Loading...
Larger font
Smaller font
Copy
Print
Contents
  • Results
  • Related
  • Featured
No results found for: "undefined".
  • Weighted Relevancy
  • Content Sequence
  • Relevancy
  • Earliest First
  • Latest First
    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents

    “THIS GENERATION”

    Different views are taken of the Saviour’s words in Matthew 24:34, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” One is, that the generation means the race, or Jewish people. This we consider a forced construction. It seems to be as unnecessary as it is unnatural. And it leaves everything indefinite where every declaration of the context tends to definiteness. It adds nothing whatever to the force of the general statement of the chapter.EMTF 65.2

    Another is, that the individuals then present, or the generation living at that time, would continue till all these things were fulfilled. This has far more appearance of plausibility than the other theory. It might well be considered the truth were there no opposing considerations. But opposing considerations exist, which are not only weighty, but, we think, insurmountable. This view is not necessary, because another and more reasonable one can be presented. The facts and reasons which we have set forth do tender our conclusion necessary, namely, that the chapter speaks of a personal, literal coming of the Saviour, which has not yet taken place. We have no idea that these facts will ever be met, and these reasoning refuted.EMTF 65.3

    Another view, which we hold to be the true one, is that the language is prophetic, and uses the present for the future, as is common in the prophecies Isaiah 9 speaks of the birth of the Messiah as already having taken place, and chapter 53 in like manner speaks of his sufferings and death as being then in the past, more than half a millennium before he appeared on earth. If these prophecies were treated as Universalists and others of late years treat Matthew 24, the evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus would be entirely destroyed. Yet Matthew 24 is as certainly a prophecy as Isaiah 9 and 53.EMTF 66.1

    Compare the language of our Saviour with that of Paul, who, in speaking to the Corinthian church, said, “We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,” or translated, at the sound of the last trump. The pronoun “we” naturally refers to the speaker and those to whom he speaks. But the trumpet has not yet sounded, the resurrection has not yet come, the translation of the living righteous to immortality without their seeing death has not yet taken place, and Paul and the church of Corinth have all fallen asleep. But Paul’s brethren have not. Paul was speaking by prophecy as surely as was Isaiah in chapter 9, when he said, “Unto, us a son is given.” When Isaiah uses language which refers so directly and unmistakably to those then living, as taken according to the natural application of the terms, why do all so readily apply it to a generation centuries then in the future? It is only because the facts compel us to recognize this usage in the prophecies. So the words of Paul can refer only to the last age of the church, to those of his brethren who shall be living when Christ comes, who shall be saved from death, and translated into the kingdom of God’s dear Son.EMTF 66.2

    And so also in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Here he says:—EMTF 67.1

    “We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent [go before] them which are asleep.” He explains what he means by those who are asleep, for he says, “The dead in Christ shall rise.” Universalists uniformly refer the resurrection to a moral change, to a rising or passing from moral or spiritual death. But to speak of those who are morally or spiritually dead in Christ is to use language very, strange and inappropriate. The Scriptures plainly teach that they who have fallen asleep in faith, who have died in Christ, shall have part in the first resurrection, which will take place when Christ comes.EMTF 67.2

    Of Paul and his brethren in Thessalonica we can say, as we said of those in Corinth, They, are not alive, they do not remain; “the day of the Lord has not yet come, for the ‘day of salvation’ still continues;” the voice of the archangel has not been heard; the saints have not risen from the dead, and the living: saints have not been caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air; and worldlings and worldly-minded professors still cry, “Peace and safety.” As Paul spoke here also by the spirit of prophecy, to some of his brethren all these words will be fulfilled; not one word will fail.EMTF 67.3

    And so of the words of the Saviour. Having carried the minds of the disciples forward to the signs in the sun, moon, and stars, he said, “When ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” Will anyone pretend that these things there referred to were then present?—By no means. But do not these things refer to things in the presence of the speaker?—Not necessarily. But “this generation and “these things” belong together, for “this generation shall see “these things” (see verse 34), though all were then in the future. And when these things are fulfilled, this generation to which these things are present facts, will not pass till all be fulfilled, even to the coming of the Son of man. It is a solemn to contemplate, yet we firmly believe it is truth, the signs have been fulfilled, and that the generation which saw the wonderful shower of falling stars in 1833, the last of the signs, will not pass away till the Lord himself shall descend from heaven.EMTF 68.1

    On the term “this generation,” we might have noticed the parallels to this in the Scriptures, to justify our conclusion. We will yet notice one, and use the language of E. B. Elliott, A. M.:—EMTF 68.2

    “Our Lord might mean by ‘this generation’ the generation of the time he was then speaking of, just as in Luke 17:34, where, speaking of the time of the second coming, he says, ‘On this night shall two be in one bed; one shall be taken,’ etc., meaning thereby the slight of his coming, and so rendered in our English version ‘in that night.”EMTF 68.3

    There is the most perfect harmony between the teachings of the book of Revelation and the view we have presented of Matthew 24. We refer especially to the seals of chapters 5 to 8. In the first eleven chapters of Revelation there are three series of seven, which cover the entire gospel dispensation. Chapters 2 and 3 contain the letters to the churches. These embrace a history of the church of God from the first century to the coming of the Son of man to gather his people into his kingdom. The seven trumpets of chapters 8 to 11 cover about the same period of time but give a history of the nations of the earth in their conflicts with one another. The seven seals of chapters 5 to 8 are intermediate between the other series; giving a history of neither the church nor the nations separately, but a history of the church in its experiences and conflicts with the wicked nations of the earth. All these end together at the judgment, or the introduction of the day of wrath, unless it be that the last trumpet, the third woe, may be considered to prevail upon the earth after the saints are caught up to meet the Lord in the air. That they all reach the coming day of reward and retribution there can be no reasonable question.EMTF 69.1

