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The Generation

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
February 5, 2023 6:00 pm

The Generation

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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February 5, 2023 6:00 pm

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Please turn with me this morning to Mark chapter 13. We're going to be looking first of all at verses 19 through 23. And then if anyone says to you, look, here's the Christ, or look, there he is.

Do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard.

I have told you all these things beforehand. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we have many who are sick and infirm today that we want to lift up to you. We thank you for answered prayer for John Key as it was determined that the spot that he had on his liver was not cancer.

We praise you for that. I pray, Lord, that they can quickly get him a pacemaker if that is what's needed for his heart. I pray for Jeremy Carriker, Lord, for healing from his stroke. I pray for healing for Eugene Oldham, for his hip, for Chris Williams' neck. I pray for Kitty Clay and Nicole Lowes. Please heal him. Lord, I also pray for Robin Hayes, who is having extensive back and neck surgery this Friday. And I pray, Lord, that you'll be with him and that operation will be successful. Heavenly Father, we are looking at a passage of scripture this morning that has been misinterpreted for almost 2,000 years.

And there's a legitimate reason for it. This sounds like a reference to the second coming of Christ. In fact, the wording is very similar. So Father, I pray for guidance, clarity, and honesty in my interpretation. Father, I do believe that the second coming of Christ may be very near. I do believe that you have called us to get prepared and to live every day as if this was the day of Christ's return. That absolutely excites my soul. The possibility of Jesus' soon return puts a fire in my belly.

It makes me thirst to know Jesus more. Lord, use this passage to remove confusion and not add to it. Use this passage to force us to get dead serious in how we interpret your word.

May we learn to shun the false prognosticators and the mixed-up speculators. And may we rightly divide the word of truth. For it is in the precious and holy name of Jesus that we pray. Amen.

You may be seated. What is Jesus telling the disciples in this passage? Is Jesus trying to tell them something about something that's going to take place in their life?

Or is he fast-forwarding the conversation all the way to the second coming? I think if you'll scan down with me to verses 30 and 31, we have a key to understanding this. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

That's a pretty plain statement. But what generation is Jesus talking about here? He's talking to his disciples.

He's telling them that some of them are still going to be living when all of these things take place. How do people deal with the words or the term, this generation, if they're telling you that that has to do with the second coming? Well, some of them say that the Greek word for generation can also be translated as race. And if that's so, and if this means race, they say, that all this means is that the Hebrews are still going to be living and the Jewish people will be back in their homeland before Jesus Christ returns to this earth.

Well, there's a problem with that. And the problem with that is that there's another word for race that is used in the scripture that's not ambiguous. And any time the word generation is used in the scripture, this word for generation, it is always used to mean generation and not race at all. Now, some dispensationalists say that Jesus' reference here to the fig tree is a symbolic reference to the nation of Israel. And what they say is that the generation that Jesus is referring to here is the generation that comes back into Israel and becomes a nation once again. This is the interpretation of Hal Lindsey that he gave us in his book, The Late Great Planet Earth.

And this is where he got himself in trouble, for he said this is what happened. On May 14, 1948, the Jewish people came back into their homeland. They were granted a charter by the United Nations.

They became a nation once again. And he said a biblical generation is 40 years. So he said that meant that the rapture of the church has to take place before the end of 1988.

Well, brothers and sisters, that didn't happen. We need to be careful about listening to speculators and date setters. Most Christians today would say that Mark chapter 13 verses 9 through 23 is referring to a future tribulation that will take place right before Christ returns.

Now hear me out. There will be a great persecution and a great tribulation before the return of Christ. We may be experiencing or starting to experience some of that.

Even as I speak, that might happen. But I do not believe that the tribulation that Jesus is referring to here is that tribulation in the future. I think it's a tribulation that Jesus is saying is going to come upon that generation. Look with me at verse 19. For in those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation that God created until now.

And listen to this. And never will be. Notice never will be. Those words indicate that history is not ending here but is continuing on. Let me read verse 20 through 23. And if the Lord did not cut short the days, no human being would be saved.

But for the sake of the elect whom he chose, he shortened the days. And then if anyone says to you, look, here is the Christ, or look, there he is, do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, the elect.

