Generations And Lifespans

Q. The rebirth of Israel in 1948 was a significant prophetic event. According to scripture the generation that witnesses this event will see the end times. The question becomes what is a generation? According to a few pastors I have spoken with when the Bible refers to a generation it usually is a period of 70 years. Whether or not a generation is literally 70 years, or it is a longer period, how much longer could it be?

A. The dictionary defines a generation as the average period of time between the birth of a man and the birth of his first child. Plotting the generations in Matt. 1 shows the Biblical average to be about 40 years. In Psalm 90:10 a Biblical lifespan is given as being 70-80 years. As you can see, a generation and a lifespan are two different periods of time.

Many students of prophecy used to interpret Matt. 24:34 as saying that all end times prophecy including the 2nd Coming would be fulfilled within a generation after the first ones occurred. They pointed to the rebirth of Israel in 1948 as the first one and added 40 years, predicting the end of the age would come in 1988. That didn’t happen. Then they began to count from 1967 when Jerusalem became a Jewish city again, using Luke 21:24 as their authority, saying that all would be fulfilled by 2007. That won’t happen either.

A careful reading of Matt. 24:34 shows that Jesus never said that everything would happen within a generation of time. What He said was that the generation being born when the first signs appeared would not pass away before all was fulfilled. That means that at least some of the people who were born around 1948 will still be alive when He returns. Lifespans vary around the world, but in Psalm 90:10 the Bible gives 70 years as the average with an extra 10 years for the strong.

This doesn’t set any minimum amount of time for all the end times prophecies to be fulfilled, but only says that once their fulfillment begins, no more than a lifespan will pass until all are fulfilled including the 2nd Coming.

As a practical matter, a lot of things have to happen before the Lord returns. The Isaiah 17, Psalm 83 and Ezekiel 38 battles have to be fought. The Temple has to be rebuilt, the anti-Christ has to be revealed, and Daniel’s 70th week has to run out. All of this could easily take 10 years minimum, but I’m comfortable using a window of time from 2018 to 2028 for everything to have taken place.

But please remember that even though there are things that have to happen before the 2nd Coming, there’s nothing left that has to precede the Rapture. It could literally happen at any moment. The time to be sure you’re ready has come.

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