WHERE IS HE?
L. Schultz, USA
IN John chapter 7, the whereabouts of Jesus was the dilemma of the Jews. Was He coming to the feast of Tabemacles? Jesus had sent ahead His disciples while He remained in Galilee for a time. Later, Jesus attended the feast "not openly, but as it were in secret" (John 7:10) So today we, like the Pharisees, are asking, "Where is He?" Can we know this? Can we know when Jesus shall return?
At first glance, it seems as though we cannot know. Jesus Himself said,
"But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only" (Matthew 24:36)
This quote seems to render our search fruitless. However, upon closer examination we realize Jesus only says the day and the hour are unknown. May we infer that we can know the month and the year? The feast of Tabernacles, a seven day feast, celebrates God's abiding presence with us. This is one of the unfulfilled feasts. The feast celebrates God's permanent residence with mankind; it seems then that this feast would be the logical choice for Christ's return, since this is the very essence of the feast. However, because the feast lasts for seven days, we cannot speculate on which of the seven feast days Christ shall actually return.
As for the hour, we also face a dilemma. Jesus says,
"For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch". (Mark 13: 34-37)
Jesus insists that His return shall be unpredictable. Therefore, we must be diligent servants. Paul also affirms that "the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night" (I Thessalonians 5:2) If this is literally true, we may assume then that Our Lord shall return during hours of darkness; but, obviously, we cannot give a precise hour.
So, let us now focus on the rnonth and year. The month is relatively easy to pinpoint. Christ's return will be in September or October because these are the months in which the Feast of Tabernacles occur. But what of the year? Can we know this? The year is a thorny problem, biblically speaking. Dare we speculate on the year of Christ's return? To resolve this we must examine closely several scriptures and study what Jesus Himself says on the subject. Hopefully, in our studies we shall be as the Bereans who "received the word with all readiness of mind and searched the scriptures daily" (Acts 17:11)
In Matthew chapter 12, the Pharisees are quite critical of Jesus after He healed a blind and dumb man. They accuse Him of healing by the power of Beelzebub. Jesus responds by saying,
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34)
Jesus continues to speak, but His next comments are couched in very rhetorical terms, almost like an aside.
"An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas: For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale's belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth". (Matthew 12:39-40)
Jesus' reply about the sign of Jonah had an initial fulfillment in His death, burial, and resurrection. This was a very apparent sign for the Pharisees of His day. But is there a deeper meaning, a secondary fulfillment? Can we be the "evil and adulterous generation?" If we are that generation, then Christ's death, burial, and
resurrection may be the starting point of another Biblical time clock.
On the subject of timing, let us consider what Hosea has to say.
"After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight. Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the Lord: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter, and the former rain unto the earth". (Hosea 6:2-3)
So the awakening occurs after a second or third day interval. We must look to Peter for his explanation of the term "day."
"But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" (II Peter 3:8)
So if we are to count our day intervals from the initial "sign of Jonah," we must begin counting from Tabernacles 33 A. D. because Christ died on the preceding Passover. That was the fulfillment of that feast. If Tabernacles 33 A. D. is year one, Tabernacles 34 A. D. is year two. Thus, the end of the second day will occur on Tabernacles 2032 A. D. This particular Tabernacles, by this reasoning, seems propitious for Christ's return. However, we should continue to pray for the coming of the Lord because Hosea speaks of our being raised up in the third day. The text is not clear whether the third day implies a delay in Christ's return or if it is just a commentary on our sanctification in the third day as a consequence of Christ's return on the second day.
When 2028 arrives, we shall have attained the second millennial marker of Christ's baptism which occurred in the year 29 A. D. The baptism occurred at the Day of Atonement, 29 A. D. This was the day on which two goats were chosen for sacrifice. One was slaughtered, and one was driven into the desert. By His baptism, Christ accepted the legal assignment of being the earth's scapegoat on that date (Jones, pp. 108-110.) Because the Day of Atonement precedes Tabernacles by several days, year 29 A. D. counts as year one, and that is how we attain 2028 as the bimillennial marker year. Since Christ's baptism is a type of entombment, the baptism also fulfills the "sign of Jonah" typology of Matthew12:39. The baptism/entombment equivalence is confirmed in the New Testament by Romans 6:3-4.
"Know ye not, that so many of us were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death. Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death .... "
Are there other likely years of return. To study this, we must look at the prophecies of Matthew 24:32.
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree, When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the door. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass till all these things be fufilled."
Figs have traditionally been associated with the tribe of Judah or the Jewish people in general. Jeremiah 24:3-5 says:
"Then said the Lord unto me, What seest thou, Jeremiah? And I said, Figs, the good figs, very good; and the evil, very evil, that cannot be eaten, they are so evil. Again the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, Thus saith the Lord, the God of Israel; Like these good figs, so will I acknowledge them that are carried away captive of Judah whom I have sent out of this place into the land of the Chaldeans for their good."
From the time of this prophecy onward, figs have come to represent Judaism. In fact, even today, the flag of the Israeli Rear Admiral has a fig leaf, so this symbol still represents the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Now the birth date of the state of Israel is May 14th, 1948. On this date the Jewish people announced their independence at the Tel Aviv Museum. The state was promptly recognized by President Truman of the United States and by the Soviet Union. So one interpretation of the generation who sees the "fig tree ...putteth forth his leaves" is the generation alive at the founding of the state of Israel.
This brings us to the discussion of "What is a generation?" from a biblical perspective. There are myriad answers to this question. In Genesis, chapter 5, the ages of the patriarchs are given when they begat progeny. These ages range from a low of 65 years for Enoch when he begat Methuselah to a high of 500 years
when Noah begat Ham, Shern, and Japhath. In Genesis 6:3, God limits man's life span to 120 years, so 120 years could be considered a generation, and in Numbers 32:11 a generation was considered "twenty years old and upward." The young people, age 19 and younger, were considered worthy to enter the Promised Land whereas, the elders were not because the older men (20 years and above) were reckoned accountable for their actions. So 20 years also seems to delineate a generation.
Now all these ages, 20, 65, 120, and 500 years may not be relevant to this discussion of the generation which would see the fig tree leaf out. Of these numbers,
120 years and 500 years are quite long, putting us far beyond the bi-millennial marker. In the case of the 20 year generation, 20 years after 1948 has already passed, and, obviously, Christ has not returned. This leaves us with the 65 year generation. Now because the founding of the State of Israel preceded the Tabernacles of 1948, we must count that as year one. Adding 65 years to 1947, we arrive at 2012 as a target year which could be a probable year of Christ's return.
Other possible generations are the years recorded in Psalm 90:10:.
"The days of our years are threescore years and ten; and if by reason of strength they be fourscore years, yet is their strength labour and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away."
If we add 70 years or 80 years to 1947, we arrive at the years 2017 and 2027. These years along with 2012 seem the most probable because they coincide with
the prophecies of Matthew 24:32 and likewise, are within the two to three day time clock of Hosea 6: 2-3.
So have we answered the question initially posed, "Where is He?" When will Christ return? No, we have not. The best we can do is indicate years with high
probability, such as those already enumerated. For an exact year, we must pray and look to the prophets. Amos 3:7 assures us:
"Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets."
"Even so, come Lord Jesus" (Revelation 22:20)
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