God is looking for the fruit of repentance (Matthew 3:8). Jesus’ warning that the Jews must repent or perish had a nearly immediate, terrible fulfillment. Within a generation, many perished in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This serves as a warning to everyone (Romans 11:22). The problem isn’t man-made disaster or natural disasters; the problem is sin.
God hates sin, and will punish both individual sinners and nations. The fact that God doesn’t seem to punish sins and sinners immediately doesn’t mean that He approves of the sin, or that He will always allow it to go on without consequence, it is that He is merciful and allowing time to repent. We are now in the “grace period”, but Jesus is reminding us that we are on borrowed time. We need to repent now. I am talking to you, Christian.
Every individual and every nation will be found guilty when measured by the standard of God’s perfect righteousness. But Jesus came to put away the eternal consequences of sin (Hebrews 9:26-28). We’ve been extended a season of grace to become fruitful, so we’ve got to be fruitful. Repentance means we turn from sin, faith means we follow Jesus, spiritual fruit is the result. And don’t be fooled; no fruit, no root.
Jesus was explaining that disasters remind us that no one escapes death, and that we all may die at any time (Luke 13:1-5). Therefore repentance must be our priority, because no one will escape His judgment. The goodness of God has kept the wrath of God from you for now, not forever (Romans 2:4-5). People presume on God’s goodness and think they can just play the game of their lives any old way they want to. Jesus is telling us all: no way.
The fig tree couldn’t know it only had a year left, and neither can you. You can’t afford to wait another minute because you don’t know when your time will be up. The greater the space left for repentance, the greater the wrath of God that is stored up if we don’t.