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One of the keys that opens prophetic texts is the time element. Abraham’s descendants were strangers in the land of Egypt where they would be “enslaved and oppressed four hundred years” (Gen. 15:13). This prophecy was fulfilled “to the very day” (Ex. 12:40). Joseph was told of seven years of plenty and seven years of famine (Gen. 45:6). Times of famine and plenty that follow these two seven-year intervals of time are irrelevant as a fulfillment of this prophecy. Israel was to remain in the wilderness for forty years, a year for each day that the spies spied out the land (Num. 14:33–34). Subsequent forty-year periods of time are not a fulfillment of this prophecy. Israel’s captivity was seventy years in length, a year of captivity for each year of Sabbath rest violated (2 Chron. 36:21; Lev. 26:33). Based on this certain timetable of God’s binding word, Daniel prayed, petitioning God for the restoration of Israel to the land. To Daniel’s method of calculation, the seventy years were nearing their completion (Dan. 9:2).
Exactly 490 years were to pass for Daniel’s people and the Holy City before the Messiah would appear (9:24). Those living in Jesus’ day had made the calculations and were expecting “Messiah the Prince” to appear (9:25). The “magi from the east” were aware of the prophecy concerning the coming of a great king. This is why an unusual stellar phenomenon led them to Jerusalem to inquire about His birth (Matt. 2:1B2). It’s possible that Daniel’s prophecy of the “seventy weeks of years” (490 years) was known outside of Israel since Daniel was a ruler and wise man in Babylon (Dan. 2:46B49). Since Babylon was a center for trade and learning, Babylon’s “wisdom,” including Daniel’s true wisdom, was in all likelihood exported with its commercial goods. Simeon was “looking for the consolation of Israel” (Luke 2:25), as was Anna (2:36B38). Israel was beset with false messiahs. They, too, had calculated the time for His arrival and hoped to counterfeit His work (Acts 5:36B37). There was an anticipation of the “fullness of the time” (Gal. 4:4; cf. Mark 1:15).
Those who futurize prophecies, that is, those who see their fulfillment beyond A.D. 70, also realize the importance of time texts. Hal Lindsey sees Israel’s becoming a nation again as a time indicator. He knows that a prophecy without a time text is almost impossible to interpret. With the establishment of the Jewish state in Israel in 1948, Lindsey believes “the whole prophetic scenario began to fall together with dizzying speed.” There is, however, no justification for Lindsey’s timing scenario. He understands the “budding” of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32 to be a symbol of a restored national Israel. This is why he interprets “this generation,” a generation of 40 years, as the generation alive when Israel became a nation (1948–1988). Matthew 24:32 does not address Israel’s nationhood. The New Testament is silent on the subject. The OT prophecies of Israel’s restoration had been fulfilled in the return from the Babylonian captivity.
We are back to determining what Jesus meant by the time text of “this generation.” As I’ve shown in Last Days Madness, “this generation” always means the generation to whom Jesus was speaking. There are no exceptions! This can only mean that the generation alive between A.D. 30 and 70 experienced the events described by Jesus in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Therefore, when we read of wars, earthquakes, plagues, and famines in our generation, they are not prophetic signs for our day.
This brings us to Greg Laurie’s claim that Hurricane Katrina may be a fulfillment of Bible prophecy. He wrote the following in a September 5, 2005 article that appeared on WorldNetDaily’s website:
When Jesus was asked what the signs of His return would be, He painted a picture of a world torn by strife and war; famine in the midst of plenty; the Earth rocked by great earthquakes and ravaged by pestilences. Jesus said: “And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven” (Luke 21:11, NKJV). Jesus indicates that natural disasters along with global conflict will begin to increase in frequency and intensity in concert with each other shortly before His return.
Joe Kovacs, in a story about George Nooray’s belief that we are living in the last days, also appeals to present-day natural disasters as a fulfillment of Luke 21:
Katrina’s storm surge and flooding have some recollecting the post-Christmas tsunami which killed 200,000 people and left up to 5 million in need of basic services in a dozen Indian Ocean nations. At that time, some people reflected on the End-time warning from the Gospel of Luke, where Jesus stated: “And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring” (Luke 21:25).
There are a number of obvious problems with the above interpretations of the passages from Luke’s version of the Olivet Discourse. First, natural disasters, even those related to “waves roaring,” have a long history. The Lisbon earthquake of 1755 and the Galveston hurricane of 1900 caused far more damage, destruction, and loss of life than Katrina. Second, Luke 21 is a prophetic description of what took place before that first-century generation passed away. In fact, a number of dispensational authors teach that Luke 21 describes Jerusalem’s destruction in A.D. 70 while Matthew’s version describes a future tribulation period. This means that Luke 21:25 must refer to the events leading up to and including the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70.
Laurie and Nooray are in a long line of prophetic prognosticators that have something in common—they’ve all been wrong.
 Hal Lindsey, The Promise (New York: Bantam Books,  1984), 199.
 William Hendriksen, Israel and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1968), 16–31.
 Greg Laurie, “Hurricane Katrina: A sign of the Last Days?”: www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46148 (September 5, 2005).
 Joe Kovaks, “Radio host: No doubt ‘End Times’ here—‘Why would divine Providence want this to happen to us now?’”: www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=46090 (September 1, 2005).