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   Generation, Not Date
   
How we know where we are in prophecy

How many times and how many different ways have you heard that no man knows the day or hour of the Lord’s return, so therefore the Lord could return 50 or 500 years from now and we have no way of knowing? This is simply incorrect and it is not Biblical.

(Daniel 9:1-2) "In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the LORD given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years". While reading the sacred text, Daniel came across a specific prophecy pertaining to the length of the Jews’ exile in Babylon (Jeremiah 25:8-12). He understood that those verses spoke directly to the Jews’ current situation… and their immediate future. Daniel could do the math. The “desolation of Jerusalem,” when the Babylonian army destroyed Jerusalem and took Daniel and others captive, had occurred in 605 BC. Daniel was reading the prophecies of Jeremiah in 538 BC. Nearly seventy years had passed. The time of the fulfillment was at hand. So Daniel prayed for his people.

Just as Daniel, we too can read the word of God and see the time of fulfillment is at hand. As we are told in Revelation 3:3, if we do not wake up Jesus’ return will come upon us like a thief but in the same statement we can see that it doesn’t have to be this way. We can wake up. God tells us many things in the Bible about the end of history as we currently know it. There are also things about this subject that he does not tell us, such as the hour or day (an exact time) but he does tell us the generation and season of time in which it will happen. In fact, he expects us to know and act accordingly:

He replied, "When evening comes, you say, 'It will be fair weather, for the sky is red,' and in the morning, 'Today it will be stormy, for the sky is red and overcast.' You know how to interpret the appearance of the sky, but you cannot interpret the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:2-3).

Rick Warren has said that when the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He went on to say that “in essence, the details of my return are none of your business.” This has been echoed by others as well and it too is simply incorrect and unbiblical.

  Roger Oakland

 

In Matthew 24 the disciples asked Jesus about the signs of His return. Jesus didn’t tell them “it’s none of your business” or that it was not for them to know, no! He gave them a very detailed answer; moreover He gave them and us a command.

Matthew 24:33
33 so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

The word “recognize” used in Matthew 24:33 in the original Greek is in the imperative mode which means it is a command! We are commanded by Jesus to know when His return is near. When we read the words of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28 “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations”, we understand and know that the word “go” is a command. We know that Jesus is commanding us to take action and that action is to “GO” “and make disciples of all nations”. There is no difference between the word “go” in the Great Commission and the word “recognize” in Matthew 24 in terms of them both being a command. We are commanded to know the season we are in.

Do you believe that Jesus would command you to know the season of His return without telling you how to know when that season is? Do you believe that Jesus would give you a command that is impossible for you to obey? Many in the Church today have been mislead into believing that since no man knows the day or hour of the Lord’s return, we cannot know for certain that His return is at hand; moreover many take it to the next step, treating the eminency of Jesus’ return as almost a form of heresy or at a minimum nothing to be discussed in serous Biblical circles outside of the acknowledgement that at some point in the future He will return.

Hal Lindsey Report

Billy Graham - (Decision Magazine)
"The church has failed to keep divine objectives in view because she has neglected the prophetic message of the Word of God. This neglect has caused Christians bewilderment, confusion and ignorance in a world that seems to be disintegrating around them. Many Christians needlessly wring their hands and ask, “What is going to happen to us? What does the future hold?” Many of them are filled with fear, even though our Lord said, “Fear not.”

I believe there is a worldwide tragedy as a result of a neglect of the prophetic Scriptures. Through the centuries men and women have been experimenting with their own social, national and international programs. They have been trying to bring about a righteousness that is not of God and, therefore, it is not obtainable. Instead, it results in a recurring national collapse and sometimes in worldwide calamity. We are heading for one of those collapses at the present hour."


It is very important here to understand that the Second Coming of Jesus is a two part event. First, He is coming suddenly in the air to rapture His church and take believers to His Father’s house, in fulfillment of His promise in John 14:1-3. There they will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ and participate in the marriage supper of the Lamb. (Revelation 19:1-10) Second, He will finish His second coming by returning to earth gloriously and publicly in great power to set up His kingdom [2nd Advent]. In the next chapter “Rapture: The Blessed Hope”, we will fully cover this but it is important to understand here because there is a very clear and unambiguous message given in Revelation 3:3. Jesus is speaking specifically about the rapture of the Church. He tells us that if we do not wake up He will come like a thief so we know He is speaking specifically about the rapture because when He steps foot on earth to establish His kingdom He will come publically in great power and glory and we will be with Him. From this warning, we know also that if we do wake up then we will be aware that His coming [Rapture of the Church] is close and His coming [Rapture of the Church] will not be like a thief in the night. This same warning is issued to us Romans, 1 John, and 1 Thessalonians:

Romans 13:11-14
11Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed. 12The night is almost gone, and the day is near Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. 13Let us behave properly as in the day, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual promiscuity and sensuality, not in strife and jealousy. 14But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh in regard to its lusts.

