TWO BIBLICAL GENERATIONS IN THE HISTORY

OF MODERN ISRAEL

DEUTERONOMY 29:22-30:6

 

Dedicated to the Holy Trinity—to the Father for His plan for His elect, to the Son who makes the plan reality, and to the Spirit who teaches the plan to the elect.

 

 

PREFACE

 

For those of us living in a fast-paced generation, we like our news in succinct sound bytes.  So wading through a 6,000-word essay is uninviting.  Therefore, let me summarize the 6,000 words by the good news that we are living in a generation that will likely experience the rapture of the church—based on evidence from the scriptures and recent history.  For those who enjoy digging into details, continue to read on—potentially a bit onerous, but nevertheless scripturally and factually sound.

 

Introduction

Mentioning the pending return of the Lord Jesus for His church sometimes causes believers to roll their eyes.  Yet, the biblical record provides the framework, as well as encouragement, for an accurate chronological anticipation of His return.  This essay will highlight the biblical evidence for the timeline leading to the Lord’s coming for His church.  The timeline will be developed from the scriptures by pinpointing two pivotal generations in the history of modern Israel.  In turn, believers will be reassured that eager anticipation of the church’s rapture is appropriate.  Furthermore, some of the confusion will be dispelled that surrounds alternate end-times scenarios that have been offered for discovering the end of the age.

 

An Overview

Before becoming immersed in details, it might be helpful to provide an overview of Deut. 29:22-30:6 so one can grasp the outline into which all the details of this extraordinary passage fit.[1]

Astounding as it may seem, this 3,400 year-old Bible verse—Deut. 29:22—is actually a hinge that links two generations of Jews in the history of modern Israel.

The first generation was a generation of Jewish unbelievers (in Jesus) both inside and outside the land of Palestine.  God consigned this generation to make preparations for the repopulation and reclamation of what had become a desolate wasteland due to His curse.  The second generation was that which God assigned to occupy the land and make preparations for the coming of His Messiah as King.  The two generations are contiguous as will be shown later from Matthew’s Gospel.

History’s events from the outset to the end of God’s land curse were never recorded in the Old Testament because God kept them temporarily secret from the nation Israel.[2] This period may be given the secular label of the “Church Age.”  Although held secret from nation Israel by God, Jews and gentiles that are church members can interpret from the New Testament scriptures, and from historical events as well, the meanings of the prophetic details from Deut. 29:22-30:6 about what was happening in the land.

The following analysis from God’s word, as well as from the historical events He has and is orchestrating, reveal the secrets kept from the nation Israel until their pending spiritual revival.

 

Definitions For Biblical Generations

Writers of the Bible used the word generation in different ways.[3] For our study, two of those ways are important.  The first important use of generation was to designate a company of contemporary people by some common attitude, behavioral trait, or unusual event.

For example, the children of Israel that Moses led out of Egyptian bondage were actually comprised of people of all ages.  That generation received God’s miraculous provisions for its escape, and His sustenance for both physical and spiritual needs.  Yet that generation was characterized by a common attitude and behavioral trait that caused God to refer to them as a loathsome generation (Ps. 95:10).

A second example was recorded by Matthew in his gospel.  A certain duplicitous group of Pharisees and Sadducees, likely comprised of men born in various years, challenged Jesus to show them a sign.  And the Lord labeled that obdurate contingent of Israeli leaders as, “An evil and adulterous generation (emphasis mine) . . .” (Matt 16:4).

The second use of generation was to designate a portion of the population that had the same birth year.  For example, upon Israel’s exodus from Egypt, God ordered an initial census of Israel’s warriors from twenty-years old and upward—meaning they would all have had the same birth year (Num. 1:1-3).  Moses then referred to this same contingent of warriors as a generation—a generation that perished within a thirty-eight year stretch following the census, just as the Lord had sworn would happen (Deut. 2:14-16).

The length in years of a biblical generation varied depending upon one’s birth before, or immediately following, the flood.  The flood may have caused significant atmospheric changes with resultant adjustments to conditions affecting life expectancy on earth, perhaps eventuating in the dramatic decrease of centuries from the pre-flood life expectancy.  In any event, when life had normalized under post-flood conditions, Moses defined the number of years in an average generation as follows: “As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years (emphasis mine) . . .” (Ps. 90:10).

A seventy-year life expectancy explains conclusively God’s judgment upon the specific wilderness-wandering generation coming out of Egypt by the premature passing (at fifty-eight years old for the youngest) of Israel’s warriors.  Had that generation of warriors lived to the ripe old age of seventy, their deaths would not have been recognized as God’s judgment.  The warrior Joshua was, of course, an exception.

