I believe you may be thinking of Matthew 24:34 in asking this question. Let’s read verses 32-35, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, THIS GENERATION WILL BY NO MEANS PASS AWAY TILL ALL THESE THINGS TAKE PLACE. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.” The subject of this chapter is the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. In verse 3 Jesus’ disciples asked Him this question, “What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age.” They wanted to know when Jesus would come again to establish His kingdom on earth. From verses 4-28 Jesus gave them a number of signs that would precede His coming. Then in verse 32 He gave them another sign, the sign of “the fig tree” putting forth its leaves. Many believe (including me) that the fig tree is a symbol of the nation of Israel (see Jeremiah chapter 24 and Hosea 9:10) and that the “putting forth leaves” refers to Israel becoming a nation again in 1948. Up until that time Israel had been dispersed throughout the nations with no land or government or any other sign of being a nation. The Lord Jesus is telling us in this passage that “when you see all these things, know that it (My coming to establish My kingdom) is near—at the doors.”

Jesus went on to say that “this GENERATION will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” So, what exactly did Jesus mean by the words “this generation?” Some believe He was referring to the very people who were alive when He spoke these words. But we can rule that out for that “generation of people” passed away over 2,000 years ago. Others believe He was speaking of a “future generation of people” who would be alive when Israel became a nation in 1948. This, no doubt, is what you had in mind when asking the question. Assuming that is true, we still need to ask the question, “What exactly is meant by the word ‘generation?’” Does it indeed speak of a certain period of time, and if so, how much time? Those who believe it does refer to a specific period of time have a difficult time determining how many years constitute a generation, for there are two different views. A “generation” can be:

1) All of the people born and living at the same time, or it can mean…

2) the average period, generally considered about thirty years, during which children are born and grow up, become adults, and begin to have children of their own.

If the answer is #1, then all the people that were living in 1948 would have to be alive when Jesus comes to set up His kingdom. That can’t be the answer, for that was 70 years ago and most who were living back then have passed away. If the answer is #2, then Jesus should have returned by 1978. That didn’t happen, so many have changed their view about a generation of 30 years and say it refers to a “biblical generation,” which was, they say, much longer than 30 years. The fact is as one studies the various “genealogies” (lines of descent in a family) it is almost impossible to know how many years there were in a generation, for they differed greatly at different times.

There is another definition for the word generation that could fit the context. The word can mean “a race of people.” If so, then Jesus is saying “this JEWISH RACE will by no means pass away till all these things take place.” When one considers the history of the Jewish race, it is a miracle that they have survived as a people. For two thousand years they have been hated and persecuted (think of the Holocaust when Hitler tried to exterminate them). They have been spread all over the earth and have still retained their national identity. God has truly PRESERVED THEM and allowed them to become a nation once again and in the Lord’s words He assures them that they will continue to survive and will see “all these things come to pass.” In fact, they will not only see the Lord Jesus coming in power and glory to set up His kingdom, but the Lord will forgive them of their sins, put a new heart in them, and make them His people once again. I would encourage you to read Revelation 1:7; Zechariah 12:9-14; Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Romans 11:26-27. (326.3) (DO)