In the context of the events depicted in Matthew 24, Jesus also said, “‘Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place’” (Matt. 24:34, NKJV). This text has led to confusion because, obviously, all these things didn’t take place in a single temporal generation.
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Dr. Richard Lehmann, writing in The Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology, says that the Greek word translated “generation” corresponds to the Hebrew word dôr, which is often used to designate a group or class of people, such as a “stubborn and rebellious generation” (Ps. 78:8). Thus, Jesus was not using the word to depict time or dates but to depict the class of evil people whom He had been referring to. “In harmony with this OT usage, Jesus would have used the term ‘this generation’ without a temporal meaning, to refer to a class of people. The evil generation would include all who share evil characteristics (Matt. 12:39; Matt. 16:4; Mark 8:38).”—Handbook of Seventh-day Adventist Theology (Hagerstown: Review and Herald®Publishing Association, 2000), p. 904. In other words, evil will remain until the end of time, until Jesus comes back.
- As Seventh-day Adventists, how do we deal with what seems like an apparent delay? Haven’t previous generations of Adventists believed that Jesus would come back in their lifetimes? And don’t many of us expect it in ours? At the same time, isn’t expecting Him to return during any given period a form of date setting? How do we find the right balance in how we deal with the Second Coming? How do we avoid the attitude of the “evil servant” while at the same time avoiding that of those who see in every headline a sign of the immediate end? What should the attitude be among those of us who are awaiting the Second Coming?
- Read again Jesus’ description of what the Second Coming will be like. How does it differ from some of the popular conceptions of the Second Coming? Considering how clear the texts are, why do so many believe what is so contrary to Scripture? What arguments do they bring up to defend their views, and how should we respond?
- How do we learn to live with delay? What Bible characters had to live with delay, and what can we learn from them? For example, Joseph, Abraham and Sarah, Caleb and Joshua? Also, what does Revelation 6:9-10 say about delay?