Tuesday, July 31, 2018


BY Pastor Mike Taylor

"But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father”. (Mark 13:32)
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only". (Matthew 24:36)

For the last 2000 years, there has been much theological interpretations of what Jesus was saying in these verses recorded by the men who sat at Jesus feet when they asked Him,

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?" (Matthew 24:3)

As you read either chapter found in the Gospels, Jesus explains to His disciples what the signs will be of the end of the age and His return. Note one thing, as you read this chapter, Jesus was living as a mortal man, God in the flesh, a Jewish man that was speaking to other Jewish men who had 
customs and idioms that modern men must come to understand, in context, to what Jesus was teaching to His followers. His disciples were going to have to teach these very things to the rest of the world, so they would have to be able to grasp what these signs were. So Jesus used familiar speech patterns or “idioms” that each were easy to understand and convey their meaning to the Jewish brethren of Jesus' day.

I want you to focus on one passage that Jesus spoke of, and it starts the sermon off with what can only be described as this idiom (speech patterns of expression) that any Jewish man of those times would have understood immediately because it was part of their culture, their very life and unless we understand these idioms of speech, then the meaning gets lost in translation. What was Jesus referring to when He made the statement “
no man knoweth the day or the hour”?  Could our Lord have been saying that He was going to return on a certain day of the Jewish calendar that was celebrated each year? It was a phrase that was used to illustrate what the event held to each of them listening. It was a most Holy Day and a special Sabbath of worship that was celebrated in the fall of the year and was signified by the blowing of trumpets, which was to symbolize the “Return of the King.” Let us examine this, which I believe, Jesus is giving reference to when all of His church should be watching for as the end grows ever closer.

God's Plan for Mankind

God has given us a plan (signs) to show how He wishes to draw men unto Himself. Many have discarded this knowledge as being Jewish (to their great error) and having no relevance to the modern church, although I see some in the Evangelical movements that are beginning to understand and preach the same thing. But what if I told you that God has used each of these signs to reveal the timing of the first coming of His Son into the world, to die and to be resurrected and will use these signs again to announce the second advent of His Son coming back into this world , leading up to and including Him ruling and reigning for 1000 years? Would you stand up and take notice?

I urge you to take due diligence and study the scriptures and these words I give you. The old saying, “Don't believe me, believe your bible” is what I want you to do. Put this information next to the text. Look in the Strong's Concordance and find the original Greek and Hebrew words and how they are expressed. In other words, do your homework and your own study. These commandments coming from the Voice of Almighty God gave us God's appointments with the salvation of mankind. They were a typology and a shadow of things to come that ancient Israel did not understand fully, and do not, even to this day. What these appointed days show are exactly what has happened in the past, and will most likely fulfill His plan in the near future. Let us dive right into what God gave us nearly 4000 years ago to reveal His plan for the salvation of mankind.

"Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are MY feasts." 

"'These are the LORD's appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times": (Leviticus 23:2,4)

Note that God says that these are the “LORD's” feast, not belonging any one people, not the Gentile nations, not the Jews, not the Hebrew children, not any other people, but that they belonged to Him. In another scripture it emphasizes, “These are MY feast”...Now some think that the word “feast” denotes something with food. It has nothing to do with food, but denotes a commandment for a gathering of His children, His people to acknowledge and worship Him, as a “Holy Convocation” or commanded meeting time/gathering.

To the people of the time of Ancient Israel these “feasts” meant one thing, which was descriptive of their national relationship with Jehovah post Exodus leading into their agricultural life and had specific date of events that were connected to each day or set of days. But to the modern day Church of the Living God, it means something entirely different because our Lord has been sacrificed for the sins of the world. We are not Israel, but each of these days pointed to one thing and One Person, Jesus Christ. To His church, it points to the historically completed events that God has already accomplished or one-half of His plan for the salvation of man. He waits to complete His work and fulfill His plan to redeem His creation to live with Him for all eternity. Note that everything that God wrote down in His Word has a specific meaning, and was not just exclusive for one group of people. God proclaimed them for a purpose as He looked down the annals of time and saw us, His Church. God always has a purpose for everything He does. These are prophetic rehearsals of God's Son coming into the world the first time as a suffering servant and ultimately, our Savior and High Priest, but the 2nd time or noted by the last half of these commanded days, as conquering King and Lord of Lords. He came first as a lamb, but the next time He sets foot on this earth, He will come as a conquering warrior....a roaring Lion of Judah full of wrath of Almighty God.

To describe His plan in language that we can understand, God chose to bring His Son to come into the world to complete the first part of His plan on the exact days of His appointed times the Bible calls “His Feast” that were given to Moses. They were divided up into observances. Four in the spring of the year, and in the fall of the year the remaining three. The spring appointed days were Passover, Feast of Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Pentecost. What happened on these days that were completed on the exact date that these times of worship were given by God in the Old Testament and completed in the New Testament that effects the Church?

Passover- Jesus offered Himself as the sinless lamb of God. His shedding of His blood was for the salvation of the world and the payment for our sins.

Feast of Unleavened Bread- His death and burial removed our sins outside of the camp. Jesus took our sins to the grave and buried them there. Three days later, He arose victorious over death, hell and the grave.

Feast of First Fruits-on the first day after the Sabbath, a Sunday morning, on this Passover week, the priest waved a sheaf of barley in the temple as an offering of first fruits of the harvest, and simultaneously, Jesus was offering Himself to the Father in heaven as the First Fruits of those born of the dead in resurrection and full payment for the sins of the world.

Pentecost, or the Feast of Weeks- 50 days from First Fruits, The Holy Spirit came in power exactly on time! 3000 were saved and the Church was born!

Note that Jesus completed His act of salvation by His death and burial on the exact days of these original God given appointed times. He sent God's Holy Spirit, as our comforter, counselor and advocate on the exact day that was given in the Old Testament and the church and the Age of Grace began.