Some confusion has resulted from the psalmist’s reporting God’s words about Israel’s wilderness experience: “. . . For forty years I loathed [that] generation . . .” (Ps. 95:10).  Some have taken this to mean that a biblical generation was forty years long.  However, the forty-year period in the wilderness was God’s judgment for spying out the land—one year in the wilderness for every day of spying (Num. 14:33-34).  The forty years did not refer to the generation’s life expectancy.

To summarize: one use of the biblical word generation was to refer to contemporaries by a noteworthy characterization.  The second important use of generation was to identify a segment of any population as having the same birth year with a typical life expectancy of seventy years.  Sometimes these two uses were combined.[4] The biblical context in which the word generation is found assists in discovering which use the writer intended.  This study will adopt these biblical protocols in using the word generation.

 

Definitions Of Generations Used In This Essay

Because of the several times the word generation appears in this essay with specificity, an epithet that characterizes a particular Jewish generation will be affixed each time the word is so used for the purpose of mitigating confusion.  The epithets thus affixed are: the “wilderness” generation; the “Jesus” generation; the “homeland” generation; and the “rapture/tribulation” generation.  The approximate time periods in which the generations lived: the wilderness generation, 1476 BC to 1406 BC; the Jesus generation, 5/4 BC to 66 AD (the date believers escaped the Roman ravage of Jerusalem); the homeland generation, 1878 AD to mid-1948 AD; and the rapture/tribulation, mid-1948 AD to 2018 AD.

A note of clarification: the split epithet “rapture/tribulation” refers to a single generation of Jews, part of which is raptured in the church and the other part that experiences the tribulation to become the Jewish-populating contingent in the Messianic Kingdom (aka the Millennium).  Some of the rapture/tribulation generation originates from the Diaspora.  Immigration to the land takes place in two phases: one, an initial gathering after statehood was established; and two, a final gathering for the Kingdom.

 

God’s Covenant With Israel In Moab: Predictions About The Homeland Generation

Having learned two biblical meanings for the word generation, we will next learn about two generations of modern-day Israel.  The first generation, the homeland generation, is the generation of Jews who worked toward establishing a Jewish homeland starting in the 19th century.  The second generation is the rapture/tribulation generation.

Ironically, the homeland generation was the subject of a prophecy God gave Moses only days before the children of Israel—the wilderness generation—entered the land for the first time in the 15th century BC.  Therefore, keep in mind the homeland generation is not the same as the wilderness generation.  However, the homeland generation is the first in a sequence of two consecutive generations that end with the Lord’s return at the end of the age.

Just before the sons of Israel entered the land under Joshua’s leadership, God commanded Moses to make a covenant that complemented the covenant He had made with Israel at Horeb.  One of the remarkable aspects of this covenant made across the Jordan in Moab was God’s predictions recorded in Deut. 29:22-30:6.[5] It might be helpful to keep in mind that the predictions were presented in the following sequence: an effect, the cause of that effect, and the resolution of that effect.  The “effect” was utter desolation of the land of Israel.  The “cause” was Israel’s unfaithfulness to God.  The “resolution:” a Jewish generation from the Diaspora assigned by God to begin reclamation of the land.

Several features of God’s predictions help to identify accurately the six specific parties that He referred to in His prophecy.  To simplify our study, we will label the six parties in order of their appearance in the prophecy: the homelanders; the foreigner; the inquirers; the commentators; the uprooter; and the re-gathered.  Because of the novelty of this interpretation, the analysis leading to party identification will proceed verse-by-verse.

The prophecy began with an introduction to two parties who were on the verge of making a joint observation and subsequent announcement.  God referred to the first party as “. . . the (emphasis mine) generation to come, your sons who rise up after you (the original wilderness Jews to enter the land) . . .” (Deut. 29:22).  Five identifying first-party features included a generation that would be:

God referred to the second party as “. . . the foreigner who comes from a distant (emphasis mine) land . . .” (Deut: 29:22).  Three identifying features of the second party were:

The joint observation of parties one and two would focus on God’s past treatment of the land.

The joint communiqué from the two parties would give specific details of their land observations after all the land had experienced God’s wrath (Deut. 29:23).

Note: the plagues and diseases of the land, described as like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, resulted from every curse upon the land triggered by the anger of the Lord (Deut. 29:23, 27).  Nowhere in the post-Moses historical or prophetical Old Testament writings is such a description ever applied to the land.  Therefore, this description must apply to a period not covered by those biblical texts—a period during which, “The secret things belong to the Lord . . .” (Deut. 29:29).

A third party was next introduced in God’s prophecy.  The third party was identified as “. . . all (emphasis mine) the nations . . .” (Deut 29:24).  The third party would be readily discerned as the sum total of nations privy to the collaborative communiqué about the land evaluation.  However, what is noteworthy is that all the nations would exist in a forum such that—with a single voice—they raise a single question: “Why has the Lord done thus to this land?” (Deut. 29:24).

