Will the Lord Return Before "This Generation Passes Away?"
The following is a question from a friend of our church:
I was talking with some people the other day...They spoke of a prophecy in the Bible that indicated the generation who witnessed the "rebirth of Israel" would also be the generation who witnesses the second coming of Christ. They alluded to something that happened in the 1940's where Israel became a nation again, making them believe that the time is near.My question is, where is this written and what happened in the 1940's that would be considered the rebirth of Israel?
Here's my response:
Wow! Great question. This is a can of worms here, so let me answer your question succinctly, and we can talk more about the complexities later. Sounds like a good study for the future. This is my personal answer, and not necessarily the best. This subject is an ongoing study for me...in other words, it's not quite official sermon material yet.
1) The Scripture passages that they're referring to are Matthew 24:32-34 and Mark 13:28-30 (link:http://tinyurl.com/bujj2b). These are known as the "Olivet Discourse"-- Jesus' teaching at the mount of Olives.
2) The moment in Jewish history is May 14, 1948: (Link:http://tinyurl.com/cl9u9b).
3) You'll note that the scripture passages do not mention the State of Israel. Your friends are interpreting it from a "pre-millennialist" perspective. They're not "wrong" in this, but I would say they're not right either. This view was popularized in the "Left Behind" books. (Link: http://preview.tinyurl.com
4) I personally hold to an "amillennialist" interpretation, which in my opinion better accounts for the balance between the fact the Bible is the literal Word of God, and is also filled with poetry (such as the Psalms) and symbolism (Revelation) that should be read as such. It explains how we face both good and evil here on earth, looking forward to Christ conquering evil in His future return. It also explains how the "Kingdom of God" can refer both to present day earth and future heaven. In addition, it accounts for the current suffering of many Christians around the world (Link:http://tinyurl.com/bz4lrb)
5) Here's a nice chart that shows the differences. (Link:http://tinyurl.com/bvvgx3).
6) In short, it's open to interpretation and in the end it will happen as God intends. Regardless of one's interpretation, it doesn't change our relationship with Christ or his command for us to share His good news.
7) Readers, what conclusions have your drawn? Do you face the future with certainty or uncertainty?