In the following prophecy about Israel, Christ made reference to a “generation”:
Now learn a parable of the fig tree [Israel]; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matt. 24:32-34 KJV)
Who is the “generation” spoken of by Christ in his prophecy?
Is this the generation of the first century?
Or is this a future generation that would live to see the fulfillment of end-time prophecies?
What will be “near,” “even at the doors”?
What are the “things” that must be “fulfilled”?
What is the immediate context of Christ’s prophecy?
Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt. 24:29-31 KJV)
Was this fulfilled in the first century?
Or was Christ speaking of a future century?
Christ expounded upon this prophecy in the Book of Revelation:
I [John] saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean. [Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints (Rev. 19:8).] Out of his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty. On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:
KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, “so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and mighty men, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, small and great.”
Then I saw the beast and the kings of the earth and their armies gathered together to make war against the rider on the horse and his army. But the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who had performed the miraculous signs on his behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped his image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. The rest of them were killed with the sword that came out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh. (Rev. 19:1121)
Was this fulfilled in the first century?
Or was Christ speaking of a future century?
What did Christ tell John in the Book of Revelation?
Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter. (Rev. 1:19 KJV)
The “things which shall be hereafter” begin in chapter 4: “After this I looked, and, behold, a door was opened in heaven: and the first voice which I heard was as it were of a trumpet talking with me; which said, Come up hither, and I will shew thee things which must be hereafter” (Rev 4:1 KJV).
If chapter 4 begins what “must be hereafter,” and the descent of Christ with his angels/armies is in chapter 19, then the descent of Christ with his angels/armies “must be hereafter.”
The Book of Revelation was written late in the first century. Most estimates place the writing of it at about A.D. 95.
If the descent of Christ with his angels/armies “must be hereafter,” then the “generation” in Christ’s prophecy “must be hereafter.” Herein, the “generation” is the future generation that will be alive during the second coming of Christnot the generation that was alive during the first coming of Christ.
Our Lord gave us an irrefutable mark in time in the Book of Revelation. For those of us in the body of Christ who hold to the supreme authority of Scripture, there is only one approach to Christ’s prophetic statement: “the things which shall be hereafter” means “the things which shall be hereafter.”
This includes the following:
1. The future salvation of the church: (Rev. 6:12, 14; 7:9-17).
2. Wrath: (Rev. 6:17; 8:1 and following).
3. The rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem: (Rev. 11:1, 2).
4. Daniel’s seven-year prophecy: (Rev. 11:3; 13:5). This includes God’s two witnesses, (Rev. 11), and Satan’s two witnesses: the Antichrist and false prophet (Rev. 13).
5. The future salvation of Israel: (Rev. 19:11-21).
That said, the first coming of Christ ushered in the “last time.” We have been living in the “last time” since the first century.
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. (I John 2:18 KJV)
In this “last time,” Christ gave us two absolute markings in time. He did so in the Gospels (the replanted fig tree: Israel), and in the Book of Revelation (what “must be hereafter”). It is the replanted fig tree that signals the coming fulfillment of what “must be hereafter.” Christ said:
Now learn a parable of the fig tree [Israel]; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation [that began with the replanting of Israel] shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matt. 24:32-34 KJV)
2000 years ago, our Lord spoke of us, who are alive today. We are the “generation” that “ shall not pass” which “must be hereafter.” In other words, the generation that began with the rebirth of Israel (the replanted “fig tree”) in 1948 will live to see the fulfillment of end-time prophecies.
Biblically speaking, a generation is approximately 70 years in length: “The length of our days is seventy yearsor eighty, if we have the strength” (Ps. 90:10). Herein, adding 70 years to 1948 produces the calendar year of 2018. Thus, end-time prophecies shall be fulfilled early in the twenty-first century!!