A nondescript fourth party would provide the answer to this single question.  Although unidentified, this fourth party would provide an answer reflecting scriptural literacy.  The answer would provide the real reason for the land’s desolation: God assessed upon the land every curse written in the five books of Moses due to Israel forsaking the covenant, and because of its idolatry (Deut. 29:25-27).

In addition to this accurate answer to the question, the fourth party would also provide information allowing identification of yet another party.

This fifth party would:

Subsequently, what amounts to a parenthetical comment answered the implied question, “What events will take place between the deportation, and the distant foreigner’s presence in the land?”  The answer to the implied question: “. . . the secret things belong to the Lord our God . . .” (Deut. 29:29).  Or, in other words, those things that will happen between the deportation from the land and partial restoration to the land will not be revealed in the Old Testament.

History has recorded more than 18 centuries elapsed between the deportation and initial restoration.

Ignoring the chapter division between Deut. 29:29 and 30:1, one observes that Moses noted a spiritual revival among Diasporal Jews followed by God’s re-gathering them to the land, and their possession of the land accompanied by prosperity and historic multiplication (Deut. 30:1-6).  Here is the sixth group in the Moabitic predictions—the re-gathered.

Note: spiritual revival of Jews in the land likely follows God’s defeat of an invasion by a Russian coalition (cf. Ezek. 39:7).  Therefore, context may well support the suggestion that the generation experiencing God’s re-gathering to the land would follow immediately the unique homeland generation referred to in Deut. 29:22.  If this assumption is accurate, the homeland generation would be adjoined by the rapture/tribulation generation.

 

The Parties In God’s Moabitic Prophecy

At this point, it would be appropriate to identify (through the lens of fulfilled prophecy from an historical context) those parties God referred to in Deut. 29:22-30:6.  Remember, the labels for the six parties are—in order—the homelanders, the foreigner, the inquirers, the commentators, the uprooter, and the re-gathered.

Unlocking the prophecy begins with the identity of the distant foreigner resident in the land.  Recall the foreigner was from a distant land, and occupied the land together with the unique Israeli generation—the homeland generation.  Recent history suggests the foreigner was most likely from the distant land of Britain.  Some scripture students speculate Tarshish—Jonah’s intended flight haven—was part of the British Isles.  If accurate, this could mean the distant land mentioned by God was not unfamiliar to Jews of later generations, but was known to them as Tarshish.

The British had authority over Palestine under the League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate of July 1922.  British authority lasted for 28 years, until the Palestine Mandate was effectually terminated in May of 1948 under UN Resolution 181.[8] Upon British withdrawal, the unique Israeli homeland generation of God’s Deuteronomic prophecy came to a recognizable and time-stamped end. Therefore, 1948 marked the birth year of a new generation of indigenous, native-born, Israeli citizens, many of whom were offspring of immigrant Jews from the unique homeland generation.

What made that homeland generation unique was it had lived during the historically formative years leading up to the re-establishment of a national homeland for the Jews, had experienced a partial re-population of the land, and had initiated concerted efforts to reclaim the land from its centuries of waste conditions.[9]

The Israeli generation was also unique because it had not only invigorated reclamation of the land, but also witnessed Israel’s Declaration of Independence in May 1948.  Using the 70-year lifespan of a biblical generation, this unique generation began around 1878.  That was the year Benjamin Disraeli (aka Lord Beaconsfield), first and only Jewish prime minister of Britain,[10] was head of Britain’s delegation to the Congress of Berlin.[11]

One of the issues considered at the Congress was equal rights for Romanian Jews.  In addition, Judah Leib Gordon, Jewish poet laureate from Vilna (Lithuania), prepared a memo proposing the creation of a Jewish state in Palestine for consideration by the Congress.  This bold proposal was never incorporated into the resulting Treaty of Berlin.  However, the Treaty of Berlin did become foundational for Jewish homeland arguments in succeeding decades.

In 1891, American restorationist (aka a Christian Zionist) William Blackstone used the Treaty of Berlin’s provisions as a backdrop to petition US President Benjamin Harrison to support restoration of Palestine to the Jews.

Nineteen years after the 1878 Congress of Berlin, about 200 Jews met in Basle, Switzerland under the leadership of Theodore Herzl.  This meeting became known as the First Zionist Congress.  A centerpiece promulgation of this Zionist Congress was: “Zionism seeks for the Jewish people a publicly recognized legally secured homeland in Palestine.”

In 1917, the British government’s Balfour Declaration called outright for establishing a homeland for the Jews.  The Balfour Declaration was presented by Britain’s Foreign Secretary (Arthur James Balfour) to Baron Rothschild, a leader of the Jewish community in Britain, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland—an organization started in 1899 to campaign for a Jewish homeland.

