All End Times Prophecies Fulfilled Within A Single Life SpanAll the prophecies of the 1st Coming were fulfilled within the lifetimes of those being born around the time of the first Christmas. They began with the birth of John the Baptist, who was only 6 months older than Jesus, and ended with the destruction of the Temple and Holy City. In the passage below, the Lord explained that the 2nd Coming prophecies would be fulfilled in the same manner.PROPHECY: Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: As soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things, you know that it is near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened. Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. (Matthew 24:32-35)FULFILLMENT: The fig tree is the last to come out of its winter dormancy. It doesn't sprout buds and leaves until the warm weather has come to stay, making it a reliable sign that summer is truly near. So it is with End Times prophecies. When their fulfillment begins, it means that the end is coming soon. In fact in the next sentence, the Lord explained that some from the generation being born when the first signs are fulfilled will still be alive at the end.Since that sentence is surrounded by controversy, let's look at it again, more carefully. We want to make absolutely sure it says what we think it does. The controversy centers on the word translated generation in verse 34. In Greek it's genea, and can mean generation or race. It's the word from which we get generation and genealogy.There are three major interpretations of the passage:
- The End Times would occur during the life spans of the generation to whom Jesus was speaking. Some believe the Great Tribulation and 2nd Coming had occurred by 70 AD, and the Millennium began in Heaven then. They're called Preterists and they believe there are no more End Times prophecies to be fulfilled.
- The Greek word genea should be translated race and should be applied to the Jewish people. This is the view of those called Idealists and in fact the Jews have endured in spite of all efforts to eradicate them. But does the Idealist view accommodate all the End Times prophecies? Sadly, no. Idealists don't believe in a literal fulfillment of prophecy.
- The generation being born as the first of the End Times signs were being fulfilled would live to see them all fulfilled. This is the most logical view and the one held by those who take the Bible literally. It's easy to prove that the Lord hasn't come again in the manner indicated by Scripture, and after 6000 years of literal fulfillment of prophecy, why would the Lord suddenly switch to an allegorical method of fulfillment, especially where it concerns making good on His promises to His people?The big mistake made here by many who follow a literal method of interpretation is to assume the word generation describes a span of time as well as a group of people born during a particular period. Making this mistake led them to predict that all End Times signs would be fulfilled within the span of one generation, nominally 40 years. Connecting this assumption to the re-birth of Israel, they predicted the Lord would return in 1988, and of course they were wrong.What the Lord said was that the generation alive when the fulfillment of End Times signs begins would not pass away until all was fulfilled. A Biblical lifetime is 70 years according to Psalm 90:10. There's also a question as to whether the 1948 re-birth of Israel began the final count down or whether is should begin with the 1967 recovery of Jerusalem. After all, the prophecy from Daniel 9:24-27 concerning the Lord's first coming was timed to the rebuilding of Jerusalem, not the first re-gathering of the nation.Our best estimate, at least for now, is to expect that all the End Times prophecies will have been fulfilled as early as 2018 (70 years from 1948) and no later than 2037 (70 years from 1967). So the question is, what has to happen between now and then.Well, there are over 500 unfulfilled prophecies concerning the 2nd Coming. We'll just take some of the major ones and put them into their proper sequence so we'll always know what to look for next as we go.I believe the next sign to be fulfilled will be the disappearance of the Church as foretold in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-18. This one could happen at any moment since there's nothing that has to precede it.Right on its heels will come the battle foretold in Ezekiel 38-39, causing two critical events to happen as a result. One, the Lord will use that battle to re-instate His covenant with Israel, and two, the Anti-Christ will emerge with a plan to restore peace in the Middle East. A central provision of his plan will permit the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple, as required by Israel's renewed covenant with the Lord. Daniel 9:24-27 indicates the duration of the anti-Christ's plan will be seven years, and that in the middle of it, he'll stand in the new Temple and commit an abomination that causes the Temple to become desolate. (In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 Paul wrote that the abomination is the anti-Christ proclaiming himself to be God.)In Matthew 24:21, Jesus said that the anti-Christ's proclamation will kick off the Great Tribulation, a period of judgments 3½ years long (Daniel 9:27). During that time the Earth will be shaken and bombarded to a point that will make the recent tsunami seem like child's play and half of the world's remaining population will perish.But some will survive to see the Lord's return in Glory, and those who've come to believe in Him will be ushered into His Kingdom (Matt 25:34). They will have lived the most harrowing and dangerous life of any generation ever born, having seen all the End Times prophecies fulfilled right before their eyes.After judging the survivors from the nations the Lord, now King of all the Earth, will commence a 1000 year reign of peace (Revelation 20:4). Earth will have been restored to the way it was created, a beautiful sub-tropical garden paradise, and His people Israel will once again be its pre-imminent nation (Isaiah 2:3).Meanwhile believers from the Church age will dwell with Him in the nearby New Jerusalem, a place where only those whose names have been written in the Lamb's Book of Life may enter (Revelation 21).During the 1000 years Satan will have been bound and imprisoned, no longer free to deceive man and afflict God's people. (Revelation 20:1-2) But at its end, he'll be released and will immediately recruit a large army with which to attack God. God will defeat him of course and he'll be thrown into the place of eternal judgment with all those who sided with him (Revelation 20:10). At that time, the unsaved dead will be brought to life and judged before being thrown into the Lake of Fire to join the Devil, the anti-Christ, and his false prophet (Revelation 20:11-15).After that, all who believe in the Lord and are called by His name will embark on an eternity filled with blessing in the presence of the Lord.This is just a summary of events, listed in the sequence I believe the Bible gives us, to permit a glimpse of how the end will unfold. If you're a believer, you'll observe all of this from your vantage point in the New Jerusalem, safe and secure. If not, you'll be able to predict just how close the Lord's return is by witnessing these signs as they occur on Earth. Better keep your head down though, you'll only have a 50-50 chance of surviving to the end. I strongly recommend that you make your peace with the Lord now, while you still have the option of being hidden away with the rest of us. For if you listen closely you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah.