The end of the age
A difficult passage today, full of doom and gloom. The biggest problem with this passage is the depressing ‘end of the world’ theology that seems so prevalent with some very vocal Christians in this day and age. Up to about 150 years ago the Church’s understanding on these and related passages was very simple. Jesus warned his followers of impending disaster (this generation will not pass away: generation = 40 years), the destruction of Jerusalem. I won’t go into all the details but everything Jesus teaches here happened in AD 70 (40 years after this prophecy). The eye witness accounts of those terrible events are truly harrowing and make you understand why Jesus warned his followers of that. If you really want to know about this, talk to me and I can recommend you some reading and am very willing to discuss this privately.
This passage (and similar ones) is titled in my Bible “Signs of the end of the age” and the destruction of Jerusalem was the end of the age. The end of the age of Moses, the age of the law with its sacrificial system and limited power of atonement. By AD 70 it had run parallel, for almost a generation, with the age of the Church, the age of grace where the sacrifice of Jesus provided all the power for atonement ever needed. In many places in the New Testament Paul, Peter and others write to the Church to encourage them that the end of the old, and the full emerging of the new, is very near, not to make them fearful but rather the opposite. The message all through the New Testament is one of victory, of the growth of the Kingdom, of increase. However harrowing the destruction of Jerusalem and all of its inhabitants was, there was something to look forward to: the fact that Jesus’ sacrifice was enough and that the Church was going to be victorious.
When we watch the news today it is so easy to slip into the mindset of “it is all going to pot”, yet that is not what the Bible is teaching, and not what is happening on a spiritual level either. The Church is growing faster than ever before, we see a continual outpouring of the Spirit on a global level that surpasses what we have ever seen before, the Kingdom is on the move and it is increasing. Don’t look to the future and think “it is all going to end in tears, we are heading for dark times”. Jesus was very clear in this passage (v19) that AD70 was the worst it had ever been, and that it would never be like that again. Of course we will face resistance at times, it is our calling to “destroy the works of the evil one”, and he doesn’t like it. However know this: you live in the age of the Church, the age of the Kingdom of God. The future is bright, because we will be victorious, because Jesus already paid the price.