Disraeli, Gordon, Herzl, and Rothschild were but a tiny sample from the “. . . the sons who rise up after you . . .” referred to by Moses at Moab (Deut. 29:22).

Another component of God’s prophecy—the “interrogators” as labeled in this analysis—was that “all the nations” would join in an inquiry about the Lord’s reason for causing the land’s desolation (Deut. 29:24).  The League of Nations comprised a forum in which all the nations “would question” with a single voice about the land’s conditions as witnessed in the aforementioned Palestine Mandate—just as God had predicted (Deut. 29:24).  And as a totally secular organization, the League would not recognize Israel’s culpability in rejecting God’s Messiah that led to His land curse.

The scripturally literate “commentators,” with the correct answers for the interrogators, might well have been Christian Zionists who, between 1878 and 1948, supported, petitioned, and worked unstintingly for a national homeland for the Jews in Palestine.  This suggestion is based on the supposition that the Jewish inhabitants of the land were likely dead spiritually—unless they were Hebrew Christians.  Spiritually dead Jews would not be aware—or wouldn’t admit—the reasons for the land’s condition.  As noted, secularists in the League of Nations certainly wouldn’t know the reason; if they knew, no reason would exist for their question.  But Christian Zionists would definitely know the answer to the question because they were biblicists who interpreted the scriptures literally—particularly Deut. 29:25-27.

The desolate condition of the land began in 70 AD when Titus took captive Jewish citizens of the Jesus generation, alluded to in His prophecy in Luke 13:1-5 (also see Dan. 9:26).  Titus was “the uprooter” who took thousands of those Jewish citizens to Rome—“another land” (Deut. 29:28).  God likely used the adjective, another, to distinguish the captives’ destination from the distant land of the foreigner’s origin in Deut. 29:22.  Titus effectively and forcibly dissolved the Jewish state, thereby initiating the world-wide Jewish Diaspora—conditions that existed until May 1948.

Furthermore, the commentators’ answer regarding the land’s condition, as well as the Jews’ being uprooted, noted that God’s wrath continued until “today” (Deut. 29:28).  After May 15, 1948, the state of Israel was reconstituted, thus marking the end of “the [Jewish homeland] generation” that God had highlighted at the outset of His predictions.  So after the establishment of a Jewish homeland on the very day of May 15 by the Declaration of Independence, the Diaspora/land conditions described as until “today” ceased to exist.

A compelling current-day vignette ties the 1948 inhabitants of the land with their fathers uprooted to Rome by Titus in 70 AD.  Titus’ younger brother, Domitian, had constructed a triumphal arch on the Via Sacra located just southeast of the Forum Romanum.  For centuries, Jews living in Rome had refused to travel beneath that arch because it was constructed to commemorate the sacking of Jerusalem and the temple.  However, in 1948, living Jewish descendants in Rome marched publicly under the arch in the direction toward Jerusalem—opposite to the direction their ancestors had sometimes been forced to march throughout the centuries.

To summarize:

 

God’s Covenant With Israel In Moab:  Prophecy About The Rapture/Tribulation Generation

The second generation to be addressed by Moses at Moab was introduced in Deut. 30:1-6.  This second generation may be identified by its dual returns from the Diaspora, and be characterized as the rapture/tribulation generation.  This generation’s first return was at the beginning of the nation’s reestablishment (cf. Ezek. 38:8, 12).  The second return (Deut. 30:1-6) was at the end of this generation leading into the Messianic Kingdom (see Isa. 11:11 for confirmation of a second return to the land).

Several factors may be observed that relate to the second generation from this section in Deuteronomy.  The generation

From the above six items, the following deduction may be drawn.  In the latter-years experience of this second generation, God’s curse on the land had been drawn to a close.  This fact is confirmed by the prophet Ezekiel wherein Jews “. . . gathered from many nations . . .” inhabit “. . . the mountains of Israel which had been (emphasis mine) a continual waste . . .” (Ezek. 38:8, 12).  The mountains of Israel had been reclaimed from the effects of God’s curse upon the land by the first contingent of this generation that had returned to the land in unbelief.  As mentioned above, the twofold recovery of God’s people from the Diaspora is confirmed by the prophet Isaiah.

At this point, it is appropriate to remind the reader of the name characteristic of the second generation: the rapture/tribulation generation.  The rapture/tribulation generation is suitable because the generation will have been exposed to the vicissitudes of life under the tribulation preceded by the rapture of the church.

The events of the tribulation may have put the Diasporal members of this generation in a reflective mood, comparing the devastating effects of the tribulation with the similar effects—in a more limited and local sense—of God’s curse upon the land of Israel referred to in Deut. 30:1.

Some of the first contingent of the rapture/tribulation generation, although originally in the land in unbelief, will likely undergo spiritual revival prior to, and during, the tribulation (see Ezek. 38:23; 39:7 for prediction of the onset of Israel’s spiritual revival in the land).

