What is the State of Theoretical Date-Setting for the Rapture?
What Is The State
For The Rapture?
So many theoretical dates for the Rapture and Tribulation period have come and gone, we thought it helpful to take a look at the current state of viable theories for dating the fulfillment of the prophecies of the Rapture and Tribulation.
Rosh Hashanah, 2006 has come and gone and with it, another round of Rapture anticipation ends for some who hold to the theory that the Rapture of the Church will occur on one of the two feast days of Rosh Hashanah.
I personally find the Rosh Hashanah-Rapture concept very intriguing and somewhat persuasive, yet not enough to discard the idea that He can Return whenever He so chooses, 365/24/7 in any year He so chooses.
This year, though, the Rosh Hashanah theory, and that is exactly what it is, theory, was particularly intriguing because it tied into another timing theory, regarding the term used by Jesus Christ – “this generation” found in Matthew 24:34. In this verse, Jesus is indicating that a series of predicted events will occur before the generation that sees the beginning of these things will not die out before ALL the prophecies are fulfilled before His Return.
The Various 40 Years Theories
Down through the centuries there has been much speculation on what Jesus meant by that verse. Many have attributed the term “generation” to mean a certain amount of years. Some have theorized that the word means 20 years. Still others have theorized it to be 40 years, 60 years or even 80 years. Another key aspect of this theory is what event triggers the clock to begin ticking off that number of years?
Most have believed in recent decades at least, that the rebirth of Israel is what sets off the clock. More recently, in the past 30 or so years, another notion is that the clock begins ticking on June 6th or 7th, 1967.
The most popular thinking for the length of a generation is that of 40 years, due in part to the fact that the Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years because of their disbelief that they could conquer the Canaanites and take possession of the land of Israel. [By the way, the only ones to die off and not see the land were those who did believe and those who were not old enough to be held accountable for disbelief. Moses didn’t enter because of a different sin.]
This theory has been well described in an A-O article written by Deborah Fenech and just recently posted. She makes a compelling case for the theory that a generation is 40 years, yet it technically remains purely theoretical. Equally theoretical is that the clock begins ticking in June of 1967.
The 40 year theory combined with the theory that the clock began ticking with the rebirth of Israel has now been disproved because the end-date was 1988.
The 40 year theory combined with the 1967 date is now nearing its rendezvous with history. Rosh Hashanah, 2006 was the last opportunity for that theory to conform to the 40-year, 1967 start of a generation theory. That has now been disproved also.
With the passage of this year’s Rosh Hashanah, and its non-event status, some might discard the Rosh Hashanah theory as invalid. It may well be IF He still Returns between now and June of 2007. However, if the Church is still around twelve months from now, the 40-year, 1967 starting date theory will be disproved for certain, but the Rosh Hashanah theory remains viable.
The 70 Year Theory
There is also a different theory not necessarily linked to the “generation” and the wandering in the desert. It is the 70-year theory that the generation might be 70 years as also was the Babylonian captivity. As such, the theory could commence with either 1947 (the decision) or May of 1948, the actual birth event itself. That would translate out to 2018.
Another variation would be to take the year of Jerusalem’s recapture, 1967 and tack on 70 years putting us to the date of 2037.
Another variant would be 69 weeks of years, as Daniel mentions and translate that into 69 years as the “generation.”
So many previous theories have been shot down by the passage of time that we felt it would be valuable to re-examine the past theories and look at the ones remaining to be tested by the passage of time.
There were many who believed that 1948 was a key date for pegging prophetic fulfillment, expecting the rapture at any time thereafter. 1967, as we noted earlier was yet another date. Many keyed off of that date, and counted forward 7 years to 1973. Still others looked at current events and visions of “prophets” etc and felt 1976 was the year. Still others pegged it at 1981 for variously strange reasons while others pegged it at 1988.