Be on guard. I have told you all these things beforehand. Do not believe that Jesus is referring to something that's going to take place at least 2,000 years into the future. I believe Jesus is speaking to the disciples, telling them what to prepare for in their life and their time. But if I'm right, and Jesus is saying that everything that he has said up to verse 33 will happen in the disciples' generation, then how do I explain the powerful language that is being used in verses 24 through 27 that sounds a whole lot like the second coming?

Well, that's what I'm going to try to attempt to do today. Here's my contention. The Bible must be interpreted with the correct biblical hermeneutic. You people have been under my teaching, under my preaching for a long time. You know what I believe about the Bible. I believe that the Bible is the absolute truth.

I believe every word, every letter, every statement, every doctrine, every jot, and every tittle in the Bible is true. Now, what is a jot and a tittle? A jot is a Hebrew letter yod. It looks like a little apostrophe.

A tittle is a little small mark that is found on several of the Hebrew letters. Now, here's the danger. A tittle on the Hebrew letter kaph, it changes the letter and it makes it a bath, a bath. It makes it a bath. It completely changes the letter.

So here's the danger. You change a tittle, you change a letter. You change a letter, you change a word. You change a word, you change a statement. You change a statement, you change a doctrine.

If you change doctrine, then you are creating heresy. I believe 2 Timothy chapter 3 verse 16. For all scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for proof, for correction, and instruction in righteousness.

I believe Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12. The word of God is quick and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit and of the joints of the mera and is a discerner of the thoughts and the intents of the heart. I believe that the Bible is true. I believe that the Bible is the inerrant, infallible, plenary, verbal, inspired word of God. Having said that, does that mean that we should always use a literal hermeneutic in interpreting the scripture?

And the answer, I believe, is no. Some dispensationalists will tell you, yes, you ought always to interpret the Bible literally. But I would say if a portion of scripture is written to be taken figuratively or symbolically, then if you take it literally, you do much damage to the text. For example, Psalm 91 verse 4 says this.

He, that is God, will cover you with his pinions and under his wings you will find refuge. Is that to be taken literally? If so, you have a God that looks like a chicken.

That is not to be taken literally. And you go to the book of Revelation. Jesus is referred to as the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Is Jesus a fuzzy little lamb that we can hold and cuddle? Is he a ferocious roaring lion that we need to run from?

No. Those passages are to be taken figuratively or symbolically to teach us about the character of Christ. So the question is, how do you know what to take literally and what to take figuratively? Sometimes the Bible just plainly explains that that's what we're to do. A good example is in Galatians chapter 4.

Paul talks about two literal people, Sarah and Hagar. And then he tells us that he is using them as an allegory. So he's using them in a figurative or symbolic sense to teach us a truth from the scripture. So sometimes the Bible actually tells us how to take it. We have Revelation chapter 1 verse 1.

It says this. The revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him to show unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass. And he sent, and listen to this, and signified it by his angel unto his servant John. The word signified means symbolized.

The book of Revelation is written in a genre called apocalyptic literature. And when you try to force a literal interpretation of scripture that was written to be taken symbolically, then there's going to be utter confusion. Is that being liberal?

No. That's being honest. That's being faithful to the scripture. Interpretation depends on the genre.

I'll give you an example. The book of Genesis is written as an historical book. So in the book of Genesis in the first chapter, the scripture says the evening and the morning were the first day.

Now is that true? Can we take that literally? You know, evolutionists are telling us that it took billions and billions of years for this world to reach the creation in which we see it. And I would tell you that is not the way to interpret it as billions and millions of years.

I would tell you that you need to interpret it as the scripture says it. The evening and the morning were the first day. That's a 24-hour period.

You say, how in the world could that be? Sun wasn't even created at that time. Well, you don't need to have a sun to have an evening and a morning.

