When we study the history of prophetic speculation, we soon realize that we’ve heard all of this before.For nearly 2000 years uninformed but assured Christians have predicted that “they were the generation that would see the end times … and the return of Christ.” In each and every case the prophetic prognosticators have been wrong. Seemingly not learning from this dismal track record, current popular prophecy writer Thomas Ice asks, “Is there any relationship between the events which we read, hear, and see in the daily news and biblical prophecy?” His answer? “Yes! Just as when we are traveling and see signs beside the highway telling us what to expect on the road ahead, so also does the Bible provide signs of the times that point to specific events in the future.” There are millions of Christians who would agree with this assessment, and they would be wrong, just as millions of Christians before them have been wrong.
Since earthquakes, famines, plagues, and wars and rumors of wars have occurred for centuries, how do these “signs” become reliable indicators of a future eschatological event? The signs themselves cannot be the key, because there is nothing unique about them. The key to Bible prophecy is in the timing of these events. For example, if the Bible tells us that forty years had to pass before Israel could enter the promised land, then forty years is the timing key. If God gave Nineveh forty days in which to repent, then forty days is the timing key. If God says seventy years had to pass before the Jews could return to their land after the Babylonian captivity Jer. 29:10; Dan.9:2), then seventy years is the timing key. If God says, “Seventy weeks [of years] have been decreed for your people and your holy city” (Dan. 9:24), then 490 (70 X 7) years is the prophetic timing key. If Jesus says that He will be raised after three days, then three days is the timing key. If Paul tells the Philippians that he will “send Timothy to [them] shortly” (Phil. 2: 19) and that he himself “shall be coming shortly” (2:24), then shortly is the timing key for both future events. To call these time references into question is to maintain that the Bible is not clear or precise in the way it describes time-sensitive events.
There are other equally reliable time indicators that serve as interpretive keys to ascertain when certain prophetic events are to take place. For example, when Jesus answered His disciples’ questions about “when these things” related to the temple’s destruction will be and what signs will indicate His coming, He said, “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” (Luke 21:32). “This generation,” therefore, is the timing key. If we can know what the Bible means by “this generation,” then we can determine the timing of the events Jesus describes. Every time “this generation” is used in Scripture, it always means, without exception, the generation of people who were alive when Jesus spoke.
The Day and the Hour
In The Day and The Hour, Gumerlock spans two thousand years of conjecture on the last days, disclosing the dreams and delusions of those who believed that their sect was the 144,000 of Revelation 7; that the 1290 days of Daniel 12 had expired in their generation; that the "Man of Sin" of II Thessalonians 2 was reigning in their time; that a Rapture of the saints, a Great Tribulation, a Battle of Armageddon were just around the corner; or that a Millennial Kingdom was about to dawn.Buy Now
In this excerpt from Covenant Hermeneutics and Biblical Eschatology, Gary’s podcast with Kim Burgess, the two discuss the worldview implications of Bible prophecy. History is filled with examples of Christians disengaging with the world around them because of their end-time view. This is essentially the church voluntary removing itself from its Christ-given mission of being salt and light and a city on a hill.
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