Friday, April 28, 2017

Jesus' use of this generation and this evil generation; Return of an unclean spirit Matt 24, Luke 21, and Mk 13 Part 4

I have been doing a series on Jesus use of this generation in the synoptic gospels. Specifically his use of this phrase in the little apocalypse Matt 24, Luke 21 and Mark 13. Below, is another verse where he uses "this evil generation" which is a reference back to Deu 1:35. There is a connection between the generation that perished in the wilderness in Moses time, and the generation alive at Jesus time, both missed the promised land of rest... for those in Deuteronomy it was Canaan, and in Jesus day, HE was the "Sabbath Rest" their land of promise (Hebrews 3 & 4.)

However, in the following passage, we see that they could not rest as they were busy sweeping their own places clean but it just made a space for more evil and self effort. 

"When an unclean spirit comes out of a man, it roams through waterless places looking for rest but doesn't find any. Then it says, 'I'll go back to my house that I came from.' And returning, it finds the house vacant, swept, and put in order. Then off it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and settle down there. As a result, that man's last condition is worse than the first. That's how it will also be with this evil generation." 
(Matthew 12:43-45 HCSB)

Who was the audience that Jesus spoke too, and who was the evil generation that he was addressing? There are often essential questions one must ask when reading scripture. Let me answer my two essential questions. Jesus was always speaking to Jews, under the Mosaic Covenant. So then, the evil generation he addressed was the generation living at his advent. Also, it was made up of religious, Torah observant Jews. The evil generation was not the unbelieving Gentiles. It was not the decadent Romans. The evil generation was the religious Jews that had their Messiah walking in their midst and did not recognize him for who he was. Further, they were the unbelieving Torah observant Jews who used their Torah to prove that he was not the Messiah... "Then the temple police came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, "Why haven't you brought Him?" The police answered, "No man ever spoke like this!" Then the Pharisees responded to them: "Are you fooled too? Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in Him? But this crowd, which doesn't know the law, is accursed!" 
(John 7:45-49 HCSB)

This evil generation was an unbelieving generation. Unbelief was the ultimate evil. God had sent Jesus. He had distinguished and set him apart with signs and wonders. He used the miraculous to set him apart, and the scribes and Pharisees; the ones who sat in Moses Seat, did not believe. The writer of Hebrews in chapter three and four establishes the similitude between unbelief and sin. If you read the chapters that develop the real meaning of the "Sabbath Rest," it will become crystal clear, that for the writer of Hebrews sin, disobedience, and unbelief were synonymous.  That is the real evil that came into the world from the garden, unbelief. It was unbelief that caused death to enter into the world. In real terms, death was a gift. The LORD God said, "Since man has become like one of Us, knowing good and evil, he must not reach out, take from the tree of life, eat, and live forever." 
(Genesis 3:22 HCSB) Yes, death was a gift as it did not condemn humanity to live perpetually in unbelief. This is a profound thought that needs some unpacking. Jesus was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and he was purposed for redemption from BEFORE the foundation of the world. It is clear then that God, before creation, had devised a plan that would allow people to once again partake of the tree of life.

I find it interesting that so many evangelicals, especially Pentecostals, make Matt 12:43-45 about demonic possession when it is clearly about self righteous religion. That is the focus that Jesus was speaking about with the evil generation. They were trying to overcome death by religious effort. God had declared humanity good in Genesis 1:31 and Jesus was willing to die to prove it by being resurrected from the dead. Faith in the resurrection brings peace with Father God, and transforms the heart with love. This is why it is so important to present the pristine gospel that Paul and the first century saints proclaimed. It is also important to realize that when Jesus spoke of "this generation," he was speaking of the generation alive at his first coming.

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