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Does the Bible tell us when the Messiah will come?
People have always wondered when Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew) would return for His people and I am no different, that is what motivated me to write this paper. Many people believe that all Christians, even those living in open sin, will be caught up to Christ when He returns. However, I believe that Jesus will be looking for people who are leading a Christ-like life and are actively praying and watching for His return.
"Be careful, or your hearts will be weighed down with dissipation, drunkenness and the cares of life, and that day will close on you unexpectedly like a trap. For it will come upon all those who live on the face of the whole earth. Be always on the watch, and pray that you may be accounted worthy to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man." Luke 21:34
It seems that we christians should take Christ's warning to heart, so we will not be caught by surprise by His return because of being preoccupied with the pleasures or the cares of our daily routine. Could it be that some will not be accounted worthy to escape the coming terrors.
The timing of end time events might not be forbidden.
Through my research, I have come to believe that the general Season of the return of Jesus for His saints (the rapture) can be known. However, it may not be known by all or even many christians before it happens, because of the simple reason that most christians are not actively watching and praying about the return Jesus. They believe rather, "when He comes, He comes". Whenever it happens, no one will know about it before hand. We should not forget that Jesus gave us this warning:
"Obey what you have heard. Change your hearts and lives! You must wake up, or I will come to you and surprise you like a thief." Rev. 3:3
In other words, if you will be alert and obey the word, you will not be surprised by His coming. If you are not alert and following Christ, you will not be ready for escape.
In his book, "Forbidden Knowledge: or is it...", D.A. Miller, makes an excellent case for the idea that the season of time for the rapture of the church might be known by christians before it actually happens. He tells his own story of how he always believed that the time of the rapture could not be known, however through examining the scriptures he became convinced that Jesus expects believers to at least have a good idea of when He will return so as not be at all surprised when it occurs.
After all, Jesus said:
"The Holy spirit will lead you and guide you into all truth, and reveal to you things to come."
The church should expect to receive greater revelation as time goes by. For example, the apostles first questioned the very idea that gentiles could be saved, however, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, they came to realize that Christ died to save the gentiles also, not just the Jewish people. The book of Daniel also tells us that in the last days knowledge shall be increased, and people will have a greater understanding of God's word imparted to them.
"But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end. Many will go here and there to increase knowledge... None of the wicked will understand, but those who are wise will understand. Daniel 12:4
The church today has almost six thousand years of the continuing revelation from God to learn from and build upon.
The Apostle Paul also says that christians, who are living in light, will not be surprised by Christ's return.
"Brothers, you are not living in darkness. And, so that day will not surprise you like a thief." 1 Thessalonians 5:4
Miller notes, that where Jesus says "No man knows the day and the hour..." He is referring the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, or to His second coming at the end of the tribulation, when He comes with power and great glory.
For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world... If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive... "At that time... They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory..."No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Mark 13:21
In the book of Acts, we are told that the apostles asked Jesus this question:"So when they met together, they asked him, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority." Acts 1:6
This scripture is often given as proof that we can not know the time of the rapture; however, the apostles are not asking about when Jesus would return, because He was with them at the time, having risen from the dead. The Apostles were specifically asking when Jesus would restore the kingdom to Israel. It is clear that they want to know if Jesus will now overthrow the Romans and set Himself up as the new King over Israel. Also, it is very clear from these scriptures, that Jesus is not referring to the rapture of the church, because at the time Jesus spoke these words both the rapture and the church were still undisclosed mysteries that would be revealed by the Holy Spirit, through the letters of the Apostle Paul, some thirty years later. Miller then cites other respected bible teachers such as Harry Ironside, and J. Vernon Mcgee who share similar view points.
In summary Miller states: "If dates are there, they were put there by God, Himself. They were put there for us to study. They were put there to be discovered at the appointed time." There are no scriptures that say we can never learn the time of Christ's return for His Church; but rather, it is explicitly stated that christians who are living in the light and led by the Holy Spirit will not be surprised!
Noah was told that a flood was coming, and as the time approached God gave him seven days notice.
