Today we read the words of Jesus about the future. Have a good look at Luke 21. First Jesus predicts the destruction of Jerusalem, saying, “when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then you know its desolation has come near. Then let those who are in Judea flee …” (verses 23,24). And so his words were fulfilled 40 years later.
But note what he then adds, “… in those days … there will be great distress … and wrath against this people. They will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive among all nations, and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles, until the time of the Gentiles are fulfilled” (verses 23,24). Jerusalem is no longer trampled underfoot by non-Jews. Note Jesus’ challenge, “Now when these things begin to take place straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near” (verse 28).
How are we to understand these words, “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all has taken place” (verse 32). This is the generation that sees Jerusalem being no longer trampled! So how long is a generation?
Psalm 90:10 tells us the average life span in God’s view are seventy years. Is that a generation? Jesus adds more challenging words, “Heaven and earth will pass away but my words will not pass away” (verse 33). This phraseology makes us think of Peter’s words, about the heavens and the earth in Noah’s day being destroyed and that “the heavens and the earth which now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. But do not overlook this one fact … with the Lord one day is as a thousand years …” (2 Peter 3:8,9). So “heavens and the earth” we conclude means the order of things, the rulers and those ruled – this is all going to be changed to bring “the kingdom of God” into existence.
The final words of Jesus’ teaching is “stay awake at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man” (verse 36). Truly – the words of Jesus have not passed away – but how many are listening?