1 John 2:28
28Now, little children, abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame at His coming.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-9
1Now as to the times and the epochs, brethren, you have no need of anything to be written to you. 2For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. 3While they are saying, "Peace and safety!" then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day would overtake you like a thief; 5for you are all sons of light and sons of day We are not of night nor of darkness; 6so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert and sober. 7For those who sleep do their sleeping at night, and those who get drunk get drunk at night. 8But since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.9For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ

The believing body of Christ, the Church, has been warned many times in the Bible to be in a right relationship with Jesus and looking for the Rapture of the Church. These warnings are not in parable form either. They are direct, clearly worded, and easy to understand warnings to be living in a right relationship with Jesus because you know that soon you will see him face to face. No “possibly in my life time” or “you could die at any moment”, no these are clear warnings to the Believers who would be alive on the earth at the time of the Rapture. You and I!

Now before we continue we must be clear here, we do not know the day or hour or time of the rapture but we do know the season of time in which it will happen.

Jesus tells us the generation that will see all things happen

First read: Matthew 24

After Jesus warned that the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem was near, the disciples came to Jesus privately because they wanted to know what would indicate that His return [His 2nd Advent] was near. The Lord Jesus answered by first describing all of the things that would take place prior to His physical return [His Second Coming] (Matthew 24:4-31; Mark 13:5-8, 10, 12-27; Luke 21:8-11, 25-28).

After doing this, He gave them the sign that they had asked for.  He did this by way of a parable. The Parable of the Fig Tree as recorded in Matthew and Mark and The Parable of All the Trees as recorded in Luke.

Matthew 24:32-35 & Mark 13:28-31 (Both recorded the same)  Luke 21:29-33

32(28) 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;

33(29) so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.

34(30) Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

29 Then He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree and all the trees;

30 as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near.

31 So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near.

32 Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place.

33 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

A parable is a story told to illustrate and bring understanding of truth. With stories of familiar things in the natural or the material world, the Lord Jesus was able to teach important spiritual truths. Only the Scriptures can be used to interpret the parables recorded in them. In other words, Scripture will interpret Scripture. The sign that was to indicate that the physical return of Christ [His 2nd Advent] was near was the rebirth of Israel.

The question that arises when speaking of the fig tree is not what is the fig tree. That point is clear.  Virtually every theologian will agree that in the Bible, Israel is referred to as the fig tree. (Hosea 9:10; Joel 1:6-8, 12; Luke 13:6-9; Jeremiah 24; Jeremiah 29:16-19). When Jesus is talking about the fig tree in the Olivet Discourse, he is referencing Jeremiah 24:1-10.

The question that comes up is the fact that in the Gospel of Luke, it is recorded as “Behold the fig tree, and all the trees” where as in Matthew and Mark it is recorded as “Now learn a parable of the fig tree”.  This too isn’t really of much debate. There is no difference between the two. The fig tree is Israel and all the trees are the men of Israel (Judges 9:8-20). Matthew and Mark were saying that Jesus said behold Israel while Luke recorded that he said Behold Israel and the men of Israel.

For further clarification, the fig tree is a symbol used in Scripture which always refers to the nation of Israel. Figs were used by Jehovah Himself as a symbol for Israel in a parable recorded in Jeremiah 24:1-2. The Lord then explains that the good figs represent those of Israel whom He would return to the land of their fathers and the bad figs were those of Israel whom He would destroy (Jeremiah 24:4-10).

Trees, when used as a symbol, refer to the men of Israel. The symbol of trees representing the men of Israel can be seen in a parable told by Jotham to the men of Shechem as recorded in Judges 9:7-15 of the Old Testament. The trees Jotham referred to, that had once gone forth to anoint a king over themselves were the men of Israel as recorded in Judges 8:22.

So knowing what the fig tree and the trees of the parables represent, according to the Scriptures, enables one to conclude that when they [the disciples of Christ] see the fig tree begin to bloom [Israel’s rebirth] they should know that summer is near [His 2nd Advent].

  Grant Jeffrey

When did the fig tree actually start blooming?

There is debate as to when the fig tree actually started blooming. It’s a small debate and we shouldn’t spend too much time on it but we do need to be aware of it. The two schools of thought are Israel (the Fig Tree) started blooming when it was reformed in 1948 and the second school of thought is that Israel (the fig tree) started blooming after the 6 day war in 1967 when it captured its capital Jerusalem.

