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If this past election has taught us anything, it tells us that facts don’t matter. Showing an image of a nearly full-term baby in his mother’s womb to members of Congress did not dissuade the Democrats from supporting abortion until and even after a baby’s birth. Democrats ignore the science and the empirical data behind the transgender movement. The ACLU has declared that there is no advantage for men who identify as women in sports. Tell that to the girls and women who are being beated by fake girls and women. Empiricism and science are no longer accepted by many politicians and their sanctimonious toadies.

I found this from Chronicles Magazine especially insightful:

We are losing because our side assumes that reason can prevail when it comes to the confrontation of ideas. It can—but only when both sides are committed to reason. It’s useless to attempt to reason when the opposition is doggedly irrational. You will always lose an argument with someone who insists that two plus two equals five just as easily as it equals four, and meanwhile you will have wasted both time and energy.

Christians aren’t immune to this type of thinking. I run into it every day over the topics of eschatology and Christian involvement in politics. In many cases, the two are linked. Regarding eschatology, someone posted on Facebook that Matthew 24:34 should read, “The generation that sees these signs will not pass away until all these things take place.” Following a similar interpretation, the Tim LaHaye Prophecy Study Bible, states that Matthew 24:34 should read: “‘[T]he future generation that will live to see all the signs listed in the previous verses fulfilled in their lifetime’ will not pass till all is fulfilled.” (Tim LaHaye, gen. ed., Prophecy Study Bible (Chattanooga, TN: AMG Publishers, 2000), 1040, note on Matthew 24:34.)

How does the interpreter know to remove “this,” replace it with “the,” and then add “that sees these signs”? Dispensationalists claim to interpret the Bible in a consistently literal way, which Thomas Ice says means “according to the text; in other words, interpretation based upon what the text actually says.” (Ice in The Great Tribulation: Past or Future? (1999), “The Great Tribulation is Past: Rebuttal,” 98.) The text actually says “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place,” not “the generation that sees these signs,” as if to mean, any generation except the generation to whom Jesus was speaking.

 

Ice says the meaning of “this generation” is “determined by observation from each of their contexts, not from the phrase itself.” (Ice, “The Great Tribulation is Past: Rebuttal,” 125.) Let’s put his contextual claim to the test. The judgment described by Jesus is local: “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains” (24:16). Jesus describes a culture where there are flat roofs, an agrarian society, foot travel for transportation, and strict Sabbath regulations (24:17–20).

The signs Jesus lists—wars, earthquakes, famines (Acts 11:27–28), false Christs, false prophets (1 John 4:1), tribulation (Rev. 1:9), persecution (2 Tim. 3:11), the gospel preached in “all the inhabited earth” (Rom. 1:8; Col. 1:6, 23) to “all the nations” (Rom. 16:25–27; 1 Tim. 3:16), etc. (For a discussion of the signs of the Olivet Discourse and how they fit a first-century fulfillment context, see Gary DeMar, Is Jesus Coming Soon?Last Days Madness: Obsession of the Modern Church, and Wars and Rumors of Wars (2019).)—can be shown to have been fulfilled prior to the destruction of the temple in AD 70. Jesus uses the second person plural (“you”) throughout the chapter as a clear audience indicator that He was referring to His contemporaries. There is nothing in the Olivet Discourse that indicates that an audience shift takes place after Matthew 24:4 where the use of “you” obviously refers to the disciples and their generation and the use of “you” in verses 6 through 34.

The use of the second person plural begins when Jesus confronts the religious leaders. They certainly understood that the use of the second person plural appled to “them” (21:25). It’s obviously clear in Matthew 23. Why would Jesus shift the meaning of the second person plural in the next chapter? It makes no sense.

In the last debate I had with Thomas Ice, at no time did he offer an adequate explanation to the issues I raised.

That generation passed away, therefore “all these things” Jesus said would happen had taken place because the use of “this generation” in Matthew’s Gospel and elsewhere in the gospels refers to the generation to whom Jesus was speaking (Matt. 11:16; 12:41, 45; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12, 8:38; 13:30; Luke 7:31; 11:29; 11:30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 16:8; 17:25; 21:32).

In addition, Jesus made it clear that it was those of that generation that would see the signs: “even so you too, when you see all these things, recognize that it is near, at the doors” (Matt. 24:33). The third person singular is used and came be translated as “it” (the kingdom of God: Luke 21:31) or “He” (Jesus).

Even Jesus’ use of the word “coming” does not push these events into a distant future physical and visible coming of Jesus (see Rev. 2:5, 16, 25; 3:3). Jesus sent out His disciples, “instructing them, saying, ‘Do not go in the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter any city of the Samaritans; but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matt. 10:5–6). Jesus concludes His instructions to His twelve disciples with these words:

Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be as wary as serpents, and as innocent as doves. But be on guard against people, for they will hand you over to the courts and flog you in their synagogues (Mark 13:9}; and you will even be brought before governors and kings on My account, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles [13:9]. But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for what you are to say will be given you in that hour. For it is not you who are speaking, but it is the Spirit of your Father who is speaking in you [13:11]. Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved [13:12–13]. But whenever they persecute you in one city, flee to the next; for truly I say to you, you will not finish going through the cities of Israel until the Son of Man comes [13:10] (Matt. 10:16–23).

All of what Jesus predicted took place in the years leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem that took place in AD 70. Paul lists some of what he suffered at the hands of his own “countrymen” (Acts 9:23–25) and “false brethren” (14:5, 19; 2 Cor. 11:26). It was a time of tribulation (John 16:33; Acts 14:22; Rev. 1:9; 2:10: “what you are about to suffer”)

It is clear that the New Testament describes events that were to take place within a proximate time frame not thousands of years in the future to a generation that was not guilty of crucifying the Lord of Glory (1 Cor. 2:8) and therefore should not have to suffer another holocaust for being Jews.

Author: Gary DeMar

Gary—who served as President of American Vision for thirty-five years—is a graduate of Western Michigan University (1973) and earned his M.Div. at Reformed Theological Seminary in 1979. Author of countless essays, news articles, and more than 27 book titles, he has been featured by nearly every major news media outlet. Gary also has hosted The Gary DeMar Show, History Unwrapped, and the Gary DeMar’s Vantage Point Webshow and is a regular contributor to AmericanVision.org. Gary has lived in the Atlanta area since 1979 with his wife, Carol. They have two married sons and are enjoying being grandparents. Gary and Carol are members of Midway Presbyterian Church (PCA).