“This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled” (Luke 21:32).
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We believe that the generation of people now living will see the return of Jesus Christ to the earth. At his return a whole series of events will take place, which will finally result in the Kingdom of God established on the earth.
The more complete quote from the above Ad is given by Christ:
Luke 21:29 ¶ And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees;30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. 33 Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away.
Here the fig tree that Jesus was referring to was the nation of Israel. It was reestablished again as a nation in 1948 after over 2000 years of desolation. Many other nations (trees) also shot forth at that same general time, including Jordan etc.
Another important quote that is of significance is given by Christ in the same Chapter:
Luke 21:24 “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
The Jews took control over Jerusalem in 1967 after the Six Day War. This was another clear sign that the time of the Gentiles was coming to an end, and the time for the Kingdom of God to be established. The more complete quote is:
Luke 21:24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. 25 And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; 26 Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27 And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh.
Christ first spoke of the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD by the Roman general Titus. The Jews fell by the edge of the sword and were carried away into the nations in their Diaspora for the next 2 millennium. This time period ended in 1967. It is also interesting to note that at this same time the earth would see the distress of nations with perplexity – they are perplexed as to how to solve the problems of the earth. This is particularly true of the Mid-East area including Jerusalem. The sea and the waves roaring are symbolical terms referring to the turmoil of the people. For example Rev 17:15 says, “The waters which thou sawest, … are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.”
We of course realize that Christ also said:
Mr 13:32 “But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.”
Not knowing the day nor the hour does not mean that one can not discern the generation. In addition we must note that Christ made this statement before his death and resurrection. God gave him another more complete revelation which he gave to John in the isle of Patmos.
Revelation 1:1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John.”
Thus the book of Revelations was given to show things future to 96 AD when the Revelation was given, and given in sign (signified) to the apostle John specifically for the “servants” of God.
There are many other interesting and significant things that we could look at that shows that Jesus Christ will return in this generation. Let us consider just one more. If we follow the ages and genealogies back to Adam it takes us to roughly 4000 BC. Since we live just after 2000 AD this completes roughly 6000 years since Adam and Eve. God rested on the seventh day, and since a thousand years with God is as one day (2 Peter 3:8) in the seventh thousand millennium will be a day of rest for God.
Our calendar of course in not completely accurate, but still this gives us another clear indication that we are living around the beginning of the seventh thousand millennium and when Jesus Christ will return.
“There shall be . . . upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory” (Luke 21:25-27).
The reference to the sea and waves roaring, like others to signs in the sun, moon and stars, may be either symbolic or literal or some combination of both. The prophet Isaiah, for example, wrote about the wicked being “like the troubled sea, when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt” (57:20). Jesus may have been drawing upon such imagery to describe a world that was full of trouble because it was full of wickedness. He may also have been teaching us to look out for some upheaval of the physical order, like tidal waves, which would also be an indication of the end of the age. Certainly there have been many earthquakes and natural disasters over the past few years, all over the world. The apostle Paul described the whole world order as groaning and travailing in pain (Romans 8:22), like a woman waiting to be delivered of a child. It is thus evident that our present troubles are the birthpangs of a new and better world, soon to begin.
In both Testaments we are told that the tribulation that will come at the end of human government is the final herald of the Second Coming. It will be:
“a time of trouble such as never was” (Daniel 12:1);
“the time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) trouble” (Jeremiah 30:7);
“great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21).
Will the believers waiting for their Lord have to suffer this trouble, or will they be spared? The likelihood is that present-day believers will live through this time of trouble, indeed that they have already begun to do so. Jesus promised that for the elect’s sake that time would be shortened (Mark 13:20). But those who finally stand approved before the Judge are those “which came out of the great tribulation, and they washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Revelation 7:14).
As that trouble increases, and God pours out His wrath upon the earth, there are indications that true believers will be sheltered from that outpouring. Isaiah describes the great shake-up of human society when God intervenes:
“Come, my people, enter into thy chambers. . . hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity” (24:18-23, 26:20,21).
We must therefore consider carefully what Jesus said:
“When these things (the signs of which he spoke) begin to come to pass, then look up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28).
We should not wait until total disaster has struck, and there is no escape route left. It is better to learn the lesson now, that this is the time immediately before the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Nation of Sign
There is one great sign which removes all doubt concerning his imminent return. The nation of Israel is back occupying the land promised by God. The history of the Jewish nation has been a guide throughout the ages to the outworking of God’s purposes. They were called as a special people, because of the great promises that had been made to their Fathers. They were given the right to occupy the land we now know as Israel, conditional upon their faithful obedience to God. They were the people whose kings occupied the throne of God’s Kingdom on earth.
They forfeited these rights when, after centuries of indifference, they not only refused to accept the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, but were involved, with the Romans, in effecting his death by crucifixion. Because of that rejection, Jerusalem was overthrown. Throughout the intervening centuries Jews have wandered the earth as a stateless people, hated and persecuted almost everywhere they went, just as Scripture said they would be.
