In the last blog, I laid down a Biblical foundation to help us determine the TIMES and SEASONS through an understanding of HOW God views the passage of time. "A THOUSAND YEARS is as ONE DAY." This understanding puts OUR FOCUS upon the TIME in which we now live.
Today, we'll look at scripture which NARROWS the FOCUS into much sharper clarity. We NOT ONLY see the THOUSAND YEAR time-frame--SIX THOUSAND YEARS of God dealing with mankind, and THEN the SEVENTH THOUSAND YEAR of Jesus in His EARTHLY KINGDOM known as the MILLENNIUM. We also see a SPECIFIC GENERATION within that time-frame.
Again, I REPEAT! This is NOT calculating the TIME so as to predict a DAY, HOUR, or even a YEAR of the Rapture--or even for Jesus' return at Armageddon. This is for the PURPOSE of seeing a BEGINNING POINT and an ENDING POINT. Jesus MUST return within those two set boundaries. What determines those boundaries? Are we really THE GENERATION to see the events of the Second Coming?
To begin, we need to turn to Matthew 24,where Jesus laid out SIGNS which shows WHEN His Second Coming draws near. This passage was addressed SPECIFICALLY to the nation of Israel (given to His Jewish disciples BEFORE His crucifixion when they specifically asked about their coming Kingdom--with Messiah on the throne of David). However, we, the CHURCH, can glean insight from the information.
Jesus listed many things: False christs, false prophets, false teachers. Wars and rumors of wars. Nation rising against nation (ethnic upheavals, civil unrest), and kingdom against kingdom. Famines. Pestilences. Many earthquakes in diverse places. (In the Luke 21 account, He adds: The sea and waves roaring--tsunamis, strong hurricanes and typhoons. Fearful sights and great signs from heaven. Upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity--with people NOT knowing HOW to solve the problems. Men's hearts failing them for fear.) Persecutions and martyrdom of Christians (and antisemitism against Jews). People betraying each other, hating each other. Love growing cold. The gospel being preached into ALL the world. Then shall the end come. We see these these things ALL around us today, happening ALL AT ONCE in the beginnings of BIRTH PANGS. But the end is not yet. Jesus adds in Luke 21:28--"When these things BEGIN to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near."
In Matthew 24:32-35, Jesus gave a KEY to our understanding the TIMES and SEASONS. Let's take the time to read it.
"Now learn a parable of the FIG TREE; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you KNOW summer is near. So LIKEWISE you, when you see ALL these things (the signs listed above), know that it (the Second Coming of Jesus) is NEAR, even at the doors.
"VERILY (listen closely), I say unto you, THIS GENERATION shall NOT PASS (or die away), till ALL these things BE FULFILLED. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but MY WORDS shall NOT pass away."
The KEY to understanding the nearness of Jesus' Second Coming is ISRAEL. When we see EVENTS and prophecies about ISRAEL coming to pass, we will KNOW that the Second Coming of Jesus is drawing near.
(Note also--the Second Coming understanding INCLUDES events of the TRIBULATION and the ARMAGEDDON SCENE, when Jesus returns to set His feet upon the earth.)
(We also KNOW that the CHURCH will be CALLED UP in the HARPAZO--the Rapture--BEFORE the last seven years which ARE DETERMINED upon Israel [in a prophecy given specifically for the Jewish nation]. We see SIGNS in the world which POINTS to the NEARNESS of the FINAL EVENTS, and SINCE the actual Second Coming at Armageddon is SO NEAR--we KNOW that the Rapture is even NEARER! The Rapture will be at least SEVEN YEARS nearer--and perhaps MORE than seven years, because some events will occur BEFORE the great and terrible Day of the Lord.)
In scripture, Israel is often described by the symbol of THE FIG TREE. I'll give ONE example (there are more). Hosea 9:10, in the first part of the verse.
"I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the FIRST RIPE in the FIG TREE at her first time:"
Notice that Israel was not only like a FIG TREE, but like the FIRST RIPE FIGS of the summer season. This is a direct parallel to what Jesus said in Matthew 24.
