Saturday, January 02, 2010
Lectionary Thoughts: Matthew 23
"Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." (Matthew 23:36)
Christians who insist that the horrific events described by Jesus in Matthew 24 have yet to occur have a difficult time explaining Matthew 23:36 and Matthew 24:34. The Jews of Jesus' day reckoned a generation to be about forty years. So the plain interpretation of Jesus' words is that the famines, wars, persecutions and distresses detailed in Matthew 23:35-24:34 would all occur by around AD 73.
In order to preserve the futuristic interpretation of Matthew 24 some Christians have contended that the "generation" that Jesus referred to was "the Jews considered as a race of people." This interpretation has at least two serious flaws:
1) In Matthew 23:36 Jesus declared that end times judgments would "come upon this generation" not upon other races/peoples scattered around the globe (e.g. Romans or Russians, Arabs or Americans.)
2) In Matthew 23:29-33 Jesus carefully distinguished "this generation" (the generation of Jews to whom he was speaking) from the Jews of bygone eras. So when Jesus said "this generation" four verses later, he was still referring specifically to the generation of Jews whom he was addressing.
Jesus is the Great Prophet to whom all lesser prophets pointed. His words are true. Just as he predicted, the catastrophic events of Matthew 24 were visited upon the Jews within forty years of Jesus' prophecy, and culminated with the destruction of the Jerusalem in AD 70.