“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near; at the doors! 34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. –
As we have previously seen in our studies, the disciple’s viewed the destruction of the temple, the parousia of Christ, and the end of the age as events that would happen at the same time,”.
The disciples question was basically two fold; when will these things happen, and what signs will indicate that they are about to happen? In verses 4-51, Jesus answers their questions.
Please keep this in mind as you read Matthew 24, the Lord is answering His disciple’s questions. His response had to do with the discourse that flowed from Matthew 21. The theme of judgment was so obvious that the implications on the leadership of the Jewish temple would be earth-shaking.
Jesus told them a number of things that would happen before the end came; the gospel would be preached to all the world, they would see the “abomination of desolation” that Daniel had spoken of (Luke tells us that this refers to the Roman armies surrounding Jerusalem). There would come a time of great tribulation. Then immediately after the tribulation, they would see the Son of man come in the clouds of heaven. This coming which we have seen is related an immediate judgment upon that old covenant age.
Now to put things in perspective he then says:
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 33 “So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near; at the doors! 34 “Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. – Matthew 24:32-34,
This is how Luke puts it.
Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. 30 “When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. – Luke 21:29-30
The way Jesus puts it, it can be any simpler than this. When you see the leaves on the tree begin to come out then you know that summer is near. In order words He is when you see the things come to pass that I have been talking about, which includes the gospel preached to all the world, the abomination of desolation, the great tribulation, and the Son of man come in the clouds of heaven then you know that the end is near. This was end that they were enquiring about.
This state of imminence would be an indicator through the unfolding of events. The interplay of events was the knock on the door. This is James used this same illustration of “standing at the door” to speak of the nearness of the Lord’s return.
“Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8 You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the COMING OF THE LORD IS AT HAND. 9 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned. Behold, the JUDGE IS STANDING AT THE DOOR! 33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near; at the doors! – James 5:7-9, 33,
Luke’s account makes it very plain for the reader to understand
“So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. – Luke 21:31
Then comes the clincher in our text in Matthew 24:33. This is where everything is tied up together. Once we see this we would realize that this prophecy was to be fulfilled in a certain point in time. The result of this prophecy would be the full manifestation of the kingdom that would come in power and glory at 70 AD.
“Assuredly, I say to you, THIS GENERATION will by no means pass away till ALL these things take place.” – Matthew 24:34
In very clear and plain terms Jesus tells His disciples that ALL of the things He had mentioned would come to pass in THAT GENERATION. Based the context, you will this includes the gospel being preached in all the world, the abomination of desolation, the great tribulation and His Second Coming.
It is very clear from the passage that the word “generation,” simply refers to His contemporaries, the Jewish people of His own period.
At this point it would be good for us to see the uses of “generation” still in the same context.
“that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 “Assuredly, I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation” – Matthew 23:35-36
Jesus is in the temple speaking to the Jews, he says that all the judgement that he had spoken about would come upon them. This also is very clear.
“For as the lightning that flashes out of one part under heaven shines to the other part under heaven, so also the Son of Man will be in His day. 25 “But first He must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation. – Luke 17:24-25
Also it is a no brainer here. No other generation did Christ suffer many things from, and was rejected other than the Jews of his day.
So how long is a generation?
Most Bible scholars and commentators agree that a generation as refers to a thirty to forty year time. The book of Matthew is one I consider closest to defining the length.
So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations, from David until the captivity in Babylon are fourteen generations, and from the captivity in Babylon until the Christ are fourteen generations. – Matthew 1:17
If look at the genealogical table as given by Matthew, we will see the estimate the length of a generation. We see that from the captivity in Babylon until Christ are fourteen generations. According to bible history the date of the captivity, in the reign of Zedekiah, is said to be 586 BC. From 586 BC until the birth of Christ would be about 586 years. If you divide that time period by fourteen, it gives you an average length of a generation to be about 41 years.
The children of Israel wondered in the wilderness for forty years before entering the promise land. A generation could not go in.
Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, In the day of trial in the wilderness, 9 Where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years. 10 Therefore I was angry with that generation, And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, And they have not known My ways.’ – Hebrews 3:8-10,
“So the Lord’s anger was aroused against Israel, and He made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation that had done evil in the sight of the LORD was gone.” – Numbers 32:13
If we look closely we will see that forty years is a significant number in the Bible. This type of shadow of Israel entering the promised is also antityped in the New Testament. The early church also were in a transition period for forty years before entering the New Jerusalem, which is above.
There are some who also argued that the word generation in Matthew 24 means race. They proclaim that Jesus was saying that the Jewish race would not die out until all these things took place. On the contrary that is not the proper interpretation from the Original greek.
