This Generation

April 1, 2013 by  
Filed under WTT Ministries Blog

This Generation

Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:34).  This verse at the ending of the Olivet Discourse has been discussed by preachers, Bible teachers, and serious theologians for nearly two millennia.  It is recorded in all three accounts in the gospels–Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30-31, and Luke 21:32-33.

I do not consider myself to be any kind of expert for I certainly know I have little understanding compared to many great Bible expositors of the past or present.  I would not disqualify the great commentaries and works of past generations for they are invaluable tools to the students of the Word.

I do, however, understand that the greatest majority of accepted commentaries were written before the Olivet Discourse began to be fulfilled.  They were all written before the prophecy of Ezekiel 37 began to be fulfilled with the returning of Israel to her land early in the last century.

Many commentaries are written with a universal church basis as well as a replacement theology view.  Not all, mind you, but most were men with a protestant heritage and these roots formed much of their theology.

For the most part they viewed this as meaning the destruction of Jerusalem, which certainly is a part of the prophecy but only one third of it.  There were three questions from the disciples that Jesus answered in what we call the Olivet Discourse.

(Check out our CD “The Olivet Discourse” in our bookstore.)

May I point out the word “all” is recorded in all three accounts of the Olivet Discourse, and I believe it means all the prophecy and not limited to the first of the three questions asked.  So the generation is not those that were present when he was giving the address or pertaining solely to the destruction of Jerusalem.

For as long as I can remember and for centuries before that, there has been the discussion of how long is a generation.  Much effort and a lot of ink have been used to prove the ideas of many a writer.   I have been guilty of this in the past as well.

Many date setters, which we are warned to avoid, have used these verses only to be foiled in the end.  The ideas are that a generation is 40 years, 70 years, others think it is 100 years, and so forth.

Too often we get dogmatic in our ideas in areas that are not made clear in the Scriptures.  When we do this, we are setting ourselves up as an authority over Scripture.  We might say this is how we view this, or this is what we believe but not be dogmatic and appear as if we know the truth, and if you do not agree, you are wrong.

With this said, let me say this is what I believe a generation is or means in this context.  When trying to understand any portion of Scripture, the first rule of interpretation is to keep it in its context.

In the context, we see a cycle of life referred to as a process that starts and continues until its fulfilled purpose.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:  So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors” (Matthew 24:32-33).

The process of producing fruit starts with the bud of the flower.  The botanist will tell you the purpose of the flower is not just for its beauty or fragrance but to produce fruit.

The generation is in reference to the completing of the cycle that began with the beginning of the reconstitution of Israel to the coming of their Messiah.

It is not a matter of counting the years but observing the signs of the process from bud to ripe fruit.  When it will be ripe, God alone knows.  Then he will come and pick it.

Let us join in obedience as was Jesus to His father.  “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4).

 

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