For years I have struggled with Jesus' Olivet discourse. In more recent years, the text has begun to make more sense, but there has still been one part that causes trouble...Matthew 24:34-36:
34 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. 36 "But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.The problem is obvious. How could this generation not pass away until all these things take place while no one knows the day or hour. And what's worse, 2000 years have since passed. The Dispensationalist simply explains this text from a futurist perspective. However, that overlooks many problems, especially the context of the passage to begin with.
The original questions were simple.
Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age?The Disciples thought both the destruction of the temple and the "Coming" were events that coincided. And in verses 34-36, the answer seems to have given that impression. Many times I have heard that we may not know the day or the hour, but we will know the generation. Yet that answer seems shallow.
Every time I read these verses, it just seems like Jesus is giving us the two answers. But does the language allow for there to be some kind of break or contrast between 34 and 36? Sam Waldron's explanation of this text confirms that the language does exactly that. On page 112 Waldron states,
That there is a contrast intended in these verses is plain from three things high-lighted in these verses. First, the fact that verse 36 begins with the word, but, must not be overlooked. This conjunction in Greek commonly is used to introduced a contrasting thought.So there it was the whole time. It is one thing to think it because it looks that way, but I'm not a scholar so am I reading my own thoughts into the text? It is quite another when others see it too. Now to have an exegetically based argument really drives it home.
Second, the contrast in the two different demonstrative pronouns used in verses 34 and 36 respectively must not be overlooked. "These" is the immediate demonstrative pronoun used to designate something relatively near at hand. It is appropriately used to describe the relatively near occurrence of all the things associated with the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem. It is so used throughout the passage (Matthew 23:36; 24:3,8,33). "That" is the remote demonstrative pronoun used to designate something that is relatively distant. It is appropriately used to designate the day and hour of Christ's coming in glory.
Third, the contrast in the matter of time signs also cannot be overlooked. "This generation" as Murray shows is clearly a reference to the then living generation of Jews. Thus a general time sign is given for the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem. When Jesus says that "no one knows" including Himself of the day and hour of His return, there is a plain distinction introduced as to time signs between the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Coming of Christ.
This book is easy reading. It is admittedly an expansion of his first book. Any layman desiring to get a different view of the End Times from the popularized LaHaye Dispensational stuff, ought to read these books.