If you look up every New Testament occurrence in any concordance of the word generation (in Greek, genea) you will never see it that means ‘race’ in any other context. Neither does it refer to the entire Jewish race over time into the future.
It always refers to contemporaries. All that Jesus said would happen would be experienced by his contemporaries, those living at that time.
“For the Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works. 28 “Assuredly, I say to you, there are some standing here who shall not taste death till they see the Son of Man coming in His kingdom.” – Matthew 16:27-28
“When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of Man comes. – Matthew 10:23
There are many who seek a way out rather explaining what these verses mean in their simplicity. Some would ask you “Do you mean that Jesus already came back in that generation?” when the real question is this “Do you think that Jesus would lie telling that he would be back while that first century church was preaching the gospel then”
When Jesus said “all these things” would occur before that generation was over, He was talking about everything that He had been discussing from verse 4 through verse 33. This included the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in power and glory. He confirms to them it will happen in their generation.
DOES THE JEWISH NATION SUGGEST ANYTHING TODAY?
I want to state something that might surprise some but it is to give you the opportunity to do your own research. The events of ad70 was about the end of that Jewish age. The result over that time confirms that THERE IS NO JEWISH RACE TODAY. They were scattered all over the earth and have lost all tribal relations. Due to the fact that all tribal genealogical records were destroyed with the Temple in A.D. 70 it is impossible to establish a pure Jewish race today.
David Curtis in his studies about understanding “The Generation” of Matthew 24 gave the following quotations to establish the fact the there are no Jewish race today:
The Encyclopedia Brittanica (1973)
“The Jews As A Race: The findings of physical anthropology show that, contrary to the popular view, there is no Jewish race. Anthropornetric measurements of Jewish groups in many parts of the world indicate that they differ greatly from one another with respect to all the important physical characteristics.” (vol. 12, page 1054)
Encyclopedia Judaica Jerusalem (1971)
“It is a common assumption, and one that sometimes seems ineradicable even in the face of evidence to the contrary, that the Jews of today constitute a race, a homogeneous entity easily recognizable. From the preceding discussion of the origin and early history of the Jews, it should be clear that in the course of their formation as a people and a nation they had already assimilated a variety of racial strains from people moving into the general area they occupied. This had taken place by interbreeding and then by conversion to Judaism of a considerable number of communities. . . .”
“Thus, the diversity of the racial and genetic attributes of various Jewish colonies of today renders any unified racial classification of them a contradiction in terms. Despite this, many people readily accept the notion that they are a distinct race. This is probably reinforced by the fact that some Jews are recognizably different in appearance from the surrounding population. That many cannot be easily identified is overlooked and the stereotype for some is extended to all – a not uncommon phenomenon” (Encyclopedia Judaica Jerusalem, 1971, vol. 3, p. 50).
Encyclopedia Americana (1986)
“Racial and Ethnic Considerations. Some theorists have considered the Jews a distinct race, although this has no factual basis. In every country in which the Jews lived for a considerable time, their physical traits came to approximate those of the indigenous people. Hence the Jews belong to several distinct racial types, ranging, for example, from fair to dark. Among the reasons for this phenomenon are voluntary or involuntary miscegenation and the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism” (Encyclopedia Americana, 1986, vol. 16, p. 71).
John Bray said, “Many Christians do not know that the vast majority of so-called Jews in the world today are the Ashkenazim Jews, while the remainder of them are the Sephardim Jews. The Ashkenazim Jews have as their background not the nation of Israel but a country called Khazaria, which country at one time was the largest country in Europe. The settlers of Khazaria were Turks and Huns. In A.D. 740 King Bulan of Khazaria decided to adopt the Judaistic religion for his country. A number of Jews were already living there. So he converted to Judaism, along with all his officials, and whole nation ended up being known as a nation of Jews. In 970 Russia came in and dominated the situation, and the Khazars were scattered, many of them going down into Poland and Lithuania. Where at the dawn of our modern civilization the largest concentration of Jews were found. Today, the largest percentage of so-called Jews in the world have as their background this group of people.” (This information is fully documented in detail in John Bray’s book, Israel in Bible Prophecy)
Matthew 24 was a prophecy that has already been fulfilled, and therefore, has no double fulfillment in the future. God is not preparing to kill billions of Jews in the future. This avoidable tragedy happened in the generation that heard Jesus speak these words. Just like most of Jews fell beyind in entering the promised land so also many of them did not enter the kingdom at the demise of that old covenant age.
Relax and don’t give in to false prophecies counting the birth of the nation of Israel as an indicator of coming doom on global scale. The kingdom is here and will shine forth in glory and power over time and people by the power of His grace.