On today’s podcast, Gary discusses whether fulfilled prophecy has any significance after it has been fulfilled?

If, as the writer of Ecclesiastes writes, “there is nothing new under the sun” (1:9), then how do we evaluate historical tumults prophetically? Five hundred years ago many in Christendom believed that the end was near. As we now know, their speculations were misguided. How can we now discern when such “signs” are prophetic indicators since “a generation goes and a generation comes” (1:4) but the end does not?

One of the problems associated with interpreting prophecy is determining when a prophetic event is to take place. Many prophecies include time parameters.

Those who futurize prophecies, that is, those who see their fulfillment beyond A.D. 70, also realize the importance of time texts. Dispensationalists see Israel’s becoming a nation again as a time indicator. They know that a prophecy without a time text is almost impossible to interpret. With the establishment of the Jewish state in Israel in 1948, they believe “the whole prophetic scenario began to fall together with dizzying speed.” [1] There is, however, little justification for this timing scenario. Nothing in Matthew 24:32 says anything about Israel becoming a nation again. This idea must be read into the passage. In addition, the New Testament is silent on the subject of Israel’s restored nationhood. The Old Testament prophecies of Israel’s restoration had been fulfilled in the return from the Babylonian captivity. [2]

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“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 the Olivet Discourse. Israel may yet have a role to play in prophecy, but that role is not based on what Jesus said since He said nothing about Israel’s becoming a nation again. This means all of those events are fulfilled. Their meaning is associated with a past generation, not some future generation. When we read of wars, earthquakes, plagues, and famines in our generation, they are not prophetic signs for our day.

Gary continues his first talk on Mark 13. If the events spoken of by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13, Matthew 24, Luke 21) have been fulfilled, does that mean they have no relevance to today? Does fulfilled prophecy have any significance after it has been fulfilled?

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[1] Hal Lindsey, The Promise (New York: Bantam Books, [1982] 1984), 199.

[2] William Hendriksen, Israel and the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1968), 16–31.