How Long IS a Generation?
Vol: 56 Issue: 24 Wednesday, May 24, 2006
How Long IS a Generation?
In Matthew 24:34 Jesus tells his disciples; “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled.”
I received an email from an Omega Letter member asking, “How long is a generation, anyway?” The member specifically asked me to address calculations advanced by Jack Van Impe some time back when he concluded that a generation is exactly 51.4 years.
First, a look at Van Impe’s figures. In the geneology verses in Matthew 1, counting forward from Adam, he concludes that there were 42 generations from Abraham to Jesus.
Van Impe places Abraham’s birth at 2160 years before Christ. 42 divided into 2160 comes to 51.4, so that is exactly how long he calculates that a generation is — 51.4 years.
My correspondent points out: “Adding 51.4 years to 1948 brings us to 1999.4 years which has come and gone. So if 51.4 years is in fact a generation then 1948 was not the pivitol year. Adding 51.4 years to 1967 brings us to 2018.4 which could still fit.I realize that I am not to set dates for the return of Jesus and I don’t really care to. I am however, curious as to how long is the generation He spoke of. What do you think and what do you think of Dr. Van Impe’s calculations. Perhaps you can address this question in the Omega Letter sometime.”
It all sounds pretty impressive, but to accept Van Impe’s calculations, you have to ignore what the Bible says out loud, in favor of something it doesn’t say even in a whisper.
Lots of televangelists have wasted lots of time trying to calculate the exact time of the Lord’s return. I remember a book called 1994 by Harold Camping that concluded via mathematical gymnastics that the Lord would return in that year. Incredibly, Harold Camping continues to have a following.
There is a popular myth that Hal Lindsey concluded in “The Late, Great Planet Earth” that the Rapture would happen in 1988. I’ve never understood how that myth ever got legs. LGPE was translated into fifty languages and sold more than 40 million copies.
You’d think somebody would quote this alleged statement so I could find it. I can’t.
However, I do remember watching Jack Van Impe, in another one of his ‘calculations’ (as Greece became the 10th member of the EU in 1981) saying that the Lord would definitively return in 1988. Maybe Hal is being confused with JVI? (The Late, Great Planet Earth was published in 1969 when the EU had only seven members)
2 Peter 3:3 says that in the last days there will be scoffers walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
Some of these scoffers are in the Church. They ve heard the Lord was coming back in 1988, 1994, 1999, and even Jack Van Impe s newly revised 2018. The only ones NOT disappointed are Jack s new viewers who have only heard his latest calculation and have to wait another 15 years to be disappointed unless the Lord comes back according to His Own schedule before that.
Jesus said, But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. (Matthew 24:36). Since the Lord Himself has drawn a veil over that bit of information, it is spiritual insanity to try and peek behind the curtain.
But it is sensational and it sells books, draws audiences and garners donations. I could present some carefully calculated and long, drawn out argument in favor of the Lord coming back on this day, or on another, and I could get the OL out of the red in about fifteen minutes.
I d lose most of you, but I d triple subscriptions, if my only interest was in making money. Enquiring minds want to know and they will PAY to hear what they want to hear.
The date-setters prove that all the time by the size of their audiences, but it is also a principle of Scripture: For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; (2 Timothy 4:3)
The Omega Letter is dedicated to the simple truth of Scripture, and so you won t find us giving heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith (1 Timothy 1:4).
If we ever do, I recommend you cancel your subscription immediately.
Now, to finish answering the question, how long is a generation? Let s skip the calculations and genealogies and just look to the plain teaching of Scripture.
And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years. (Genesis 6:3)
And the LORD’s anger was kindled against Israel, and he made them wander in the wilderness forty years, until all the generation, that had done evil in the sight of the LORD, was consumed. (Numbers 32:13)
The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away. (Psalms 90:10)
A generation , we are told by God Himself, cannot be calculated precisely, no matter what feats of mathematical prestidigitation are employed to try.
A generation is the length of time between a father and son. When my son and grandson visit, there are three generations of Kinsellas present in my home, for example.
The outside limits of a generation, according to Genesis is 120 years. A man s normal lifespan, according to Psalms, is seventy years, except for the strong few who live to be eighty. The children of Israel wandered in the wilderness for forty years, until all that generation had been consumed.
Jesus said it was impossible to calculate the day or hour, but that we would know when it was near, even at the door. Given the fact this generation has been anticipated for two thousand years, 120 years would qualify as near, even at the door as would 20, 40, 70 or 80 years.
Instead, what Jesus commanded the Church is to recognize the general time of the end and to conduct ourselves accordingly.
( Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Matthew 24:44)
The Omega Letter s mission is to equip the real Church with factual information, unspun and devoid of any agenda apart from obeying the Great Commission.
Each of us is an evangelist in our own right, and nobody is more effective than you are, since each of you is gifted by God to the degree He requires for His plan for your life. We exist to help you in the exercise of your gifting, which is, in turn, OUR calling.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (Romans 11:29)
God knows what He is doing.
Sensationalism has no place in the true Church. The truth is sensational enough all by itself. And truth never requires an apology later.