We are to know the times we are in. There should be no doubt. Look at what Christ said in his day:
He said to the crowd: “When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, ‘It's going to rain,’ and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, ‘It's going to be hot,’ and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don’t know how to interpret this present time?” (Luke 12:54-56)
Christ himself established the authority to discern the signs of the times. He admonished his contemporaries to give heed to what the Old Testament prophets spoke regarding the coming Messiah. Hence, likewise, it makes spiritual sense to give heed to the prophecies that apply to the second comingand the signs that correspond to it.
The following text explores the use of “generation,” and provides the background for Christ’s prophecy of the “generation” in Matthew 24.
Did Christ speak forth prophecies about “his” generation (of the first century)?
Did Christ speak forth prophecies about a future generation (that would live to see the fulfillment of end-time prophecies)?
Did the Old Testament prophets prophesy about the generation that would be alive during the first coming of the Messiah?
Did the Old Testament prophets prophesy about the generation that would be alive during the second coming of the Messiah?
Did the apostles Paul and John speak of Israel in the context of the first century?
Did the apostles Paul and John speak of Israel in the context of a future century?
Yes to all of the above.
Herein, the Scriptures reveal prophecies about two separate “generations.”
How do we know which is which?
This is no scriptural justification to arbitrarily decide that every time the word “generation” is used it must always refer to the first century, or it must always refer to the century of the end times, or it must always refer to a generation of good, or it must always refer to a generation of evil. By itself, the word “generation” holds no particular relevance to a given century, or to a given nature (good/evil). The context determines the interpretation.
Why not let Christ, and the voice of the Old Testament (Daniel, Hosea, and Isaiah), and the voice of the New Testament (Paul, John, Matthew, and Luke) speak to us about the generations found in prophecy?
There are two Greek words translated “generation” (that are used in this study).
Genea: “an age (the period or the persons):age, generation, nation, time.”1
Gennema: “offspring… produce (lit. or fig.):fruit, generation.”2
But first he [Christ] must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation [Genea]. (Luke 17:25)
Which “generation” rejected Christ?
The generation of the first century rejected Christ. Christ referred to the Israelites who rejected him as the “generation of vipers.”
GENERATION OF VIPERS
O generation [gennema] of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned. Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation [Genea] seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation [Genea], and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation [Genea], and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here. When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation [Genea]. (Matt. 12:34-45 KJV)
What is the context?
To whom is Christ speaking?
Christ is speaking to the wicked generation of his contemporaries: the first century.
John the Baptist also referred to those he personally spoke to as the “generation of vipers.”
But when he [John the Baptist] saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees come to his baptism, he said unto them, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? (Matt. 3:7 KJV)
Obviously, John is speaking to the generation of the first centurywho would live to see wrath.
What wrath is John referring to in his prophecy?
John is referring to the wrath of the first century. What wrath of the first century? It is the wrath that would fall upon Jerusalem.
When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by [Roman] armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written [by the old testament prophets]. How dreadful it will be in those days for pregnant women and nursing mothers! There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. (Luke 21:20-24 KJV)
Christ prophesied that “this people” would “fall by the sword” and be “taken as prisoners to all the nations.” This prophecy was fulfilled as given. In A.D. 70, the Romans destroyed the temple and the Israelites were massacred or enslaved. The last two millenniums testify to the dispersal of the Israelites.
(The wrath that fell upon Christ’s generation struck in A.D. 70. As Christ’s birth is marked at 3 BC, and the destruction of the temple is marked at A.D. 70, the length of the “generation” that saw wrath is seen to be approximately 70 years.)
With regard to wrath, Christ said, “For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written.” Therefore, the wrath to fall upon Christ’s generation must have already been spoken of by the Old Testament prophets. This wrath is the same wrath spoken by Hosea:
Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you. (Hosea 5:1 KJV)
The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water. (Hosea 5:10 KJV)
The days of visitation are come, the days of recompence are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred. (Hosea 9:7 KJV)
Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me. They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue. (Hosea 7:13-16 KJV)
Without question, Christ, John the Baptist, and the Old Testament prophets spoke of wrath to fall upon the “generation of vipers” that was alive during the first coming of Christ.
