We're not there yet, but I think we are close. What do I mean by "close?" Perhaps within a decade, perhaps within several decades. If my reasoning on Daniel is correct, the latter would be true (but don't trust me!).
In the Acts Age, we saw that the expectation of the end was "at hand." That expectation will soon be relevant for God's people, Israel. And she shall soon see the son whom she has pierced (Zech 12:10), and she shall soon see her promised kingdom (Zech 8, Isaiah 11, Jer 31, Heb 8, etc.).