When I was a little girl, my grandmother told me that the "end of days"/ apocalypse/return of Jesus was predicted *eyeroll*. She said that somewhere in the bible it says that the end of days will occur before the generation that saw "Israel become a nation" dies. Where in the world did she reference that from?
Post by Mike Miller on Jan 11, 2021 17:10:16 GMT -5
The Bible never says that. However, there is one verse that has been grossly distorted by some in order to claim such a belief. The verse in question is Matthew 24:34, where Jesus says, "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."
Now, you might read that verse and wonder how anyone arrived at that interpretation. Me too. But let me go ahead and explain the verse. Then I'll explain the mathematical and interpretive gymnastics that have been employed in order to see the verse as applying to a modern day context.
At the beginning of Matthew 24, Jesus is teaching that the temple in Jerusalem would be destroyed. The disciples then asked Him when that would take place and when Jesus would return at the end of the age. They asked two questions--one about the fall of Jerusalem, and one about the end times. Now, it seems that the disciples conflated the two events, thinking that the fall of Jerusalem would coincide with the Second Coming. However, Jesus did not see it that way. So, He explains that the events surrounding the fall of Jerusalem, including the destruction of the temple, would happen in their generation. And indeed it did happen in 70 A.D. But then Jesus said in verse 36, "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only." In other words, "these things," meaning the fall of Jerusalem, would happen before the generation alive at that time passed away. But "that day," meaning a future day when Jesus would return, was unknown and would be a surprise.
Unfortunately, many have conflated the two events as the disciples of Jesus did, assuming that Jesus would return before "this generation" passed. "But wait a minute," you say. "That generation died a long time ago." Yes. That's why the creative interpretation. In the 1800s, a man named John Nelson Darby formulated an entirely new theological system we call Dispensationalism. One small part of this novel approach was what he called a "great parenthesis" in history, meaning that everything was paused in the days of Jesus until some future date when everything would pick up again. Therefore, the generation of which Jesus spoke could be some future generation. The issue now is when that generation appears.
So along came a man named Hal Lindsey, who wrote a book in 1970 called The Late Great Planet Earth. This book became an instant bestseller and was tremendously influential in shaping the thinking of Christians regarding the end times (the groundwork had been laid by Darby and a man named C. I. Scofield). Lindsey taught that the generation to which Jesus referred was actually the generation alive in 1948 when the UN recognized Israel's independence. He also taught that a generation was a period of 40 years. Hmmm. Wouldn't that mean that Jesus would have returned by 1988? A lot of people thought so. One guy even wrote a book called 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988.
But when 1988 came and went, Lindsey had to rethink things. So in 1990 he started teaching that the pivotal year wasn't 1948 at all. It was 1967, the year Jerusalem was recaptured. Whew! That gave him until 2007 to be proven wrong . . . which he was. That's when he unilaterally decided that a generation could be as long as 100 years! Problem solved. He now has until 2067. He'll be dead by then (he's 91 now).
In summary, the Bible does not teach that the return of Jesus will happen before the generation alive in 1948 (or 1967) will die. The only way that conclusion can be reached is if one rejects the plain sense meaning of the Bible and accepted principles of interpretation.