What about the second coming of Christ?
How did Christ make reference to that generation?
THE FIG TREE: ISRAEL: BARREN, CURSED, AND REPLANTED
During his life, Christ spoke frequently of what should become of the Jewish people. Christ painted a threefold picture: the barren, cursed, and replanted fig tree.
Christ’s prophecies about “his” generation correspond to the barren and cursed fig tree. Christ’s prophecies about the future generation correspond to the replanted fig tree.
THE BARREN FIG TREE
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree, planted in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it, but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” (Luke 13:6-9)
The vineyard represents the land of Palestine: the location of Israel.
How do we know that Christ is referring to the Jewish nation?
This “fig tree” symbolism is given to us to understand:
When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree. (Hosea 9:10)
God is the owner of the vineyard and its fig tree, and Christ is the one declaring the lack of fruit. As the fig tree (Jewish nation) bore no fruit, Christ declared it should be cut down. To demonstrate this judgment upon Israel, Christ literally cursed a fig tree.
THE CURSED FIG TREE
The next day as they were leaving Bethany, Jesus was hungry. Seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, he went to find out if it had any fruit. When he reached it, he found nothing but leaves, because it was not the season for figs. Then he said to the tree, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again.” And his disciples heard him say it.
On reaching Jerusalem, Jesus entered the temple area and began driving out those who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves, and would not allow anyone to carry merchandise through the temple courts. And as he taught them, he said, “Is it not written:
“‘My house will be called a house of prayer for all nations’?
But you have made it ‘a den of robbers.’” (Mark 11:12-17)
Christ was hungry for fruita spiritual harvestin Israel, but as made clear by his actions in the temple and by his condemnation of the religious “robbers” that plundered it, no fruit would be forthcoming from this “fig tree” of the Jewish nation.
The following prophecy from the prophet Micah revealed the state of the fig tree: “There is . . . none of the early figs that I crave. The godly have been swept from the land; not one upright man remains…. The best of them is like a brier, the most upright worse than a thorn hedge” (Micah 7:1, 2, 4).
The Jewish nation professed a religious creed by their “show” (leaves), but bore no spiritual fruit. Hence, Jesus cursed the nation for its hypocrisy. The cursing of the fig tree symbolized the spiritual death that permeated the temple and the nation, and it foreshadowed the physical withering of the nation itselfwhich came to pass in A.D. 70 when the Romans overthrew the Jewish nation.
While in the Holy Land, Christ prophesied of this wrath that would fall upon the generation of the first century:
Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit. O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. (Matt. 12:33, 34 KJV)
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation. O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! (Matt. 23:33-37 KJV)
To whom is Christ speaking?
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. (Matt. 23:13-15 KJV)
The “generation of vipers” is the wicked generation of Israelites of the first century. They would not receive a blessing, but judgment and wrath (Luke 21:20-24a). As the fig tree of Israel would yield no fruit, Heaven’s justice would require that it be uprooted.
This picture given by Christ is supported by, and is parallel to, Old Testament prophecy. As written by the prophet Jeremiah: “I will take away their harvest, declares the Lord. There will be no grapes on the vine. There will be no figs on the tree, and their leaves will wither. What I have given them will be taken from them” (Jer. 8:13).
“This section [of Jeremiah] is read aloud in synagogues every year on the ninth [day] of Ab . . ., the day the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. and by the Romans in A.D. 70.”3
Despite the scattering of the figs, divine prophecy declared that the Israelites would be gathered againreplantedback in the Holy Land. In the second replanting, the Jewish people would never again be uprooted.
“I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,” says the Lord your God. (Amos 9:14, 15)
THE REPLANTED FIG TREE
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matt. 24:32-34)
Christ is prophesying of new life: the replanted fig tree.
Was Israel replanted in the first century?
The replanted fig tree is in the context of what “shall be hereafter.”
In the first century, the fig tree of the Jewish nation was cursednot replanted.
