Matthew 24:34-35 (This Generation Will Not Pass Away Until All These Things Take Place)

Recall that in response to Jesus’ prediction that the temple would be utterly destroyed, His disciples had asked “when will these things happen?” (Mat 24:3).  What does Jesus say in Mat 24:34 in answer to this question?  What event whose significance cannot be overstated happened within a generation of 40 years that can be understood as a literal fulfillment of His words in Mat 24:34?  What then does the plain reading of this verse teach us about the primary fulfillment of the events described in Matthew 24?  In this light, what is the significance that Jesus said all these things would take place before that generation passed away?  I.e., should we believe that some things did not actually take place, such as the powers of the heavens being shaken, the sign of the Son of Man shining in the heavens, the tribes of the earth mourning as they saw the Son of Man coming on the clouds with power and great glory, and Jesus sending forth His angels with a great trumpet to gather into His kingdom from the four winds choice subjects (Mat 24:29-31)?  Or should we understand that the spiritual language Jesus has used in Matthew 24 describes spiritual realities that were in fact fulfilled exactly according to His word within the generation He predicted?  In what way is this similar to the fulfilment of the promises God first made to Israel about delivering them from their bondage in Egypt and giving them the land of promise that He had sworn to their fathers?  See Jos 21:43-45.  Shall we then necessarily suppose that the events Jesus predicted in Mat 24 have not yet happened so that we should expect some future fulfillment that is different from what has already happened—a fulfillment that better meets our expectations?  Or is it possible that the fulfillment we are expecting is mistaken, as it was for so many who saw their primary fulfillment?

On the other hand, although there was a primary literal fulfillment within a generation of the events Jesus has described in the Olivet Discourse, does that mean that His words here have no further meaning beyond what has already happened, any more than God’s words to Israel had no further meaning beyond a physical land of promise?  See Mat 24:35 and consider that the book of Revelation that was written after the primary fulfillment of Christ’s words spoken here in Mat 24 clearly indicates that this is so.  In this sense, what generation will not pass away until the final fulfillment of all the things Christ has spoken?  See Mat 12:39, 16:4, 17:17, Mar 8:38, Act 2:40, Phil 2:15.  But again, while we expect some future and even greater fulfillment of Christ’s words spoken in Mat 24, as the prophetic word is sure throughout all generations, should we expect that its fulfillment in any generation, including our own, or its final fulfillment will somehow be different than it was in its primary fulfillment?  What words of Jesus in Mat 24:35 indicate that there will be a final fulfillment and consummation not only to the prophetic narrative in Matthew 24 but to all of Scripture?  Cf. 2Pe 3:7,10,13, Rev 21:1.

As the feasts of Passover at which Christ was crucified and First fruits when He was resurrected occur in the spring and indicate that summer and its season of growth is near, what season does the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of the growing season when the crops have been gathered in and the days are growing short indicate is near?  In what way did the destruction of the Jewish nation within a generation mark an end to their summer and an approaching winter in regard to the harvest of Jews into God’s kingdom?  Cf. Jer 8:13, Mat 21:19,40-41, 22:2-7.  Over the past almost 2000 years we have seen a harvest of Gentiles come into God’s kingdom; what signs do we see that perhaps the times of the Gentiles have been fulfilled and that their fullness has come in so that the time of their harvest is coming to an end and the days are growing short?  See Luk 21:24, Rom 11:25, 2Th 2:3, 2Ti 3:1-5.  What do such signs portend about an end to summer and the approaching season for the Gentiles?  Why should that be of concern to us?  Cf. Mar 13:18 and think: after summer has ended, the harvest has been gathered in, and the doors to the Lord’s barn have been shut, will there be any more opportunity to enter into His kingdom as a part of His harvest?  See Mat 25:10, Luk 13:23-25, and again 2Co 6:1-2.  Is it possible that as the Jews experienced a long winter of hardened hearts against the gospel of their true salvation after rejecting Christ as their Messiah, a similar winter awaits those Gentiles who have now done the same?  Consider that the culture of our western civilization, which was hugely influenced and shaped by the gospel is now described as post-Christian, having been replaced by modern, and now post-modern culture.  What does this remind us about the danger of hardening our hearts against the truth?  Cf. Heb 3:7-8,15, 4:7.

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