In the description Jesus gave (as soon as the fig tree's branches become tender and its leaves come out) is the picture of the reformation of Israel. Other passages in the Bible such as Isaiah 66:8 prophesying this event [the nation being reborn one day] prove that Jesus was speaking of the reformation of Israel. When all the other evidence of world events vs. Biblical prophecy are taken into account the evidence is clear and it is pointing to the fact that God is saying the blooming of the fig tree is the reformation of Israel.

Key statement

Jesus then states that when we see the things that He has described (as taking place prior to His Second Coming), we should know it is near, "...even at the doors" (Matthew 24:34). What follows this warning is the key statement of the entire Olivet Discourse of Christ.

Matthew 24:34
34Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

In other words, the generation that saw Israel becoming a nation, would also see the things He said would take place prior to and including His physical return before it passed away! That means they would see the rapture of the Church, 7 year tribulation period, and the physical return of Christ to earth with His church.

Generation does not mean race

Looking at this key statement, some have argued that Jesus’ use of the word generation was intended to mean race. In other words, Jesus was saying that the Jewish race will not pass away until all the events He spoke of happened. This interpretation has grown in popularity in modern times. Many modern translations of the Bible offer a footnote of “or race” to indicate that this word could also mean race.

A quote from David Chilton (The Great Tribulation, p. 3)
"Some have sought to get around the force of this text by saying that the word generation here really means race, and that Jesus was simply saying that the Jewish race would not die out until all these things took place. Is that true? I challenge you: Get out your concordance and look up every New Testament occurrence of the word generation (in Greek, genea) and see if it ever means 'race' in any other context. Here are all the references for the Gospels: Matthew 1:17; 11:16; 12:39, 41, 42, 45; 16:4; 17:17; 23:36; 24:34; Mark 8:12, 38; 9:19; 13:30; Luke 1:48, 50; 7:31; 9:41; 11:29, 30, 31, 32, 50, 51; 17:25; 21:32. Not one of these references is speaking of the entire Jewish race over thousands of years; all use the word in its normal sense of the sum total of those living at the same time. It always refers to contemporaries. (In fact, those who say it means "race" tend to acknowledge this fact, but explain that the word suddenly changes its meaning when Jesus uses it in Matthew 24! We can smile at such a transparent error, but we should also remember that this is very serious. We are dealing with the Word of the living God.)."

Only one other time was another generation warned, by the Lord Jesus, in a similar fashion. Again, we have only to look at what the Lord Jesus said to the scribes and Pharisees earlier that same day (the day he gave the Olivet Discourse), after all of His warnings to them of impending judgment (Matthew 23:13-35), "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matthew 23:36). History now records that all of the warnings of impending judgment by the Lord Jesus to the scribes and Pharisees were in fact fulfilled upon that generation, forty years later, in 70 A.D.

  Chuck Missler

The Length of a Generation

Another important question in dealing with Jesus’ key statement about the “generation” is how long a generation is. The length of a generation has not always been constant since the days of Adam and Eve. Which has led many to be confused over the length of a generation (moreover, the length of the generation spoken of by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse).

Before the biblical flood, the average life span of man was over 900 years. After the Flood, the life span of man began to decrease rapidly. Noah and his family lived on both sides of the flood. Noah was 600 years old when the flood waters covered the earth. He lived 350 years after the flood and was 950 years of age at his death. After the flood, Shem, Noah’s son, lived to be 600 years. He was nearly 100 years old when the flood occurred. He lived an additional 500 years after the flood. The age of each successive generation continued to decrease to the point that Abraham lived to be only 175 years old. The regression of age continues with Abraham’s son Isaac living to be 180, Jacob 147, Joseph 110, Levi 137, Kohath 133, and Amram, who was Moses’ father, 137. About 400-500 years after the Exodus (1450 B.C.), the life span of man seemed to level off at around 70-80 years. This was around 1000 B.C. during the days of Kings Saul, David, and Solomon.

The Lord gives us a clear and unambiguous answer to this question. It is found in the most significant and definitive declaration in the Bible for the life span of man which is given in Psalm 90 (Psalm 90:10). The Psalmist states that the life span of man is normally seventy years, eighty years if blessed with outstanding health:

As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,
   Or if due to strength, eighty years,
    Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;
    For soon it is gone and we fly away.

Doing the Math as Daniel did

I want to stress at this point, we are not attempting in any way, shape, form, or fashion to set a date for the rapture of the Church or the return of Christ. Anyone who tells you they know or gives you a date is wrong! We are clearly told by God that no man knows so that point needs to be very clear.

