November 16, 2008
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
Shortly after my re-dedication to Christ and surrender to preach the gospel, the Holy Spirit deposited in me a real hunger to know the Word of God. I could no longer be satisfied with a mere cursory reading of scripture, I had to “dig in”, as it were. One of the areas of scripture that I really began to study were the prophetic portions. I really wanted to know about eschatology, or the doctrine of end times. So I began to study.
One of the verses that I really found intriguing was Matthew 24:34, part of Jesus’ great “Olivet Discourse.” He said, 34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. [Matt. 24:34 NKJV] When I read this verse of scripture I really wanted to know, exactly what is a generation? One thing that I learned very quickly was that there are several schools of prophetic thought in the Christian Church. In the spirit of fairness, I will list the three primary schools of thought on Bible prophecy. They are,
PAST (Preterist school) – In this school of thought the prophecies of Daniel and Revelation are largely fulfilled in the events of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
FUTURE (Futurist school) – This school of thought views many prophecies as yet to be fulfilled, (I.E. the rapture, man of sin, anti-christ) at some future, and mostly unknown time.
CONTINUOUS (Historical school) – This particular school of thought was taught widely at the time of the Reformation, but is seldom taught today.
I would definitely line up with the futurist school. Why is this important? Because how you view prophecy and the timing of prophetic events will greatly affect how you live. If you believe that the rapture of the Church is imminent, you will live accordingly. I believe that Jesus could catch us away at any moment. I believe that we are the generation that will not pass away until these things are fulfilled. While that is all fine and well, my believing that is not enough really. Do we really have any basis for such a belief? I submit to you that we do!
Much has been made of the statement of Jesus, “this generation.” The Preterist theory, as mentioned above, teaches that all of the signs of Matthew 24 have already been fulfilled. Those who hold to this view teach that all things were fulfilled prior to, and at the time of, the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. They believe this because Jesus said that this generation shall not pass until all is fulfilled. He was addressing His disciples, so they believe all of Matthew 24 has been fulfilled.
Certain predictions from Matthew 24 did come to pass in 70 AD, but certainly not all. For example,
Jerusalem was surrounded by armies, the Temple building was ultimately destroyed, not one stone was left upon another, Christians in the city fled, and there were false prophets and false christs in abundance up until the time of the destruction. However, there were also several prophecies in Jesus’ sermon that were not fulfilled in 70 AD. For example,
There was never a darkening of the sun and moon or a shaking of the powers of heaven [Matt. 24:29] during the destruction of the Temple, but there will be during the future Tribulation [Rev. 6:12].
The sign of the Son of Man in heaven never appeared in or around AD 70 [Matt. 24:30]
The Son of Man never appeared in the clouds of glory in or around AD 70 [Matt 24:30], but He will appear at the end of the future Tribulation [Rev. 1:7].
The tribes of the earth did not mourn because of Christ’s return in AD 70 [Matt. 24:30], but they will all see Him coming at His return to earth [Rev. 1:7].
One interpretation of Christ’s statement, “this generation shall not pass,” is that He was revealing parallel signs that would happen during two different time periods. One generation was the generation in the first century that witnessed the signs of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple. Another group would be a generation that would see similar signs in their time, and would not pass until they experienced the Lord’s return to earth.
There is also another school of thought on these words of our Lord. I hold to the second school. We will examine this next time.
The Weekly Word is found in Acts 2:17. Here the Bible says,
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions (divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams. [Acts 2:17 AMP.]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson