THE RAPTURE GENERATION
By: Gary L. Rodgers
Recently while doing a study on Matthew 24 and Luke 21 regarding end time events it said and suggested in both chapters of scripture that all of the things that were mentioned by Christ would happen within the generation of the Jews that returned to the Promised Land. (See Matthew 24:32-34 and Luke 21:29-32) As we know from history the Jewish nation of Israel was established in May of 1948.
Another verse within these passages that caught my attention was Luke 21:20
I thought to myself Wow! Then the snatching away of God’s children just prior to his wrath being poured out onto the nations of the world must be a lot closer than we realize! It seems more and more like the enemies of this tiny nation are surrounding them and preparing their armies to go up against them.
I wanted to know what the length of a generation was determined to be. I did a search on the internet and came across endless blogs with a great deal of conjecture in answer to this question. Below are the notes from the most sensible, and biblically sound article that I came across regarding this question on how long is a generation.
The following notes were copied from the website: http://www.raptureready.com/rr-last-generation.html
I copied the last half of their article which pretty well covered my question; to read the entire article please visit their website.
A View from the Psalmist
Disregarding untimely or unnatural deaths due to epidemics, famine and war, there is evidence in the Scriptures and in recent history to support a 70-80 year life span for the past 3000 years. The evidence for a 70-80 year lifespan was present during the 10th century B.C. during the reign of King David (c. 1010-970).
About 400-500 years after the Exodus (c. 1450 B.C.), the life span of man seemed to level off at around 70-80 years. This was around 1000 B.C. during the days of Kings Saul, David, and Solomon. Perhaps the most significant declaration in the Bible for the life span of man is given in Psalm 90. The Psalmist states that the life span of man is seventy years with eighty years being the upper range of normal life expectancy: “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God…For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night…For all our days are passed away in thy wrath: We spend our years as a tale that is told. 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…So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom. Return, O Lord, how long?”
Ironically, Moses, who lived to be 120 years old, is credited with writing this Psalm during the 15th century B.C. Moses may have been suggesting a new life span for man, since the 70-80 year statement does not coincide with his age or the age of his contemporaries, Aaron and Joshua.
According to conservative scholars, Moses was born around 1526 B.C., led the Exodus from Egypt in c.1446 B.C., and died about 1406 B.C., the year Joshua crossed over the Jordan River into Canaan. About 400 years after Moses’ death, David began his reign of 40 years that would end around 970 B.C.
The Generation of David
As David approached the end of his life, he was considered to be an old man by those living at that time. The Scripture tells us: “So when David was old and full of days, he made Soloman his son king over Israel” (1 Chronicles 23:1). The significant years of David’s life are given in 2 Samuel 5:4: “David was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty years.” “So David slept with his fathers, and was buried in the city of David. And the days that David reigned over Israel were forty years…” (1 Kings 2:10).
Acts 13:36 concludes: “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell on sleep, and was laid unto his fathers and saw corruption…” The Scriptures reveal that David served his generation and was seventy years old when he died.
A contemporary of David, Barzillai the Gileadite, was considered to be an old man during the days of King David’s reign. The Scriptures report: “Now Barzillai was a very aged man, even fourscore years old…And Barzillai said unto the King, How long have I to live, that I should go up with the king unto Jerusalem? I am this day fourscore years old…let thy servant, I pray thee, turn back again, that I may die in mine own city, and be buried by the grave of my father and of my mother” (2 Samuel 19: 32-37).
Both David at 70 years and Barzillai at 80 years were considered to be “old” and “very aged” men nearly 3000 years ago, and both of their life spans coincided with the 70-80 years described in Psalm 90.
THE BABYLONIAN CAPTIVITY
Around 200 years after David’s death, Isaiah prophesied: “Tyre shall be forgotten seventy years, according to the days of one king…” (Isaiah 23:15).
The concept of 70 years as the life span for kings may have been established after David’s death at seventy years. When Judah was taken into Babylonian captivity in 606, 597, and 586 B.C. by King Nebuchadnezzar, it was to be for seventy years. The Bible tells: “Cut off thine hair, O Jerusalem, and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on high places; for the Lord hath rejected and forsaken the generation of his wrath. For the children of Judah have done evil in my sight saith the Lord…” (Jeremiah 7:29-30).
The capture of the Southern Kingdom of Judah by King Nebuchadnezzar brought Ezekiel and Daniel to the land of Babylon. After Babylon’s capture by the Medes in 539 BC,, Daniel began reading from the book of Jeremiah about the captivity that had been prophesied by Jeremiah: “In the first year of his reign, I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof, the word of the Lord came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem…” (Daniel 9:2).