Noah was commanded to build the ark, which many bible commentators believe took him 120 years. During these 120 years, we are told that Noah was a preacher of righteousness and he told the people to turn from their evil. However, no one believed his prophesy about a coming flood, and only he and his family were saved. As the ark was finished, God sent all of the animals to Noah. Then God told Noah and his family to get into the ark because the flood will come in seven days."Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth for forty days and forty nights, and I will wipe from the face of the earth every living creature I have made. And after the seven days the floodwaters came on the earth. " Genesis 7:4
Jesus said that His coming would be like the days of Noah:,"As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage,up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Matthew 24:37
Notice, it says: "and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away." The unbelievers were caught by surprise, but God's people had advance knowledge as to the very day the flood would come.
God Gave Abraham and Lot advance notice of Sodom's destruction.
When God decided to destroy Sodom and Gomorra, He first told Abraham, and then sent two angels to tell Lot to leave the city."The two angels arrived at Sodom in the evening... They said to Lot, we are going to destroy this place... With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, "Hurry! Take your wife and your two daughters or you will be swept away when the city is punished." When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them." Genesis 19
Both Abraham and Lot received about one days notice before the judgment fell on the evil doers. And, just like in the days of noah, when lot tried to warn others in Sodom, they thought he was joking.
The first coming of Christ may be of some help in understanding what His second coming might be like.
Josephus, Tacitus, and other historians of that time, reported that there was a great expectation among the peoples of the known world that a savior was to soon come. From the Bible we know about the Magi, or Kings from the east, who traveled a thousand miles to look for the Messiah. The jewish priests, when questioned by Herod, knew that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, but they did not even travel the two miles from Jerusalem to see if the story about Jesus' birth was true. The Bible also tells us about two people who seemed to have some inside information about the coming of the Messiah.
In the book of Luke, we read about Simeon and Anna:
A man named Simeon lived in Jerusalem. He was a good man and very religious, and the Holy Spirit was in Him. The Holy Spirit told him that he would not die before he saw the Christ. The Spirit led Simeon to the Temple, and at the same time, Mary and Joseph brought the baby Jesus to the Temple to dedicate him to the Lord. Simeon took the baby in his arms and thanked God:"Now, Lord, you can let me, your servant, die in peace as you said. I have seen your salvation with my own eyes. He is a light for the non- Jewish people to see. He will bring honor to your people, the Israelites."
"Anna, a prophetess, was there at the Temple... She was now 84 years old. Anna never left the Temple. She worshiped God by going without food and praying day and night. She was standing there at that time, thanking God. She talked about Jesus to all who were waiting for God to free Jerusalem." Luke 2
The two people who knew the most about the first coming of Jesus are also the most godly people mentioned at that time. Both Simeon and Anna had God's Holy Spirit living in them, and they could hear the voice of God. They knew the Messiah when they saw Him, even though He was an ordinary looking Baby among other babies. The people standing by heard their words, but did they take them to heart, we don't know. Even Joseph and Mary were "amazed" at what Simeon said.
So knowing this about Christ's first coming, what might the time of the rapture be like? Will godly christians, who are lead by the Holy Spirit know it before it happens? I think so, but the real question is, will most christians really care, or will they be too concerned with the pleasures and cares of life to give it more than a passing thought.
Other Bible events that were foretold to the exact day.
The Book of Daniel tells the story of one of the greatest prophets of the Bible. Daniel was born about 620 years before Jesus. He was part of the royal family of Judah, and when Babylon attacked and destroyed Jerusalem, he was taken captive and carried to babylon where he spent the rest of his life as a servant and advisor to three different kings. The story of this particular prophecy is told in Daniel Chapter 9. It may be difficult to understand from a first reading, but people have correctly interpreted it for about 2,400 years. Because Daniel's predictions of world events are so accurate, unbelievers have made this one of the most examined and most attacked writings of the Bible, but to no avail. Daniel's writings have been proven accurate over and over again by historians and archaeologists, making the Book of Daniel one of the most authenticated and trustworthy books of the Old Testament.One day Daniel was praying and fasting, and the angel Gabriel appeared "flying swiftly to me about the time of the evening sacrifice" Gabriel said "Daniel, because God loves you very much, I have come to give you wisdom and understanding... God has ordered 490 years for your people and your holy city... A command will come to rebuild Jerusalem...483 years after the command is given to rebuild Jerusalem, the anointed king (Jesus the Messiah) will be killed, but not for himself..." Daniel 9:20-26
The prophecy above is very clear, remember that Jerusalem and the Temple of God had been destroyed by the Babylonians, Daniel is told that on some future day a command will be given to rebuild Jerusalem, and 483 years from that day, the Messiah will be on earth (and then die for us). The remaining 7 years of the prophecy are for the great tribulation period still to come.