The second contingent of Diasporal Jews that remain outside the land until the end of the tribulation is likely comprised of those for whom Jesus dispatched disciples under the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) when the kingdom gospel will be preached throughout the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, some of which would have Diasporal Jews as citizens (Matt. 24:14).

Finally, both Jewish components of the rapture/tribulation generation—those initially in the land that reclaimed the waste places and those spread throughout the nations in the Diaspora—will be combined in a single kingdom under the New Covenant (Deut. 30:6).  Provisions of God’s New Covenant with the nation Israel are discussed by the prophets Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-34) and Ezekiel (Ezek. 36:23-28).

Ignoring the chapter division between Deuteronomy 29 and 30, one discovers that “. . . when all these things have come upon you (the rapture/tribulation generation that succeeds the homeland generation) . . .” (Deut. 30:1), i.e., the curse of the Lord upon the land, and “. . . you call them to mind (emphasis mine) . . .” (Deut. 30:2) in the Diaspora (implying, of course the spiritual revival among Diasporal Jews), “. . . then the Lord will restore you from captivity . . . and gather you again (emphasis mine) from all the peoples . . .” (Deut. 30:3-6).  This second gathering likely involves the generation succeeding the homeland generation and is that alluded to by the prophet Isaiah as inaugurating the Messianic Kingdom following restoration of the remnant (again, cf. Isa. 11:11 for a second re-gathering).  God made the prediction of the Messianic Kingdom to Moses in Moab (Deut. 30:6, that refers to New-Covenant life of the Kingdom implying existence of the Kingdom).

Both the homeland generation and the rapture/tribulation generation had in common sharing the effects of God’s curse upon the land.  The early settlers before Israel’s Declaration of Independence worked on land reclamation under the Palestine Mandate of 1922.  The early settlers arriving just after the Declaration also began doing land reclamation projects that reached completion—ending the effects of God’s land curse—by the time of the invasion of the Russian coalition (see Ezek. 38:1-39:16 for an outline of the invasion preceded by an end to land reclamation).  Revival among Diasporal Jews will likely be partially due to Jews from Israel fulfilling the Great Commission in accordance with Jesus prediction in His Olivet Discourse.

 

A Review

The crux of Deut. 29:22-28 is the condition of the land.  As mentioned above, the land-desolation curse began in 70 AD (cf. Dan. 9:26).

God gave the Jews responsibility for reversing the curse’s effect upon the land.  God used the homeland generation of the Jews, the British, two international organizations, and Christian Zionists to establish, once again, a homeland for the Jews in Palestine.  One of the initial tasks of the new citizens was to reclaim the land from the effects of God’s curse.

As God’s curse ran its course, and as Israel’s national status became a reality, God began to return the rapture/tribulation generation from many nations to the land.  The initial return of this generation from the Diaspora was in unbelief.  Their first assignment: continue to restore the land’s productivity.

However, a second and more significant task: secure Jerusalem (1967) and begin preparations for temple worship.  Near the end of the rapture/tribulation generation, spiritual revival will break out in Israel (cf. Ezek. 39:7), followed by the spread of revival to the members of the rapture/tribulation generation still in the Diaspora (cf. Matt. 28:18-20).

A world-wide tribulation will ensue.  And finally, God will again return people from the rapture/tribulation generation to the land from the Diaspora—this time in belief—to begin citizenship in the Messianic Kingdom.

The specific nature of God’s land curse was never addressed in Harton’s comprehensive review of all the biblical allusions and fulfillments of Deut. 28—30 (see End Note 2).  In Deut 29:23, God’s curse was directed toward the land—not upon His people—and is never alluded to nor fulfilled in the scriptures.

The land curse was not universal in nature as was the general curse by God upon the planet after the Fall, and that curse will probably be lifted in the Messianic Kingdom.  Harton assigned lifting of the land curse to the Messianic Kingdom (Harton, 245), whereas Ezekiel pointed to a pre-messianic period for the curse’s removal (cf. Ezek. 38:8, 12).

Citing Baron (a book originally published in 1905), Harton recorded the land’s occupants during the Jewish Diaspora as the “. . . Romans, Persians, Saracens, Crusaders, Mamelukes, Tartars, and Turks,” (Harton, 225).  To that 1905 list must be added the British, following the Palestine Mandate from the League of Nations in 1922.