Now within the scope of what was given to us to know (moreover, what we are responsible for knowing), let’s analyze the information we have. If you recall, earlier we looked at the example given from Daniels life where he was reading the scripture and saw that God was about to act. We too are in a similar situation. From Matthew 24:3-31, Jesus gives a brief and general outline of tribulation from start to finish because His disciples were asking him about it. In Matthew 24:32-34 He told us when it would happen. Pay close attention to 34.

Matthew 24:32-34
32"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;33so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.34"Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place.

Jesus said ALL these things will happen in this generation's lifespan. ALL these things include the rapture, tribulation, and the second coming. Given that we know the generation that would see these events started on May 15th 1948, and given that we know the length of a generation is 70-80 years, and given that we know how much time has elapsed from May 15th 1948 until now, we know that the season is not only at hand but it’s incredibly close to its very end! To say the Rapture of the church could happen at any moment takes on a whole new meaning when viewed from the Biblical facts.

Biblical lifespan of man: 70yrs
   Israel reformed on May 15th 1948
   Years to May 15th 2011: 63yrs
   Years left in lifespan:
7
   Years left not including the years of tribulation & Second Coming (
7 minus 7): 0

Biblical lifespan of man: 80yrs
   Israel reformed on May 15th 1948
   Years to May 15th 2012: 64yrs
   Years left in lifespan:
16
   Years left not including the years of tribulation & Second Coming (
16 minus 7): 9

   Hal Lindsey Report

His immanent return & the signs of the time

Revelation 22:7Behold, I am coming quickly
After more than two thousand years, Jesus’ declaration might appear to be a false statement. But the Greek term translated as “quickly” has less to do with rapid movement and more to do with absence of a delay. He will arrive in person at the very moment (known only to God) that he plans to. For us, His coming is imminent. In essence, the Lord is saying, my coming is sure, never late.

In Luke 21:7-26 Jesus was asked what the signs of his return would be. Part of his answer to them, (Luke 21:25-26) "There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars. On the earth, nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea. Men will faint from terror, apprehensive of what is coming on the world, for the heavenly bodies will be shaken”, could be pulled from any newspaper or nightly news with only slight verbiage changes. The below video clips from the Hal Lindsey Report, offers a very good insight into this very issue.

Hal Lindsey Report
Hal Lindsey Report: Part 1
Hal Lindsey Report: Part 2
Hal Lindsey Report: Part 3

Chuck Smith (Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa)-
"We look at the deteriorating moral values in our nation—the divorce rate, abortion, pornography, drug addiction and child abuse. We witness what has transpired in the homosexual community. We are shocked at the violent crimes, the drive-by shootings and the terrorism that plagues our world. What is the world coming to? Is the end near?

What will be the signs of Jesus’ coming and the end of the world? This was the very same question Jesus’ disciples asked. Jesus’ answer to them and to us is found in Matthew 24:37-39:

As the days of Noah were, so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that [Noah] entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of Man be.

Genesis 6:5 tells us what was going on in the days of Noah. “God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” As we look at our world today, we see the parallel—the movie industry corrupting our values, television defiling our homes, children’s video games teaching violence—all these are polluting people’s minds until the thoughts and the imagination of man’s heart is continually evil.

We read in Genesis 6:11 that “the earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.” Pick up the newspaper and you will see the hostility that fills the earth. Our nation’s morality has sunk to the place where Ruth Graham once said, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will need to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah!

I belive the world right now is very much like it was in the days of Noah. Jesus pointed out that in Noah’s day, the people were totally oblivious to the coming judgment of God. They were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage. It was pretty much business as usual. There was no awareness that the judgment of God was about to fall upon them. They did not realize anything was wrong until Noah went into the ark and the rain began to fall.

People today do not realize how ripe the world is for judgment. God is trying to shake us from our lethargy and wake us up. We see a worldwide financial crisis, disasters, earthquakes, hurricanes, fires, floods, famines and the AIDS epidemic. But try to suggest to a worldly person that these indicate the beginning of sorrows and God’s judgment, and they will laugh at you. The world may acknowledge their belief in the existence of God, but they live as though God does not exist. There is a total lack of fear of a holy and righteous God."

References
Holy Bible
Charles Swindoll: Daniel, Volume 2: God’s Plan for the Future
Charles Swindoll: Revelation—Unveiling the End
Robert E. Schoenle: End Time Warning
Grant Jeffrey: Countdown To The Apocalypse
Hal Lindsey: The Hal Lindsey Report
Billy Graham: Decision Magazine
Chuck Smith: Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa
David Chilton: The Great Tribulation
Michael Hile: The Last Generation
Joel Rosenberg: Author
Others