When we SEE the FIG TREE put out leaves, in its preparation to produce fruit, we KNOW that summer is near. When we see false prophets and false teachers, wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes in many places, tsunamis, distress in the nations with politicians not knowing what to do, and ALL the SIGNS listed above, we KNOW that the Second Coming of Jesus draws near (and SINCE His arrival at Armageddon approaches, we KNOW the RAPTURE of the CHURCH is even CLOSER--at least SEVEN YEARS closer, and maybe a little more than seven years closer).
Jesus goes on to STATE with emphatic emphasis (adding) "Heaven and earth WILL pass away, but MY words shall NOT pass away!"
THESE WORDS! "Verily I say unto you, THIS GENERATION shall NOT pass, until all these things be FULFILLED."
The people who SEE the leafing of the FIG TREE. These are the people who SEE the REBIRTH of the nation of Israel, after a long WINTER SEASON of being dormant, after HUNDREDS of years of NOT being a nation in their PROMISED LAND.
I won't go into a long teaching on how Israel was attacked by the Roman army, led by Titus. But in 70 A.D., as punishment for rejecting Jesus as their Messiah, the city of Jerusalem, after being put under siege, was destroyed, along with the Jewish temple. After further Roman atrocities, the last remnant of Jews fled their PROMISED LAND in 135 A.D. They scattered into every nation of the world, where they continued to suffer pogroms and persecutions.
UNTIL a final HOLOCAUST in the mid-1900's under the Nazis in World War Two.
Then, lo and behold, A MIRACLE. A scattered and dead nation with a withered and unused language experienced a REBIRTH in ONE DAY. See Isaiah 66:8. A nation BORN in ONE DAY--May 14, 1948. Plus HEBREW, the unused and archaic LANGUAGE, resurfaced into a common tongue, a PURE LANGUAGE. See Zephaniah 3:9. In the HISTORY of the world, such a thing has NEVER happened, that is, UNTIL this transpired for Israel! WHAT AN AWESOME EVENT! I cannot emphasize the importance of this enough!
Jesus said that THE GENERATION who are ALIVE when Israel was REBORN will NOT pass away in death. Instead, THIS GENERATION will INDEED SEE the events of the Second Coming of Jesus. (The EVENTS of the Second Coming of Jesus STARTS with the Rapture of His church--BEFORE the Tribulation--and ENDS with His setting His feet on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem AFTER the Tribulation.)
The GENERATION who was ALIVE in 1948, at the REBIRTH of Israel, is THAT GENERATION.
I was FOUR years old in May of 1948. I am now age 67. And I am ASSURED by this prophecy that I am of THE GENERATION who shall NOT all die, but who will witness the events of the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And since I'm a BORN AGAIN Christian, and of the Church, then the Rapture is going to spare me from the judgments to come in the SEVEN YEAR TRIBULATION. Wow! What a promise!
Using the time-frame of THIS GENERATION, as shown by Jesus in Matthew 24, we can determine some BOUNDARIES concerning the TIMING of the events of the Second Coming.
First, let's establish the OUTERMOST time-possibility within the THOUSAND YEAR framework seen in the last blog. By looking at a prophecy in Daniel 9:24-27, we can determine the date when Jesus appeared in Jerusalem, and THE VERY DAY He presented Himself as their King--the ONLY time in His ministry. He rode on the back of a donkey as the people waved palm branches and exclaimed in John 12:13, "Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel Who comes in the name of the Lord." A few days later, this same crowd called in loud voices for His crucifixion!
In Daniel's prophecy, it's declared that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem (after Israel's seventy year captivity in Babylon), that there will be 7 weeks and 63 weeks (a total of 70 weeks). These weeks are periods of time much longer than the ordinary week of 7 days. Instead, these weeks are a period called a "shabua" which is 7 YEARS long. So Israel has 70 weeks of 7 years appointed upon them. (I'm briefly summarizing--in a later blog, I hope do a FULL teaching upon the 70 weeks prophesied by Daniel.)
In the first 7 weeks, 49 years, Jerusalem was rebuilt. Then there was a further 62 weeks until another event. What was that event? MESSIAH will be CUT OFF, but NOT for Himself (a prophecy which shows how He'd be crucified for the sins of ALL people).