 

New Testament Confirmation: Generations Homeland And Rapture/Tribulation Are Contiguous

Clearly, Jesus tied a specific generation to the end of the age in His Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:31).[13]

Jesus was God’s prophet that He had promised Moses (Deut. 18:20, and validated in John 6:14).  Therefore, the Lord was likely quite familiar with Deut. 30:1-6.  Early in the Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:14), Jesus certainly pointed to the end of the age: “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world (emphasis mine, whereby some Diasporal Jews would come to faith) for a witness to all the nations, and then the end shall come.”  He then followed with the warning of great, world-wide tribulation (Matt. 24:21).  Next, the Lord related that following His second coming, He would “. . . send forth His angels with a great trumpet and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other” (Matt. 24:31).  So Matt. 24:14, 31 referred to the exact same generation as Deut. 30:1-6.  Let’s see if that generation Jesus pointed to in Matt. 24:14, 31 can be tied more specifically to the generation of Deut. 30:1-6.

After the tribulation and gathering-of-the-elect portions of His sermon that addressed Jews who would populate the Kingdom, Jesus addressed Hebrew Christians by alluding to the rapture of the church (Matt. 24:32-41).  This gives credence to the epithet for this generation as the “rapture/tribulation generation.”

Remember, in His Olivet Discourse, Jesus gave a specific sign for the rapture/tribulation generation to determine the end of the age by referring to it as this generation (Matt. 24:34).[14] He did so through His parable of the budding fig tree (Matt. 24:32-35).  The symbol of the fig tree represented the Levitical priesthood (priests and Levites).  The fig tree budding meant revival of the Levitical priesthood.[15]

On Passover and Sukkot of 1978, seminars were held in Jerusalem for training priesthood candidates in the order of the priest’s services and associated rituals.[16]

God had given the Levites—who belonged to God in place of Israel’s first-born males—to Aaron to help in the ministry of the tabernacle (Num. 3:12).  God set the age at which the Levites would enter service at 30, and ordered a census of Levi’s descendants among the wilderness generation.  The census meant that generation of Levites all had the same birth date.

Years later, King David reduced that age to 20.  However, it appears that the priest Ezekiel observed God’s original directions by beginning his ministry at 30 years old (Ezek. 1:1, 3).  Furthermore, John the Baptist (a priest by descent, and about 6 months older than Jesus, Luke 1:5, 36, 56) as well as Jesus (a priest according to the order of Melchizedek, Heb. 5:6) began their respective ministries at about 30 years old (Luke 3:23).  The age of 30 years is significant.

The fig tree budded in 1978, suggesting the generation of the priests entering training at 30 years old would have been born around 1948—the year marking the end of the homeland generation and the beginning of the rapture/tribulation generation.  The two generations adjoin.  The fig tree had budded exactly 30 years after Israel’s reconstitution in a Jewish homeland.  This would make the priests and Levites part of the succeeding generation.  The succeeding generation of Jews inhabiting the land has been labeled the “rapture/tribulation generation” because they will experience both events—the rapture and tribulation—leading up to the end of the age.

This generation will likely be

So scripture and history show the rapture/tribulation generation is contiguous to the homeland generation.

Following Moses’ definition of a 70-year generation, the priests’ generation will terminate around 2018.  This year is probably a good indicator of when gentile domination of Jerusalem will come to an end.

 

Rapture Of The Church

In a mid-seventies lecture to underclass students at Dallas Theological Seminary, then President John Walvoord announced reservedly his belief that the church’s rapture was likely to occur in his listeners’ lifetimes.  Dr. Walvoord quickly followed up on his comments by suggesting that no one should visit the registrar’s office to initiate withdrawal from seminary in anticipation of the event.

About the same time as Walvoord’s lecture, Dorothy Miller began an “. . . eighteen-year struggle to adjust some of my prophetic beliefs to the Word of God.”[17] In a reasoned, thoughtful analysis, Miller argued persuasively that God had the writers of Scripture record sufficient prophetic knowledge to discover the rapture’s approach at God’s appointed time.

From a recent essay detailing the interpretive meanings of the seven churches in The Revelation of Jesus Christ—Chapters two and three—it was proposed that the historic church in Sardis represented a Diasporal messianic-Jewish congregation of the rapture/tribulation generation.[18] In that message to Sardis, Jesus warned the congregational leader that if he didn’t wake up, he wouldn’t know the time of the rapture (Rev. 3:3).  By an unavoidable implication, if the Sardian leader were to awake from his spiritual stupor, he would know the time of the rapture.[19] Therefore, Jesus fully expected believers living in the rapture/tribulation generation to know the timing of the rapture.

In fact, four of Jesus’ disciples asked Him—just days before His death and resurrection—to tell them the sign for the end of the age (Matt. 24:3).  Jesus answered their request using a parable featuring a fig tree (Matt. 24:32; remember, the fig tree is a symbol for the Levitical priesthood).  The use of a parable had a significant implication.

