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D'varim/Deuteronomy 32:7 Remember the days of old, understand the years of 'generation and generation'
It has been said, "Those who will not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat its mistakes". Commenting on this verse,Rashi says, "if you have not set your heart upon the past, 'understand the years ...' to recognise for the future ... the days on Messiah and the World to Come". According to the Sages, 'the days of old' refers to the past - both then when originally spoken by Moshe and 'today' for each generation as the years pass - while 'generation and generation' refers to the future (Sifrei 310). It is as if we need to be students both of history and current affairs as well as the things that have been prophesied to come in order to understand the plan of G-d and the times in which we live.
Yeshua told the parable of the wise and foolish virgins waiting for a wedding feast (Matthew 25). Everyone in those days knew that weddings took place in the evening, either just before or going into darkness, with a torch-lit procession through the village to accompany the groom on his way to collect his bride from her father's house. If the groom were delayed, or the ceremony was drawn out, then it would be well into the night before the wedding feast itself could start. So in Yeshua's story, all the young women know what to expect; they had probably been to many weddings before. Yet the foolish virgins ignored their past experience, were not prepared, and so had to leave at the critical time to buy more oil, thus missing the arrival of the wedding party.
Yeshua said, "Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender, and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; even so you too, when you see all these things, recognise that He is near, right at the door" (Matthew 24:32-33, NASB), referring to His own return, His second coming, when instead of coming as Messiah ben Yosef to suffer, He will come as Messiah ben David to rule and reign first from Jerusalem and then for eternity in the new heaven and earth. We are each challenged to be aware of the signs of the times. Another illustration Yeshua used was the weather - we can all look at a bright red sunset and predict a fine day's weather for the next day, but are we so good at recognising the signs of His return.
In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Rav Sha'ul write to them, "But you, brothers, are not in the dark, so that the Day should take you by surprise like a thief; for you are all people who belong to the light, who belong to the day" (1 Thessalonians 5:4-5, CJB). Let us all be awake and ready for the L-rd's return; not in panic and flap, but a reasoned, responsible preparedness to greet Him when He comes.
Further Study: Isaiah 46:6-9; Luke 21:29-33
Application: We should neither be rushing around like chickens with their heads cut off, nor blithely ignoring the certainty of the L-rd's return. Instead, every day we should remember and understand, praying and working until He comes.
© Jonathan Allen, 2005
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