About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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Another Failed Prediction


I recently met a man in a coffee shop who was all excited about Israel's seventieth anniversary of being a nation.  With enthusiastic certainty he predicted that the rapture would occur prior to May 14, 2018, when Israel would celebrate its birthday.  Why would he be so confident in predicting such a thing?


In Matthew 24:34 Jesus told us "that this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things happen?"  Many people, like the man in the coffee shop, understand Jesus to say that the rapture will take place during the lifetime of the last generation of Jews, after which this age will wind down in a time of tribulation.  There are a number of problems with this scenario, not the least of which is how we define the word "generation" and when this generation comes into existence.   


Many Christians understand the word "generation" in terms of the period of time that a generation exists.  In this instance, they understand the last generation of Jews are those who existed in 1948 when Israel became a nation.  These people, therefore, have attempted to define how many years a Biblical generation is so they can determine when this age will end.  In the 1950's and 1960's many seemed to think a generation lasted twenty years.  That would mean before the calendar turned over to May 14, 1968, the rapture would occur, initiating the seven years of tribulation.  I am sure you can see the problem with that.  The twenty year scenario had to be redefined to fifty years, or, as I recall Jack Van Empe saying, fifty two years.  When the fifty years were up on May 14, 1998, the fifty years was redefined to be seventy years, which brings us to now as I write this article in May, 2018.  It does not take a math wizard to see we still have a problem of timing.  Will the man in the coffee shop, and those like him, redefine the length of a generation again?


The Greek word "genea" is translated as "generation" in our English Bible.  Genea does not necessarily have to be understood in terms of a length of time.  It can mean a race of people, as I understand is its usage to be in Matthew 24:34.


Assuming that the words "this generation" are in reference to Jews living in the newly created state of Israel in 1948, and that might be debatable, we can understand Jesus to say that the race of Jews who came into existence as a nation in 1948 would not pass away until all is fulfilled.  This race of Jews has now existed seventy years, and, might last many more decades into the future.  However long this race of Jews exists, it will be in existence at the end of this age when all of Jesus' predictions will come to pass.    


Amos 9:15 may have something to say about this.  "I will plant Israel  in their land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them."  If this verse is speaking of the replanting of Jews into their own nation in 1948, and again, that may be debatable, we may conclude that the present day race of Jews living in Israel will be alive at the end of this age, whenever that is.  Again, this presupposes that this verse is talking about the Jews return to their land in 1948 and not when Jesus establishes His throne in Jerusalem at His return.


Putting dates and times to Bible prophecy is speculative.  My basic thinking concerning Biblical prophecy can be found in what Jesus said in John 14:29.  "I have told you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe."   Jesus predicted many things about Himself that the disciples did not understand but that did not stop Jesus from informing His disciples of future events.  He educated His disciples about what was to come so that when the future arrived they would recall His predictions and believe. 


In applying John 14:29 to myself, I attempt to be informed about Bible prophecy, understanding that knowing the predictions does not necessarily mean understanding the predictions.  Like Jesus' disciples, once knowing what has been predicted, if I am alive at their fulfillment, I will recall them, believe them, and act accordingly.  Knowing prophecy is important because there is no understanding of prophecy apart from first knowing what is prophesied.  Until I fully understand, I will leave the speculation to the man in the coffee shop.


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