These are called God's Spring Holy Days and they have significant impact on the Christian's life and his understanding of what has happened in the past and what is coming in the near future. Believe one thing, my reader, God is always right on time. He does nothing by chance, but gives His Word in power, to inform us of His plans and to all those He has called in these last days to proclaim His truths. Does it not stand to reason and totally logical and bible based correct, that if He fulfilled His plan of salvation for all men on the appointed times of God's Plan for Man on THE day in these springs observances, that He will most likely fulfill His plan beginning at His return to gather His church to Himself, and then to set up His Kingdom to rule and reign for 1000 years on these EXACT days appointed? God created these days as markers in time for the redemption of mankind.

As He completed His redemptive act on the very day appointed, He will be right on time with His second entrance into the affairs of men in the chosen day appointed as noted by the coming fall feast, known as Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles, as God has had a plan. It is a wise man that seeks to understand His ways and His plans by making preparations to be ready when they are “right at the door”.


Returning to the phrase “no man knoweth the day or the hour”. We still need to answer that question, what was Jesus saying that the apostles were completely familiar with? By the explanation above, I think you can see how these days mean something totally different to the Church, than it did to Israel when they were given on Mt. Sinai. What significance does the remaining Holy Days of God affect you and me?

 In the age that we live in, since the ascension of Jesus Christ to the right hand of the ABBA Father God in Heaven, and the beginning of the church at Pentecost, we have been living in the Age of Grace, that the harvest of lost souls has been going on for the last 2000 years, approximately. The Church Age we now live in are the parenthesis connecting the spring and the fall feast of God. You should be able to see (I least I hope you see and understand) that the time between the spring and the fall observances I have just listed, is the time that we are living in right now. These are the spring and summer months of the growing harvest of the wheat and the tares that Jesus spoke of in parable. (Matthew 13:25-30)

 If you are a believer that we are at the very end, the very last moments of the Age of Grace and the imminent return of Jesus Christ, know our Lord is close, even at the door, then we approach a series of events that could be played out in the coming days, and sooner than anyone would anticipate or expect. It is what I believe is what Jesus was alluding to in His “expressions of speech” Idioms that He spoke to His disciples....what are they?


The 3 Fall Festivals start on the first day signified by the new moon in the 7th month:

“Month of Tishrei"

 This is the only Holy Day marked by the New Moon and is set apart for that reason as special. All other festivals are set or counted by the full moon as Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and even Pentecost are counted from the full moon of Nissan which is in the early spring. So the Spirit of GOD is pointing to this festival as a certain day! . This is separated by months from the last feast and must be carefully witnessed by men of great authority in the land of Ancient Israel and even by Christians of our modern era. It was a very involved process that must be guaranteed by two witnesses to it's beginning reported to the Sanhedrin during the time of Biblical Israel. Since it must be authorized, as they called it, “sanctified” before the month's activities could begin, the appointed time is stretched into two days, as “
No man knoweth the day or the hour.” (emphasis mine). It is the only Feast Day that is named as such, because they just didn't know which day was the correct day. Hence the quote is connected to this day. Why two days? It is because that with the days counted of 29.5 from new moon to the next, no one is sure if it's the 29th or the 30th day of the month, so to be sure, the Jewish people count both. To further explain the reasoning why two days, I went to the internet and looked up further reasons. What follows is an explanation to confirm my position:“Yom Teruah is the only festival that no man knows when exactly it will occur. This is due to the fact that it begins on the new moon. The new moon was sanctified when two witnesses see the new moon and attest to it before the Sanhedrin in the Temple.

This sanctification could happen during either of two days, depending on when the witnesses come. Since no one knew when the witnesses would come, no one knew when the Feast of Trumpets would start.” (Watch Unto Prayer)!

A new moon is called “rosh chodesh” in Hebrew. As mentioned, new moons must be validated in Israel by 2 witnesses who will watch the dark black sky at the end of the moon cycle for the first glimmer of the moon to reappear. This is the beginning of the 30 day cycle which determines Israel’s months. (Moon is the word from which we get months). As soon as the new moon is sighted and verified (2 witnesses) then the Sanhedrin, or the High Priest will send runners from the east to the west with signal lights to be lit on high mountains to inform the people that the day has been sanctified and they can begin their counting for the month and the Feast of Trumpets can begin and to worship God. They are said to run “like lightning” This highlighted and bold statement “like lightning” is another Jewish idiom that any Jewish person of the time would instantly recognize and it is connected to the fall observance of the Feast of Trumpets.

For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the comingof the Son of man be” ( Matthew 24:7 )...again, was Jesus making reference to the observance of the Feast of Trumpets?“He made darkness (the new moon on Feast of Trumpets) His secret place (the day no man knows the hour); His pavilion round about Him were dark waters and thick clouds of the skies (describing the Day of the Lord). At the brightness that was before Him his thick clouds passed, hail stones and coals of fire. The LORD also thundered in the heavens, and the Highest gave His voice (the sound of the trumpet – God's voice as Jesus voice sounds like the sound of a Trumpet--Revelation 1:10); hail stones and coals of fire. Yea, He sent out His arrows, and scattered them; and He shot out lightning and discomfited them.”  (Psalm 18:11-14) (Parenthesis my explanations)
There are numerous passages that use the same Greek word in Strong's, #796 “astrape, or astropo #797 meaning a bright shining light, a glare, lightning, bright, shining. Other scriptures where the word is used are :

 Jesus said:
 “For as the lightning (astrape), that lightens out of the one part under heaven, shines unto the other part under heaven (the east to the west); so shall also the Son of man be in his day.”( Luke 17:24)

Lightning, as seen from earth in the sky in Israel, usually is seen as going downward/upward, or from east to west. This is in agreement with Luke 10:18, in which Jesus may have used astrape to describe lightning as falling from the sky in the land of Israel, although more than likely Jesus was referring to Satan figuratively as what we often call a “falling star” which falls from the sky. Here Jesus was speaking of Satan being cast out of heaven during the Tribulation.

He said to them, “I saw Satan having fallen like lightning [astrape] from heaven.” (Luke 10:18)

All could be describing the use of the term “astrape” could be describing how the Son of Man would come as a flash of lightening that comes quickly and is gone when the term is applied to Jesus Christ and is associated with this Feast of Trumpet's observance.