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had informed His disciples that parables were designed to fulfill an Isaianic prophecy predicting continued ignorance of God’s plans for Israeli unbelievers.  However, God would grant discerning believers insight into His plans through diligent study of the parables (Matt. 13:10-17).  Thus, the parable Jesus gave for the end-of-age sign was crafted to reveal to believers who would be raptured, and living in a generation with an unbelieving Israeli population, a signal for discovering God’s timing of the end of the age.  Note the important implication: Jesus giving the end-of-age sign in a parable would only have meaning with unbelieving Jewish citizens resident in Israel.  This scenario fits perfectly the nation Israel established in 1948.

The end of the age would be preceded by rapture of the church.

In Rev. 3:10, Jesus promised protection (for a post-rapture Jewish believer living on earth) from the upcoming world-wide tribulation thereby confirming the rapture precedes the tribulation.

Jesus’ cloud-enveloping ascension was described by Luke in Acts 1:9, where the “cloud” may well describe the Shekinah glory rather than some atmospheric anomaly.  Angels commented on Jesus’ ascension thusly: He “. . . will come [back] in just the same way (emphasis mine) as you [the disciples] have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).  Jesus’ return for His church—the rapture—has the same cloud-enveloping feature that will replicate His ascension (1 Thess. 4:17).

Jesus’ appearance on a white horse followed by armies, described in Rev. 20:11-16, is in stark contrast to the scene at the rapture of the church.  The horse and armies most probably describe the Lord’s “second-coming” event as King of the earth.  Therefore, three decades after Jesus’ ascension, when the great apostle to the gentiles wrote his true child in the common faith that he, Titus, should look for the “. . . blessed hope and the [re]appearing of the glory (emphasis mine, reminiscent of the Shekinah glory at Jesus’ ascension) of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus” (Titus 2:13), Paul was referring specifically to the rapture (cf. 1 Thess. 4:17 connecting the rapture specifically with clouds).

Unreservedly, unabashedly, Paul encouraged his spiritual son to eagerly wait for the rapture—not shutter in skepticism bordering on disgust.  Paul’s unapologetic directive to Titus becomes truly meaningful and appropriate today for our generation that is witnessing profound worldwide adjustments foreshadowing His [re]appearance.

 

Parallels Between The Jesus Generation And The Rapture/Tribulation Generation

A remarkable chronological similarity exists between believing Jews of the Jesus generation and of the rapture/tribulation generation as to God’s judgment of Jerusalem.  Peter raised the issue in his sermon at Pentecost when he warned, “Be saved from this (emphasis mine) perverse generation!” (Acts 2:40).[20]

The Jesus generation, rightly referred to by Peter as a perverse generation, began in the winter of 5/4 BC.[21] The judgment Peter warned against began about 70 years later in 66 AD when the Roman army under the command of Cestus Gallus surrounded Jerusalem (Fruchtenbaum, 439).  The believing Jews escaped Jerusalem’s judgment as reported by the 2nd century Jewish believer Hegisippus (ibid., 212).  That escape occurred within that generation’s lifetime of 70 years.

In a strikingly similar parallel in timing, the rapture/tribulation generation was instructed to flee Jerusalem’s judgment about the year 2018—seventy years from its birth within the nation Israel in 1948.  This similarity shows the consistency, over time, that a biblical generation is 70 years.

 

Summary And Conclusion

The homeland generation of Deut. 29:22 ended in 1948 with the declaration of a Palestinian homeland for the Jews when the British “foreigner” departed the desolated land.  The historical record shows that the homeland generation was followed immediately by another generation—gathered from the nations—a generation that continued restoration of the land confirmed by Ezekiel’s prophecy (Ezek. 38:8, 12).  This new generation (Deut. 30:1-6) was labeled the rapture/tribulation generation from which Diasporal Jews were again gathered to the land in the latter years to become citizens in the Messianic Kingdom (Deut: 30:1-6, as confirmed by Jesus’ prophecy in His Olivet Discourse, particularly the parable of the fig tree in Matt. 24:32).  The fig tree symbolized the Levitical priesthood which was revived in Jerusalem in 1978 as the historical record has indicated.

Using the biblical seventy-year length of a generation, the Messianic Kingdom will be inaugurated around 2018 at the end of the rapture/tribulation generation.

Rapture of the church will precede the seven-year tribulation by about a year.  The rapture portends being in the presence of the Lord, an event that should elicit great joy from many of His saints throughout the age.

 


 

END NOTES

 

 

[1]  All biblical citations and quotes are taken from the New American Standard Bible—NASB, 1995.

[2] Harton, George M. Fulfillment of Deuteronomy in History and Eschatology 28—30. ThD Dissertation, Dallas, TX: Dallas Theological Seminary, 1981, 96-215, for suggested fulfillments in ancient Israel’s history.

[3] Four ways are reported in Bauer, W., Danker, F. W., Arndt, W. F., and Gingrich, F. W. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and other Early Christian Literature, 3rd ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000, 191-192.

[4] Ibid., 191.2.