The length of time appointed for the rejection of this “evil” generation was seventy years. If the age of the Jewish generation rejected by God was twenty years and up, as with Moses’ generation in the wilderness, then those still living in Babylon would have been over ninety years old when the seventy-year period ended. Most of the generation taken into captivity had already died or were too old to make the journey back to the Promised Land. Daniel was a youth when taken captive and was probably in his eighties or nineties.
The Generation of Christ
Shortly after Christ’s birth, Jesus was brought to Jerusalem to be dedicated to the Lord. Anna, who was considered to be very old at the time Christ was born, was present at the temple: “And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; and she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day” (Luke 2:36, 37).
Christ described the generation of his day as evil and accused them of killing, crucifying, and persecuting the prophets, wise men, and scribes that he had sent to them. He also prophesied that he would be rejected by His generation. Because of their stubbornness and failure to recognize “the time of their visitation,” Christ pronounced judgment upon the city of Jerusalem and declared: “all these things shall come upon this generation” (i.e., the generation of Christ).
We know that Christ did not live out the full length of his generation, which raises the question: “Who shall declare his generation? For his life is taken from the earth.” (Acts 8:33; Isaiah 53:8). Christ said in Luke 11:30 “For as Jonas was a sign unto the Ninevites, so shall also the Son of man be to this generation.”
That raises an interesting question! Has God appointed a “man of God” to be a sign to each generation of people? Jesus Christ, who was “cut off” or killed as prophesied in Daniel 9:26, was to represent the evil generation of his day. How long would Christ’s generation have been if he had not died an early death?
Most Bible scholars believe Christ was crucified between 30-33 A.D. If that was the case, the wicked generation that the time of Christ represented was judged 40 years later when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D. The last vestige of Jewish resistance was wiped out at Masada in 73-75 A.D. The destruction prophesied upon the generation that crucified the Lord was complete.
Historians tell us that Jesus Christ was born sometime before the turn of the century (2-8 B.C.) with 4 B.C. being the most popular view. Assuming that the generation that Christ described had expired by 75 A.D., the length of that generation would have been between seventy and eighty years.
As discussed earlier, the Psalmist declared that the life span of man was 70-80 years. The extra-biblical book of Jubilees, which was found among the Dead Sea Scrolls during the middle of the twentieth century (1947-1956), has an interesting account of the regression of man’s age that coincides with the description given in Psalm 90:9,10. This ancient document, believed to have been written sometime between 150 and 105 B.C., describes the regression of man’s age from the generation of Adam down to a generation that will receive a great punishment from the Lord. I recommend the reader who wants to go more in-depth, read that account.
LIFE SPAN OF MAN TODAY
Evidence discussed thus far indicates that the life span of man leveled off at around 70 to 80 years during the reigns of King Saul, David, and Solomon and has remained about the same for the past 3000 years (1000 BC to 2000 AD). Fluctuations in lifespan have occurred due to war, famine, disease and other factors. People are most likely to grow old in rich countries, where there are sufficient medical and sanitary facilities, clean drinking water and enough food at their disposal. In poor countries, these facilities often are insufficient, with the result that infant and child mortality is very high.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, International Data Base, life expectancy today is only 37.13 years in Zimbabwe, 47.49 years in Kenya, and 48.09 years in South Africa but is 63.24 years in Brazil, 63.69 years in Egypt, 67.34 years in Russia, 71.62 years in China, 79.87 years in Australia and 80.80 years in Japan. Most of the countries in Europe and North America have life spans between 70 and 80 years. The life expectancy of those living in the United States in 1850 was less than 40 years but increased to 47.3 years by 1900 and then mushroomed to 76.7 years (1999) by the end of the 20th century.2
If 70 to 80 years still represents the length of a generation, as described in Psalm 90:9,10, one would expect the life span of those living today to be close to that figure. According to the 2002 World Almanac and Book of Facts, the average life expectancy in the United States is 77.26 years (74.37 years for males and 80.05 years for females). For Israel it is 78.71 years (76.69 years for males and 80.84 years for females). The average life expectancy at birth for Israel is projected to be 81.6 years in the year 2025. 3
THE FIG TREE GENERATION
In the parable of the fig tree, Jesus talked about a generation of people (perhaps Jews and Gentiles) that would be living at the time he returned to earth to establish his kingdom. With Israel back in their land after almost 2000 years of dispersion and other end-time prophecies coming into focus, the Jewish people now living in Israel could very well be the generation Christ was talking about.
Perhaps this Generation?
Luke’s version of the fig tree parable, which mentions the fig tree (Israel) and all the trees, (nations of the world) (Judges 9:8-20) states: “And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; When they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand. Verily I say unto you. This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Luke 21:29-33).
