Saturday, December 8, 2012
Will Christ Return Soon?
To date, the vast majority of men who have predicted a date for Christ's return have been proven wrong as their predicated dates have come and gone. Often, these men were motivated more by the desire to witness the event in their own lifetimes than by a desire to search the Scriptures for an approximate date. If we are to predict Christ's return with any level of accuracy, we must abandon all personal motives and commit to basing our prediction on God's Word alone.
While it is futile to claim one hundred percent certainty regarding the exact date of Christ's return, it is a good practice to study the many prophecies related to the event and to examine the signs of the times in order to develop an understanding of an approximate date to look forward to. In Matthew 24:44, Mark 13:32-37 and Luke 21:36, Jesus encouraged His followers to keep watch and be ready for His return. In Hebrews 10:25, we read of the importance of not forsaking assembling "and so much rather as [we] are observing the day drawing near." Being prepared for the day would be difficult without having at least a general timeframe with which to work.
In this article, I will review what I believe to be the most accurate theory regarding the date of Christ's return. Please understand that I am not stating with any certainty that this prediction is correct and I may very well be wrong. Rather, I am providing you, the reader, with a timeframe and a biblically based prediction in order to highlight the urgency of this matter and encourage you to study it further on your own. If the date I discuss is accurate, the Rapture could take place literally any second, and we would be foolish to ignore one of the most significant issues of our time. If, on the other hand, the date turns out to be inaccurate, then we will have at least been mindful and watchful and will be equally thrilled when Christ does finally call us home.
As you study prophecy on your own, you will come across many different theories pertaining to the Rapture and Second Coming. Preterists do not even recognize these as future events, as they mistakingly believe these prophecies have already been fulfilled in a figurative sense. As this view negligently disregards the promised literal fulfillment of prophecy, I will not lend it any credibility or address it here. Of those who recognize that prophecy will be literally fulfilled as promised, some view both the Rapture and Second Coming as one and the same instead of understanding the Rapture to be one of Paul's uniquely revealed mysteries. For my purposes, I will consider them to be separate events. Among those who believe the events are separate, there are those who believe the Rapture will occur prior to the seven-year Tribulation (Pretribulationism) and others who believe it will occur in the middle of the seven-year Tribulation (Mid-tribulationism). I will be taking the Pretribulationism view here. These theories are extremely in-depth topics on their own, so if you desire to learn more about each position, I encourage you to study your Bible and to submit questions.
Once we establish that the Rapture and Second Coming are separate events and that the Rapture occurs prior to the seven-year Tribulation, we can examine prophecy to see if we can arrive at some sort of time frame for when these events might take place. Keep in mind that Jesus does not know the date of the Rapture, but will know the date of His Second Coming as there are prior signs (like the abomination of desolation in the middle of the Tribulation) which provide a mathematical starting point for calculating the date of the Second Coming.
As I have studied prophecy, I have come to believe that one theory stands above the rest in predicting the date of the Second Coming because it is the only theory that seems to leave nothing out and to adhere consistently to Scripture. This theory is known as the "seven day week theory."
The number 7 is extremely significant in Scripture and begins with the seven days of creation. Interestingly, the number 7 is significant even in nature. When passed through a prism, light reveals seven colors; music is composed primarily of seven major notes; the elements contain seven levels of periodicity; there are seven crystal systems for the formation of minerals. In short, the number 7 is the key number of creation and is repeatedly depicted as such in God's revelation.
When we read the beginning of Genesis, we read that God "rested" on the seventh day of creation. He created the first six days and "rested" the seventh day. This is interesting, indeed, considering that the Almighty Creator Who spoke creation into being does not need rest. What does this really mean? We discover the answer when we see how God treated the seventh day when He gave the law to the Hebrews. Just as the seventh day was a day of rest during creation, it is a day of rest for God's people. Six periods of hard work and trial are always followed by one period of rest and peace.
If we apply this formula to the timeline of history and prophecy, we will inevitably have six periods of work and trial followed by one period of rest. The question, then, is how long are those periods?
In Psalm 90:4 and 2 Peter 3:8, we are told to not be ignorant of the fact that to the LORD a day is as a thousand years. Could it be that we are instructed to not be ignorant of this fact because it reveals God's purpose and plan? By equating the seven days to seven periods of a thousand years, we discover that we are incredibly close to the end of the sixth "day," or thousand year period. We know that Christ's millennial reign on earth is a thousand years in length (Rev. 20) and would appropriately represent the seventh day "rest" period when He rules in perfection and binds Satan to prevent him from causing harm.
According to historians, Christ most likely died in the year 32 AD, 4,004 years after the creation of Adam and Eve. His baptism most likely occurred in the year 28 AD when He was thirty years old, 4,000 years after creation. This, then, marks the end of the fourth "day," or thousand year period. The sixth "day" would then end 2,000 years later in the year 2028 AD. Might this be the date of Christ's Second Coming?
Matthew 24 includes the parable of the fig tree, which describes the timing of Jesus' Second Coming. Jesus tells His disciples, "Verily, I am saying to you that by no means may this generation be passing by till all these things should be occurring." None of the men Jesus addressed lived to see the event; in fact, more than 2,000 years have passed since Jesus said this! Jesus could have only been referring to a generation of Israel in the future, once Israel regained possession of the land. This occurred in 1948 when Israel regained its statehood after over 1900 years of being scattered abroad throughout the world. In Psalm 90:10, we read that a generation equals 70 or 80 years, and using 1948 as a starting point, we arrive at 2018 or 2028 for the possible date of the Second Coming. If it were 2018, the Tribulation would have begun in 2011 and the Rapture prior to that. Since that time has come and gone, we know that of these two possibilities, 2028 is the only option.
Now that I have reviewed the theory, let me state again that I am not arguing that 2028 AD is, without a doubt, the year that Christ will return to establish His earthly kingdom. After all, the wisdom of this world is foolishness to God (1 Cor. 1:20) and many intelligent and well-studied men have gotten this wrong. If, however, Christ will return in 2028, then the Rapture will take place before the year 2021 - sometime in the next eight years! The signs of the times are more evident now than ever before. The nations of the world (including the United States) are becoming increasingly hostile to Israel, nations and families are fighting amongst themselves more than ever, and the world is moving politically into a system of one-world government. As my friend Martin Zender says, "The other men who have predicted the Second Coming have been confident but wrong, but we are the first to be right!" Let us remain watchful and alert, knowing that Christ's return is fast approaching, eager to proclaim, "Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!"
© 2012 by Stephen Hill