Matthew 24 contains some of the most interesting prophecies of the New Testament. As The Lord wandered around the city of Jerusalem and predicted its’ eventual destruction, the disciples came to Him and asked Him three questions:
Matthew 24:3-Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
The response of Jesus shows that He answered their questions in the same order in which they asked. The first question was answered in verses 4-28; the answers to the second question are found in verses 29-35; and the answer to the third question is found in Matthew 24:36-25:46.
In describing the destruction of the city of Jerusalem, He tells of many signs that will take place leading up to its’ destruction. Included in this list of prophecies are false christs, wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, great tribulation for Christ’s sake, betrayals, false prophets, lawlessness, the rise of the abomination of desolation, false signs, etc.
In Matthew 24:34, Jesus shows us that the answers to the first two questions would have their fulfillment in the first century A.D.:
Matthew 24:34-Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place.
A “generation” in the Bible was typically a span of forty years. With that in mind, it is pretty clear that Jesus was teaching these events would take place within a span of forty years of the time of His prophecies.
Of course, there are some who claim that “this generation” actually means “that generation,” i.e., that generation in the far-off future which would see these signs would see the imminent Return of The Lord.
However, a careful study of the words used here show us the facts of the matter. One esteemed author has written:
“Consider some of the ways Jesus used this word. Jesus declared that the men of Nineveh would rise up against “this generation” (Matt. 12:41; Luke 11:32). He could not have meant the Jewish race in this instance for He adds, “because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.” Now, only Christ’s contemporaries heard Jesus, hence only His contemporaries could be intended by this denunciation. The Jews then living are intended. A very similar statement is made in regard to the queen of the South condemning that generation (Matt. 12:42; Luke 11:31), and again He points out that one greater than Solomon was then present. Jews then living is the only meaning possible for these verses. Jesus ’ denunciation of the scribes and Pharisees followed by His lament over Jerusalem is even more pointed. Jesus concludes His denunciation by placing all of the blood of righteous people, which previous generations had shed, upon the generation then living. This was no doubt based on the fact that He, Christ, was greater than all others who had been slain; hence the generation which crucified the Son of man was guilty of all others who had been slain before Him. His words are, “All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matt. 23:36; Luke 11:50- 51). That Jesus was denouncing the Jews living at that time is not subject to debate. Unquestionably He meant His contemporaries— those who were plotting His death. Just as “this generation” in the foregoing texts had reference to Christ’s contemporaries, so is the meaning in that verse which has been designated the “time- text” of the Olivet discourse. When Jesus said, “This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled,” He meant that all He had said down to that point would be fulfilled during the life span of some then living…Had Jesus meant a future generation He would have had to use a different demonstrative pronoun. Just as we have the term “this” for something close at hand, and “that” for something at a distance, so did the Greeks. Jesus said, “This [Greek haute ] generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.” For Him to have meant a future generation, He would have had to have used ekeine which has the significance of “that.” Thus the “time- text” stands. The things mentioned prior to our “time- text” had to be fulfilled while the generation living at the time Jesus spoke these words still possessed physical life here on this earth.” (Everett I. Carver, When Jesus Comes Again5139–5372 (Kindle Edition); Prestonsburg, KY; Reformation Publishers)
It is clear that Jesus prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem in these verses, and not His Second Advent. Incredibly, every one of these prophecies came to pass in the year A.D. 70 when the Romans destroyed the city and the temple. Each of these prophecies came to pass. My friends, this testifies to the authenticity of Jesus’ claims. He is the Son of God Who came to this world in order to save you from sin (Matthew 11:28-30). He died for you, was buried, and arose again on the third day (1 Corinthians 15:1-8). Why not today as a believer repent of your sins and be baptized in order to have your sins washed away (Acts 2:38; 22:16)? If you are an erring child of God, why not today repent and pray to The Lord and be forgiven (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9)?
The grace of The Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen.