One Generation, Somewhere In Time. . .
Vol: 21 Issue: 14 Thursday, April 14, 2016
Depending upon whom one asks the question, mankind has been on this planet for somewhere between six thousand and six million years. The six million year figure is the extreme end of the evolutionist’s estimates, where the six thousand year period is the time frame generally accepted by creationists.
Allow yourself to dwell, for a minute, on just how long six thousand years really is. Not inabstract, cosmic terms, but rather, in terms of human society. It was only six hundred years ago that conventional wisdom said the earth was flat. Mankind had been on the earth for more than five thousand five hundred years before we learned otherwise.
America, the greatest nation the world has ever known, is only two-hundred and thirty-three years old. It was just one hundred and fifty years ago that Americans were willing to kill each other over the right to own other human beings as property.
Only sixty-five years ago, human beings were being shoveled into ovens in their millions or shot down into mass graves at the hands of citizens of one of the oldest and most cultured civilizations in Europe.
Even at six thousand years, man has been here a long, long time, when you think about it.
Bible prophecy indicates that mankind’s time on this earth is limited and predetermined. Scripture tells us that God created the earth in six days, and on the seventh, He rested.
According to Psalms 90:4,
“For a thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.”
2nd Peter 3:8 tells
“that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.”
The prophet Hosea, speaking to the Jews who survived the Babylonian exile, prophesied,
“After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.” (Hosea 6:2)
And approximately two thousand years later (after two ‘days’) the Jews of Israel resumed their place among the nations of the world after a two thousand, five hundred year absence.
Hosea’s reference to the third day, in which ‘He will raise them up and they shall live in His sight,’ takes place a day AFTER their ‘revival’. This correlates to Ezekiel’s vision of ‘valley of dry bones’ that come together, revived as “an exceedingly great army” but, “when I beheld, lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.” (Ezekiel 37:8)
Israel is revived, but not yet ‘alive’ in His sight until their national redemption at the conclusion of the time of ‘Jacob’s Trouble’ that ushers in the Millennial Kingdom.
So, it is safe to infer from Scripture that time, from our perspective, is predetermined, and is running down like a stopwatch that was started ticking at the fall of Adam and Eve. There is a day already determined,
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)
Scripture deals with time in a way that is difficult for us to grasp; from the perspective of the One knowing “the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done” (Isaiah 46:10) time is a constant state of ‘now’.
It makes following the Scripture’s timeline difficult, which is why God promised there would be signs — or ‘mile markers’ — to let us know when time, as we understand it, is running out.
This is a good place to revisit the term, “last days” since my email often reflects a sense of confusion about what the term means. After all, many argue, the Apostle Paul thought he was living in the last days, and here we are two thousand years later. . .
This line of reasoning adds credibility, at least on the surface, the scoffer’s argument; “People have been forecasting the return of Christ in every generation, etc.”
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days 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.” (2nd Peter 3:3-4)
Again, there is that reference to the ‘last days’ again. The term ‘last days’ has two meanings. In the first and broadest sense, it refers to the entire period of the Church Age, since it is the final Dispensation of human government before it is reclaimed by Jesus Christ at the beginning of the Kingdom Age to come.
In the second and more specific sense, it refers to the period of time between the restoration of national Israel and the onset of the 70th Week of Daniel — the generation of whom Jesus said,
“This generation shall not pass away until all these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:34)
The meaning is derived from the context. The Prophet Joel prophesied,
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions.” (Joel 2:28)
The Church Age began with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in all believers, starting with the Apostles at Pentecost. Of Pentecost, Peter explained;
“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.” (Acts 2:17)
The context makes it clear that in this instance, the reference is to the Church Age as the “last days.” On the other hand, the Apostle Paul warned of ‘perilous times’ (2nd Timothy 3:1-5) in the ‘last days’.
But the context indicates he is referring to the ‘last days’ in the sense of the last generation of the Church Age — since Paul’s prophecy of social conditions echoes the description of the Laodicean Church Age of Revelation 3:14.
The same can be said of Paul’s warning to Timothy (1st Timothy 4:1-3);
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”
It is one of the unique oddities of this generation that the phrase ‘Christian fundamentalist’ means the same thing as ‘radical extremist.’
Paul warned of a ‘departure from the faith’ — what is ‘fundamentalism’ if it isn’t following the fundamentals — unchanging doctrinal truths? Paul said that the doctrines of demons and seducing spirits would supplant the doctrines of Christianity.
Christian ‘fundamentalists’ believe that only those who put their trust in Christ will be saved. The world calls that “too exclusionary” and envisions a form of religion that embraces all faiths as equal in the eyes of God.
That non-exclusionary version of Christianity is championed by the foundational documents of the World Council of Churches, founded in Amsterdam in 1948. And is central to the principles of the UN’s Global Religious Forum.
It also fits precisely with John’s description of the global religion of antichrist, which he described as having ‘two horns like a lamb (a counterfeit form of Christianity) but spake as a dragon (Satan)” (Revelation 13:11)
In this generation, the so-called ‘true’ Christians are the ‘tolerant’ ones who recognize all faiths as equally valid. But if all are equally valid, then are they not all are equally invalid? If Rastafarianism is equal to Christianity, then Christianity is equal to Rastafarianism. No?
In any case, those who hold to a literal understanding of John 14:6; (Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by Me”) are deemed intolerant at best, fundamentalist or extremist at worst.
“And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1st John 4:3)
The spirit of antichrist as John describes it, is to this generation, a matter of national US domestic policy. Two teachers recently faced jail time for offering mealtime prayers at a Jan. 28 lunch for school employees and booster-club members who had helped with a school field-house project.
Ezekiel places the Gog Magog War in the “latter times” but in context, it is clear it is referring to the last generation, rather than the broader sense of the Church Age.
For Ezekiel’s prophecy of a Russian-led, Islamic invasion of Israel to take place, Israel must first exist. “Israel” was conquered, assimilated and thereby lost to history before Ezekiel was born.
From that day until May 14, 1948, no sovereign nation called “Israel” existed anywhere on the planet. The context puts Ezekiel’s war in the last days of the last generation, at a time when Israel is a ‘land of unwalled villages, dwelling ‘safely’ during a temporary period of false peace.
Israel has existed under a series of periods of false peace, but it has yet to dwell ‘safely’ during any of them. And, at this point, Israel is building the wall Ezekiel says has to come down. It is the number one sticking point in Arab-Israeli negotiations. Any successful outcome will have to include the dismantling of the hated ‘Apartheid Wall’, as the Palestinians dubbed it.
The scoffers will argue that the “last days” is a generic term with no specific meaning as part of a general argument that there is nothing unique about this generation that points to the soon return of Christ. “Since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue. . .” etc.
That is why there is such a division within the professing Church about the timing of the Rapture, the relevance of Bible prophecy, the Tribulation, Millennial Kingdom and so on.
One can take a Scripture and use it to validate almost any theological argument, unless it is taken in context. Then the Bible interprets itself. It is up to us to study the Word, rather than accepting logical-sounding arguments out of context at face value.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of truth. . . But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.” (2nd Timothy 2:15,23)
The Word, rightly divided, says that we are the last generation before the Return of Christ. That means that many of those reading these lines will be among those who will never, ever, die! It is to us — this generation — that the Apostle Paul was speaking when he promised;
“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.” (1st Thessalonians 4:16-17)
Featured Commentary: Oh My Gideons! ~ J.L. Robb