If the cursed fig tree of the Jewish nation lost its “home” in the Holy Land in the first century, then what would be the significance of the replanted fig tree?
The Israelites would regain their “home” in the Holy Land in a time that “must be hereafter.” Therefore, the “generation” must be a future generation.
Christ’s prophecy about the replanting of the fig tree is our landmark in time. It is an absolute marking of timenot a relative statement about time. The replanting of the fig tree sets the stage for all that must come to pass in our worldfor all that must be fulfilled.
The prophecy of the replanted fig tree has a precedent in the Old Testament. Isaiah prophesied of the rebirth of Israel by describing a woman giving birth before going into labor. In other words, Israel would be replanted as a nation before the birth pains of the Messiah (which precede the second coming of the Messiah).
This is exactly what Christ is saying in his prophecy about the fig tree: the generation that begins with the replanting of Israel will live to see the fulfillment of end-time prophecieswhich means they will witness the birth pains.
Here is Isaiah’s prophecy:
Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she was delivered of a man child. Who hath heard such a thing? who hath seen such things? Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? or shall a nation be born at once? (Isa. 66:7, 8 KJV)
In his Companion Bible, E. W. Bullinger stated this: “[S]he brought forth. This is the birth of the new nation. These are the “birth pangs” (“or sorrows”) of Matt. 24.”4
Isaiah foretold that Israel would be born (or replanted) in one day: “Shall the earth be made to bring forth in one day? [O]r shall a nation be born at once?” This is exactly what happened on May 14, 1948: Israel became a united and sovereign nation. With God, all things are possibleeven a nation being “born at once.” In 1948, secular powers brought forth the nation of Israel.
Did God use secular powers in the Old Testament to bring to pass his will? Yes.
Thus saith the Lord God; I will also make the multitude of Egypt to cease by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. (Ezek. 30:10 KJV)
If God used secular powers for his purposes in Old Testament times, then why couldn’t he do so in New Testament times?
He did so in 1948.
What precedes the future salvation of Israel? The replanting of Israel precedes the salvation of Israel. This replanting of Israel also foreshadows the coming millennial kingdom. This is exactly what Christ prophesied:
And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree [Israel], and all the trees [nations]; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh [near] at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation [that began with the replanted fig tree] shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. (Luke 21:29-31 KJV)
What is Christ referring to when he states, “the kingdom of God is nigh at hand”?
Firstly, this is a blessingnot a curse.
What kingdom of God is this?
The kingdom is the 1000-year reign of Heaven on Earth: when the kingdom of God replaces the kingdoms of man. The “generation” is the one that will live to see the fulfillment of all that has been foretold about the end-timeswhich leads straight to the millennial kingdom.
There is a similar prophecy in Revelationwhich “must be hereafter”that speaks of the change in kingdoms that is to come:
And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying, The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever. (Rev. 11:15 KJV)
It is the generation that began with the replanting of the fig tree that will live to see the blessing of the kingdom of God reigning on the Earth.
Herein, fundamental to our understanding of biblical prophecy is the following central thought: The establishment of the Jewish state in 1948 is the key piece of the prophetic puzzle that first had to be in place, before the rest of the puzzle could be assembled. This is what Christ said in his prophecy: When the fig tree (Israel) is replanted and shooting forth among the other new, independent nations (that are also shooting forth), then the stage is set for the fulfillment of all that has been foretold.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. (Matt. 24:32-34 KJV)
To whom is Christ speaking?
Is he speaking to the Pharisees the “generation of vipers”?
And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to shew him the buildings of the temple. (Matt. 24:1 kjv)
To whom is Christ speaking?
And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately. (Matt. 24:3 KJV)
What is the context?
And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. (Matt. 24:14-22 KJV)
Included in the context of Christ’s prophecy in Matthew is this prophetic statement:
When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:). (Matt. 24:15 KJV)
Why did Christ reference Daniel?
What are we to learn from this?
