November 23, 2008
I greet you once again in the Name of Jesus!
We asked the question last time, what is a generation? This question is based on the words of Jesus in Matthew 24:34 where He said, 34 “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. [Matt. 24:34 NASB] It is important for us to get an understanding of what Jesus meant by “this generation.”
The person who takes the preterist position would say that the generation who was alive and standing before Jesus at the time He uttered these words was the one to which He referred, and therefore this prophetic utterance is fulfilled. I of course reject this notion. While it may seem plausible to some, it is not scripturally or historically verifiable. I hold to the futurist position, which says that although aspects of Jesus’ prophecy certainly were fulfilled in the first century, many things were not.
So then, what is a generation? There are two positions on this within the futurist school of thought. One says that Jesus’ words referred to parallel signs that would occur during two different time periods. One generation was of course the generation that would witness the destruction of the city of Jerusalem and the Holy Temple in 70 AD. The other generation would see similar signs in their time and then witness the Lord’s Return to earth.
There is a second position that I submit to you is far more likely. When Jesus said, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place to His disciples, I submit to you that was referring to the generation who saw all of the signs fulfilled. That generation will not pass. Let’s frame this picture in a modern scenario to make it a bit clearer.
A hundred years ago if a minister had told a group of Iraqis that a dictator was coming whose statue would one day be torn to the ground, the people may have asked, “When will it happen?” The minister might have said, “You will see an army surround Baghdad. It will be a time of great distress when there are wars and rumors of war. This generation will not pass until all these things are accomplished.” A casual listener might have thought he was referring to those present at the time the words were spoken. They might have thought the generation alive at that time would be alive when it happened.
In reality, the minister is saying, “The generation who sees the army surrounding Baghdad will be present to see the fall of the dictator and the statue.” Can you see that? Just as there was a generation who witnessed the Messiah’s first appearance as Isaiah’s suffering servant, there will be an end-time generation who will see the Lamb of God become the Lion of The Tribe of Judah and return as the conquering King.
I submit to you that the unique signs that occurred before the Messiah’s first appearance will be repeated before our Lord’s Return.
Murder of innocent babies (Matt. 2:16) Murder of innocent babies·
A global government (Rome) A global government is forming·
Taxation was heavy Taxation is heavy·
Strange Cosmic signs Much cosmic activity·
Warnings in dreams (Matt. 2:13) Dreams will be given (Acts 2:17)·
Major roads were built Major transportation available·
One main language (Greek) One main language (English)·
Messianic expectations were high Messianic expectations are high
One generation experienced a series of signs and prophetic fulfillments that indicated the Messiah had come. Another end-time generation will experience signs that indicate the Messiah is soon to return to set up His visible kingdom.
Based on the fulfillment of the signs, the ancient prophecies, and the amazing parallels, I believe we are the generation who will experience the Return of the Messiah. It also means that this unbelieving generation will be the one that will eventually be thrust into the final Great Tribulation of prophecy. This is a sobering thought, is it not?
I have studied and taught Bible prophecy for nearly thirty years now. One of the questions that I have been asked over and over again is, “Why hasn’t it happened yet?” Think of it, I have taught eschatology for all of these years, and yet there are people sitting in churches who have heard prophetic messages for forty, fifty, and in some cases sixty years or more, and yet still He has not returned. Why is that?
We will examine this intriguing and important question next time.
The Weekly Word is found in Daniel 8:23. Here the Bible says,
23″In the latter period of their rule,
When the transgressors have run their course,
A king will arise,
Insolent and skilled in intrigue. [Dan. 8:23 NASB]
Until next time, this is THE WEEKLY WORD.
Pastor Kevin E. Johnson