There is a direct connection with this God ordained observance that Paul alluded to in 1st Corinthians and many people do not understand that Paul is talking about the Feast of Trumpets when during this time it is historically noted that 100 trumpets were blown and then a long, louder blast of the shafor and a silver trumpet called the “last trump” then the “Great Trump” respectively.

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-53)  and again in 1st Thessalonians,

For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”  (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17) 

We cannot go to the Book of Revelation and say that the trumpet of the seventh angel is what Paul is referring to (Revelation 11:15) as John had not even wrote his testimony yet when Paul wrote his in these two passages. This is the last trump (of the 7th angel) that many people try and make this connection in error, because they don't understand the context. One they labor to connect the two, as they believe that the church will experience the same horrors that the rebellious nations will be subjected to right along with everyone else.

I speak it again as in past messages posted , and to further drum home this truth, since the tribulation is designed to purge and refine Israel as silver is in the fire because of their centuries of unbelief, and the nations are destroyed because of their rebellion and unrepentant lawlessness, what is the point of refining the Church during the same period? Was the blood of Jesus not good enough? Did He not do what God intended His perfect sacrifice to accomplish? Then why the conflict?

Answer is there is no conflict, only a lack of understanding on our part. The concept of a post Tribulation return of Jesus to save what is left of mankind, is akin to Catholic purgatory, that the church must be refined as she just needed a good whuppin' before Jesus marries her. Right, and what lady in waiting would marry a groom who allowed that to happen to her? 
No, Paul is speaking of a trumpet that will herald an emotion of joy unspeakable and full of glory for His church redeemed and starting the judgment upon the nations left upon earth, but the seventh angel who blows his trumpet signifies the fulfillment of unspeakable horror and untold death and destruction. They are two separate references to a trumpet and not the same one. Some call the doctrine of the Pre-tribulation return of Jesus an escape route, but I prefer to think of it as “VICTORY IN JESUS” and our Blessed Hope. Where is the hope, if you knew that you were going to be tortured and eventually killed because “you must be refined”...does it make sense to you? ,

Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”(Titus 2:13 )

 Jesus is our blessed hope of coming glory and being protected from the coming wrath of Almighty God.



In further explanation of Jewish history, in the first century when Paul wrote these words, the last trump (shofar) meant a specific day in the year, as he was describing. In Judaism, there are three trumpets that have a name. They are the first trump, the last trump, and then the great trump which is a silver trumpet blown. Each one of these trumpets indicates a specific day in the Jewish year. The first trump is blown on the Feast of Pentecost (Exodus 19:19).

It proclaimed that God had betrothed Himself to Israel. The last trump is synonymous with Rosh HaShanah, according to Theodore Gaster in his book, "
Festivals of the Jewish Year", in his chapter on Rosh HaShanah. Herman Kieval also states the same thing in his book, "The High Holy Days" in the chapter on the shofar. The great trumpet is blown on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), which will herald the return of Jesus back to the earth to rule and reign and put down all rebellion (Matthew 24:31). 

In between these two events of Rosh HaShanah and Yom Kippur are the 10 days of awe, which in Jewish tradition are the days God judges mankind. These would correlate possibly to the tribulation period and a time of intense judgment on the earth. Got that? First and last trump on Pentecost, then Rosh HaShanah or Feast of Trumpets respectively, followed by a period of 10 days of judgment, and then the great trumpet blown on the Day of Atonement, or AT-ONE-MENT with God or the return of Jesus Christ with His saints to reign and rule.

The first and last trump relate to the two horns of the ram, which according to God's Word, was caught in the thicket on Mount Moriah when Abraham was ready to slay Isaac and offer him up as a burnt offering. This ram became the substitute for Isaac even as Jesus became the substitute for us and provided life for us through His death. These two horns blown bookend the time we are living right now and the plan of salvation given to all who will believe by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. The right horn was prophetically blown at Pentecost at approximately 33 AD, and we await the blowing of the left horn or the last trump that ends this age we are living.

The last Feast day to be completed is the Feast of Tabernacles, which God has said in His Word, that Zechariah wrote that all men would come to the Jerusalem to worship Him at HIS Feast of Tabernacles.
"And it shall come to pass, that all who are left of the nations who came up against Jerusalem,shall go up year to year to worship the LORD of host , to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. "(Zechariah 14:16)

It is the only Feast observance left, as all have been completed and fulfilled by our Great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.


Paul makes a reference that we are not in darkness, in 1st Thessalonians,
"But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.  
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. 
 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.  
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.  
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.  
For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night." (1st Thessalonians 5:1-7)

We are not in darkness, so as we see the day approaching, we will not be surprised as the rest of the world is, being in the dark. We are in the light, as God has shined His Light on our hearts through His Holy Spirit. God gave us signs in His Word and signs in the heavens that will alert us, that the time is at hand.

Remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 24?
37 "But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. 
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,  
39 And knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.  
40 Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
41 Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left.
4Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 
43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.  
44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh."(Matthew 24:37-44)

Only Noah knew of the appointed time. He didn't know the day, but he knew the season, so he worked on the ark as God commanded. God says that they were all surprised and swept away by the flood, but Noah was not surprised. Also, in this passage as the goodman of the house, we are to watch. We may not know the hour, but we know the season. But note one thing concerning Noah and his family...when he and his sons began to build the ark, some 100+ years prior to the beginning of the flood, they had no idea what day the rains would come, but as the time grew closer and closer and they were a week out from the rains starting...what did God say to Noah?
"For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth."(Genesis 7:4)

God made it known to His servant when the time was right for him to know...He would know even the day.

