I don’t believe in coincidences. God is sovereign over all things and is in control of even the molecular forces that hold the universe together (see Hebrews 1:3 and Colossians 1:17). He is outside the confines of time so that only He can declare “the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10, NKJ). God speaks to us in circumstances that reinforce His Word. So when we see a coincidence, we should take notice because they are serving His purpose in some sense.
And we can’t set dates for the Lord’s return because He said, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13). While we can not know the day or the hour the Lord is returning, we can know the general time-frame. That is why He gave us signs to watch for… “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!” (Matthew 24:32-33)
So while we can not know the day or hour of the Rapture, we can know when we are in the season of the Lord’s return for us. I am convinced we are now in that season.
I recently had a birthday where it was pointed out to me that I was the same age as the year my wife and brother were both born; and they are the same age as the year I was born. Given that my wife and brother are two years younger than I am, this is enough of a riddle to figure out how old we all are. There is only one age and year combination that will fit these criteria for 2010. That was a pretty interesting realization that served to make me a bit more tuned into another coincidence of years I’d encounter the very next day…
I read with interest an article on RaptureReady.com by Jack Kelley titled, “The Revived Ottoman Empire.” The title intrigued me because it promised to address a topic I blogged on last December. Jack Kelley pointed out in his article that it was 483 years from the time that Artaxerxes, King of Persia, decreed that the wall of Jerusalem be rebuilt until the Messiah entered Jerusalem to present Himself as their Savior. Likewise, it could be 483 years from the time that Suleiman, King of the Ottoman Empire, decreed that the wall of Jerusalem be rebuilt until the Messiah re-enters Jerusalem as Israel’s Savior at the end of the Tribulation.
Jack Kelley thinks it likely that Jesus will return to begin His Millennial reign on earth in 2018 based on harmonizing Matthew 24:34 with Psalm 90:10... a generation is 70 years and since Israel was re-born in 1948, the Rapture could happen in 2011. I posted a previous blog using this analysis which makes 2011 a good pick for the Rapture pool.
Some years ago I had heard that the 483 year timeframe given in Daniel 9:25 works out to the day in predicting when Jesus would enter Jerusalem just before He was crucified. I checked this out for myself and can confirm that based on what we know from the Bible and extra-biblical history, this certainly works out at least to the year. This is something anyone can confirm themselves; here is a summary:
Daniel 9:25 says, “from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks.” These weeks are a Hebrew reference to weeks of years. So from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah would come was 7 plus 62 or 69 weeks of years. Then, multiplying 7 times 69 weeks of years is how we get 483 years.
Nehemiah 2:1-8 says that Artaxerxes decreed that the wall of Jerusalem may be built in the twentieth year of his reign. Archeology has revealed that Artaxerxes became king of Persia in 464 BC. Subtracting 20 years from this date means that Israel was permitted to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem in 444 BC.
Subtracting 483 years from 444 BC means that the Messiah officially presented Himself to Israel as their king between 34 and 36 AD. This considers 1 BC to 1 AD to be one year and the error in the beginning of our current calendar which is tied to the birth of Jesus where most scholars say actually happened between 4 and 6 BC. The 34 to 36 AD timeframe is certainly when we would have expected Jesus to have made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday a few days before He was crucified; see Luke 19:27-38.
While Jesus had many disciples, the Jews in general did not recognize Him as the Messiah rejecting His triumphal entry and conspired with the Romans to crucify Him. This is what was prophesied in Daniel 9:26 where it says “after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off.”
When I first did this analysis, I converted the years from a 360-day lunar-based Hebrew calendar to the current 365-day Gregorian calendar to arrive at 33 AD for Palm Sunday; 476 Gregorian calendar years is the same as 483 Hebrew calendar years. But I no longer think this is a valid way to look at it because years are years and both the Gregorian and Hebrew calendar systems correct for leap years. My original analysis also neglected to account for the double-counting of years due to the “common era” calendar being 4 to 6 years off from the actual birth of Jesus. I only bring this up now because I find it interesting that the difference between 483 Hebrew calendar years and 476 Gregorian calendar years is 7 years, the length of the Tribulation and the time period described by the term “week of years.” Many would dismiss this as another coincidence but it only reinforces the hand of God working through my personal experiences of revelation.
It is also interesting to note that as near as I can tell, the age Jesus was when He went to the cross was about my age when He opened my heart to Him. I don’t consider this realization to be a coincidence; I’m convinced part of His purpose in that was to make me more tuned into His speaking to us through such circumstances.
Suffice it to say, 483 years is a prophetically significant timeframe associated with the Messiah entering Jerusalem in an official capacity. And since this 483 years begins upon the decree of a Gentile king ruling over Jerusalem to rebuild the city wall; I would not be at all surprised if this also applied to the return of Jesus. There are many prophetic types in Scripture so Artaxerxes is to the first coming of Christ as Suleiman is to His second coming. This would be no mere coincidence because, “the king's heart is in the hand of the LORD, like the rivers of water; he turns it wherever He wishes” (Proverbs 21:1).
Archaeologists have established that Suleiman ordered the Jerusalem wall to be rebuilt in 1535. Add the prophetically significant 483 years to 1535 and you get 2018. Since the Rapture must happen before the 7-year Tribulation, that means 2011 is a likely time-frame for the Rapture. How is that for coincidence? Two completely independent approaches to estimating a likely time-frame for the Rapture by applying prophetic Scripture to historical events arrive at the same year. How exciting!
Now this doesn’t mean that we may slack off in our watching for the Lord's return the reminder of 2010. As Jesus said, “blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching” (Luke 12:37). We don’t know how much time there might be between the Rapture and beginning of the Tribulation. And when dealing with this much time it is certainly possible to make an error which would make us a year or two off. That kind of parallax was certainly the case for determining when Jesus was born. So this means we are in the season of the Rapture now!
Likewise, being in the season of the Rapture doesn’t mean we should quit our jobs and wait around on some mountain for the Lord as some cultic Christian groups have done in the past. As Jesus said, “do business till I come” (Luke 19:13).
The point is, be ready. I am and I’m thrilled it doesn’t look like we have long to persevere!