When the topic of the end times comes up in conversation, the first piece of evidence given that our generation is indeed the “Rapture Generation” is the state of the world, both its moral character and natural calamities. Nearly all prophetic writers point to the signs of wars, famines, plagues, lawlessness, earthquakes, tsunamis, and hurricanes as prime indicators that the whole prophetic scenario is beginning to fit together like some giant prophetic jigsaw puzzle. Here’s one example among many: “I am not predicting Christ’s imminent return in the year 2000. But we have sufficient evidence to substantiate that we are the ‘Terminal Generation.’ My personal conviction is that the deadly dangers now rising in the curve of probability will require the Second Coming of Christ before too long.”[1] The year 2000 has come and gone, but this hasn’t stopped others from making similar claims that we are living in the final hours of the last days.

What is often forgotten by today’s prophetic speculators are past examples of natural disasters, plagues, and wars. Consider the Black Death of the fourteenth century. The estimated death toll in Europe was about 30 percent of the population, about 25 million. “Worldwide, the scholarly estimates Y remain little more than medieval guesses: perhaps 75 million dead out of a total population of perhaps 500 million.”[2] Today’s pestilence catastrophes, including the AIDS epidemic, do not rival the Black Death, which has been described as the “most lethal disaster of recorded history.”[3]

Numerous records exist of epidemics that preceded the frightful pneumonic/bubonic plagues that visited Europe in 1347. As early as 1331, an epidemic broke out in Hopei Province in China, with reports that it killed nine out of every ten people. Numerous other plagues have been recorded, both before and after the Black Death. The bubonic plague, however, remains unrivaled.

This information is lost on the average Christian who views only today’s disasters as prophetically important. When Hal Lindsey, for example, reads Jesus’ words in the Olivet Discourse, he is sure that “WE ARE THE GENERATION HE WAS TALKING ABOUT!”[4] Those who suffered through the “great dying” of the fourteenth century thought their generation was the generation Jesus was talking about. All the facts seemed to fit. Death, dying, and starvation were everywhere as Jesus foretold. But did Jesus have the fourteenth century in mind? Many thought He did. Their catastrophe was not a fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus had that first-century generation in view. The disciples were to look for signs within their generation, and they found them.

Today’s reported earthquakes are not unique, as proven by a thorough study of history. The greatest student of earthquakes was a Frenchman, Count F. Montessus de Ballore. From 1885 to 1922 he devoted his time to studying and cataloging earthquakes and came to an astonishing conclusion. He cataloged 171,434 earthquakes from the earliest historic times! ”The manuscript is stored in the library of the Geographical Society in Paris, where it occupies 26 meters (over 84 feet) of bookshelves.”[5] As much as we might want to believe that we are the “Rapture Generation,” there is no statistical or biblical evidence to support such a contention.


[1] W.S. McBirnie, 2000 AD!: Nine Years to Doomsday? (Glendale, CA: Voice of Americanism, 1991), 12. [2] Otto Friedrich, The End of the World: A History (New York: Coward, McCann and Geoghegan, 1982), 115. [3] Barbara Tuchman, A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century (London: 1979), xiii. Quoted in Jonsson and Herbst, The “Sign” of the Last DaysCWhen?, 101. [4] Hal Lindsey, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon (King of Prussia, PA: Westgate Press, 1980), 181. [5] Jonsson and Herbst, The “Sign” of the Last Days—When?, 78.