If the length of David’s generation, Christ’s generation, and those living today is 70-80 years (a 3000 year span), it would be reasonable to conclude that the generation Christ was talking about in the parable of the fig tree will also be 70-80 years in length. If the fig tree in this parable represents the nation of Israel, as many prophetic scholars believe, and the generation that is described has a lifespan of 70 to 80 years, then we see several strong indicators that the generation Christ was talking about has already been born. That would mean that the return of Jesus Christ to establish his reign for a thousand years is close at hand. The indicators we have seen include:
- the rebirth of Israel as a nation in 1948 (Isaiah 66:8),
- the Jerusalem controversy in the end times (Zechariah 12:1-3),
- preparations for rebuilding the Jewish Temple (Revelation 11:1,2),
- ongoing negotiations for a peace treaty between Israel and the Palestinians (Daniel 9:27)
The Most Significant End-Time Prophecy
The end-time events described in the Olivet Discourse and the Book of Revelation could not have taken place without Israel back in their land. Israel’s return to the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the 20th century after dispersion by the Roman armies in 70 A.D. is the most important event that signals the soon return of Jesus Christ. Israel’s rebirth as a nation has also served as a catalyst for other end-time prophecies that are beginning to converge on the world scene. The pieces necessary for development of the end-time prophetic puzzle began to fall in place between the middle of the 19th and first half of the 20th century when the Jewish people began coming back to their homeland in record numbers.
A movement called Zionism encouraged the Jewish people to return to the “Promised Land” and brought about the Balfour Declaration in 1917, a statement by Great Britain that supported a home for the Jewish people. After much negotiation and endorsement of a partition resolution by the United Nations in 1947, the rebirth of Israel (Isaiah 66:7-9) took place on May 15, 1948. Following a period of wars between the Jewish and Arab nations in 1948, 1956, 1967, and 1973, peace negotiations have been ongoing and will continue until a covenant (Daniel 9:27) is confirmed between “the prince that shall come” (Antichrist) and the nation of Israel.
GOD’S BLUEPRINT FOR THE FUTURE
Christians who take the Bible seriously should be actively watching the prophetic shadows that are appearing in today’s headlines. The primary purpose of God’s prophetic Word is to point people to Jesus Christ, “the author and finisher of our faith.”
A Chosen Generation
As we entertain the possibility that we may be the generation Jesus was talking about in the fig tree parable nearly 2000 years ago, we are admonished by the Scriptures to watch and be prepared. As stated clearly by Jesus in Matthew and Mark, no man knows the day or the hour of his coming but the Father only. The same Jesus, however, was very angry with the Pharisees and Scribes for not discerning “the signs of the times” and not knowing the “time of their visitation.” In these thought-provoking and challenging times in which we are living, we need to be informed and discerning like “the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do…” (1 Chronicles 12:32).
One day there will be a generation of Christians that will escape the grip of death and be ushered into heaven, the “final frontier” for believers. The generation that is “left behind” will face the ruthless tyranny of a global dictatorship. The world stage is now being set for the closing act of this dispensation, and the climax of world history, Christ’s return, is drawing near. As God’s children, we may very well be the generation that is chosen to “escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man” (Luke 21: 34-36). That possibility is certainly worth pondering!
EVERYONE HAS TO DECIDE FOR THEMSELVES
You may be asking yourself what you can do to get to Heaven, and if that is your question then I wish to share with you a simple prayer that you can pray to invite Jesus into your life to save you. You just simply need to mean what you say and believe in your heart with faith that God had raised him from the dead and thou shalt be saved. (Romans 10:8-10)
Please follow along with these words:
Dear Jesus, I know what sin is, and I know that I am a sinner. I ask that you would please forgive me and wash away all of my sin with the blood that you had shed for me. Please send the Holy Spirit to come too live in my heart to teach me and guide me in righteousness. I know that you personally died for me, and that you were buried in a tomb and rose from the dead for me. I believe that you are now seated at the right hand of the Father in Heaven. I put my complete trust in you alone as my Lord and Savior and I am trusting in you only to get me to Heaven, and I accept your free gift of eternal life. In your Holy and Precious Name I pray. Amen!
If you made a decision to pray and ask Christ to forgive you, and to wash away all of your sin with His blood, and to come into your heart to be your Savior, then we praise God for you.
You should write down the:
of your decision. Record this information in your Bible as a record of that decision. It is part of your testimony.
Please contact us through Myerstown Baptist Church, 59 N. Ramona Road, Myerstown PA. 17067 to let us know that you have made a decision for Christ so that we can pray for you and rejoice with you. We would like to send you some information to help you get started in your Christian walk.
Thank you, and may the Lord richly bless you!