An Englishman named Sir Robert Anderson, who was head of Scotland Yard in the 1890's, decided to investigate this prophecy. In his book "The Coming Prince" he correctly uses the Jewish calendar to do his research. The Jewish calendar is based on the revolutions of the moon, while our calendar is based upon the movement of the sun. This makes a Jewish year equal to 360 days (this is where 360 degrees in a full circle comes from). Historians know that the commandment to restore and build Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes Longimanus on March 14, 445 years before Christ (Nehemiah chapter 2).
Sir Robert Anderson did something interesting, he turned the 483 years of the prophecy into days by multiplying 360 days per year times 483 years for a total of 173,880 days. In effect, Gabriel told Daniel that the interval between the commandment to rebuild Jerusalem until the presentation of the Messiah as King would be 173,880 days.
When Sir Robert Anderson counted forward 173,880 days from March 14, 445 B.C. he ended up at April 6, 32 A.D. You might wonder if anything special happened on that day? This was the exact day that Jesus rode a donkey's colt into Jerusalem as the people placed their robes and palm branches before him, and hailed him as King (what we now call Palm Sunday). Thus Jesus fulfilled the prophecy to the very day!
The example above has been known for about 100 years. Now, more examples of these types of prophecy are now being found because of recent discoveries by archeologists and historians. Moreover, because more and more people have access to computers, they can do research in seconds that would have previously taken weeks or months.
This "Palm Sunday" was a very special day, it was even foretold by Zechariah as to what it would be like:"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an donkey, and upon a colt the foal of an donkey." Zechariah 9:9
Five days later, Jesus would be killed on our behalf, as foretold, and Jerusalem would be destroyed because the people did not recognize their day of visitation.
Jesus rebukes those who should have known "the time of their visitation".
His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday, was apparently such an important day that Jesus held the people of the Jerusalem responsible for missing it. As Jesus approached the city, riding on the donkey, He wept over the city as he predicted its future destruction:For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation. Luke 19:43-44
On that very special day, Jesus also said that all of this would come on that very generation because they rejected Him:"Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men: and some of them you shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall you scourge, and persecute them from city to city: That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom you slew between the Temple and the altar. Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation." Matthew 23:36
The same generation that witnessed Christ enter Jerusalem that special Sunday, was also there to witness the horrifying destruction of their city by the Roman legions thirty-eight years later, just as Jesus foretold!
When the city of Jerusalem was about to be besieged by the Romans, there were a few hours when the people could have escaped with their lives. However, most Jews ran into the city believing they would be protected by the city walls. The Jews who believed in Jesus as the Messiah did not retreat into the city, because of Jesus' words to them. He said;"When you see Jerusalem being surrounded by armies, you will know that its desolation is near. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains, let those in the city get out, and let those in the country not enter the city. For this is the time of punishment in fulfillment of all that has been written. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations." Luke 21:20
The Jews who believed that Jesus was the messiah, fled from the city and they were spared from the worst of the carnage by going to other cities or nearby nations. As you can see, understanding prophesy can mean the difference between life and death, so we should apply ourselves to understand God's word.
How long is a generation?
There are three different generations mentioned in the Bible; one, is the Generation of Moses, two, is the generation of Jesus, and three, is the last days generation that will be alive to see the return of Jesus in power and glory. Each of these generations, fails in some way, resulting in God's judgment upon it. The generation of Moses contained perhaps a few hundred thousand men twenty years old and over (military service age) who refused to obey God. The generation of Jesus contained all the Jewish people, about four million. The last days generation contains everyone on earth that has not placed their faith for salvation in Jesus. This last days generation would begin at the occurrence of a specific event that was foretold by Jesus.
He said:...And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down by Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. Luke 21:24
Jesus said, that when Jerusalem would be destroyed, the Jews would be taken away as captives into all the nations of the world. This has surely been the case. We know from history that the Romans took the surviving Jews as slaves into many other nations, because they were tired of the many rebellions the Jews carried on against them. The second part of the prophesy is also true, Jerusalem was ruled by gentile nations continuously from the time of the Roman invasion in 70 A.D., until June 7th, 1967 when the Israeli Defense Forces recaptured the city and the place where the Temple once stood. Many Christians are coming to believe that when Jewish people once again ruled over Jerusalem, that this was the sign that marked the beginning of the last days generation. I don't believe that we can know these things with absolute certainty, but we can use our knowledge, God given wisdom, and revelation from the Holy Spirit to increase our understanding.
