Jesus always spoke the truth.
Then Pilate said to him, “So you are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say that I am a king. For this purpose I was born and for this purpose I have come into the world— to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.”
Indeed, Jesus Himself is the truth. John 14:6
And the words of the NT are the words of Jesus. Jesus predicted the destruction of the Jewish temple around 30 AD (Matthew 23:36-39; 24:1-3, 24:15), and it came to pass in 70 AD. (within that generation – see Matthew 24:34/Mark 13:30)
“Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.” (Mark 13:30/Matthew 24:34)
Paul Bilal Williams, has a post entitled “The Most Embarrassing verse in the Bible”, [No longer there, as Paul Williams changed his blog several times in the past 2 or 3 years.] where he quotes C. S. Lewis and the famous atheist Bertrand Russell on Mark 13:30/Matthew 24:34.
Eschatology (the doctrine of Last Things, or “End Times”) is a big subject; too much for a com-box; and good Christians disagree with each other on many of those issues.
I like C. S. Lewis, and similar to Paul B. Williams, I like Lewis’ book, The Screwtape Letters, and I also like Mere Christianity; but sometimes Lewis made comments that were definitely damaging to the Christian faith – like the one from Lewis that Paul Williams has quoted here. (his comments on Mark 13:30 / Matthew 24:34 – calling it “the most embarrassing verse in the bible”). Lewis was not a biblical scholar or pastor and so sometimes he got things wrong. It doesn’t surprise me that a Muslim such as Paul Williams would use his statement, along with Bertrand Russell. Lewis was a good man, and a good apologist for the most basic things, as in his book, Mere Christianity, but he had some problems. John Piper gives a good overview of C. S. Lewis and the good that can be gleaned from him, yet also the negative and wrong things that Lewis said and wrote about.
Some of the false doctrines that Lewis promoted: Lewis’ statements that suggested that those that die and never heard of Christ – that they might be saved (in his space triology books); the possibility of some kind of Purgatory; his affirmations of “Theistic Evolution”; and his rejection of Biblical Inerrancy are a few of his views that are indeed so troubling that some very conservative Christians don’t like him at all. He was indeed wrong about those issues; but he still has a lot of good material that has helped lots of people at the beginning of their Christian walk. The good in C. S. Lewis is really good.
Conservative Christians agree with Muslims that Jesus never made a false prophesy. (and Jesus never sinned, which even Muslims agree with. Qur’an, Surah 19:19-21) But He also did not return bodily and physically in 70 AD. But someday He will return.
So, what was fulfilled in Mark 13:30/Matthew 24:34 was what happened in 70 AD – Jesus “came” in a sense that He came in judgment on Israel and the temple, (see especially Matthew 23:36-39 and 24:1-15) by ordaining and allowing the Romans to destroy the temple and kill many Jews of that generation – a 7 year war – 66 AD to 73 AD – the temple destroyed in 70 AD, in the middle of that 7 year conflict. Masada in 73 AD was the last stronghold – when 400 Jews committed suicide rather than be taken captive or killed by the Romans. Jesus is right and spoke truth always and only the truth – He predicted the destruction of the temple around AD 30, a few days before his arrest; and it came to pass in 70 AD. 40 years is typical for a time span of a generation, so what Jesus said was true, and the Scriptures are true. Kenneth Gentry, Gary DeMar, and R. C. Sproul have made excellent exegetical arguments that support this understanding in their books.
R. C. Sproul provides an excellent rebuttal to Bertrand Russell in The Last Days According to Jesus. (Baker, 1998)
(However, I disagreed with Sproul that Matthew 13:39-40 is also 70 AD. I think that is clearly talking about His second coming at the end of time.)
Kenneth Gentry’s book, Perilous Times has excellent exegetical chapters on Daniel 9; 2 Thess. 2; Matthew 24; and Revelation chapters 13 and 17. (The cover is terrible; has nothing to do with the content of the book; and seems to be the kind of thing the Pre-tribulational type Millennial Madness prophesy teachers would put forth on a cover. Very ironic indeed.)
Before Jerusalem Fell, is a scholarly defense that the book of Revelation was written before 70 AD and that “666” was Nero Caesar and Rev. 17:9-10 is about Rome and the Caesars; the king – “one is” is the one still alive at the time of the book of Revelation, which was Nero Caesar if one starts with Julius Caesar and goes forward.
“five kings have fallen” – Revelation 17:9-10 (the city on seven hills was clearly the city of Rome, Italy)
1. Julius Caesar – (circa 50 BC – 44 BC) After Julius Caesar’s assassination, there was chaos, civil war, power was shared between Mark Antony, Octavius, and Marcus Lepidus; until Augustus (Octavius) became Caesar.
