Q: After reviewing Mathew 24 I have a question regarding vs 34, the societies nemesis. When considering Math 24 Jesus gave as the sign to look for regarding the nearness of the kingdom, wars, famines, etc, etc. Considering vs 34 it would be drawing a long bow to claim WW1, WW2, Spanish flu, etc as being part of the sign because this generation of 1914 has long gone. Your insight on the generation would be appreciated. 

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A:  Did the generation that Jesus spoke of at Matthew 24:34 begin in 1914, thus marking the beginning of the "time of the end"? Although the Society has abandoned their previously long held belief that the generation of 1914 would not pass away until all things have occurred―running out of time for that in the mid 1990s, and having since then replaced it with two overlapping generations of anointed―yet they still hold to the belief that in 1914 the "time of the end" began because in that year World War 1 broke out, which was followed by many of the other prominent signs Jesus gave, including a second World War, plus many lesser wars; also pestilence; famine, earthquakes; increase in lawlessness; persecution; etc.

What is the "time of the end" and the "generation" that Jesus spoke of? If we no longer believe that it began in 1914, which would by now add up to over 100 years, then what or when do they apply?

According to the apostle Paul, the things that occurred in times past in connection with God's people have meaning for us today. (Rom. 15:4; 1 Cor. 10:11) One thing that we can know for sure is that according to previous examples, Jehovah has never executed his judgment upon his people without first giving them warning, calling them to repentance, and giving them specific instructions on what they needed to do in order to escape and survive. And although they had been rebellious and disobedient up until then, their survival would now depend on acting on his directions. Obedience now became the issue! Anyone failing to listen, well, his blood would be upon his own head. (Ezek. 33:7-11; 2 Chron. 36:15-17)

The "time of the end" for God's people began for those previous generations from the day Jehovah sent his prophets with the specific warning and call for repentance. And although he forewarned them, yet he never gave them a date so that they could mark it on their calendars. Interestingly, in both instances, first in Jeremiah's day when the Babylonians came against Jerusalem; and again in the first century when in 70 CE the Romans destroyed the city with the temple (and over 1,100,000 Jews perished), the time involved for God's prophets who preached the warning amounted to a period of about forty years; which was that generation. In the first century the "last days" began for that "generation" when John the Baptist started preaching repentance, and Jesus added urgency to the warning, giving specific instructions on how to survive. (Psalms 95:10; Matt. 3:1-10; Luke 11:50-51; 19:41-44; 21:20-24) That same message was not preached to the people in the previous generation who would not have seen the fulfillment.

We should include one other important factor, that is, Jehovah not only called his people to repentance, but at the same time he also clearly exposed all their sins and rebelliousness from which they needed to repent, so that it left no doubt what they had done and the seriousness of their situation. What do we learn from all this? That we can be sure that in our time also, it is the generation that sees and hears the warning sounded, including the laying bare of our sins, errors and wickedness, that will experience the coming destruction upon the wicked within God's household. It is as the apostle Peter says: "But the end of all things has drawn close. Be sound in mind, therefore, and be vigilant with a view to prayers. Above all things, have intense love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins... For it is the appointed time for the judgment to start with the house of God. Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? And if the righteous [man] is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly [man] and the sinner make a showing? (1 Peter 4:7-8, 17-18)

According to all the evidence, which is discernable to God's people (but to which the world is ignorant), it seems that "this generation" entered its "time of the end" when the committee of capable brothers, including Raymond Franz, which had been assigned by the Society to do research for their one volume "Aid to Bible Understanding" encyclopaedic Book, presented their mountain of research that revealed many errors and contradictions in the Society's teachings, including chronology, and the necessity to make corrections in order to bring it into harmony with God's word of truth. (John 4:24; 17:17) As one of the brothers involved later wrote, prominent members of the governing body (not Raymond Franz) at that time did not deny that the corrections were in order, but they were afraid of how the changes would impact the organization and the credibility of those taking the lead, notably, the governing body. They suggested that they would introduce the changes gradually, over a period of several decades. When the brothers pressed the matter, since also the blood transfusion issue was involved, and they feared that lives might unnecessarily be lost in the meantime, these earnest brothers were accused of apostatizing, not against Jehovah but against the organization. Some of these brothers left on their own, while others were expelled, disfellowshiped. Many are familiar with the details as it has received wide publicity on the internet, including by some who were personally involved; and also the books that Raymond Franz, a former member of the governing body, published in exposing the condition of the Society and its leaders, providing evidence to which he had access at the time.