Christ is referencing the final seven years of Daniel’s prophecy: the seventieth “seven” (Dan. 9:27). Israel will sign a seven-year agreement with the Antichrist, which will allow the rebuilding of the temple (Rev. 11:1, 2), and the reinstatement of the sacrifice in the temple, but later that sacrifice will be ended and will be replaced with the “abomination that causes desolation.” This seven-year prophecy is expounded upon in Revelation: it is the 3.5 years of God’s prophets and 3.5 years of Satan’s prophets.
What is the “abomination of desolation that causes desolation”?
It is the image of the beast in the temple.
And I beheld another beast [the false prophet] coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed. And he causeth all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and bond, to receive a mark in their right hand, or in their foreheads: And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Here is wisdom. Let him that hath understanding count the number of the beast: for it is the number of a man; and his number is Six hundred threescore and six (Rev. 13:11-15 KJV)
Here, John is expounding upon Daniel’s prophecy.
In the Gospel of Matthew, Christ referenced Daniel, and, in addition, he gave to John additional revelation about Daniel’s prophecy.
Can anyone in the body of Christin clear conscience before Christdeclare that this prophecy was already fulfilled in the first century?
Where in the Book of Acts do we find this written about as being fulfilled?
Where did Paul speak of the Antichrist in the past tense?
Where in our history books do we read of a talking idol in Jerusalem and people receiving the mark of 666?
The two witnesses are also included in the seven-year prophecy.
And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will. And when they shall have finished their testimony, the beast that ascendeth out of the bottomless pit shall make war against them, and shall overcome them, and kill them. (Rev. 11:3-7 KJV)
Christ speaks of the witnesses in the future tense: “And I will give power unto my two witnesses.”
Why else would Christ speak of the two witnesses in the future tense, unless the two witnesses shall fulfill their commission in a future generation?
If the context of Daniel’s prophecy is “hereafter,” then the “generation” spoken of by Christ must be “hereafter”not the one of the first century.
What else is in the context of Christ’s prophecy in Matthew?
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. (Matt. 24:27, 28 KJV)
Why did Christ speak of coming like “lightning” and follow that by speaking of a “carcase”?
How are the two connected?
Is it possible that Christ is speaking of “lightning” in the context of his second coming to Israelwhich will bring death to the ungodly?
When will this destruction come upon the ungodly?
This is the Apocalypse; it is the battle of Armageddon (Rev. 19:11-21)which “must be hereafter.” It is then that blood will flow in the Holy Land (Isa. 66:15, 16; Rev. 14:17-20).
In his second coming to Israel, Christ will bring judgment upon the ungodly and gather the remnant of Israel. This is exactly what Christ prophesiedand Christ’s prophecy is in the context of the “generation” of the replanted fig tree:
For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together. Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matt. 24:27-31 KJV)
Moses (Deut. 30:35), Isaiah (Isa. 13:1013; 27:12, 13), and Daniel (Dan. 9:24, 27; 12:1), testify that Christ is speaking of gathering Israelnot the church.
What is the context of Christ’s prophecy of the “generation” in Matthew?
It is the fulfillment of Daniel’s seven-year prophecywhich includes the Apocalypse and Armageddon. Following this, Christ himself shall gather the remnant of Daniel’s people, Israel, and then the judgment of the nations (Matt. 25:31-46) shall follow; this then ushers in the 1000-year kingdom of God on Earth.
Without question, the context of Christ’s prophecy is future tense and so is the generation of the replanted fig tree.
LUKE 21 AND MATTHEW 24
Is Christ’s prophecy in Luke (21:20-24a) the same prophecy as given in Matthew (24:14-22)?
How do we know this?
Christ’s prophecy in Luke is different in time, place, and audience. In Luke 21, Christ is teaching in the temple (Luke 20:1; 21:1), during the day (Luke 21:37), to all the people present. In Matthew 24, Christ is teaching from the Mount of Olives (Matt. 24:1, 3), during the evening (Luke 21:37), to a group of disciples (Matt. 24:3) who came to him in secret: Peter, James, John, and Andrew (Mark 13:3).
