Tuesday, January 19, 2010

How Long?

A common theme for commenting on the news is that this world sorely needs Jesus to return. The earthquake in Haiti has been a distraction from the growing debt that our government is pursuing. No doubt the U.S. solution to the Haiti disaster will serve to pile on even more debt (remember, “never let a good crisis go to waste”). Our national debt will ultimately lead to further depreciation of the dollar, more taxes and inflation causing savings to evaporate. Those who seek to “spread the wealth around” are robbing from people who are productive in order to give comfort to sluggards. A reckoning day for this fatally flawed ideology is coming…

But the coming economic melt-down shouldn’t cause us to be fearful. God has promised to provide for us (Matthew 6:25-26). And we are not yet in the Tribulation though trends revealed in the news indicate that we can’t be far from it. When we consider the growing injustice in this world, we can begin to appreciate the exasperation of the Tribulation Martyrs when, “they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’” (Revelation 6:10, NKJ).

We can not set dates for when the Lord will return; Jesus said, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming” (Matthew 25:13). So we are to always be ready. It is interesting to note that Jesus did give us signs to watch for to help us know when we are in the season of His return. There are a couple prophecies that help us see that we are in the general time-frame of the Lords return…

Jesus said, “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! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place” (Matthew 24:32-34). A study on the symbolism of the fig tree reveals that it represents Israel. Jesus is saying that there will be people who see Him return who were alive when Israel wase re-established in their land. That officially happened May 14, 1948 when Israel proclaimed independence from the United Kingdom.

So how long is “this generation?” Psalm 90 is about generations (see the first verse). Psalm 90:10 says, “the days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away.” So if this sets the bounds for a generation, then this means that Jesus has to return by 2028 (1948 + 80 years).

There is another prophecy which reinforces this time frame… Hosea 6:1-2 says, “Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; he has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.” When you weigh that prophecy about Israel with 2 Peter 3:8 (“one day is as a thousand years”) which is in the context of the Lord’s return, there will be about two thousand years between the first coming of the Messiah and the second.

Scholars conclude that Jesus was born 7–2 BC and died 26–36 AD. Thus two thousand years from when Jesus died on the cross will be somewhere between 2026 and 2036. The 2028 time frame that we get from the re-gathering of Israel and the length of a generation is in that bracket. Since we know the Tribulation is seven years, backing that out of the 2028 date means it is very likely the Rapture will occur no later than 2021.

This certainly doesn’t mean that we have 10 years to wait… Psalm 90:10 says that the standard measure of a generation is 70 years. In 2010 we are certainly in the zone of a seven-decade standard generation. And who really knows when the “two days” of Israel’s dispersion will be measured from, the Messiah’s death or His birth? This time period compresses even more if you use the 360-day year of the Hebrew Lunar calendar.

We are firmly in the zone for when Jesus will come for His bride! “It is high time to awake out of sleep; for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed” (Romans 13:11).