29Then he told them a parable: "Look at the fig tree and all the trees; 30as soon as they sprout leaves you can see for yourselves and know that summer is already near. 31So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that the kingdom of God is near. 32Truly I tell you, this generation will not pass away until all things have taken place. 33Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
34"Be on guard so that your hearts are not weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of this life, and that day catch you unexpectedly, 35like a trap. For it will come upon all who live on the face of the whole earth. 36Be alert at all times, praying that you may have the strength to escape all these things that will take place, and to stand before the Son of Man."
37Every day he was teaching in the temple, and at night he would go out and spend the night on the Mount of Olives, as it was called. 38And all the people would get up early in the morning to listen to him in the temple.
Let's count the years that have come and gone from this episode in the Gospel of Luke to our day. At least one thousand nine hundred eighty-two years. Need I say it? Yes, many, many years.
With this thought of many, many years passing as our background, let's consider what Jesus is saying in verse 33, "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away." When exactly heaven and earth will pass away, no one really knows but certainly it is much longer than one thousand nine hundred eighty-two years. What a remarkable statement and what a remarkable confidence Jesus has in his words! In short, whatever Jesus has promised or prophesied, the passage is emphasizing here, will certainly take place, whether these are fulfilled within a few days or years or eons. His words will not be broken. His words will not return void.
In a culture where we equate something being long as 20, 30, 50 years, we can easily forget that 20, 30, 50 years are but a breath for God. Unfortunately we in our culture take this sense time and think that if something promised by God is not fulfilled within a certain length of time, then there's something wrong. Our foreshortened sense of time wreaks havoc on our sense of timing, including when certain things promised by God should be fulfilled. It's like a termite complaining that he's waited half his life (6 months) for his termite-mate to come along and now that half his life is over, his prospects for a happy life is over. Six months is a long time for a termite to be sure; but six months for a person is not that long. And six months for God is a blink of an eye.
I'm not minimizing our times of waiting nor how long our waiting seems. Human life is three score and ten or four score if we're strong (70 or 80 years, Psalm 90:10). Waiting around for 100 years to see something happen in one's life is way too long, because we won't be around to see it with our earthly eyes. The central issue is believing in God's promises, for our lives and for generations to come. When something will be fulfilled is secondary to that something will be fulfilled. And whatever the that is, that will be fulfilled if promised by Jesus. Certain things may pass away. Even things we would consider "eternal" like the Grand Canyon, the Rockies, and the Milky Way will eventually pass away, but the promises of Jesus will never pass away. That's a divine guarantee sealed by the most trustworthy being there ever was, is, and will be -- the Lord Almighty.
Promises made to Israel, to the Church, to the world, and to our lives -- whatever is promised by God -- are as good as though those promises are fulfilled right now at this very minute. We can be assured of their fulfillment as we are assured of our existence.
Let's pray: Father God and Lord Christ, when you spoke things came into being. There was no hindrance to the fulfillment of your word. When you speak in promise, those things promised to come will likewise come into being. Here, too, there is no hindrance. Therefore, whatever you've spoken in terms of promise we will simply trust in you to fulfill them. Whatever their scope and content, we will believe them because we believe in you. May you be glorified by our confident trust in you. In Jesus' Name, Amen.