WHEN WAS JESUS CUT OFF?
This is where Daniel's prophecy SETS an EXACT DATE. By counting the YEARS of this prophecy, we see a total of 483 years. These were Biblical "prophetic" years--each containing 360 days. The total days number to 173,880. The ending is the date when Jesus rode on that donkey into Jerusalem when the people said, "Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord." We call that DAY--"Palm Sunday," and it occurred on an EXACT DAY, the 10th of Nisan, when Israel selected their LAMBS WITHOUT BLEMISH for the coming Passover!
People have used mathematical calculations to CHANGE the Biblical "prophetic" year of 360 days into our SOLAR YEAR of 365.25 days. I'm using a calculation given by Bible scholar Josh McDowell, who wrote "Evidence That Demands a Verdict" as he quotes from Harold Hoehner who wrote "Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ."
Here's what happens, by this accounting: Counting the days, as adjusted to the SOLAR YEAR, the ending date of Daniel's prophesied 483 years, when Messiah was CUT-OFF, turns out to be Nisan 10 in 33 A.D., which is our March 30, 33 A.D. (If Israel had ONLY KNOWN, THIS THEIR DAY, WHEN JESUS ALLOWED HIMSELF TO BE DECLARED THEIR KING! But they didn't. A few days later, on Passover, Jesus was crucified!) They did NOT recognize Jesus as their promised MESSIAH.
When Jesus was CUT-OFF, it left SEVEN more years DETERMINED upon Israel to FINISH their PROPHESIED 70 weeks! Those years will be finished UPON ISRAEL in the coming 7 year TRIBULATION.
But what does THIS DATE say to us? (NOTE--There are SOME DISCREPANCIES in what Bible teachers say about the DATE of Jesus' crucifixion. Some say Jesus was crucified in 30 A.D., others say in 31 A.D., yet others say in 32 A.D. I chose the LATEST DATE among them, which says that Jesus died and rose again in 33 A.D., and ascended into heaven. I chose this particular date because it fits the countdown from Daniel and has the ending of the 483 years occurring on when Jesus rode the donkey into Jerusalem. Make further note: because of the differences in other calculations and in the dating of this prophecy, we can easily understand why it WILL be IMPOSSIBLE to determine the DAY and the HOUR of the Rapture. We only KNOW the the Rapture is very near, according to the SIGNS we see.)
2000 years (or TWO DAYS in God's eyes) from the time of Jesus' ascension is 2033. In our LONGEST boundary concerning the WINDOW of TIME in which Jesus can arrive in His Second Coming, it EXTENDS to 2033, an exact 2000 years from 33 A.D. Subtract seven years for the length of the TRIBULATION, and we find the LONGEST BOUNDARY concerning the Rapture of the Church is 2026.
(To make it absolutely clear, I'll ADD--For any who might worry about DATE-SETTING, please don't grow IRATE with me. I'm NOT setting a date, but attempting to establish boundaries by staying within the time-frames INDICATED by the Bible.)
2026 is the LONGEST time-frame for the Rapture as seen according to 2000 years AFTER Jesus' ascension, using THE LONGEST ESTIMATE that I'm aware of--starting from the year of 33 A.D.
Now--what about Jesus' sure word concerning THIS GENERATION, those who were alive at the time of Israel's rebirth in 1948? If ALL "this generation" were TO DIE (pass away) BEFORE the Second Coming of Jesus, then Jesus would be a liar--and we KNOW He NEVER lies!
How LONG is a generation? We can determine several answers for that question.
Many Bible scholars reckoned a Biblical GENERATION at 40 years, based on THE GENERATION who passed away in the "wilderness wanderings" of Israel--after their EXODUS from Egypt. When 40 years are added to 1948 (the year of Israel's REBIRTH), it brings us to 1988. If you can remember, 1988 was proclaimed to be the year when the Church would be Raptured--and it DID NOT happen. The concept of a 40 year generation was in error.
Another idea concerning a GENERATION is the LIFESPAN of mankind. For instance, those of the WORLD WAR II generation are called "The Greatest Generation." Those adults from the World War II generation are now ELDERLY PEOPLE, many of them in the years when they "pass away."