Now Noah had not known for all those years what day it would be that God would fulfill His judgment on the earth but he believed. But when it was only 7 days hence, God told Noah straight out the exact day He would bring it to pass, just not the hour. What is my point in this reference? Some 2000 years ago, when Jesus our Lord and Savior made these statement “no man knoweth the day or the hour” identifying that He would return on a future Feast of Trumpets that all these men surely recognized, they had no idea what year it would be...just a day in the season of a future year. Now 2000 years down the annals of time, we are as Noah, children of the light who see the day approaching, and God is telling us to expect Him to even narrow it down to a small window of time. How will He do that? He told us that there would be signs in the heavens...in the moon, in the sun and in the stars.
"Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth. " (Revelation 3:10)

As the day approaches, the gathering of God's people to keep them from the hour of temptation as John wrote above, will trigger the Day of the Lord preceded by the church's removal from planet earth. Some feel that it begins later in the chapters of Revelation when Jesus is physically present, but God will bring judgment upon this earth and rebellious mankind beginning with the opening of the 1st Seal loosed in Chapter 6. God will begin the process of preparing the earth and the heavens for the reign of His Son, Jesus Christ and removing the defiling rebellion of wicked men and the polluting of His creation. As God in His grace attempts to bring man to repentance, the destruction will grow worse and more intense Joel described it ;
 1"Blow ye the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain: let all the inhabitants of the land tremble: for the day of the LORD cometh, for it is nigh at hand; 
A day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness, as the morning spread upon the mountains: a great people and a strong; there hath not been ever the like, neither shall be any more after it, even to the years of many generations."(Joel 2:1-2) 

On down in verse 30,
"And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.  
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.  
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call."  (Joel 2:30-32)

Could it be that God is trying to get our attention with the signs in the heavens that we saw this last few year?...And not to mention all the volcanoes that spew ash and clouds of smoke into the heavens. We've always had erupting volcanoes in our history, but not to the extent that has been happening in the last few years. Earthquakes are everywhere all over the planet, and the loss of life and property keep rising as the earth shakes from earthquake after earthquake. America has been waiting for the big ONE that will either be catastrophic for the west coast or in the middle of the country with the New Madrid fault...we're long over due for another horrific quake that will change the land mass of California, or the Mid-Western states topography. Let us not forget the super volcano that lurks under Yellowstone National Park that if it erupts, life in America will be destroyed due to blocking out the sun and destroying all plant life. At least that is what I've read scientist are predicting will happen someday in the possible near future.

When this finally happens, this will be only the beginning of the sorrows of unrepentant man and his wickedness, not the end. It will continue until the full measure of His wrath is poured out by the seventh angel and the bowl judgments.

God has given us clear examples and words that point to a time in the near future when He will begin fulfilling His past prophetic rehearsals of God's plan for man, and beginning the Trumpet call to announce the coming of the King. Each year when the Feast of Trumpets comes to pass, especially in the last several years, I am keenly aware and listening for the sound of a trumpet and the shout of our God Jesus Christ proclaiming victory for His Church. Will it be this year, next year or some year after that? God knows, because He has not told me, but I know He is close and I will be ready...Will you be ready?

You can only get ready one way..through Jesus Christ and Him crucified...

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life,
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” (John 3:16-18)

8 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach;
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”(Romans 10:8-11)

This is Pastor Mike Taylor, praying God's salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord, comes into your life. Should you need counseling, prayer, or just a listening ear, email me at 
realteam1999@sbcglobal.net, or visit me online at www.pastormiketyalor.blogspot.com. God bless you all, 



 - Terry James -

No scriptural proof-text in God's Word more clearly points to the first of the two phases of Jesus Christ's Second Coming than does the following: "For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2). We who hold to the pre-Trib Rapture viewpoint are often accused of being deceivers. We are condemned by our detractors as leading astray Christians alive now-if they live to see it-who will be required to endure the tribulation, thus to wash their robes clean in preparation for inheriting God's Kingdom.
We are castigated for foisting upon innocent, gullible believers a "secret rapture" that will somehow lead these Christians to take the mark of the Beast (Revelation 13:16-18).
I'm not precisely sure of their "reasoning," but I think they claim this because they are convinced that the ones who fall for the Rapture viewpoint won't be able to recognize Antichrist when he comes to power. We who teach the pre-Trib rapture, so the accusation goes, would have falsely led these people to think the Church would not be here when Antichrist is on the world scene.
Almost all who are antagonistic to the pre-Trib Rapture doctrine teach that the "elect" will have to endure part or all of the seven-year tribulation era. Those who hold to a post-Tribulation Rapture, or a no-Rapture position, believe that Christ will come back at the end of the Tribulation, at Armageddon. They hold to the notion that that is His only return in the Second Coming. Other views have Christ returning when the earth is perfected and made ready, but we won't go there in this essay.