You need directed light from God and a rotating earth, and that's a 24-hour period. So you take the book of Genesis, you read it historically, and then you will understand what God would have us to understand. You take 1 Samuel, 2 Samuel, Joshua, 1 and 2 Kings. Those books are written historically, and you read them literally. But when you read the prophetic books, like Isaiah and Ezekiel and Daniel, you'll have a combination of literal history and apocalyptic language. And the passage that we're looking at today, it's called the Olivet Discourse. Jesus has used a combination of historical narrative along with literal prophecy, and then he adds to it apocalyptic language.

Now, let me give you an example. He speaks that we've already seen and we've already dealt with some of this, but he speaks very literally. When he says there's going to be a destruction of the temple, the temple is going to be absolutely leveled.

Not one stone will be upon another. He speaks very literally when he tells the disciples and all of the Christians, don't come down from the roof. He speaks very literally when he says there's going to be an enemy army that surrounds the city of Jerusalem.

And when you see that, you need to get out. But how do we know when he's using apocalyptic language and when he's not? Well, the best way I think to do it is to compare Old Testament prophecies to what Jesus was saying in the Olivet Discourse. And then ask the question, was Isaiah or Ezekiel or Joel or Daniel using figurative language?

And if so, what does that language symbolize in those Old Testament passages? Look again at Mark 13, verse 24 through 25. But in those days after the tribulation, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, and the stars will be falling from heaven.

The powers of the heavens will be shaken. The parallel passage to that over in Matthew's Gospel is found in Matthew 24, 29. It says, immediately after the tribulation of those days, the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven, the powers of the heaven will be shaken.

Here's a question. Do we have any passage from the Old Testament that sound like that? By the way, if you've been immersed in dispensationalism, then when you heard Matthew chapter 24, 29 say, immediately after the tribulation of those days, what you thought was the future tribulation. And you said, well, there's going to be a rapture of the church, seven year period of tribulation, and then Christ will come back.

That is not what Jesus is talking about here whatsoever. Sam Storms said the following about these verses. Mark refers to signs in the sun, moon, and stars. Matthew says the sun will be darkened, the moon will not give its light, the stars will fall from heaven. Are those literal, physical, astronomical events that one might see with the naked eye?

I don't think so. In the Old Testament, such language was used to portray not what was going on in the heavens, but what is happening on the earth. I'm going to share with you three Old Testament passages where we see this kind of stuff. They describe the destruction of a kingdom, and they do it by using that kind of language. Listen to these descriptions and ask yourself, did these things in the sky literally happen when these kingdoms came to destruction? Isaiah 13 verses 9 through 10 was a prophecy describing the destruction of Babylon. It says, Behold, the day of the Lord comes, cruel with wrath and fierce anger, to make the land a desolation and destroy its sinners from it. For the stars of the heaven and their constellations will not give their light.

The sun will be dark at its rising, and the moon will not shed its light. Now, brothers and sisters, Babylon did fall. Babylon was destroyed and taken over by the Persians. But did the stars literally fall from heaven? Did they quit giving light? Did the sun become darkened during that time when Babylon fell?

And the answer to that is no, it did not happen that way. Egypt was also prophesied to be destroyed as a kingdom. We see that in Ezekiel 32. When I blot you out, I will cover the heavens and make their stars dark.

I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon shall not give its light. All the bright lights of heaven will I make dark over you, and put darkness on your land, declares the Lord God. When I make the land of Egypt desolate, when the land is desolate of all that fills it, when I strike down all who dwell in it, then they will know that I am the Lord. Egypt did fall, but did the signs, these signs in heaven actually take place literally?

And the answer to that is no. One more, Isaiah 34, verses 4 through 5, describes the destruction of Edom or Edomiah. It says, All the host of heaven shall rot away, and the skies roll up like a scroll. All their hosts shall fall as leaves from the vine, like leaves falling from the fig tree.

For my sword has drunk its fill in the heavens. Behold, it descends for judgment upon Edom, upon the people I have devoted for destruction. Once again, Edom was destroyed, literally destroyed, and the kingdom of Edomiah, it was gone.

It's literally destroyed. But did the stars actually fall from heaven? Did they rot in the sky, as the scripture says here? Did the sun become completely darkened? And the answer to that is no, it did not.

William Kimball said it this way. When Israel was judged, or when Babylon was subdued by the Medes, or when Edomiah and Egypt were destroyed, it was not the literal sun, moon, and stars that were darkened. The literal stars of heaven did not fall from the skies. The literal constellations were not dissolved or rolled up as a scroll.

These figurative expressions were clearly presented in a purely symbolic manner to characterize the destruction befalling nations and earthly powers. With all that in mind, when Jesus is preaching this sermon that we call the Olivet Discourse, he is preaching to his disciples. His disciples were steeped in Old Testament theology. They knew what Isaiah and Ezekiel and Daniel and Joel said. And they knew the language that was used in Isaiah's Ezekiel and Daniel.

They knew when that language was used to describe the destruction of a kingdom. And so they are thinking, if that kind of language was used to describe destruction of those kingdoms, then surely Jesus, when he is using that kind of language, is telling us that the kingdom of Israel is going to be destroyed. It happened, exactly like Jesus said. Go with me to verses 26 through 27. And then they see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds from the ends of the earth to the ends of the heaven.

And I think most of us will read that passage. And immediately our minds will go back to maybe Revelation chapter 19, where Jesus is coming back on the celestial white horse. And we know that is a second coming passage. We'll go over to 1 Thessalonians chapter 4, where Paul said, But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them who are asleep, that you sorrow not as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, those who sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not precede those who are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and the trump of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together to meet the Lord in the clouds, and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Jesus will return to this earth, brothers and sisters.

That is going to happen. He will separate the sheep from the goats. He will say to the sheep on his right hand, Enter into the joy of the Lord. He will say to the goats on his left hand, Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.

I never knew you. And then Revelation 20 tells us that death and hell will be cast into the burning lake of fire forever and ever and ever. So it is, I think, a very natural thing to read Mark 13 verse 26 through 27 that says the Son of Man is coming with power and great glory and think that Jesus is describing the same event that I just mentioned in Revelation 19 or in 1 Thessalonians 4.

I don't think so. I think that Jesus has Daniel 7 in mind here. And what is said in Daniel chapter 7 verse 13 through 14, and I want you to listen to this and ask yourself, what was that a prophecy of? I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven, there came one like a son of man. He came to the ancient of days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him.

His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away in his kingdom, one that shall not be destroyed. That is not a prophecy of the second coming. It's a prophecy of the ascension of Jesus. Jesus died on a cross. Three days later, he was raised from the dead.

Forty days later, he ascended into heaven. It's a picture of his ascension. What is Christ doing if he's in heaven right now? And he is. Is he twiddling his thumbs waiting for the second coming?

No. He is ruling and reigning in heaven from his throne in glory right now. In Matthew chapter 26, we read about the trial of Jesus, and they had brought in false witnesses to lie about Jesus. The Sanhedrin had leveled false charges against him. And Caiaphas, who was the high priest at that time, was infuriated. He wanted Jesus to defend himself.

Jesus wouldn't do it. And so he got mad, and he said this to Jesus, I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God. Listen closely to what Jesus said. Jesus said to him, you have said so, but I tell you, from now on you will see the Son of Man seated at the right hand of power and coming on the clouds of heaven. He tells Caiaphas that he will see the Son of Man coming in power and glory from heaven. Now Caiaphas knew exactly what Jesus was referring to.

He was going back to the description that Daniel gives in Daniel chapter 7 of the Son of Man. Jesus is saying to Caiaphas, go ahead and have your mock trial. Go ahead and bring in your false witnesses. Let them lie about me.

Go ahead and do this. Nail me to a cross. Nail me to a cross.

Murder me. But that won't stop me because I will rise from the dead and I will reign from my throne in glory. He tells Caiaphas that he will see it. He said, Caiaphas, you're going to see this happen. Now Caiaphas is not alive today.

He's not going to see the second coming happening. Jesus said, you're going to see me coming in the clouds of glory. Another way of saying that is did Caiaphas experience Jesus ruling and reigning from heaven?

And the answer to that is yes. How did he see it? Folks, when Caiaphas saw Peter stand up on the day of Pentecost and preach and 3,000 people were saved, he was seeing Jesus rule from heaven. When Caiaphas saw the apostle Paul converted and he becomes the apostle to the Gentiles, takes the gospel to the Gentile world, Caiaphas was seeing Jesus ruling and reigning from heaven.