[5] Harton, 75-93, features a discussion on the hermeneutics of prophetic interpretation.  Particularly important is Harton’s position—with buttressing citations—that Deut. 28:68 is an example of a single-fulfillment prediction, 82-83.  In this context, Deut. 29:22 is very likely also a single-fulfillment prediction.

[6] Waltke, Bruce K. and O’Connor, M. An Introduction to Biblical Hebrew Syntax. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbraus, 1990, 242, provides biblical examples for a common noun (e.g., generation) combined with the definite article as designating a unique referent.  So “the generation” of Deut. 29:22 is a unique or particular generation.

[7] Roughly estimated at 480,000 Jews before 1948 (from Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics).  http://www.cbs.gov.il/shnaton58/download/st04_04.xis.

[8] For an excellent discussion about the historical significance of the 1948 date, see “The Re-establishment of Israel:” Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. The Footsteps of the Messiah. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries Press, 1983, 65.

[9] See Fruchtenbaum, 436-437, for a details of this period, particularly from 1914-1917.

[10] Considering the pivotal role the Levitical priesthood enjoys in this study, the following biographical sliver for Disraeli is most interesting.  Although his father had Benjamin baptized in the Church of England at 13, he was a proud Sephardic Jew of Italian descent who held that Christianity was “completed Judaism” (perhaps wise politically, but theologically foolish).  During a heated 1935 debate in Parliament with Irish MP Daniel O’Connell, Disraeli said, “Yes, I am a Jew and when the ancestors of the right honourable gentleman were brutal savages in an unknown island, mine were priests (emphasis mine) in the temple of Solomon.”  http://www.victorianweb.org/history/pms/dizzy.html

[11] For a helpful thumbnail sketch highlighting this historic period of modern Israel’s birth, and the importance of the Treaty of Berlin, see: Gold, Dore. The Fight for Jerusalem. Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2007, 119-143.  Gold has served as Israel’s ambassador to the UN, and as an advisor to an Israeli prime minister.

[12] The first gathering was roughly estimated at 2,900,000 from 1948 to 2006 by Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics.  http://www.cbs.gov.il/shnaton58/download/st04_04.xis.

[13] Deut. 30:4 and Matt. 24:31 describe the same singular event in Israel’s history—as unmatched as was Moses leading the wilderness generation out of Egypt.  Matt. 24:31 refers to the rapture/tribulation generation.

[14] The intensive pronoun “this” singles out grammatically the noun “generation” in a demonstrative way. (cf. Dana, H.E. and Mantey, Julius R. A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. Toronto, Ontario: The Macmillan Company, 1927, 130, § 138(2). It is thus translated as a demonstrative by all English translators.

[15] See Biblical Prophecy and the Rapture. McClymont, J. C. March 7, 2008. http://www.mcclymont.org/?cat=20 and The Rapture/Tribulation Generation. McClymont, J. C. July 6, 2007. http://www.mcclymont.org/?p=13 God had planted the priesthood (fig tree) in the “vineyard” of the nation Israel (Num. 1:47-4:49 and Luke 13:6-9).  Jesus’ symbolic cursing of the fig tree, coupled with His subsequent stoppage of temple sacrifices (Mark 11:12-21), reflected God’s judgment on the Levitical priesthood (cf. Hos. 4:6)—a judgment that will be terminated in the Messianic Kingdom (cf. Jer. 33:18).  The judgment also set the stage for Jesus’ own Melchizedekian priesthood (cf. Heb. 5:10) when He would become both high priest and sacrifice on the cross.

[16] One example, among several, that covered this revival story and noted the 1978 date: Levine, Charley J. “Getting Ready, A Very Special Yeshiva,” Hadassah Magazine, December 1981, 19, 36.  Levine (by name, a descendant from the tribe of Levi) was Director of Zionist Affairs for Hadassah.

[17] Miller, D. A. Forbidden Knowledge, Or Is It? updated ed. Fountain Valley, CA: Joy Publishing, 1998, vii.

[18] See Revelation, Chapters 2-3. McClymont, J. C. August 17, 2008. http://www.mcclymont.org/?cat=16 This is a novel historic-prophetic interpretation that proposed two modern Messianic congregations ( Thyatira in Rev. 2:25 and Sardis in Rev. 3:3) that would be witness to—by being part of—the rapture of the church.

[19] For a discussion about the theological doctrine of the rapture’s imminency, see Imminency, Parts I, II, and III.  McClymont, J. C. February 7 and 8, 2008. http://www.mcclymont.org/?cat=19

[20] Compare Wallace, Daniel B. Greek Grammar Beyond the Basics. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1996, 325.B.1 for a definition of the demonstrative pronoun “this” singling out the word “generation” in a special way.

[21] For  the dates of Jesus’ chronology, see Hoehner, Harold W. Chronological Aspects of the Life of Christ. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1977, 27.

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