Christ’s prophecy in Luke speaks of the wrath that would befall Israel in the first centurywhen the temple stones would be literally thrown down by the Romans (Luke 21:2024a). In Matthew, Christ prophesied about the ultimate wrath to come (as never seen before and never to be seen again) during the time of the Antichristwhich occurs during the day of the Lord’s wrath (Matt 24:1531).
Does Christ’s prophecy in Luke make reference to “Daniel”?
Does Christ’s prophecy in Luke make reference to “the abomination that causes desolation”?
Because in Luke (21:20-24a), Christ isn’t referring to Daniel’s prophecy of the end times, but is instead referring to wrath falling upon the first century “generation of vipers.”
Although Christ’s prophecy in Luke (21:20-24a) begins with wrath against Jerusalem in the first century, the prophecy then moves forward in time. The key verse is 24b: “and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.”
Were “the times of the Gentiles” fulfilled in the first century?
The times of the Gentiles would be fulfilled in a future century.
How do we know this?
There is a parallel prophecy in Revelationwhich is spoken of in the context of what “shall be hereafter”: “But the court which is without the temple leave out, and measure it not; for it is given unto the Gentiles: and the holy city shall they tread under foot forty and two months” (Rev. 11:2 KJV).
The context is the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. Was the temple rebuilt in the first century?
The Romans destroyed it.
The times of the Gentiles extend all the way into a future centurya future generationfor the prophecy is that Jerusalem (and the rebuilt temple) would be trodden down by the Gentiles during the end times.
In the Book of Romans, Paul expounded upon the contrast between the times of the Gentiles (the nations), and the time of one nation: Israel.
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery [the MYSTERY], lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles [nations] be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer [Christ], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel]: For this is my covenant unto them [Israel], when I shall take away their sins. (Rom. 11:2527 KJV)
The covenant with the nations (the world) is the New Covenant; it is the MYSTERY that was hidden in God, and then fully revealed through the apostles. During this span of time on Earth, Israel suffers from blindness.
That blindness, however, will end. When? When “the fullness of the Gentiles [nations] be come in,” and when, “There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer [Christ], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel].” This is the second coming of Christ to Israel. It is then that Israel’s eyes will be fully open: Jesus is the Messiah.
Has ungodliness been turned away from Israel?
Has Israel embraced Jesus as the Messiah?
Was “all Israel” saved in the first century?
The Romans massacred them.
Israel’s blindness is still a present tense reality. The “times of the Gentiles” is still a present tense reality. Therefore, “the times of the Gentiles” was not fulfilled in the first century. Christ is referring to a future century.
Turning away ungodliness from Israeland Israel’s deliveranceis still future tense. 2000 years ago, Israel rejected the Messiah and has suffered many things during the “times of the Gentiles.” During this present time, Israel is “blind” to the truth of Jesus Christ.
When Paul said, “as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer [Christ], and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob [Israel],” he quoted Isaiah:
And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever. (Isa. 59:20, 21 KJV)
The fulfillment of this prophecy is still future tense. Herein, when Christ spoke of the “times of the Gentiles” in the Gospel of Luke, he moved the prophecy from the first century (wrath upon the generation of vipers) to a future century (end times). Therefore, the prophecy that follows is also in the end times:
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; 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. And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:25-28 KJV)
In this context, Christ spoke forth the prophecy of the replanted fig tree, just like Matthew 24:
And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree [Israel], and all the trees [nations]; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh [near] at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you, This generation [that began with the replanted fig tree in 1948] shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled [which includes “the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory”]. (Luke 21:29-31 KJV)
1. E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1981), 316.
2. E. W. Bullinger, A Critical Lexicon and Concordance to the English and Greek New Testament, 316.
3. New International Study Version Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan Publishing House, 1995), 1130.
4. E.W. Bullinger, The Companion Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1990), 1013.