2. Augustus ( 27 BC – 14 AD) (Christ was born during his reign. Luke 2:1)
3. Tiberius ( 14 AD – 37 AD) ( Jesus began his ministry during his reign. Luke 3:1; and was crucified during his reign.)
4. Caligula ( 37 – 41 AD)
5. Claudius (41 – 54 AD)
“one is” = Nero, who was Caesar after Claudius.
6. Nero – ( 54 – 68 AD)
Gentry shows that a lot of the book of Revelation is about God’s coming judgment on Israel, and the temple.
Gary DeMar’s two books are excellent in that they expose the many problems with typical Evangelical TV prophesy preaching and book selling hype and prophesy, Pre-Trib. rapture/prophesy type material:
(I disagreed with Gary DeMar that 2 Peter 3:8-15 is about 70 AD, in an appendix in the edition I have. Apparently, he realized what a weak case it was, and took that appendix out of later editions. I was shocked that he even entertained that view.)
It is also true that Jesus will return at the end of time, but no one knows that time. And Christians should stop trying to predict it or suggest it. (Acts 1:6-8; Matthew 24:36)
That Christ will return physically again someday in our future, is clear. (Matthew 24:36 ff – Matthew chapter 25; Revelation chapters 19-22; I Thess. 4:13-18; 2 Peter 3:8-15; Acts 1:11; I Corinthians 15:23-28, 50-55; John 14:1-3; Hebrews 9:28; Titus 2:13; 2 Timothy 4:1; Philippians 3:20; 2 Thessalonians 1:3-10)
Matthew 24:29 includes a quote from Isaiah 13:10 and allusions to Ezekiel 32:7 and Joel 2:10 (which Acts 2 quotes as relating to the day of Pentecost). Isaiah 13 is about Babylon and the judgment that God will bring on them by raising up the Medes and Persians – who did indeed judge Babylon. (Isaiah 13:17) For the Jews in the land, “the Day of Lord” all through the prophets included judgments by God allowing other nations to invade Israel. Also, Isaiah 19:1 says that “the Lord rides on a cloud” – obviously it is not meant to be taken literally, but it apocalyptic language that shows that God is coming to judge Egypt and the idols of Egypt. Matthew 24:29-31 seems to have some kind of a double fulfillment. Jesus initiated the conversation about the temple being destroyed in Matthew 24:1-2, but the disciples added 2 other issues and seemed to be the one’s who assumed that the second coming of Christ would be at the same time as the destruction of the temple. Jesus’ answers, therefore, from verses 3-35, are a mixture of 70 AD and the second coming. The disciples added “and the sign of Your coming”, “and the end of the age” to the question about the destruction of the temple. (verse 3)
Jesus said in the NT that He was “coming quickly” to several of the churches in Asia Minor in Revelation chapters 2-3, but not physically, rather coming in a sense of judgment in allowing other nations to conquer them. See Revelation 2:4-5; 2:16; 2:21-27; 3:3) God allowed the Goths and Visi-Goths to conquer these parts around 263 AD (they destroyed Ephesus then); then it was rebuilt. But later the Seljuk Turks came(1071 AD and beyond), and then the Ottomans (1453 AD) conquered all of that area. The lamp stands were taken away and the light was snuffed out. (see Revelation 2:4-5)
So, the verse (Mark 13:30; Matthew 24:34) is not embarrassing, when you study things more deeply and see that Jesus did predict 70 AD and the destruction of the temple and it came true about 40 years later after He said it; and that He will still come again on the clouds literally at His second coming. So the OT and NT Scriptures are true and communicate the truth of Jesus, who is the Truth, the way to God, and the life. (John 14:6)
Jesus truthfully predicted that not one stone would be left upon another, speaking of the temple buildings – Matthew 24:1-3; Mark 13:1-3; Luke 21:1 – Jesus was not talking about the outer wall – some of that is still there – as the western “Wailing Wall” of the Jews demonstrates. So, Shabir Ally was wrong in his recent debate with Dr. James White. -Did Jesus claim Deity? .
Jesus was right, not one stone of the temple building (s) would be left. Jesus’ prediction did not include the outer wall, which much of it is still standing, especially the western portion.
But there is also still a future second coming of Christ, that seems to be clearly taught by Jesus in Matthew 24:29-31 and from verse 36 onward, and including chapter 25. In verse 36, “but of that day” seems to be a clear change of subject to the second coming that no one will ever be able to predict. There seems to be a tribulation that Jesus speaks about as the events surrounding AD 70, but also that there will be a great tribulation in the world right before Christ returns.