Many people wonder if the current generation of Israel will be alive at the second coming of Jesus Christ due to a statement in Matthew 24:34: "Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place." Does "this generation" refer to those who saw Israel become a nation again in 1948? There are several reasons why this interpretation is unlikely.
Will the generation that saw the nation of Israel be reformed be alive for the second coming of Christ?
First, Matthew 24 speaks of events that are yet future, even at the present time. Many interpreters understand events in Matthew 24 as taking place after the rapture during the seven-year tribulation. Given that chronology, "this generation" would apply to the generation alive during the tribulation, not the generation following the reconstitution of Israel in the twentieth century.
Verse 15 speaks of the "abomination of desolation." This event occurs at the midpoint of the future tribulation period. At that time, the Antichrist will defile the temple and proclaim himself to be God. The people in verse 34, then, are living through intense persecution from the Antichrist following the desecration of the temple.
Second, 1948 was more than 60 years ago. For "this generation" to have seen modern Israel established, a generation would have to be more than 60 years in length.
Third, some have noted that the word generation can also mean "race" or "family." If we accept this understanding of the word, then Jesus is teaching that the Jews will continue as an ethnic group until He comes.
Finally, the Bible is clear that no one will know when Christ will return. To say the second coming must take place within one generation of the founding of modern Israel places a time constraint on His return that the Bible does not suggest.
Taken together, these objections negate the idea that Jesus will return within a generation of modern Israel's genesis. Jesus' mention of "this generation" is more properly understood as the generation alive when "the abomination" of Matthew 24:15 occurs. Jesus' point is that, once the end times begin, all His prophecies will be fulfilled in rapid succession.
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