About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
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.
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
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
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.