Is a generation 14,000 days long?
People have offered different Ideas for the length of a generation; such as 40 years, or 70 years, but the most interesting length of a generation I've yet seen is given by John Zachary, in his book "Threshold of Eternity". He believes that a biblical generation is equal to 14,000 days, or about 38 years and 4 months. Zachary determined this number by using a perpetual calendar to add up the number of days between two events mentioned in the Bible. The first event that he started counting from is the day of Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, "Palm Sunday", April 6, 32 A.D. The same day foretold by the prophet Daniel.
On that Sunday, just days before he was crucified for us, Jesus said; this very generation would witness the horrible destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple because they did not recognize the day of their visitation. Zachary stopped his count on the very day that the city and the Temple were destroyed by the Roman legions under Titus Vespasian on August 5, 70 A.D. There were exactly 14,000 days between these two events, thereby marking the exact length of the generation that Jesus prophesied about.
The destruction of the Temple in the generation of Jesus.
Josephus, the historian, was an eye witness to the destruction of Jerusalem and one of the stories he relates is indicative of the accuracy of Jesus' prediction of the total destruction of the Temple. Jesus said that the destruction of the Temple would be so complete that:"not one stone will be left on another". Luke 21:6
Josephus recorded that the wife of Titus had a dream about the Temple of God and warned Titus not to harm the Temple in any way. So Titus gave strict orders to his army not to do any harm to the Temple. Besides all this, the Temple was renowned throughout the ancient world for its beauty. When the Romans finally broke through the city walls, They did keep away from the Temple. However, as one Jewish man was fleeing a soldier, he ran into the Temple for refuge and the soldier threw in a torch after him. That torch caught the Temple on fire and it was completely burned, but the stones still stood. When the Temple was built, the builders covered many of the walls with gold. It also contained many gold cups and other religious articles worth a great amount of money. When the Temple burned, the gold melted and flowed between the foundation stones. Later to get to this gold, the Romans tore down the temple and used great pry bars to wrench apart the foundation stones, thus not leaving one stone upon another, Just as Jesus said.
The Romans were so angry at the Jews constant rebellions that Josephus records that they eventually leveled the whole city:"Caesar gave orders that they should now demolish the whole city and temple, except the three towers Phaselus, Hippicus, and Mariamne, and a part of the western wall; but all the rest was laid so completely even with the ground, by those who dug it up from the foundation, that there was nothing left to make those who came thither believe that it had ever been inhabited." Josephus
Remember, Jesus made the prediction recorded in Matthew 23 on April 6, 32 A.D. Exactly 14,000 days (one generation) later, to the very day, His words were fulfilled.
The Generation of moses traced near 14,000 days (38 years).
God worked many great miracles to free the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, and He wanted the Jews to immediately go up and possess the promised land. God told them they would have to fight the inhabitants of the land, but God also promised to fight against the inhabitants just like He fought against the Egyptians. However the fighting men, age twenty and up, refused to trust God, and His promise to fight for them. Therefore, God became angry at their distrust and He swore; that generation would not enter the promised land."Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land which I swore to give unto your fathers." Deuteronomy 1:35
Bible researchers have not yet found the exact dates that this generation began and ended; however, there is enough information given to let us know that it could have been 14,000 days long."And the Lord said to Moses ' Now get up and cross the Zered Valley So we crossed the valley. It had been thirty-eight years since we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had died. This is what the Lord promised would happen. Now the last of those fighting men had died." Deuteronomy 2:14
Therefore, that generation had died in approximately the expected time frame of 14,000 days which equals 38 years and 4 months.
The next verse says:Then the Lord said to Moses, "Today you must go by Ar on the border of Moab."
The same day that the last man of that rebellious generation died, God told them to cross the border of Moab. That day they took the first steps out of the desert that they had entered almost forty years earlier. Clearly this appears to be one of those special days, that marked the end of a generation. More study on this period is needed. I hope that one day we will have enough information to pin point the exact number of days, in order to show whether or not it is equal to 14,000. HOME
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