Knowing the generation but not the hour

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I’m not generally one to take advantage of current trending topics around the globe, but this seems like a good opportunity to get our minds thinking about the end times and the rapture. By now I’m sure you’ve heard: today is the end of the world. This group believes today is the day of the rapture and the beginning of a 5-month destruction of the earth. What does the Bible really say—can we know the day or the hour?

Knowing the trends and events related to the generation that the Lord returns

In Matt. 24 Jesus lays out an overview of the global scene in the generation proceeding His return. Jesus rebuked those who did not heed the prophetic signs that pointed to His coming (Mt. 16:1-4; Lk. 19:41-44). Prophetic signs serve the Church in the same way a weather station signals coming trouble so that people can prepare and save lives.

1 "The Pharisees…came, and testing Him asked that He would show them a sign from heaven…2 Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times. 4 A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign…"  (Mt. 16:1-4)

1 “Concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you…4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness [ignorance] so that this Day should overtake [come on you unexpectantly] you as a thief…6 Therefore…let us watch.” (1 Thes. 5:1-6)

How can we know when Jesus is coming if He says in Matthew 24:36 that “no one knows the day or the hour”?

Jesus did not say we could not know the season or the conditions surrounding His coming. Neither did Jesus say that the Church would not know the day and hour in the generation the Lord returns. We have to humbly seek the Father’s word as to when this begins because only the Father knows. God did not want to make the day and hour known in the early Church, but Daniel and the Apostle John made it clear the Messiah would come exactly 1,260 days after the abomination of desolation (Dan. 7:25; 12:7; Rev. 11:2-3; 12:6, 14; 13:5). 

When does the rapture occur in relation to the tribulation? Getting a biblical mindset

A brief overview of the origins of the pre-tribulation rapture theory. 

In the early 1800’s the pre-tribulation theory was popularized by theologian John Darby. The basic theory states that Christ ‘secretly’ returns to rapture up believers before the 7-year tribulation, after which He openly comes with His saints to judge the earth (this is essentially 2 comings).

I believe the main reason for the error found in the pre-tribulation rapture theory is due to incorrect interpretation of passages. It’s important to read the Bible with a mindset that the Word says what it means and means what it says. When we view the Bible as primarily symbolic we get a confused and jumbled mess. For example, in Revelation, when it says ‘Behold, a sign,’ then what follows is symbolic; everything else is to be read as literal. Keeping that in mind, the scriptures that supported pre-tribulation rapture no longer support it.

“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed—in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Cor. 15:51)

Then the seventh angel [with the last trumpet] sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”" (Rev. 11:15) (This last trumpet occurs at the end of 7-year tribulation).

Some common lies against knowing the generation

Lie #1: We can’t know the day or hour so we shouldn’t try to know the generation the Lord returns. Jesus and Paul emphasized the know-ability of the signs of the end times (Mt. 24:32-34; Lk. 21:25-29; 1 Thes. 5:1-6; 2 Thes. 2:1-11). 

Lie #2:  Understanding the end times causes us to minimize our work in the kingdom. This is a criticism toward the escapist and defeatist mentality of some who believe in the pre-tribulation rapture. They conclude that they should not work hard to transform the culture since the Antichrist will take over everything anyway and since they may be raptured at any moment.

Lie #3: It will all pan out in the end. The question is, will it pan out well with you and your loved ones? It will only go well for those who are prepared. 

It’s important to never accept anything anyone says as doctrine. You have to search the scriptures yourself with a prayerful mind, seeking for the spirit of wisdom and revelation. People and traditions can lead astray so we must be rooted in the Word.

Recommended Reading: 100 FAQs about the end times


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