What is the Biblical length of the LIFESPAN of mankind? Let's look at Psalm 90:10.
"The days of our years are THREESCORE and TEN (70 years); and if by reason of strength they be FOURSCORE YEARS (80), yet is their strength labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."--(I find the term "fly away" to be interesting, because it refers to "flying away" to be with the Lord--whether our soul "flies away" to be in the Lord's presence after death--or whether we "fly away" by being CAUGHT UP in the Rapture. And, of course, this refers to people who have faith in Jesus. Unbelievers "fall away" into Hades, also called hell, which is under the earth).
Anyhow, what does this say about THE GENERATION which were ALIVE, or BORN, near the time of Israel's REBIRTH as a nation in 1948? (Again, I lay the BOUNDARIES--I'm not setting any dates.)
Let's do the LONGEST figure first--which is 80 years. The limit of that time-frame of 80 years is 2028--for the time when when Jesus will set His feet on the Mount of Olives. SUBTRACT the SEVEN YEARS for the TRIBULATION, and it comes to 2021 for one boundary of the RAPTURE. (Keep in mind that the RAPTURE could happen months or years BEFORE the START of the TRIBULATION--so it could happen BEFORE 2021.)
Let's do the same thing for the lower figure--70 years. From the REBIRTH of Israel in 1948, the 70 year boundary comes to 2018--for the time when Jesus will set His feet on the Mount of Olives. SUBTRACT the SEVEN YEARS for the TRIBULATION, and this boundary for the RAPTURE occurs in 2011. (And again remember, the RAPTURE could happen months AHEAD of the START of the TRIBULATION. So this calculation puts us RIGHT on the very BRINK! We're RIGHT THERE, brothers and sisters! However, I WON'T set dates, but only DECLARE that this makes the RAPTURE so very IMMINENT.)
Now let me explain WHY I went through this exercise. If it's NOT to set dates, why did I do this?
I hear people make statements that the return of Jesus can still be 50 to 100 years (or more) away. According to the Biblical time-frames that I've pointed out, what these people claim cannot be true! Indeed, the return of Jesus is very NEAR now, YES, even at the doors.
While we can NEVER know the DAY, the HOUR, or even the YEAR, we can by this exercise SEE that His coming is MUCH CLOSER than many people realize.
We're told in scripture to be AWAKE, WATCHING, and READY. We're exhorted to NOT be UNAWARE.
I hope this blog CHALLENGES those who read it to take stock of their lives, and that they GET PREPARED. I pray that any who DO NOT know Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord will ask Him to come dwell in their hearts right now, even today, BEFORE it's too late.
Let's NOT be like Israel! They had that FANTASTIC prophecy of the 70 weeks given by Daniel. They could have counted the days and have known THE DAY of their MESSIAH'S arrival! Many of them were Old Testament scholars who counted the letters of their text all the time to make certain their copies remained accurate. Yet they DID NOT count the time from the rebuilding of Jerusalem to their own day!
Instead, Jesus had to LAMENT about them--"If you had known, even you, at least in THIS YOUR DAY, the things which belong unto your peace! But now they are HID from your eyes....Because you KNEW NOT THE TIME of your visitation" He said this on THE EXACT DAY when He rode the donkey into Jerusalem. (See Luke 19:42-44.)
Let us NOT be blinded like Israel was. Let us KNOW the TIMES and SEASONS. Let us remain AWAKE and AWARE.
We live in the SEASON when the EVENTS of the Second Coming--the Rapture of the Church--AND the START of the seven year Tribulation--WILL happen!
Make sure you really KNOW Jesus by personal heart faith. The time is INDEED so short. The Rapture of the Church is always IMMINENT.
As I close for today, I pray that you have a great and awesome day. Lift up our heads, because our redemption draws near. Yes, Jesus is coming soon!
EVEN SO, COME LORD JESUS! WE LONG TO SEE YOUR WONDERFUL FACE.
THY KINGDOM COME, THY WILL BE DONE, ON EARTH AS IT IS IN HEAVEN....