“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away before all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Mark 13:30
“Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away till all has taken place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.” Luke 21:32
When Messiah says this generation, He is speaking to the men who are standing in front of Him. The term, “this generation” is first used in the Seven Woes of Chapter 23, where the reasons for this judgment on the Jews were given. It is a judgment given to the Jewish nation for not keeping the vows they made at Sinai.
And all the people answered together and said, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” And Moses reported the words of the people to the LORD. Ex. 19:8
Messiah had explained in chapter 23 that all the sins of those who came before this generation, the loading of burden on the people and the rejecting of the prophets, was to bring judgement on that last generation of those that lived between His words spoken in c.29AD, beginning with the fall of Judea (67AD) and the ultimate destruction of the temple in 70AD.
Matt. 23:36 Truly, I say to you, all this will come upon this generation.
Matt. 26:64 Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”
Some of the disciples were to live to see the close of this age. [John 21:21-24]
When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? Follow me!” The saying spread abroad among the brethren that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” This is the disciple who is bearing witness to these things, and who has written these things; and we know that his testimony is true. John 21:21-24
This was also to be seen within the lifetime of the current Sanhedrin. [Matt 26:64]
But Jesus was silent. And the high priest said to him, “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so. But I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of man seated at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Matt. 26:63, 64
There is absolutely no grammatical reason to assume that He is addressing a group of Christians 2000 years in the future. There is no other generation historically present at the time of this prophecy.
Messiah was purposefully electing that this prophecy would take place within one generation of 40 years. We find in the Old Testament that 40 years is a time of cleansing, removing iniquity and faithlessness before a new generation arrives.
33 And your children shall be shepherds in the wilderness forty years, and shall suffer for your faithlessness, until the last of your dead bodies lies in the wilderness. 34 According to the number of the days in which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day a year, you shall bear your iniquity, forty years, and you shall know my displeasure.’ Num. 14:33-34
And the LORD’s anger was kindled 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 consumed. Num. 32:13
This period of 40 years of trial is a common theme in Scripture. It is a period of cutting off of those who do not belong in the Kingdom of God. At this juncture in Matthew 24, the Lord is telling everyone that the evil leaders of Israel will perish for their iniquities and refusing to believe in Him. The Jews who followed the ruling Elders of Israel, instead of Messiah, will be given 40 years to turn to Messiah. The new kingdom would be a kingdom of His own choosing.
And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not. Deut. 8:2
For the people of Israel walked forty years in the wilderness, till all the nation, the men of war that came forth out of Egypt, perished, because they did not hearken to the voice of the LORD; to them the LORD swore that he would not let them see the land which the LORD had sworn to their fathers to give us, a land flowing with milk and honey. Josh. 5:6
For forty years I loathed that generation and said, “They are a people who err in heart, and they do not regard my ways.” Psa. 95:10
So, for a generation after Messiah’s prophecy, believers would be at the ready to leave the countryside and the city in a moments notice. They would be looking for an army marching through Judea on their way to Jerusalem.
“So when you see the desolating sacrilege spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains; let him who is on the housetop not go down to take what is in his house; and let him who is in the field not turn back to take his mantle. And alas for those who are with child and for those who give suck in those days! Pray that your flight may not be in winter or on a sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been shortened, no human being would be saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened. Matt. 24:15-22
The end of the 40 years of testing the obedience of the Jews would usher in the Roman Army and its destruction of the city and the temple. The new kingdom would begin.
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