Let us look at only the pre-Trib Rapture and the post-Trib Rapture positions for the purpose of exploring what is meant by the "thief in the night" references in 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and 2 Peter 3:10.
These two viewpoints-the pre-Trib, and the post-Trib-offer the greatest contrast to examine in consideration of the second advent of Jesus Christ, within the overall belief that Rapture will, according to Bible prophecy, happen before Christ's foot actually touches down on Planet Earth.
The pre-Trib view of Rapture says that Christ's Second Coming is in two phases, separated by at least seven years. The post-Trib rapture view says that the Rapture and Christ's coming back to the Mount of Olives will occur almost simultaneously-certainly with no more than a matter of days separating the two events. The post-Trib position says there is no "secret" Rapture. Christ's coming again will be fully seen in the heavens by all, including Christians who will be watching for Him to break through the darkness of that hour.
We agree that the Rapture of the Church (all born-again believers in Jesus Christ for salvation since the Church Age began at Pentecost) will be anything but a "secret." The world will instantly go into cataclysmic chaos at the moment that stunning event takes place. The imagination is hard-pressed to fathom the ramifications of what will happen when millions suddenly vanish. Every child below the age of accountability will be gone in that mind-boggling instant of time. I am convinced that all babies (including those in the wombs of their mothers) will be instantly in the presence of Christ in the clouds of glory.
Every corpse of every dead Christian will be raised to join with his or her soul to meet Christ in the air in that atomos of time. The Rapture will be mystifying, and to some an inexplicable phenomenon, but it will not be a secret. It will happen before the eyes of a stupefied planet of left-behind earth-dwellers. This declaration that Jesus will call His Church to be with Him seems audacious to many. But, it didn't seem so to the Apostle Paul. He was quite confident-even adamant-in his prophecy concerning the "mystery" he had been given by the Holy Spirit to instruct all believers down through the Age of Grace (Church Age).
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)
He explains what will take place next, in that stupendous fraction of a second:
For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
Jesus Himself told of this "mystery" Paul refers to in 1 Corinthians 15:51. The Lord explains what happens after believers-both the bodies of the dead and those who are living-are caught up in the air to be with Him:
Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. (John 14:1-3)
So, the Rapture will take place. Believers and the bodies of those who died during the Church Age will be "caught up" in one single moment of time. "ALL," not "some," will go instantly to be with Jesus, who will then take them into heaven, where He has been preparing their dwelling places since He ascended from the Mount of Olives.
Again, the pre-Trib position on this joyous event is that it is imminent (could happen at any moment), and will happen before the Tribulation Period begins. The post-Trib position says that it happens at the end of the most terrible time in human history, just as Jesus Christ is returning from heaven at Armageddon.
The pre-Trib view holds that it will occur at an unknown time. It will be a stunning, sudden, and unannounced-to-the-world-at-large break-in upon business as usual on Planet Earth. The post-Trib proclaims that it will occur following all of the horrors of the judgments outlined in Revelation. The pre-Trib view says that the world at large (left-behind earth-dwellers) won't see it coming. The Rapture will cause all left on earth to wonder what
has happened. The post-Trib view says that all eyes will behold Christ's coming again to a hellish planet, and the living and dead saints will then be gathered to Christ.
The defining thing to consider in thinking on the two diametrically different views of the Rapture and Second Coming is wrapped up in the term "thief in the night." The Apostle Peter again uses this mysterious term, first used by Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:2:
But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. (2 Peters 3:10)
Peter is saying here that the day of the Lord-that time when God and His Christ, His Son, takes over this fallen planet-will begin like a thief in the night. It will be a sudden, catastrophic break-in upon a world doing business as usual. (Read Luke 17:26-29 to understand how things will be going along as usual when Christ comes back.)
This description hardly fits the post-Trib view, or any other view that says Christ will Rapture His Church during a time of unprecedented trouble (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24:21). This indicates that it will be a total surprise, because a thief in the night doesn't announce his coming with great, cataclysmic fanfare. The break-in is swift, stealthy-a totally unexpected event.
Peter foretells in these passages that the "day of the Lord" will then run its course, until the remaking of the heavens and the earth. The Rapture will begin this "day of the Lord," which will then run at least 1,007 years.
This is the first phase of Christ's Second Coming. The Rapture occurs like a "thief in the night." The second advent, when Jesus' foot touches down on the Mount of Olives, is the second phase.
There are those who say with vehemence that it is blasphemous to equate Christ's coming again as being like the break-in of a thief in the night. How dare we liken their Lord to a "thief"!
Really? Here's what Jesus, the Creator of all things, said about this matter:
But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. (Matthew 24:43-44)
Looks like a pretty good case for the Lord's sudden intervention into the nefarious affairs of this increasingly wicked world, does it not? That thief-in-the-night moment could happen, literally, at any moment. Certainly, signals of the Tribulation are beginning to come to pass.
And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. (Luke 21:28)