    In chapter 6, the signs in the sun, moon, and stars are placed under the sixth seal, which reaches to the end of time, as the seventh seal barely announces a single fact connected with the ushering in of the advent of the Lord. The harmony of this with our location of the signs in Matthew 24, is at once apparent. In Revelation 6, after the darkening of the sun and moon and the failing of the stars, the record says the heavens departed as a scroll when it is rolled together, and the nations of the earth vainly endeavored to hide themselves from the wrath of the Lamb, for the day of his wrath has come. In Matthew 24, exactly the same facts and the same order are given. The sun and moon are darkened, the stars fall, and the powers of heaven are shaken, and then the tribes of the earth mourn, because they see not only the sign of the Son of man in heaven, but they see the Son of man himself coming in the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. They mourn because, as John says, the great day of his wrath is come.EMTF 69.2

    Paul also says in 2 Thessalonians 1 that he shall come to take vengeance on them that know not God, obey not the gospel. But the Lamb does not take vengeance in his hands until his advocacy and intercession for sinners cease. At the time spoken of by these prophecies, his intercession for sinners will have ceased, for “the great day of his wrath” will have come. Not one of them will call for mercy, for will then be made to realize that their probation is ended, and the time for the offer of mercy to them is past. They then only seek to be hid from his terrible presence. And in Revelation 14, after the warning of the third angel is given, the Son of man appear, and the harvest of the earth is reaped, and the wicked gathered as tares to be burned (Matthew 13), or as the clusters of “the vine of the earth,” to be cast into the wine-press of the wrath of God. Can anyone say this is in the past, and yet profess to maintain respect for the Bible as a revelation?EMTF 70.1

    The ordinance of the Lord’s Supper, a commemorative institution of the gospel, is a witness to the doctrine of the future coming of the Lord. In “the great commission,” Jesus told his disciples that he would be with them in the preaching of the gospel, and the practice of its ordinances, until the end of the world, or age,—the gospel age. But Paul says that in the celebration of the Lord’s Supper, we do show forth the Lord’s death till he come. When the Lord instituted the supper, he pointed their minds forward to his coming and kingdom, and said he would not thenceforth drink of the fruit of the vine till he drank it new with them in his kingdom. If Christ came at the destruction of Jerusalem, it is remarkable that, of all the apostles and servants of God, no one has yet found out that the ordinances of the gospel have been obsolete since the year A. D. 70! And if that be so the commission of the gospel, the authorized preaching of the gospel to every creature, also expired in A. D. 70. And thus by logical sequence we have the blessings as well as the curses, the promises and the threatenings, all confined to that generation which lived in the time of the Saviour! Some may be willing to risk this conclusion in order to save their premises, but we shall take no part with them. To us the coming of the Lord is still “that blessed hope;” to meet our friends in the resurrection still comforts our hearts while we sorrow for them that sleep in Jesus. And still we pray, “Come, Lord Jesus.” Revelation 22:20.EMTF 71.1

    A striking point of similarity between Matthew 24 and those parts of the book of Revelation which refer to the closing scenes of this dispensation, is that which refers to the working of miracles to deceive. These are the words of the Saviour:—EMTF 71.2

    “Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” Matthew 24:23, 24.EMTF 72.1

    In Revelation 13:11-17 is a prophecy of these wonders, wrought by a certain power called the beast, with two horns like a lamb, by means of which he deceives the world, and fastens upon the people a system of false worship. Against this work of deception and falsehood, God causes a warning to be proclaimed, which is found in chapter 14:9-12; and this warning is given just before the Son of man appears to reap the harvest of the earth, which takes place at the end of this dispensation. See Matthew 13:38, 39 and Joel 3:9-15.EMTF 72.2

    These miracles are again shown at the very conclusion of their work, in Revelation 16:12-14. Here also is shown the object of the deception which is wrought by “the spirits of devils working miracles.” It is to gather the kings and the people of the earth to the battle of the great day of God Almighty. And at this point of time the Saviour says, “Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth.”EMTF 72.3

    The “great day of God” mentioned in this text is that “day of the Lord,” “day of his wrath,” or “day of the Lord’s anger,” so often spoken of in the Scriptures, and which immediately succeeds “the day of salvation.” By comparing the texts to which reference has been made, it evidently appears that Matthew 24 refers to the same period of time that is referred to in Revelation 13, 14, 16; Matthew 13:38, 39, and Joel 3:9-15. The deceptions are put forth, and the world is deceived, the Son of man appears, the harvest is reaped, the battle is fought, and the enemies of God are overthrown.EMTF 72.4

    We believe all that our Lord has said. We accept his word that of that day and hour no man knows, and we just as readily accept his assurance that we may know when it is near; nay, we acknowledge that it is our duty to know and to prepare for that day. To enforce this duty our Lord gave a most forcible illustration from the Scriptures.EMTF 73.1

    Larger font
    Smaller font
    Copy
    Print
    Contents