But Scripture also forecast a better future for this nation of sign, not because they would change their behavior and live to deserve better treatment, but because God would take pity on their plight and act to redeem them. He would remember the promises made of old to the Fathers and act to vindicate His great name. At the time of the end they would be brought back from the nations and once more be settled in their own land-the land of promise! So the prophets said:
|ISAIAH:||“The remnant shall return . . the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion” (10:21; 35:10).|
|JEREMIAH:||“He that scattered Israel will gather him” (31:10).|
|EZEKIEL:||“I will even gather you from the people, and assemble you out of the countries . . . then shall they dwell in their land . . . yea, they shall dwell with confidence” (11:17; 28:25,26).|
|ZECHARIAH:||“I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem” (8:8).|
And so it came to pass. After nearly two thousand years of dispersion and down-treading, in 1948 the State of Israel was born by the decree of the United Nations, and in 1 967 the whole of Jerusalem was repossessed by Jews. It had taken all that time for the words of Jesus to be fulfilled:
“They shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled” (Luke 21:24).
Everything now indicates that the Times of the Gentiles are rapidly drawing to a close and the Time of the Kingdom of God is once more at hand. The bringing together of troublous times and the return of the Jews to the Land removes any doubt. Shortly King Jesus will return to Jerusalem as World Ruler, to reign over Israel and over all nations. Of all the available Signs of the Times given by Jesus and the prophets, the establishment of Israel-the Nation of Sign-is the clearest witness that the End is now at hand.
What then awaits the faithful follower of Jesus? Can he expect to go to heaven with the Lord at his Return? Hardly, for the Lord is coming to reign on earth, from Jerusalem. An elaborate scheme has been devised by some Bible readers which requires not one Coming but two. According to this, Christ’s Coming would be first for the Church only and would be a secret “rapture”. He would come again with the Church, for the world, and this would be visible and public. In some versions of this theory the interval between the two comings is very small; in others as much as seven years is thought to separate the two events.
There is very little Scripture that can be used to attempt to support these theories, for whilst there are some indications that a separation will occur between companions when Jesus comes (Luke 17:34-36), the main teaching about the circumstances of the Return is that given in Paul’s First Letter to the Thessalonians:
“The Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (4:16,17).
The phrase caught up is that from which the whole idea of a rapture has evolved; and the links with a supposed seven year period of tribulation have been achieved by the unsatisfactory interpretation of other Scriptures, especially from the Revelation. Clearly there is to be a catching away of true believers, both of the living and the resurrected dead, “to meet the Lord in the air”. They are to form a welcoming party who, with the angels who attend his coming, will make up his entourage. But they go to meet him, not he them. And their destination is made clear in the Scriptures already considered: the Lord and his followers are bound for Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:4), “the city of the great king” (Matthew 5:35).
The Lord will come!
In these dying moments of human government, the powers of heaven will be shaken as men’s hearts fail them for fear. The nations will be engaged in a battle around Jerusalem. Then the Lord will come! Unexpectedly, suddenly, in great power and glory, bringing salvation for those who have faithfully waited and prepared for this central event in their lives; but bringing judgement upon all those who have wilfully ignored the faithful promises and gracious invitation of God:
“The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power: when he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe” (2 Thessalonians 1:9,10).
It is vital therefore that we believe what the Bible so clearly promises. We cannot simply “wait and see”, because Jesus is coming to save those who already believe, not to give reasons for faith to those who have had clear evidence, but no inclination for the things of God.
When the Lord spoke to his followers about his eventual return to earth, he focused their attention more on the consequences of his Coming than on the sequence of events itself. To this day we cannot know for sure when Jesus will come. But we know perfectly clearly that when he comes he will call us to account, and ask us how we spent our lives on the eve of his return:
“Take heed . . . be not led astray . . . be not troubled . . . take heed to yourselves . . . preach the gospel . . . be not anxious . . . endure to the end . . . flee . . . pray . . . believe not false prophets . . . take heed . . . look up and lift up your heads . . . take heed to yourselves . . . watch . . . BE READY” (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21).
The apostles make the very same points as they reflect on the nearness of the Lord’s Return.
“What manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness . . . be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless” (2 Peter 3:11-14).
“Denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:12,13).
“When he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. And every man who has this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure” (1 John 3:2,3).
Take Heed to Yourselves
The Bible is our guidebook to the future, just as it is our handbook for the present. It alone will show us what God wants us to do. From it we can learn God’s purpose and promises. The first thing is to understand and believe those things that are true. We shall then come to appreciate the need for obedience to God, starting with baptism. And thus we shall be doing what Jesus commanded.
The coming Kingdom of God on earth will transform human experience. We need to learn to live now in harmony with our Creator. The Lord is at hand! It is now an urgent matter for us all to examine our lives, so that we are properly prepared for the Coming of the King.
— TECWYN MORGAN