1971 was the first year of expectation for the 2000 Hebrew prophetic years (or 1971 solar years) that commenced with the birth of Jesus Christ in 4 B.C. Others keyed the date from other theorized birthdates of Jesus. 1990 and 1993 were the first years for the 2000 Hebrew prophetic years that tied into the Resurrection depending on which year you pegged as the Crucifixion/Resurrection years of either 30 or 33 a.d. Each year thereafter could equally be pegged as the year, depending on your notion of Rapture timing. The year 2000 was another key point year for the 2000 solar years theory pegged to His birth year.
The 1990s – A Decade of Theories
The fact is that during the 1990s, you could make an argument for just about any year, depending on which theory you wished to peg the year towards. Another key year for the 2000 year theorists was 2004 as well as 2005 and 2006. 2005 also was keyed by some theorists who were trying to link into the notion that the Mayan calendar predicts the end of the world by December 21, 2012 and thus you back off 7 years for the Rapture and or the start of the Tribulation period. The logic for that concept is that Satan advised the Mayans of that date because he knew something. Well, perhaps. It may also be that Satan didn’t know anything and was simply using it to lure Christians away from the truth.
For the most part, the Church is now near the exit of an 18 year time period filled with multiple theories about the timing of the Rapture and Tribulation period and the Antichrist’s identity. The only timing theory that I know of still in operation that still has an open window that we’re now in is the 40-year generation theory which will close next year.
There are as I understand it, only a couple of other timing theories left besides the Mayan theory, which I prefer not to count, because it is not Biblically oriented, but important only because the Satanic forces think its important, thus it’s good only for understanding what they may be up to attempting next.
The 2000-Solar Years Theory
The other two theories that are still operative are the 2000 solar years theory keying to the year of the Crucifixion and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Of course, there is a debate as to which year those events transpired. The other theory is similar but keys to the year that Jesus started His ministry, which again is the subject of major debate. Historians are simply caught up in disagreements over those events because the time chronology systems were neither uniform nor universal and were constantly tinkered with before His birth and then again for 1,600 years thereafter. The range of dates by most scholars and chronologists though is between the years 27 b.c. and 36 a.d. Two key years that seem to have the most merit for being the year of His Resurrection are 30 a.d. and 33 a.d. Thus the more primary benchmark years for the 2000 solar years return theory to be based upon.
So that taking those years and tacking on 2,000 years gives us the dates of 2030 and 2033. Back off 7 years for the Tribulation period and now you have things allegedly ready to start in 2023 or 2026 but perhaps as early as 2020 if you take the lower year range among the experts or if you take the highest range, as late as 2029.
No matter how you slice it, this set of theories, based on the 2000 solar years from the Crucifixion/Resurrection year is the last of the “legitimate” numbers theories that I know of.
I’m confident that if the prophecies of Revelation are not fulfilled by 2040, there will be a whole new set of theories developed, perhaps somehow based upon the 70 a.d. year of the destruction of Jerusalem, which in my opinion is a great stretch of logic. Yet that and or other theories will most likely blossom forth, providing there’s still any one left in the church at all or should I say rather, anyone left with enough spiritual maturity, wisdom and knowledge of prophecy to even contemplate such things because “organized” churches are not teaching much of anything these days or so it seems.
At the rate things are going, in 50 years Christianity will be a dead religion but there will still be a remnant of believers. I’d expect those believers to be few, far between, and “underground” as genuine Christian faith will be outlawed, illegal and treason against the state, no matter what nation the believer is in. We can see the signals now that this is the direction society is heading.
Now, that we’ve looked off into the future, what does that tell us about our current situation, and how we should look to the future?
Most believers with any knowledge of the prophecies are in agreement on one thing, if nothing else – the inability to see how things can progress much longer without Divine intervention. I agree.
It’s hard to see how things can last much longer without the start of the Tribulation period and all the related prophetic fulfillments taking place. Yet, at the same time, I look at the 2000 solar year theory tied into 30-33 a.d. and I think it is still possible that such a theory will be valid and that there is yet a period of another 20 years to be endured until the Tribulation period. This does not mean that He couldn’t return and rescue the Church, because the text clearly indicates the Church will be rescued before God’s wrath is poured out on the Earth. The only question is when. Is it before the Tribulation begins, somewhere in the middle era of the Tribulation or at or near the end of the Tribulation period?