 By Gary Stearman -

The New Testament's Olivet Discourse holds a very special place in the hearts of Christians everywhere. Its setting on the Mount of Olives places a dramatic vista in the mind of the reader, as Jesus answered His disciples' questions about the future. They were seated across the Kidron Valley from the Temple Mount complex ... considered to be a world-class architectural triumph. In Matthew 23, Jesus had lamented the grief that would befall His own generation.
Of His own people, He had said, "Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation" (Matt. 23:36). He made it clear to His disciples that their beautiful Jerusalem was about to be destroyed. They knew that He had come to bring about the Kingdom, and they now had learned that this event was to be delayed. This raised two major questions in their minds: 1. "When will these things be?" 2. "What is the sign of Your coming and the end of the age?"
He answered, telling them of future global wars, famines, pestilences and earthquakes. These, He called the "beginning of birth pangs." He told them of the Great Tribulation, and of His Second Coming. Finally, he spoke of the Fig Tree, sprouting forth as a sign that all these things were about to come to pass. He referred to it as a "generation." He went on to say that the conditions experienced by this generation would be similar to those witnessed by Noah and his family, when the whole earth was immersed in divine judgment.
As He spoke, He concluded with a remark that has stimulated a number of conjectures over the years. He said, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34).
His proclamation refers to what has been called "the last generation." The context of His prophecy is critically important. He is speaking to a Jewish audience, addressing His remarks to members of the "fig tree" nation. These would be Jews of the generation that witnesses events leading up to the Great Tribulation, then moving forward to actually experience it.
Are the Jews of our generation the people that Jesus spoke of? To answer this question, we shall examine several biblical expressions that actually use the term, "generation."
There is a Hebrew expression found in the Old Testament that is usually translated as, "the generation to come." This idiom is taken from some form of HaDor HaAcharon. The most direct translation of this phrase is, "the last generation."
As we shall see, the meaning of Jesus' prophecy is greatly clarified by an understanding of this phrase and its common use in the Old Testament. A bit later, we will return to this expression to show how it points forward to the period of the latter days.
As He spoke to His disciples, Jesus was well aware that the meaning of a "generation" would be something of a mystery to his hearers. But He spoke in a context that had meaning to them. One imagines them seated in the shade of an ancient olive tree, as they gazed across the Kidron Valley toward the magnificent complex of concourses, stairways, porticos, palaces and courtyards. The centerpiece of their attention was the Temple, itself.
Construction on this huge project - considered one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - had begun some fifty years earlier! At the time Jesus spoke, it would still be almost twenty years before the completion of the whole Temple complex. Tragically, the completed development would last only about a year before being completely destroyed by the Roman forces of Titus and Vespasian in A.D. 70.
As Jesus addressed the inner circle of His followers, He spoke of future world wars, famines and diseases. In this context, He mentioned the latter-day rebirth of Israel, something the disciples could not have understood at the time. He commented upon Daniel's prophecy of the antichrist in the Temple. He used the term, "great Tribulation," to describe the events surrounding Israel's regathering. He even spoke of His Second Coming in the clouds of glory.
It was at this point, that He spoke one of his most famous parables:
"32 Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: 33 So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. 34 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. 35 Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away" (Matthew 24:32-35.)
It's safe to say that from the day He made this pronouncement, right down to the present day, men have not ceased trying to understand precisely what He was saying.
What Did Jesus Say?
Today, some (preterists) are convinced that He was referring to the generation then alive. The longest-lived among His disciples was John, who died at the end of the first century. Under this premise, one could stretch Jesus' prophetic words to this particular event. So the wars, abomination, famine, earthquakes and great Tribulation all took place in that time period. Instead of interpreting His prophecy as a global phenomenon, they make all His prophecies into the local setting of first-century Jerusalem.
It is true that Israel is the centerpiece of the prophecy, but its context must agree with all other New Testament prophecy, the book of Revelation in particular. There, the prophecy is clearly global in scope.
Nevertheless, His reference to the key prophetic generation of the entire Bible is given in the image of a fig tree. This tree is depicted "putting forth leaves," as it would in the spring, when getting ready to bear fruit. The point is that the prophetic tree is growing, not diminishing.
So, "this generation," is the "fig tree" generation, and often goes by that name. The fig tree is the symbol of National Israel. A key prophecy given by Jeremiah makes this crystal clear:
"5 Thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah, whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good. 6 For I will set mine eyes upon them for good, and I will bring them again to this land: and I will build them, and not pull them down; and I will plant them, and not pluck them up. 7 And I will give them an heart to know me, that I am the LORD: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto me with their whole heart" (Jeremiah 24:5-7).
Here, the good figs are the leaders of Israel. Their wholehearted return to the land of Israel is not the near fulfillment witnessed in the Israelite return from Babylonian captivity. This Scripture predicts their final return, when they shall receive a new heart and revival in the Spirit of the Lord. Jeremiah says that they will be planted and not pulled down. They were, in fact, pulled down in A.D. 70, and again in A.D. 135, following the revolt led by Simeon Bar Kochba. In the final regathering, they will be permanently replanted. And what do you get when you plant a fig? You get a fig tree! That's Israel!
This is the generation to which Jesus undoubtedly referred.
When Was The Fig Tree Planted
The dark years following Israel's first-century diaspora really began to brighten in the year 1878, when a few Russian Jews pioneered efforts to "make aliya" (go up to the Land), and establish settlements in the stark deserts and swamps of a then-desolate Israel. Their efforts, and the work of those who followed them, raised the consciousness of world Jewry. In 1897, the first World Zionist Congress was held in Basle, Switzerland." Plans were laid out to win back Israel, then held by the Ottoman Turks.
World War One brought Israel into the sights of British politicians and generals. The Balfour Declaration of 1917 promised Israel access to their Land. But before that could happen, Jews of the diaspora were forced to bear the insults of World War Two, the Holocaust and the ravages of international anti-Semitism.
Following the United Nations Mandate of 1947, Israel declared statehood on May 14, 1948.
Metaphorically speaking, Jeremiah's description of the planting of figs corresponds with Israel's laborious restoration of the Land. Through many difficulties, wars, pogroms and the enormous obstacles of weather, drought and financial need, the Jews converted the barren Land to remarkable fertility. The first half of the twentieth century saw the first planting of Jesus' prophecy come to fruition. By the year 1948, the leaves of the tree began to shoot forth. Expressed differently, the tree of national Israel had grown to the point that it was recognized as viable and strong. Israel is placed in an international context in Luke's account of the Olivet Discourse:
"29 And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; 30 When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. 31 So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. 32 Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled" (Luke 21:29-32). Here, the text adds an additional note of clarification. Not only are we to watch the "fig tree" (national Israel), but we are to watch other trees, as well. If Israel is represented by the fig tree, the other trees would be the nations that rise up at roughly the same time Israel became a nation.