Reflecting on the developments within the organization for the past few decades, it definitely appears that our "time of the end" began for this "generation" with the exposing of the corruption within God's household. For several decades now Jehovah has been drawing to his people's attention that his foretold judgment is at hand, during which time he has also been revealing the existence of the "man of lawlessness" within his temple, whose "presence is according to the operation of Satan" while he exercises authority over God's people. The apostle Paul explains this in his second letter to the Thessalonians, showing how God will judge his people in connection with the revealing of this "lawless one," and although the Watchtower may refer to it in a study article once in a while, they refuse to make the application to themselves, pointing instead to the churches of Christendom, with their clergy. (2 Thess. 2:3-12)

When Jesus gave the signs that would identify the last days, he was addressing his disciples who had asked the question, since much of what he said concerns them. That is why he often stressed that they should stay awake and keep on the watch. (Matt. 24:42, 44; 25:13) Jesus did not mention just one single outstanding sign, such as a World War, as proof that the time of the end had now begun; but he did say that the many signs he gave would be clear evidence to that "generation" that would experience the conclusion of the system of things. In other words, when the "time of the end begins," these things would already be plainly seen by all. Jesus explains it this way―by means of an illustration―when he says: "Now learn from the fig tree as an illustration this point: Just as soon as its young branch grows tender and it puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. Likewise also you, when you see all these things, know that he is near at the doors. Truly I say to you that this generation will by no means pass away until all these things occur." (Matt. 24:32-34; Luke 21:29-32)

According to the evidence that is discernable to God's people, the young branch of the fig tree has already grown tender and is putting forth leaves. We are now witnessing important fulfillment of prophecies in connection with God's household. Jesus said that in the "harvest," which is a "conclusion of a system of things," he will send forth his angels to collect out of his kingdom "all things that cause stumbling and persons who are doing lawlessness." The apostle Peter likewise foretold that God's judgment will start with his own house, posing the question, "Now if it starts first with us, what will the end be of those who are not obedient to the good news of God? And if the righteous is being saved with difficulty, where will the ungodly and the sinner make a showing?" (1 Peter 4:17-18) Jesus illustrated the point that God's house will be cleansed prior to the end of this system of things, with the parable of the dragnet which gathered in all sorts of fish, and when it was full the unsuitable fish were discarded while the good ones were put in vessels. (Matt. 13:39-42, 47-50; 7:21-23)

Jehovah is cleansing his temple, his people. (Titus 2:12-14; Mal. 3:2-5) By the time the great tribulation begins, he will have clearly identified all those who belong to him.  (2 Tim. 2:19) Our present system of worship, under the control and direction of the Watchtower Society, will soon be a thing of the past. The prophet Malachi foretold:

"At present we are pronouncing presumptuous people happy. Also, the doers of wickedness have been built up. Also, they have tested God out and keep getting away. At that time those in fear of Jehovah spoke with one another, each one with his companion, and Jehovah kept paying attention and listening. And a book of remembrance began to be written up before him for those in fear of Jehovah and for those thinking upon his name. 'And they will certainly become mine,' Jehovah of armies has said, 'at the day when I am producing a special property. And I will show compassion upon them, just as a man shows compassion upon his son who is serving him. And you people will again certainly see [the distinction] between a righteous one and a wicked one, between one serving God and one who has not served him.' (Malachi 3:15-18; 4:1-2; Dan. 12:1, 3, 9-10)

 

Since the judgment starts with the house of God, the ones who will experience it is the generation that Jesus spoke of. How this will develop is also explained by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12, regarding the revealing of "the man of lawlessness" within God's house. The fulfillment of this revealing of the "lawless one" is already well under way, as can be observed by anyone in the congregation who is staying awake. (Rev. 3:3, 19-20) Jesus' words, where he says that "at that time the righteous ones will shine as brightly as the sun in the kingdom of their Father" is also becoming clear. And just as significant is the fact that within God's house at that time "the wicked ones will certainly act wickedly, and no wicked ones at all will understand; but the ones having insight will understand." (Matt. 13:41-43; Dan. 12:10)

What "generation" is Jesus referring to at Matthew 24:34 that "will by no means pass away until all these things occur"? It is the generation to whom Jehovah is proclaiming their rebelliousness, and who therefore will also experience his sudden judgment upon them. Jesus said that "all these things will come upon this generation"; which proved true in the first century, and will also be true in our day. (Matt. 23:36) Once the revealing begins, we should expect a difference in our congregation's spirit and atmosphere, as the former peace of God's people will be replaced by turmoil, hostility, and a lack of faith and love. This will be especially true of the leaders who will fight against the revealing, not acknowledging that it is from God. Thus they make themselves like the opposers who fought against God's prophets in Jeremiah's day; and also the majority who rejected God's only begotten Son Christ Jesus, although he came to his own people. (Matt. 5:11-12; Luke 11:49-52; John 1:11-12)

The difference of the spirit within the congregations today compared to that a few decades ago is especially noticeable to the older ones who have been associating with the congregation all their lives. (Matt. 24:10-13; 2 Tim. 3:1-7; Gal. 5:22-23) We understand that the developments that are happening within our congregations at the present time are in fulfillment of the prophecies regarding God's people in the time of the end; and for that reason we rejoice, because our "deliverance is getting near." (Luke 21:28)


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