I Am Barabbas By: Pete Garcia In my recent discussions with those hermeneutically opposed to…
By Pete Garcia
The three most dreaded words in the Army are, double time, March! For those not familiar with military drill and ceremony commands, this just means start running. Military folk has a far greater appreciation for and sensitivity to time in a way that most civilians cannot fully appreciate. For instance, if you’re not ten minutes early to an event, you’re late. If you have a formation at 0600 (depending on the level of formation-Division, Brigade, Battalion, Company) that really means you have to be there at 0530 (at the latest). Deployments? I think we invented the phrase “hurry up and wait.”
Operationally speaking, success or failure is measured in successfully executing whatever it is you’re doing at approximately T-Hour +/- 30 seconds. This becomes especially critical for those of us in MEDEVAC where we would get a mission over a radio, get dressed, get the mission briefing details, and get the aircraft ready, and launch within 15 minutes (or less)…at any time, day or night.
But I think the most significant differential between military and civilians, centers around lost time. If deployments have instilled anything in me in relation to time, it is to take advantage of the time you have with those you love. With your progeny, you will leave them as babies and come back to find toddlers. If you leave them as toddlers, you come back to kids. Leave them as kids, and you come back to tweens. Time tends to go by very fast when you’re leaving every other year.
But our God is the God of time. God created time when He put the firmament in place for man to use. (Gen. 1:14) Even more so, is the reality that because He created time, He is outside of the time-space continuum. Being outside of time, or rather, not constrained by it, means that He can see the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:9-10) and already knows how this all plays out. Thus, when Jesus predicted the Temple would be destroyed (Matt. 23:37-24:3), He had already seen it happen and thus could declare with absolute certainty of its impending destruction. Of particular interest in His discourse on the Mt. of Olives, is the Parable of the Fig Tree. In this He says…
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. (Matt. 24:32)
Numerous allusions and examples in both the Old and New Testament have alluded to the nation of Israel, as a fig tree. But only in one sense is this true as the late, great Clarence Larkin notes:
– THE VINE is a symbol of Israel’s Spiritual privileges.
– THE FIG-TREE is a symbol of Israel’s National privileges.
– THE OLIVE TREE is a symbol of Israel’s Religious privileges
So it is in our time, that we have been privileged to see the fruits of the early Zionist movement bearing forth a nation, albeit not a particularly religious or spiritual one. (Ezek. 37:11)
33 So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! (24:33)
Not only have we seen the nation of Israel restored to the table of nations, but considering all the other signs in conjunction to this, we who are watching sense this with ever greater intensity that the Lord is truly at the door!
34 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
Now to the truly puzzling part of the study. This generation will by no means pass away….to which scholar, student, preacher, and skeptic has either asked, tried to explain, or simply shrugged off at the conundrum the Bible presents-how long is a generation? Some say 30 years; other say 50. Some point to the part of the passage that says by no means pass away, as pertaining to the lifespan of a person. (Ps. 90:10)
Remember, before the 13th century, there were no chapter and verses in the Bible. The text that Matthew would have written originally would have all flowed together, so let us continue.
36 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.
Clearly, Jesus knew that the timing surrounding His Second Coming was still far off into the future. He told His disciples to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, and that takes time. (Matt. 28:19-20) As mentioned in last week’s brief, God uses time for many reasons, but one, in particular, is so that His enemy (Satan) cannot attempt to thwart God’s plans. I know what you’re saying in that God is God and Satan is not. He is simply a created being. Consider 1 Corinthians 2:6-8
However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.
While God reveals things to His servants, prophets, and apostles, He hides His purposes from the enemy to frustrate any attempt at changing the narrative. Satan didn’t know that Christ came to die. Neither will he know exactly when Christ is returning for His Bride the Church at the Rapture. Also consider that God reveals things, not all at once, but incrementally, on a ‘need to know basis,’ at the appropriate time, to the appropriate audience.
The Rapture of the Church is not in view in the Olivet Discourse. Rather, the OD is a broad-brush overview, with a couple of specifics (v. 15 for example) to show the overall flow of events. Skeptics have long argued that there have always been wars, earthquakes, pestilences, etc. to be dismissive of Christ’s words here. But what they miss, is that Christ shows these things to be increasing like birth pangs, in size, frequency, and intensity.
Also, none of the disciples at this point (on the Mt. of Olives), Christ had not yet died and risen again, they had yet received the Holy Spirit’s permanent indwelling at Pentecost, and the church was not in view. Remember some of them were asking in Acts 1:6-7
Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.
Back to the OD, Jesus chose to keep it fairly generalized because Satan (or one of his minions) could have been ease dropping in on this conversation. Remember, this is a day before the Last Supper, so Judas Iscariot was still in their company.
But Jesus continues;
37 But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38 For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39 and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
I won’t belabor the point pertaining to the days of Noah and Lot, only to say, that what Jesus hones in on, is the normalcy of everyday life. People weren’t thinking about sudden destruction, and they were just going about their business of wickedness as if things would just continue forever. But speaking to the rapidity of which this will happen, when it happens, Christ continues…
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. 42 Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. 43 But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. 44 Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.
Fair to say that given this warning, every generation for the past two thousand years has had cause to think they might be that generation. Only ours is the first generation since Christ uttered those words that have had Israel back in her land as a nation again. And things have been on overdrive (double time!) ever since. Our generation is the only one in which Israel has control of Jerusalem again. Is Israel the super-sign by which last-days prophecy hangs onto? I believe it is because the Bible teaches that. (Gen. 13:15, 17:7-8; Isaiah 2, 11; Daniel 2, 9:24-27; Ezekiel 36-39; Zechariah 12, 14; Amos 9)
I know many orthodox Jews do not believe coincidence or happenstance to be kosher. So is it coincidence that we have just lived through the last three Jubilees and watched God do amazing things pertaining to this tiny nation at each of the overlapping 50-year marks? Interesting also that Jubilees begins with a trumpet blast on the Day of Atonement.
– 1897 (First Zionist Congress) until 1947 (UN approves Israel’s statehood) = 50 (1 Jubilee)
– 1917 (Balfour Declaration) until 1967 (Jews recapture Jerusalem in Six Day War) = 50 years (1 Jubilee)
– 1967 (Jerusalem) until 2017 (temple???) = 50 years (1 Jubilee)
Some might argue that we could make the numbers mean whatever we want them to mean. Well, you really can’t, unless you’re into revisionist history. And we don’t know what this year will bring, but if the pattern holds true, there are high hopes that this might yet be the year we see some significant prophetic movement. Consider the accompanying signs:
1. Trump (pro-Israel) was elected against all odds
2. Geopolitical alignment of Russia, Turkey, and Iran
3. Massive natural gas and mineral finds in Israel
4. Increase in natural and man-caused disasters
5. Technological breakthroughs in information, data collection, and weapons
6. Rapid development of genetic engineering
7. Collapse of the Christian-west, massive evangelism in the east again
8. Worldwide economic turmoil
9. Hostility towards all things Christian and Jewish
10. Population explosion in third world countries
11. Increase in supernatural phenomenon
12. Political instability due to war, terrorism, and violence
Seriously, the list could go on and on, but for brevity’s sake, I’ll keep it to just these twelve. From the time Noah exited the ark, until the 19th century, man was limited to the speed of horse. And in just these last 120 years, mankind has rapidly advanced on every front to feats never thought imaginable. I think those of us within the prophetic ranks have our priorities misaligned at times when talking to skeptics and naysayers. The argument these days shouldn’t be us proving to them that we are in the last days, it should be them proving to us-we aren’t.