"The Earth Belongs to HaShem and the Fullness Thereof."
When Will These Things Be?
By John of AllFaith © October 30, 2007Have you heard this common, "Yeah but" reply?"Yeah but,"
they say, "people in every generation have believed they were in the Last Days... so why should we believe this is it?
Makes sense! Right? Some people in many or even most generations have believed they had reached the Last Days
. But let's look into this a bit deeper...
The real purport of this argument is the suggestion that the Bible is not clear enough to give specific, dependable information, that the prophets were so vague that their words could mean almost anything! A LOT of people believe this.But is this true?
Or is it that over the centuries people were so desperate to escape life's woes that they failed to base their End Time beliefs on what the biblical prophets actually said?
I was recently re-reading one of my favorite mysteries, The Name of the Rose
by Umberto Eco. In the book there are often references made to the coming of Antichrist
. Several of the players in that book expected the Antichrist to appear at any moment. As I read one such passage a few days ago it occurred to me that their dialogue explains a lot! Here's the section:This speaks volumes to our present question!
Yes it is true that some people have "always" expected the Antichrist to appear within their generation, but their assumptions were not harmonious with the biblical prophets.
There's a line I love from Fiddler on the Roof. The town folk have just learned the Russians are kicking them out: Motel
: Rabbi, we've been waiting all our lives for the Messiah. Wouldn't now be a good time for Him to come? Rabbi
: We'll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let's start packing.
When times are hard Jews and Christians naturally look heavenward and wonder if the time has finally come for Messiah's arrival. However for Messiah to come certain events must first take place. Until these events happen, the Messiah will not come. Jews and Christians are not in complete agreement about these prophecies (indeed Christians debate these things among themselves!) But there are many similarities. I will be presenting my own understandings here, they differ in part with both Jews and Christians.
In the piece cited above there are many points that are not harmonious with the biblical prophets. For instance, the biblical prophets nowhere speak of two Antichrists, one "mystic" and one "proper," but of one. There is "the spirit of antichrist" that is always present in the world, but a single person will be the Antichrist (more on this below). The biblical role of what the Antichrist will do makes it abundantly clear that he could not have been a Catholic Gentile as the piece suggests. Those who have realized this would have their hopes unfulfilled because they were not based on the Prophets.
Likewise there is no reference to a "sixth age" in the biblical prophecies. There is no reference in the Bible to the Antichrist effecting the de-thronement of a pope nor that the seven heads and ten horns represent seven sins and so on. These things were not spoken by the Prophets and so basing one's expectation of them, when they don't come to pass, says nothing about the actual prophecies. The biblical prophecies will fulfilled as written and this has never yet been possible... until today.
Rather the Bible specifically says what these symbols mean.
Reinterpreting what is plainly written will only lead to error and disappointment. As for interpreting the number 666 based on someone's name... well the same can be said of the name Ronald Wilson Reagan and others! There are occasional surface similarities but that is not enough to fulfill prophecy. The prophecy says the Antichrist will be a man. Hey, the guy at the hardware store down the road is man!... We can see where this sort of flawed logic goes.
In order to credibly argue that people in the past believing they were living in the last days calls the credibility of the biblical prophets into question, to make this argument with credibility, one would need to demonstrate that the previous claims were reasonable based on what the prophets actually wrote.
There are many very specific prophecies that must all be fulfilled. Most of the key ones have never been.
Again, it was understandable that people living at the time (1327 CE in the case of the book) would hope to see the Deliverer, but biblically speaking there simply was no way they would and many people who knew the biblical prophecies knew it. This point is made clear by young Adso who exclaims, in response to the inaccurate understandings being discussed, 'But... his successor was Pope John!' The reason this is so powerful an observation is that IF Boniface were the Antichrist then Pope John would have be the messiah!
So yes, historically there were many people who believed the Messiah was coming in their generation, but without exception they believed this in opposition to clear prophetic statements. The fact that for hundreds of years the Christian Church made it illegal for people to read the Bible didn't help of course!
And yet throughout the centuries there were always people who knew better, biblically knowledgeable people knew the prophecies and, knowing them, knew they would not witness the coming of Moshiach nor the establishment of his Theocratic Kingdom. If this was true, then they also knew they would not see the rise of the Antichrist who will proceed him.
This situation began even before Master Y'shua died! Life in Roman occupied Israel was very difficult and all the Jews understood the singular promise of the Moshiach's coming: Establishing the Kingdom! If Master Y'shua was the moshiach he would establish the Kingdom... but he didn't seem interested in doing this! First century Jews were not waiting for a Liberator of souls but a Liberator of Jerusalem and all of Eretz Israel! The Moshiach will be the King of the Jews according to the Prophets! This was the meaning of the mocking sign placed over Y'shua's head: "King of the Jews"! That sign said, in effect, 'Your hope be damned! Here's your dead Messiah and Rome still rules! Here's your dead hope!'
Prior to his death prophet Y'shua sat with his followers at the Temple teaching them. At Matthew 24 the disciples gathered and asked him when the Kingdom would be established. They hoped Master Y'shua was the Moshiach, but if he was, why hadn't he yet established the Davidic Kingdom. "When will you do this?" they asked.
In response Master Y'shua dropped a bomb shell! He explained that the Holy City and the Temple would be destroyed! This must have shaken their faith! Messiah is supposed to build the Temple up, not speak of its destruction! He goes on to describe the dispersion of the Jews and their later return to Israel at some point after this horrific destruction. As for when this would happen, he said that even he didn't know (Matt 24:36)! He describes the establishment of an independent Jewish nation, as foretold by Prophet Isaiah and others) and so on, but it is clear that he himself would not live to see it. It is largely for this reason that Jews do not accept that Y'shua was the moshich. Establishing the Kingdom is the central and primary task of the coming King of the Jews.
But the desire for the Kingdom didn't end there! Later on, the Apostles John and Paul added to Master Y'shua's prophetic insights and laid out a very detailed prophetic presentation of how and when the Kingdom would be established. Despite this, some people still hoped for the Messiah and the establishment of the Kingdom in their lifetime, even before the Temple was destroyed! They ignored the plain teachings of Master Y'shua even then! And yet Paul, like the rabbi in Fiddler on the roof says, 'We'll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let's start packing.'
II Thessalonian 2 1 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition...
Paul understands the prophecies. He knows that those who were yearning for the kingdom in his day would not see it. He gave very specific information telling them this, information that we'll look at a bit later.
The story played out in The Name of the Rose
has occurred countless times through the past two thousand years. People of Jewish and Christian faith hope for the Messiah, sometimes they have imagined things they believe will hasten his coming, and yet, in the absence of certain clearly defined events that would not happen.
: Rabbi, we've been waiting all our lives for the Messiah. Wouldn't now be a good time for Him to come?Rabbi
: We'll have to wait for him someplace else. Meanwhile, let's start packing.
Since the year 70 CE when Jerusalem fell and the Jews entered into Diaspora (as prophet Y'shua foretold) there has never been a single generation that met the required conditions... Until this one
In part two of this study I'll offer evidence that this generation is the first in history that not only could have been the one foretold by the Hebrew prophets, including Y'shua, Paul and John, but that it has to be!
Matt 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. 43 But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. 44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
No one knows the day nor the hour, this is true, but we absolutely know the "watch," and you and I are living in it!