8 Compelling Reasons Why: Christ is (Not!!) Coming “Very, Very Soon” #3
Be sure to read the preceding articles in this short series. #1 #2.
The article we have been examining, which was published in hundreds of newspapers across America in the mid 1980s – claims that earthquakes have increased dramatically since the rebirth of Israel. Other “prophets” insist that weather changes, hurricanes and earthquakes are a portent of the end. In 2005 a massive tornado hit the Oklahoma City area and several prophecy pundits claimed thatl it was a sign of Christ’s return. Support for this view is taken, wrongly, from Matthew 24: 7: “There will be famine, earthquake and pestilence in various places.” It is argued that Jesus was giving disturbances in nature as signs of His coming. This is not, however, what Jesus taught!
The disciples asked Jesus for a sign of the end (Matthew 24:3). Jesus gave them a warning, “Do not be deceived” (v. 4), and proceeded to tell them of things that were to happen, among them the so-called “disturbances in nature.” However, he specifically told them, “These are the beginning of sorrows” (v.8), and in Luke He added, “These things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately” (Luke 21:9). Jesus said the disturbances were not signs of the imminent end of the age! To claim that these natural events are signs of the imminent end is to ignore what Jesus said.
Jesus told his disciples that these events were the, “beginning of birth pangs.” This was a common expression among the ancient rabbis and Jews of what was known as the birth-pangs of the Messiah. Unfortunately knowledge of that term it is lost on many readers today, The Jews believed, and scripture taught, that before the coming of the kingdom, there was to be a period of intense distress and persecution. This terrible time was to bring forth the kingdom at the glorious appearing of the King (Jeremiah 30:7-9; Daniel 12, etc.). Tragically, most Bible students today ignore the fact that Jesus said the time of suffering was to occur in His generation. It is also unfortunate that most students ignore the fact that Paul said the “birth-pangs” were present in his generation.
In Matthew 24: 34 Jesus emphatically said, “Verily I say to you, this generation will by no means pass until all of these things be fulfilled.” We ask kindly, how is it possible to ignore or deny what our Lord said? It is not possible to distort His words to mean a generation 2000 years removed from His. He did not say some generation one of these days far off. He said, “this generation will not pass. He did not say, “The Jewish race will not pass until all these things are fulfilled.” This is an improper use of the original words. Jesus definitely said the distress He was predicting would occur in His generation, and it did.
Reader, ask yourself the question: if Jesus and the NT writers actually wanted to communicate the idea that the Lord’s coming and the end of the age was to occur in the first century, and that it was actually near 2000 years ago, what other words, terms or phrases would they have had to use to communicate that objective imminence? Furthermore, when you hear modern (so-called) prophecy experts trumpeting their claim “the end is coming soon!” why should we believe that their use of “soon” actually means “soon” but when Jesus and the NT writers used words like, “shortly” “near,” “in a very, very little while” that those words of imminence did not actually mean soon???
In Romans 8, Paul spoke of, “the suffering of this present time” (v. 18). Paul and his contemporaries were – at that very time – experiencing suffering, and what did he call it? In verse 22, he said, “we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs until now.” Paul uses the same word used by Jesus to foretell the “beginning of birth-pangs,” and says those pangs were being experienced when he wrote! Was Paul wrong? Was he mistaken? No, what Jesus said would occur in his generation was occurring as predicted.
It must be remembered that according to Jesus the distress in nature was not even to be a sign of the imminent end, and further, Jesus did say the things he predicted were for His generation. Paul said the predicted events were present 2000 years ago. It is a misuse of scripture to apply Jesus’ prediction to our generation or any other generation than Jesus’. That means that the article published in literally hundreds of newspapers around the country in the mid 1980s assuring us that the coming of the Lord was coming “very, very soon” was false, even as the passing of 40 years or so has proven. It also means that all prophecy pundits of our modern times who are claiming that the end is near now, are also false teachers.
Be sure to get a copy of my book, Can God Tell Time? for an in-depth examination of the fact that when God spoke time words, He knew exactly what they meant, and expected men to understand, and act, upon those words.