Folks, when Peter raised Dorcas from the dead and when Peter was miraculously rescued from prison, then Caiaphas saw Jesus ruling and reigning from heaven. But the evidence that Jesus is talking to him specifically about here is the abomination of desolation. He said, you're going to see the army surrounding the city of Jerusalem. You're going to see the city of Jerusalem destroyed. You're going to see 1.1 million Jews killed.

You're going to see the rest of the Jews that are living spread out to the four corners of the earth. It was an ascension statement. And what was the statement? The statement was this, to Caiaphas and to us, Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus Christ is Lord.

Sam Storm summarizes it this way. Therefore, this coming is not a visible physical appearance by which Jesus returns to earth, although that will most assuredly occur at the end of history. Rather, they will see him in the sense that they will understand or spiritually perceive that he is the vindicated and enthroned king. This actually refers to Jesus' ascension, not his second advent.

In the destruction of the temple, the rejected Christ is vindicated as the ascended Lord and shown to possess great power and glory. All right, look at verse 27 again. And he will send out the angels, gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven. Is that not a picture of the gathering together of all the believers at the end time?

I don't think so. For once again, Jesus said that all this would happen in their generation. So how could we possibly say Mark 13, 27 has happened already? Well, the word angels is the Greek word anglos. That doesn't mean just angels, like an archangel. That means messenger or preacher.

And what has happened? The preachers, the missionaries, the people of God have gone out to the four corners of the earth and they have trumpeted the gospel and people have come to know Christ, have come to Christ from one horizon to the next horizon. After 70 A.D., the gospel quickly spread to the four corners of the earth.

Once again, let me quote Sam Storms. The gathering together of God's elect is not a reference to the end time harvest, but to the global growth of the church that is ongoing throughout the present age. It includes both the gathering of the saints into local assemblies or churches and the universal assembling of the saints into the body of Christ, the universal church. I want to close with verses 28 through 33. From the fig tree learn its lessons.

As soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. So also when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near at the very gates. Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away.

My words will not pass away. As I said before, some dispensationalists equate the fig tree with Israel because they want to make this passage into a second coming passage. But Jesus says in Matthew 24, look at the fig tree and all the fig trees.

Where is he preaching this from? He's up on the Mount of Olives covered with fig trees. They're under the shade of one particular fig tree, and I can just see Jesus reaching up and pulling a fig leaf down.

This is an indication of what time it is in the year. It's Passover season, isn't it? It's the spring, and Jesus is using that. So it was a perfect visual illustration for the disciples. Verse 31 says this.

When you see these things, what things? In particular, the abomination of desolation. When you see the city of Jerusalem surrounded by enemy armies, when you see the temple being destroyed, and every stone in that temple being knocked down one from another, then understand this.

Understand this. The people of God are going to move out. They're going to leave Israel. They're going to go out to the four corners of the earth, and they're going to gather to themselves people, God's people, children of God, believers from every tribe, kindred, tongue, and nation. What does Jesus say emphatically as he's closing this up? He said this generation will not pass away until all this has taken place.

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. What's Jesus saying? He is saying the words that I just gave you, you can take them and put them in the bank because it's going to happen exactly as I said.

And you know what? It did happen exactly as he said. Does Jesus have anything to say about his second coming? We're going to get to that next week. He has a lot to say about his second coming.

It's a reality. It's going to happen that it may be nearer than any of us might think, but we just need to get our thinking straight on what he's talking about here. What's the abomination of desolation?

When does that take place? And what generation is Jesus referring to? Let's go to the Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we've covered a tough subject today, but I think we've been honest and diligent in interpreting the scripture. Many in the church world would disagree with our assessment, but I believe it's clear, especially in the light of what you said to your disciples, that this generation will not pass away until all this has taken place. This does not weaken our view of the second coming. It strengthens it. It says, Lord, your prophecies are always true, 100% true. It's in the precious and holy name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-02-22 13:41:44 / 2023-02-22 13:53:51 / 12

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