Your Questions Answered By Chuck Missler
This Generation Shall Not Pass...
by Chuck Missler
Q: Who is Jesus referring to when he says, "...this
generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled"?
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and
putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh:
So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near,
even at the doors.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these
things be fulfilled.
Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven,
but my Father only. -Matthew 24:32-36
This passage has given rise to more conjectures and still stimulates much
confusion even today.
Israel as the Fig Tree?
It has been popular to presume that the "fig tree" is a reference to
Israel. That view was further popularized by Hal Lindsey's best seller,
The Late Great Planet Earth,1 and Ed
Weisenant's 88 Reasons that Jesus would return in 1988. The idea
was that since Israel was restored to statehood on May 14, 1948, and that a
generation can be defended as 40 years, that 1988 was the year to watch.
(Hal Lindsey's book remains a classic in its field; Weisenant's book, I
suspect, is available at rather deep discounts.)
Jerusalem as the Fig
Some have further suggested that the vine was the symbol for Israel,
and that the fig tree refers to the city of Jerusalem. Around this
conjecture, some suggest that June 6, 1967, is the key year when, as a result of
the Six Day War, the Old City of Jerusalem returned to Israeli control.
This would make the year 2007 a year to watch. (That may well be true for
Terminus A Quo?
The starting point for "this generation" is a key part of the enigma.
The presumption that the idiom of the "fig tree" uniquely refers to either
Israel or Jerusalem seems specious. The parallel account in Luke includes,
"...and all the trees," which would seem to dismiss any specific metaphorical
significance to the fig tree itself.2 Attempts
to identify any really consistent specification of the fig tree as a denotative
metaphor seems rather fanciful.
The direct clue to the real issue is the immediately following verse:
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of
heaven, but my Father only. -Matthew 24:36
That would seem to have in view the Harpazo, or "rapture" of the
church,3 which is the principal event that is
distinctively without precedent prerequisite events. It appears to be the
trigger to the entire scenario. The removal of the church is also the
event which removes the present blindness of Israel:4
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery,
lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened
to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come
in. -Romans 11:25
This would also seem to be consistent with apparent "Jewish-ness" of the
entire Olivet Discourse, of which this parable is a part.
5 The mutual exclusiveness of Israel and the Church is
intrinsic to the structure of Gabriel's Seventy Weeks prophecy to Daniel.
(Much of the confusion among prophecy buffs is over ecclesiology rather than
The "Second Coming" is preceded by a "week" of seven specific years which
even include a "mid-course" correction in the midst of the week.
7 From a careful exegesis of 2 Thessalonians 2, we
learn that the removal of the church is a prerequisite condition to the
appearance of the Man of Sin, the Son of Perdition.
8 Thus, the sequence appears as follows:
1.The Harpazo, or "rapture," of the church;
2. The public appearance of the Man of Sin.10
3. His coming to power sufficient to "enforce the covenant" with Israel
for seven years;11
4. The Second Coming of Christ, which terminates the seven years.
The Parable of the Fig Tree seems to indicate that the generation which sees
the beginning of these things will see them all. But the
triggering event may well be the Harpazo, the only prophetic event that
is distinctively both unspecified and imminent.
Since there is a definite seven-year period immediately preceding the Second
Coming, it would seem that there could be up to as many as 33 years (40
- 7) between the Harpazo and the beginning of the seven-year period for
the Man of Sin to appear, rise to power, and position himself to enforce the
covenant that Isaiah calls the "Covenant with Hell."
These intervening years could also include the rebuilding of the Temple, the
rebuilding of Babylon, and other anticipated positionings for the final
To the extent that there are geopolitical and other signs on the horizon
which suggest that the circumstances anticipated for the seven-year period are
moving into position, these certainly support the view that the Harpazo
is getting closer and may be on our very immediate horizon.
This should, indeed, intensify our priorities to immerse in the Word,
reexamine our commitments to our Coming King, and seriously address each day
which remains with a high degree of urgency.
Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son
of man cometh. -Matthew 24:44
Are you really ready? Do you really take Him
* * *
- Hal Lindsey, The Late Great Planet Earth , Zondervan Publishing House,
Grand Rapids MI 1970, p.53-54. This book, published in over 35 languages,
resulted in Hal being named as "The Author of the Decade," in 1980, by the New
- For an amusing use of allusions to the fig tree and others, see
Abimelech's speech in Judges 9:6-15.
- 1 Thessalonians 4:17. "Caught up," (Greek
harpazo: to seize, carry off by force; to seize on, claim for one's self
eagerly; to snatch out or away.)
- This blindness was declared when they failed to recognize Christ's
presentation of Himself as Messiah the King at His "triumphal entry," Luke
19:37-44. Note verse 42.
- Matthew 24:16, 20.
- Daniel 9:24-27.
- Daniel 9:27.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8. For a detailed review
see our Expositional Commentary on the Book of Thessalonians
- 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55.
- 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8.
- Daniel 9:27.
- Matthew 24:22.
- Isaiah 28:15, 18.