If the prophetic fulfillments do not begin soon, I suspect many will become disheartened and interest in prophetic understanding will diminish greatly and most likely to their own peril.
The Sin of Dogmatism On Prophetic Timing Issues
The most important thing to realize is that theories are simply that, theories. A theory is not necessarily the truth revealed. A theory may be true or it may be untrue. We all like to think that our theories are true, but the reality is that not all theories can be true. That means your theories or my theories or everyone’s theories may be invalid.
The more theories there are the more theories that will be in error. Not all theories can be valid. Theories, particularly the various “timing” theories (such as the Rapture) are bound to be wrong. The opinions any of us have about when the Rapture will occur are merely theories because no Rapture timing position can be proven absolutely, positively, beyond the shadow of doubt by LEGAL, COURTROOM standards of proof.
Fortunately, salvation is NOT based upon one’s thinking about the Rapture but some people still wish to equate the issue as dogmatically as they would the doctrine of salvation by grace through faith alone. To link the two concepts is wrong. Salvation by grace through faith alone can easily be proven from the texts to be exactly what the text says it is. The timing elements of the Rapture issue however can not be proven for any of the options being floated around in prophecy debates.
This means, all theories about the timing of the Rapture or the Tribulation period are NON provable and cannot be dogmatically asserted. However, you CAN dogmatically assert that Christ died for our sins, based upon the scriptures. You can dogmatically assert that salvation is by Grace through Faith, not by works of man. (see all of Romans, Galatians and Ephesians 2:8-9) You can be dogmatic on the doctrine of Salvation. The scriptures are dogmatic on the issue of salvation, yet 98% of humanity has a natural bent to “add” something to the mix, or else reject it out of hand.
Unfortunately, perhaps, God did NOT dogmatically indicate when Jesus Christ would Return. It is NOT recorded in scripture that Jesus explicitly stated that He would Return for the Church before, in the middle or at the end of the Tribulation period. He merely said He would return. The Apostle Paul, under Divine direction wrote that God had not called the Church to experience the pouring out of Divine wrath to come, but what is meant by that term and when and where? It is all subject to questioning. We can all draw our conclusions but we cannot be dogmatic with those conclusions. The bottom line is that God was deliberately vague, for at least one or more reasons.
God did NOT command us, ask us, nor did He plead with us to attempt to guess the date for when these events would begin. God did not command us, ask us, or beg with us to guess when He would return. He did not command us to be dogmatic on our pet theories as to when these things will be fulfilled or in what order. He did not ask us to have a Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib or any other Trib viewpoint. So why are so many believers attempting to be dogmatic on such theories?
He did command us to be alert, and be on watch, at ALL times until He Returned because He could come at any time, 365/24/7 in any year. That does not mean we have the right to be dogmatic on the timing. He can come to do a special rescue of the Church before God’s wrath pours down on mankind because HE, GOD said so, (First Thessalonians 5:9) but it can be debated as to when that specific verse is referencing for wrath.
My point is this and it’s the same as I stated in a related article. NONE OF US has the right to get dogmatic on the timing of Prophetic events. To do so, is an enormously wicked sin of Pride and Arrogance. It is time for those of you who are dogmatic on a Pre-Trib, Mid-Trib, Post-Trib, Pre-wrath or whatever – to STOP SINNING on this.
We all have to quit being dogmatic and begin to humble ourselves to the understanding that your mind and opinion or mine might just be wrong. We have to recognize that Satan might have blinded our mind and thinking perhaps or that we’ve simply misunderstood the text and that IT IS possible to misunderstand the timing of things and the order of the timing because TIMING IS NOT EXPLICITLY STATED in the prophecies and its not stated for good reasons. So there is no basis for dogmatism when it comes to timing of certain prophetic events. So Christians need to STOP IT! We all need to stop being dogmatic on the timing of prophetic events.
Every Christian who is a prophecy watcher needs to STOP thinking that he/she is so smart and so knowledgeable that he/she knows more than anyone else about when the Rapture is going to occur, or when the Antichrist comes to power, or when the Abomination of Desolation begins or when any other aspect of Biblical prophecies for that matter.