Recent history reveals precisely this kind of development. At the midpoint of the twentieth century, most of the current "nations" were third-world enclaves of tribal illiteracy. In the last fifty years or so, they have rapidly grown (both in numbers and capability) to become important players on the world scene. The following brief look at the U.N. membership roster shows just how rapidly their numbers have grown.
On April 25, 1945, representatives from 50 nations met in San Francisco at "The United Nations Conference on International Organization." They agreed upon a charter, which was signed on the 25th of June of that year.
By 1948, membership had grown to 58. The following year, Israel became a member, bringing the total number of represented nations to 59. By 1960, membership had grown to 99. Growth continued at a rapid rate. By 1970, 127 nations were included. In 1980 the number had risen to 154. In 1990, the number was 159. The year 2000 saw 189 nations in the roster.
Currently - and remaining more or less stable - U. N. membership now encompasses 193 nations.
Their rapid growth meets the biblical prediction that they would "shoot forth." Trees that had languished under the long winter of the dark ages, feudalism and colonialism are now realizing modernization through international banking and high-tech telecommunications. Real-time satellite transmission and the Internet have brought them into the cultural medium of the twenty-first century. As the angel told the prophet Daniel, "But thou, O Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book, even to the time of the end: many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased" (Daniel 12:4).
Just as Luke's Olivet text predicted, we have now seen the latter-day multiplication of nations erupting with unprecedented speed. He added that when this phenomenon was observed, "summer is now nigh at hand." Summer, of course, is the time of harvesting the fruit of the trees. And Jesus, Himself, said, "... the harvest is the end of the world." Here, He refers to the completion of the "age," from the Greek word aion. In context, He is speaking of the grain harvest as a metaphor of the final judgment. It should be remembered that summer is the season when both grain and fruit are harvested:
"38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; 39 The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. 40 As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world" (Matthew 13:38-40).
There are many expressions of the harvest as judgment in the Day of the Lord. One of the clearest is found in Micah, Chapter 7:
"1 Woe is me! For I am as when they have gathered the summer fruits, as the grapegleanings of the vintage: there is no cluster to eat: my soul desired the firstripe fruit" (Micah 7:1).
Here, Micah expresses the same thought as did Jesus in His famous discourse. He speaks as the plaintive voice of national Israel at the time of judgment, when the tiny nation faces the persecution of a massive world system during the Great Tribulation. When the nations spring forth as trees, the harvest judgment is near. This is the generation of which Jesus spoke.
Hador Haacharon
This brings us back to the Hebrew expression we mentioned at the beginning of this article. It is ha dor ha acharon. It is first found in the book of Deuteronomy, in a prophecy that foretells the dispersion of the Jews, as they are scattered to the four corners of the world. This phrase is found in the following passage, where it is translated, "the generation to come,"
"21 And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law: 22 So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it; 23 And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath: 24 Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25 Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: 26 For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: 27 And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: 28 And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day. 29 The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deut. 29:21-29).
This is the prophecy of Israel's complete dispersion. After years of disobedience, their covenant with the Lord through Abraham finally catches up with them. The generation addressed here is the one that we are most familiar with. It began with the diaspora of AD 135 and two millennia of desolation. The land of Israel became a treeless, swampy, drought-ridden desert. It was a testimony of Jewish disobedience. Many thought that they were through forever ... set aside to see others take charge of the ancient Kingdom promises made to the twelve tribes. It was generally believed that their forsaking of that covenant meant permanent exile.
Here, we have a prophecy of latter-day Israel, ravaged by sin and time, its people dispersed and despised. The generation mentioned here is the generation that is now in the process of returning to restore the Land. As we have seen, the first stage of this regathering has already begun. This passage clearly refers to what it calls "the generation to come." At first glance, it seems to be speaking of some indeterminate future generation. In fact, it clearly refers to the final generation.
It is most important to understand that ha dor ha acharon can just as easily be translated as, "the last generation," since the word acharon means, "hindmost, last in order, last of a series" or simply, "last." It is clear that this prophecy is referring to the last generation - the one that comes back to prepare Israel to bring in the Kingdom Age.
The Generation Following
Other variations of this expression are also found within the framework of Israel's latter-day regathering. Psalm 48 offers an excellent example of the placement of the "last generation" into a prophetic context. This Psalm is focused upon Mount Zion, the Temple Mount. It opens upon a chorus of praise for Jerusalem and the Holy Mountain:
"1 Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised in the city of our God, in the mountain of his holiness. 2 Beautiful for situation, the joy of the whole earth, is mount Zion, on the sides of the north, the city of the great King. 3 God is known in her palaces for a refuge. 4 For, lo, the kings were assembled, they passed by together. 5 They saw it, and so they marveled; they were troubled, and hasted away. 6 Fear took hold upon them there, and pain, as of a woman in travail. 7 Thou breakest the ships of Tarshish with an east wind. 8 As we have heard, so have we seen in the city of the LORD of hosts, in the city of our God: God will establish it for ever. Selah. 9 We have thought of thy lovingkindness, O God, in the midst of thy temple. 10 According to thy name, O God, so is thy praise unto the ends of the earth: thy right hand is full of righteousness. 11 Let mount Zion rejoice, let the daughters of Judah be glad, because of thy judgments. 12 Walk about Zion, and go round about her: tell the towers thereof. 13 Mark ye well her bulwarks, consider her palaces; that ye may tell it to the generation following. 14 For this God is our God for ever and ever: he will be our guide even unto death" (Psalm 48:1-14).
In these words, there can be no doubt that Jerusalem and the Temple Mount are the focus of the Lord's long-term redemptive plan. This Psalm opens with praise for the City of God, then closes with a command to Israel: Spread the news of Israel's regathering to the whole world. It uses a variation of the "generation to come" phrase found in Deuteronomy 29. In verse seven we find a prophecy about the "ships of Tarshish." They are the merchant traders of the Western world. In a monumental stroke of diplomatic perfidy, they attempted to blockade the ships of Jews returning to Israel after World War Two and the Holocaust. But they were defeated.
Here, Israel's leaders are urged to survey the Holy Mountain, called "Zion," marking its chief features and foundations. This is exactly what modern Israelis have done, since the earliest days that Israel was replanted in the Land. But note the closing reference, which we have highlighted above.
Here, the phrase, "to the generation following" is a translation of the Hebrew l'dor acharon. Again, we find the term acharon, meaning "last of an order," or simply, "last." This is a reference to the generation that would return to Israel, there to be charged with the responsibility of surveying and restoring the ancient Temple Mount. It is the "last generation."
The political obstacles to their task are formidable, yet they have made slow but significant progress toward the establishment of the Temple. In June 2005, the newly-restored Sanhedrin even called for the preparation of a prefabricated Temple that could be quickly assembled on the Mount.
Dark Sayings
Psalm 78 offers another reference to the last generation. Here, it is given in the context of Israel's latter-day spiritual condition. The Spirit of the Lord is shown giving them guidance, in spite of their continued unbelief: "1 Give ear, O my people, to my law: incline your ears to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth in a parable: I will utter dark sayings of old:
