The workings of the human mind are strange and wonderful. But it is a good thing to be aware of just how it works. For example, take the adverts which blast out of the TV screen every quarter of an hour. You imagine that you’re above that sort of thing, and will make up your own mind about which brand, which product, you will purchase. But wait until you see a shelf full of different brands of the same product, and wonder which to choose. A familiar name seems ‘safer’, ‘more reliable’, simply because you’ve seen it on TV so often. Without realising it, you have fallen for the manufacturer’s advertising. If the trick didn’t work, advertisers would try some other method. But it does work, and their shareholders know it!
Now apply the same logic to the Bible. Christians read the Bible frequently, and certain phraseology becomes familiar. Then someone comes along and says, “But in this verse the original language says something different.” Mentally you withdraw. It’s not ‘safe’. It’s not ‘familiar’. The brain is always looking for the well-beaten track. Let’s have a look at just one example to exemplify what I’ve just said.
Psalm 102:16-20 “When the Lord shall build up Zion, He shall appear in His glory. He will turn to the prayer of the destitute, and will not despise their cry. This shall be written for the generation to come, and people to be created shall praise the Lord. For He has looked down from the height of His sanctuary, the Lord looked from heaven to the earth, to hear the groaning of the prisoner, to set free the sons of death.”
I am particularly interested in the words underlined. If the Hebrew is correctly translated, it should read “for the lastgeneration.” There can be no doubt about this reading, because the Hebrew word AHARON is consistently used with this connotation throughout the O.T. For example, in Isaiah we read about the Lord being “the first and the last.” There cannot be any doubt about the meaning of the word in that context.
So where are we in understanding? What is the last generation? What could it possibly mean? Are we to understand that at a certain point in history, a terminal point arrives, beyond which there is no further human generation? That is a strange concept. You see what I mean about ‘well-beaten tracks’? Here we have something unusual, even bizarre, and we tend to shrink from it, preferring the AV. But it won’t do. The truth won’t go away by turning our backs on it. We must face up to these things, pray about them, and ask for the illumination of the Holy Spirit if we are to make progress in understanding.
In my searching, I have only come across one reference in all ancient literature that might reflect on this strange phrase, ‘the last generation.’ It is found in the apocryphal writings of Baruch. It is in 2 Baruch 22:4-6, and reads as follows, the Lord speaking to Baruch, “When Adam sinned and death was decreed against those who should be born, then the multitude of those who should be born was numbered, and for that number a place was prepared were the living might dwell and the dead might be guarded. Before therefore the number aforesaid is fulfilled, the creature will not live again, (for my Spirit is the Creator of Life,) and Sheol [the grave] will receive the dead.”
“It would seem therefore that the resurrection cannot come until mankind’s secret number is fulfilled,” says Rev. R.H.Charles, commenting on this statement. The passage in Psalm 102 now takes on a fullness of meaning which had been clouded by inaccurate translation. From it we learn that the earth’s prisoners (in other words, all of us in this valley of the shadow of death) who groan and travail in pain (according to Romans 8) receive the promise of God that He hears every such groan, is aware of every pain, every suffering, and as soon as the ‘last generation’ is reached, He will begin the process of creation, i.e., re-creation and resurrection, mentioned in verse 19. It will be to set free all those who are called ‘sons of death’. Jesus said that all those who are in the graves will hear the voice of the Son of God and will come forth. Herein lies much food for thought, and I leave it with you to ponder.