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The Generation That Ends This Age

 

I was 15 years old when Happy Together by the Turtles was a hit song in what pop culture called the "Summer Of Love".  One of my favourite songs in the summer of 1967 was "Windy" by the Association.  I liked the "59th Street Bridge Song", otherwise known as "Feeling Groovy".  It was recorded by Harpers Bizarre, but it sure sounded like Simon and Garfunkel who originally wrote and recorded the song.  America's manufactured response to the Beatles was the Monkees, who conscripted Glen Campbell and others on their earlier albums to improve their sound.  I liked Glen Campbell's guitar solo on Valarie.  The big album that summer was "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band".  It put the Beatles on a new musical path, or should I say, took them on a "Magical Mystery Tour", if you catch my drift.   

 

Every July our family attended the Free Methodist Camp just north of  Brighton, Ontario, Canada, and the summer of 1967 was no exception.  While listening to songs like "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" by Procol Harum, which I'm sure wasn't acceptable at a church camp, I overheard the adults talking about the end of the world.  Such talk was scary for us teenagers.  We weren't into free love so we sure didn't want Jesus to return before we got to experience the joys of our wedding night. 

 

The reason for all the end time talk was because of the Six Day War in June of 1967 and how it might relate to Matthew 24.  Jesus told His disciples that when the branches of the fig tree get tender, summer is near.  He then said that in like fashion when you see the things He predicted being fulfilled; know that the end is near.  "This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened". (Matthew 24:34, Mark 13:30, Luke 21:32) 

 

There has been much controversy and confusion over the words "this generation" in Matthew 24:34.  Some say the word "this" in "this generation" refers specifically to an Israeli generation.  Others say it refers to all ethnic generations.  Many understand "this generation" to be a generation lasting a certain length of time, anywhere from 20 to 120 years.  Then there's the debate over when "this generation" begins.  If you can figure out when this generation begins and how long it lasts, you'd have a good idea when the end will come.  

 

Most Prophetic Futurists understand the fig tree in this passage to be Israel.  This makes Israel becoming a nation in 1948 key to understanding the passage.  No matter whom you think "this generation" refers to, if you begin the  countdown to the end in 1948, the generation alive in 1948 will be alive at the end.  Others suggest the countdown should begin at the Six Day War in 1967, thus the reason for all the talk of the end of the world in the Summer Of Love.  All these differing opinions on how long a Biblical generation is, when it starts, and to whom it refers, is indeed confusing.

 

After getting serious about Jesus in 1970 my heart's desire was to know the Bible.  That's why I ended up at Elim Bible Institute, in Lima, New York , in 1975.  Prior to my Elim days my two favourite Bible teachers were Derek Prince and Malcolm Smith.  These two men were miles apart in their eschatology, especially in relation to Israel.  Smith taught that the church replaced Israel in prophetic history, making Israel of absolutely no significance when it comes to end time events.  Prince taught that Israel was the key to prophetic history right up to the end of the age, something my dad also believed.    

 

My dad often talked to me about Israel 's place in prophetic history.  I'd often respond by saying, "but dad, there is another way to think about these things".  My dad would have nothing to do with my "but dads".  Back then I was trapped between two prophetic scenarios, between Smith and Prince, with seemingly no way to untangle myself from this perplexing prophetic web.  I wish my father was alive today to see that I did finally fall onto his side of the fence.   Since untangling myself from the various prophetic scenarios I think I see something we might have missed.  I suggest the following for your consideration. 

 

The Greek word "genea" is translated as "generation" in Matthew 24:34.  "Genea" means "to become", as in "to become a human", or, "to become a race of people".  For example, Abraham became a human being and his descendents became a race of people known as Israelis.  Because "genea" can legitimately be translated a "race of people" many credible Bible translators translate Matthew 24:34 this way.  "This race of people will not pass away until all these things have happened".  Note that the NIV Bible has a footnote for Matthew 24:34 that states this translation to be an acceptable alternate rendering.

 

Matthew 24:34 means something quite different when you think in terms of a generation as a race of people instead of a generation lasting a certain number of years.  No longer do you have to smash your head against the wall to figure out how long a Biblical generation lasts. 

 

With this in mind, I refer you to Amos 9:14 15.  "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 prophesied around 750 to 730 B C.  In 586 B C the last vestige of national Israel came to an end with the final Babylonian attack.  It took more than 2500 years, but in 1948 Amos' prophecy began to be fulfilled when Israel once again became a nation.  They have rebuilt their cities.  They drink their wine and eat their fruit from their miraculous agricultural successes. 

 

The important part of Amos' prophecy for my present purpose is the prediction that once Israelis return to their land, they would never be uprooted from it again.  Despite present pressures on Israel, know for a fact that Israel will never cease to exist.  Israelis will never be uprooted again.   Here's my point.  Whether it takes 7 years or 70 years for the end to come, the distinct national race of Israelis who came into existence in 1948 will not pass away until all prophecies are fulfilled.  I propose that it's not a matter of how many years a Biblical generation is.  It's not a matter of certain individuals who were alive in 1948 or 1967.  It's a matter of a race of people.  It's a matter of the present day national race of Israelis that came into existence in 1948.  It's Israel that will be in existence when Jesus returns to secure her rightful place among the nations of the world.  This is what I believe Amos means when he predicted that Israelis would never be uprooted again.         

 

Back in the Summer Of Love my dad's generation thought they might be the last generation because they understood "this generation" to be a 20 to 40 year period of time.  Well, most of that generation has since departed.  If I had have known back then what I think I know now, maybe I could have suggested another way to think, but why would they have listened to a kid blasting out "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds" by the Beatles on his 6 transistor radio.

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