3 Which we have heard and known, and our fathers have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their children, shewing to the generation to come the praises of the LORD, and his strength, and his wonderful works that he hath done. 5 For he established a testimony in Jacob, and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children: 6 That the generation to come might know them, even the children which should be born; who should arise and declare them to their children: 7 That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments: 8 And might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation; a generation that set not their heart aright, and whose spirit was not stedfast
with God. (Psa. 78:1-8).
In the verses above, we have highlighted two occurrences of the phrase, "the generation to come." In Hebrew, these two phrases are identical. They are again translated from l'dor acharon. We have identified this phrase, as referring to "the last generation." Note that the Lord is making an impassioned appeal to this last generation. He asks them to listen and understand the ancient words of Scripture. There, they will find "dark sayings." That is, they are to search the Scriptures for the hidden, inner meanings that will illuminate God's plan for them. Chiefly, these would be Messianic prophecies, which have been hidden to Israel for many generations.
Now, in this "last generation," they are urged to look deeply, so that they will be prepared for that which, from their perspective, is shortly to come.
The Restoration of Zion
There is yet another reference to the last generation, using the same Hebrew term. It is found in Psalm 102. And again, this Psalm refers to the restoration of Zion. Note that it speaks of the very building blocks ("stones") in the ancient architecture of Zion. In fact, the rebuilding of Zion is the heart of this prophecy. It begins as the prayer of a saint, overwhelmed by seemingly unconquerable difficulties. Its title says exactly that:
" A Prayer of the afflicted, when he is overwhelmed, and poureth out his complaint before the LORD." Then it begins in earnest:
1 Hear my prayer, O LORD, and let my cry come unto thee. 2 Hide not thy face from me in the day when I am in trouble; incline thine ear unto me: in the day when I call answer me speedily. 3 For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones are burned as an hearth. 4 My heart is smitten, and withered like grass; so that I forget to eat my bread. 5 By reason of the voice of my groaning my bones cleave to my skin. 6 I am like a pelican of the wilderness: I am like an owl of the desert. 7 I watch, and am as a sparrow alone upon the house top. 8 Mine enemies reproach me all the day; and they that are mad against me are sworn against me. 9 For I have eaten ashes like bread, and mingled my drink with weeping, 10 Because of thine indignation and thy wrath: for thou hast lifted me up, and cast me down. 11 My days are like a shadow that declineth; and I am withered like grass. 12 But thou, O LORD, shalt endure for ever; and thy remembrance unto all generations. 13 Thou shalt arise, and have mercy upon Zion: for the time to favour her, yea, the set time, is come. 14 For thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof. 15 So the heathen shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth thy glory. 16 When the LORD shall build up Zion, he shall appear in his glory. 17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute, and not despise their prayer. 18 This shall be written for the generation to come: and the people which shall be created shall praise the LORD" (Psalm 102:1-18)
It would be hard to find a prophecy as distinct and specific as this one. The rebuilding of Zion is the destiny set out "for the generation to come," in other words, the last generation. Once again, we find the familiar Hebrew phrase, l'dor acharon. When Jesus told His disciples, "This generation shall not pass away, till all these things be fulfilled," He was speaking of the generation of the "fig tree," and "all the trees." And the "set time" has come!
Downfall of the Antichrist
There's another reference to the last generation that seems to refer to the Antichrist, placing a curse upon him:
1 Hold not thy peace, O God of my praise; 2 For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of the deceitful are opened against me: they have spoken against me with a lying tongue. 3 They compassed me about also with words of hatred; and fought against me without a cause. 4 For my love they are my adversaries: but I give myself unto prayer. 5 And they have rewarded me evil for good, and hatred for my love. 6 Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand. 7 When he shall be judged, let him be condemned: and let his prayer become sin. 8 Let his days be few; and let another take his office. 9 Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow. 10 Let his children be continually vagabonds, and beg: let them seek their bread also out of their desolate places. 11 Let the extortioner catch all that he hath; and let the strangers spoil his labour. 12 Let there be none to extend mercy unto him: neither let there be any to favour his fatherless children. 13 Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out.
The prophecy against this "wicked man" is clearly directed toward the latter days and the House of David, which is here accused of being God's adversaries despite His love for them. Virtually every prophecy of the Antichrist shows him being empowered by Satan, and certainly, that is the case here. This prophecy also agrees with many others, showing that he will be completely defeated. But here, even his posterity is accursed. Their names will be removed from the Book of Life "in the generation following." Once again, the Hebrew source of this phrase indicates that it is the last generation that is intended.
The six occurrences of the Hebrew phrase meaning the "last generation" tell a specific story, in the order of their appearance:
FIRST - Found in Deuteronomy 29:22. In this context, it tells the future story of Israel returning to a land ravaged by "plagues, sicknesses, brimstone, salt and burning." This is exactly what the Jews found when they returned to the land in the 19th century.
SECOND - Describes the activities of Psalm 48:13, where Israel is seen surveying the ancient roads and ruins of Israel, and probing the buried archaeological treasures that tell the story of their ancient history.
THIRD - The phrase is found twice in Psalm 78. The first time, in Psalm 78:4, it speaks of the new generation of returned Israelis, who are learning the ancient Scriptures. (In the twentieth century, Hebrew began to be the spoken language of Israel).
FOURTH - In Psalm 78:6, this amazing phrase depicts a generation who have arisen to defend the land and declare their hope in God.
FIFTH - In Psalm 102:18, we find that the last generation encounters great difficulty: "For my days are consumed like smoke, and my bones burned as an hearth." Latter-day Israel has, of course, been plagued with wars and opposition, which will continue into the days of the Antichrist.
SIXTH - Last, we find the Antichrist: "Set thou a wicked man over him: and let Satan stand at his right hand" (Ps. 109:6). About whom, we read: "Let his posterity be cut off; and in the generation following let their name be blotted out."
There is no doubt that this is an extended prophecy of events to be experienced by the "last generation" of which Jesus spoke as He sat with His disciples on the Mount of Olives:
* Deuteronomy 29:21 - Israel returns to a barren land ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 48:14 - Israel rebuilds the land ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 78:4 - Israel recognizes prophetic Scripture ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 78:6 - Israel begins spiritual revival ... [Yes!]
* Psalm 102:18 - The Tribulation begins ... [Not yet.]
* Psalm 109:13 - The Antichrist arises ... [Not yet.]
If the leaves of the fig tree can be said to have sprung forth with Israeli statehood in 1948, then this particular generation is now seventy years old. Of course, no one can be certain about the actual birth date of the last generation, but Israel has aptly been called "God's timepiece." This is true for a reason. Because, when Israel is in her own Holy Land, miraculous things begin to happen. Years of drought have now given way to fruition. Israel is the California of the Middle East, with fruit and vegetable exports that keep Europe fed. Israeli technology and invention leads the world. Sadly, Scripture predicts a coming series of wars there, followed by the rise of the Antichrist. On the bright side, through the prophecies of the Bible, we can now view Israel's march toward the establishment of the Kingdom.
There is hardly any doubt that we are witnessing the conditions surrounding the initial restoration of Zion. We must, therefore, be living in the last generation. Yet to come are Israel's decisive latter-day wars (Ezekiel 38, in particular) and the revealing of the Antichrist.
Looking back at the sixfold sequence of events, it stands to reason that Israel has already fulfilled all but the last two. And before that happens, the Church will be caught up in the rapture, which could come at any time.