For the past few generations, American/Western Christianity has prophesied a time of “Great Tribulation” or “God’s Wrath”. As if God has been biding his time, until mankind’s sin surpasses the victorious reconciliation of Jesus blood. The prophecies of Jacob, Moses, O.T. prophets and even Jesus are all set aside because of one very symbolic and complex prophecy….“The Revelation of Jesus Christ.”
Are these events in our future? I had unquestionably believed the hype of “Futurism” but, Jesus and ALL of the New Testament writers ALL spoke as if those things were happening much sooner than 2,000 years later.
Who are we going to believe?
For the reader’s sake, I can’t share every instance that the New Testament writers recorded Jesus warning “this Generation” but, they are all in complete agreement. Since the context of Jesus words were spoken to that generation and not this generation (meaning ours); I will insert the word THAT where Jesus used “this”.
Check out this one in Luke 11 ~
29As the crowds were increasing, He began to say, “This generation is a wicked generation; it seeks for a sign, and yet no sign will be given to it but the sign of Jonah. 30“For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31“The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32“The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.”
Jesus made his words very clear to those who will humble themselves like a child and reconsider Scripture from His point of view. How clearly did he announce that judgement was coming to THAT wicked generation? He declared judgement on THAT generation 3 times in this passage alone!
Consider that the theme of immediate judgement on THAT/ “this generation” was used over 20 times in the New Testament! Never once did any of the New Testament writers even elude to an idea that the judgement (Great Tribulation) would be delayed for 2,000 years.
Jesus was the most profound Prophet that ever walked the earth and yet the Church has recently placed more value on man’s misguided “Newspaper Exegesis” than on the Scriptures. Consider some more probable similarities in the Lord’s comparison to Jonah.
THE SIGN OF JONAH ~
Jonah spoke one sentence to the Ninevites and none of them came to pass ~“Yet forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” (Jonah 3:4)
Jonah was not a false prophet. He just neglected to mention God’s mercy when he prophesied. His prophecy would have come to pass; if he had not declared the warning and the people repented.
What did Jesus mean when he said: “For just as Jonah became a sign to the Ninevites, so will the Son of Man be to this generation…”?
Yes, I do believe that he referred to His Resurrection from the grave like Jonah in the belly of the whale. But, is it possible that he meant that and more? Just as the people of Nineveh were given 40 days; the people of Jerusalem were given 40 years. This concept of a “Transitional Generation” was a common theme in the Bible and the New Testament.
In the Book of Hebrews, the author wrote to Jews concerning the accomplishments of Jesus. This writing is divided up in chapters that articulate the New Covenant and Old Covenant in many different aspects. It uses the language “Better” and “Greater” to describe what was given! Jesus is The Son greater than Moses as the servant. Jesus is the New High Priest greater than Aaron. Jesus is the better sacrifice than the lambs and bulls. Faith is the Better way than works. Jesus entered the Better Temple (in Heaven) than the inferior one on earth. Jesus brought the Better Covenant than the way of the LAW. This Covenant is the greater Mt.Zion unlike Mt. Sinai which was full of fear.
These ideas alone have consumed hours upon hours of my early mornings with the Lord.
However, the one that pertains most to this study is the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Just keep in mind the “Sign of Jonah” to that generation…
THE WANDERING GENERATION ~
Paul wrote in 1 Cor.10:1-10 how the Israelites journey in the wilderness all happened as examples (types and shadows) for them! 1 Cor.10:11 ~ “11Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.”
The end of the age is not a future event; it was the culmination of all the ages leading up to the New Covenant Age! Hebrews 9 ~ “24For Christ did not enter a holy place made with hands, a mere copy of the true one, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us… but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself!”
That’s why the writer of Hebrews exhorted the Jewish believers repeatedly not to go back to Old/inferior way of the Law! The New Testament doesn’t portray conflict between Christians and atheists. Atheism is a new concept. Even the pagans of their world had many Gods. But, the conflict wasn’t even mainly with the polytheists (worship of many gods) but, with the Old Jewish system! In the “Gospels”, Acts, Romans, Galatians, Timothy, Thessalonians, Hebrews, James and (gasp!) especially Revelation; the conflict the young believers had was primarily with The Judaizers time and time again.
Multiple times in Hebrews, they were implored to “listen to God’s voice, do not harden your hearts and enter God’s Rest!”
Because the Jews who rejected and crucified Jesus were given 40 more years to “enter the Promised Land” (Which is “In Christ”.)
Heb.3: 12Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end,
15while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME.”
16For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief.”
This still does have practical application to us but, it was not written specifically TO us. It was written maybe 5 years before the fall of Jerusalem as a last minute warning to THAT generation.
The very next verses pick up in Heb.4 ~ “1Let us therefore fear, lest a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. 2For to us was the gospel preached, as well as to them: but the word which they heard did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.
3For we who have believed do enter (Present tense) into rest!
This was very personal to THAT generation. Some were entering at that time and others were still “falling in the wilderness”.
8For if Jesus (same Hebrew word for Joshua) had given them rest, then he would not afterward have spoken of another day. 9There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. 10For he that hath entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. 11Let us labor therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
12For the word of God is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”
I can’t help but mention the use of the Two-edged sword, which is a very clear connection to Jesus coming in judgement in Revelation. Interestingly he uses the present tense the entire time. All of that Apocalyptic language from Jacob to Moses to Daniel to David and all the Prophets up to Jesus and John “the Revelator” were always about one thing…”The end of the Jewish Age”.
Heb.8:13 ~ “13In speaking of a “new” covenant, he has made the first one obsolete, and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.”
Jesus quoted from the Prophet Jeremiah (Chapter 6) when he said ~ “28“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. 29“Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. 30“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Immediately after this, Jesus was quoted too say ~ “8“For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (The Day of Rest)
The Yoke of the Old Covenant was too burdensome for all of the Jews according to Peter (Acts 15:10) But, the Yoke of the New Covenant is not burdensome, it is Rest. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.” ~ 1 John 5:3
1 John 3:23 ~ 23This is His commandment, that we believe in the name of His Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, just as He commanded us.”