Is no one humble anymore when it comes to prophetic understanding of timelines?
Do not misunderstand me. I am not saying it is wrong to hold to an opinion on when something might occur. It is wrong however, to make dogmatic assertions and berate others or claim that others who don’t hold your view are unsaved and damned to hell. Believe it or not, but this sort of thing is happening all the time throughout the world. The Post-Tribbers accuse Pre-Tribbers of not being saved and or going to Hell and vice-versa, ditto for the Mid-Tribbies and or Pre-wrathers, or any other variant in-between.
Until the internet, I never realized or encountered such sinfulness and carnality in the church over the issues of the timing of the Rapture and prophecy. They were there perhaps, in the pre-internet era, but insults were seldom spoken to another person’s face. This is not so with the internet. I know, because I get it from all sides, because I dare to suggest that no one has the right to be dogmatic on these issues when there is a lack of absolute textual proofs to support one position or another.
The internet is different. One can piously scream and shout all day long in nasty emails, chat rooms or discussion forums and not have to worry about being punched in the nose for sinning against another by being a total jerk and condemning other people’s views regarding the timing of a prophetic event and when it is or isn’t going to happen.
It seems that hardly a day goes by that A-O mailboxes don’t get at least one and often times many emails by carnal (or perhaps even unsaved individuals) who are extremely full of pride and arrogance in thinking that they’ve got the answers and nobody else does and then they proceed to either read anyone the riot act or condemn anyone to hell who disagrees with their view.
There is not a doubt in my mind that this article will trigger a flood of angry emails roundly condemning me to hell for suggesting the possibility that they might be wrong in their pet theories for which to them it’s not a theory, it’s a fact, and they write with such Satanic pride and arrogance, you wonder if Satan could be more arrogant than these folks. The fact is, that this article is not attempting to shoot down any view or promote a particular theory.
The point of this article is two-fold
#1. Each of us need to stop and reflect on how wrong a lot of people have been in the past and how wrong most of us are right now in how we view prophecy in the sense of timing.
#2. It is a sin to be dogmatic on something that is not dogmatically provable from the texts and then pass judgment on others who do not agree with our point of view on things such as when the rapture will occur.
As each year passes without prophetic fulfillment, without a Return, without the Antichrist, without an Abomination of Desolation to point to, the more disillusioned people will become with the Biblical prophecies, ALL because MORONS (mentally-spiritually Ill people) were arguing over “when” things would be and then when nothing happened discredit the cause of Christ by their foolish, proud arrogant behavior. We do harm to the cause of Christ by our dogmatism on things we have no right to be dogmatic about.
The reality is – that the only logical thing to be dogmatic on is that we can’t be dogmatic on the specific timing issues of Biblical prophecy.
What Are We To Conclude?
We may indeed be in for another 20 or 30 years before His Return. Yet, the reality is that HE can come at any time, at anyplace and He is not bound by the little dogmas that many alleged believers attempt to strap to Him and to His Word.
While it appears now that perhaps events may yet begin to fulfill the prophecies, we need to remember that every year, believers think that things can’t get any worse therefore fulfillment must now begin, only to find that things do get worse, and do so for many more years. So what then are we to do?
We are to humbly watch, wait, pray and be alert and most of all do not be dogmatic on “timing” issues. We are to know that the predicted events will come to pass sooner or later and we, as believers, are to remain alert for them and for His Return. That in itself is a tremendous burden. Let’s not add to that burden by being dogmatic on timing theories and thereby possibly hurt others as well as corrupt ourselves with the sin of pride and arrogance of thinking that we know something which in reality we don’t know. Let us be spiritually mature enough to realize that the timing elements of the future prophecies simply can not be dogmatically asserted. Can we have strong opinions? Yes. Can we be convinced of a certain theory? Yes. Can we be wrong? Yes. Can we berate others because they don’t agree with us? No. Should we show agape love for others who hold to different viewpoints as to timing? Yes, absolutely.