"Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. "Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place."
David McAfee, in his book Disproving Christianity, says on page 46, "There is no known resolution for this false prophecy put forth" The point he is getting at is that Jesus predicted he would bodily return during the generation of his followers all passed away. Christians generally refer to Jesus coming back as "The Second Coming" or "The Parousia". There are two presuppositions in David's thinking:
- In this context the "these things" refers to Jesus' return to earth
- Jesus' return to earth will be a physical return with physical manifestations to announce his arrival
Now before yall Christians start throwing stones at me saying Billy Dyer denies The Second Coming please continue to read my explanation. As I said at the beginning of this post, a little common sense and context can generally clear up our questions. It is amazing David said there is no known resolution to this problem. If the boy would simply read a commentary or listen to a half way decent bible teacher he would realize there is an easy solution to his question.
So first let us look at the context:
- Jesus has just predicted the destruction of Jerusalem (Matthew 23:38-24:2).
- The disciples as about two events; When will the destruction of Jerusalem happen and will will Jesus' coming happen? (24:3).
- Jesus proceeds to answer both questions. The crux of the matter is when does he finish answering the first and begin to answer the second? Read my earlier posts here and here to see a more detailed response. I believe Jesus answers the first question in 24:4-35, 24:36 shows a transition to Jesus beginning to answer the next question, and 24:36-41 answers their second question.
With that being said it should be clear to understand that Jesus was not predicting The Second Coming in 24:32-34. So what was he saying? He was telling them the Destruction of Jerusalem was coming in their generation and that he gave them definitive signs to know when it was near. How do we know this?
- He points them to nature. Basically he says, "Yall can look at the physical signs of a tree and know summer is near. So in the same manner remember these physical signs I'm telling you in order to know that the destruction of Jerusalem is near."
- He told them to flee when they saw "these things" approaching. What's the point of fleeing if angels are swooping down from heaven in chariots of fire? Who can hide from them?!?! This is why he told them to flee when they see it coming (24:15-18). If he were talking about The Second Coming why would it matter if a lady was pregnant (24:19)? If people were to flee then it makes sense why he would say it will be harder for a pregnant lady to flee and live in the mountains for a few years while her home city is being destroyed.
- The Abomination of Desolation (24:15) is a reference to the prophet Daniel (Dan 11:31, 12:11). When you look into that passage it is referring to a time earlier to Jesus when Jerusalem was attacked by Antiochus Epiphanes.
- The Language of 24:29 always points to a physical destruction of a nation. Look up Isaiah 13:1, 9-11 about Babylon and Ezekiel 32:3, 7-11 about Egypt. Jesus' Jewish followers would have naturally understood this language to refer to God sending an army to destroy a city or empire.