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Appendix B

 

How near is soon or how soon is near?

 

If the reader will review Prophecy 1 (Daniel 2), he will notice that6 although the passage of time is represented in the vision, there is no indication of how much time is involved. And, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar anticipated the fulfillment of the king’s vision within a few generations of their day. Knowing that it takes time for something as large as a world empire to rise and fall, they probably didn’t anticipate fulfillment of the entire vision during their lifetime; however, they may have speculated that the vision could have been fulfilled within a few centuries.

 

“Wolf, wolf”

 

Across the ages, God has prevented man from knowing how much time is involved in His sovereign plans. We might say that the amount of remaining time has been one of Heaven’s best-kept secrets. God has wisely kept this matter a mystery for the knowledge of the remaining time is a double – edged sword. On one side, suppose God told us the end of the world would occur on July 1, 3015. This date is so far from now that Christians would lose heart. Think about it. If you asked a girl to marry you and she said she would in 50 years, what would you do in the meantime?

 

If you knew for a fact that the second coming of Jesus was 1,024 years away, how much effort would you put forth right now to encourage others to get ready to meet the Lord? And Jesus, understanding human nature all to well, addressed this matter in a parable to his disciples:

 

{35} “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, {36} like men waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. {37} It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. I tell you the truth, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. {38} It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the second or third watch of the night. {39} But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have let his house be broken into. {40} You also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” (Luke 12:35-40)

 

Jesus knows that the other side of the double-edged sword is just as dangerous. By withholding knowledge about the amount of remaining time, Jesus also knew that the “Wolf, wolf” cry would desensitize more and more people as time passed. In other words, as time passed and the return of Christ did not materialize, rational people would naturally become skeptical of any message specifying the nearness of Christ’s return.

 

Jesus respects our skepticism about any message concerning the time of His appearing for two reasons. First, the passage of time suggests the continuation of time. In other words, our world has been traveling around the sun for thousands of years and what new evidence is there to suggest that it won’t keep traveling around the sun for thousands of years to come? Secondly, hundreds have declared the amount of remaining time to be this or that down through the centuries, and they have been proven false. This repeated failure suggests that it is not possible to know the amount of remaining time and therefore, any discussion on the remaining time is nothing more than idle speculation.

 

Remaining time cut short

 

Jesus clearly reveals that it is impossible to calculate the date of His coming because the time of the Second Advent has been changed! Yes, the time that was first allotted for the duration of the great tribulation has been cut short. Jesus said, “For then there will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now – and never to be equaled again. {22} If those days had not been cut short, no would survive, but for the sake of the elect those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-24)

 

To appreciate the meaning of Jesus’ words, the reader must consider a couple items. First, this text (and several others) indicates a sublime truth: God has appointed a quality of time for the duration of the world. And in mercy, looking at the severity of the great tribulation that happens at the end of the world, He has shortened it. For the sake of His people, He has cut short the appointed time for no one could live through the ordeal if it were not shortened. This suggests that the Father has shortened the quality of time first allotted to the tribulation and we cannot know the amount of reduction in time. Therefore, the time of Christ’s return cannot be closely calculated.

 

The reader may wonder, “Why would God set a time and then change it?” This writer can’t provide a good answer to this question except to say that God is merciful. Remember Sodom and Gomorrah? God showed that he was negotiable about the number of righteous people necessary to spare the city. (See Genesis 18.) And, in the case of Nineveh, God spared the city for forsaking their evil ways. (Jonah 3:10) The point is that sometimes God lays out a plan, and then adjusts it for the sake of those who love Him.

 

Date of second coming cannot be known

 

Some apply Matthew 24:36 to the second coming, Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels, nor the Son, but only the Father.” While this verse may apply to the second coming, there is evidence suggesting that this text compliments Revelation 14:14-20; 22:11. If so, it then applies to something even more important than the date of the second coming: the close of salvation. In either case, we have to understand that humans aren’t allowed to know the exact amount of remaining time that earth shall have. The element of anticipation remains. Therefore, we have to be watching and waiting. But, when the Great Tribulation begins, according to Scriptures and the world – wide earthquake occurs; there will be 1,335 days to the Second Coming of Jesus. 1,265 days of mercy and 70 days of wrath: 1,265 + 70 = 1,335 days.

More than future-telling

 

Jesus told His disciples, “You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. {7} Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. {8} All these are the beginning of birth pains.” (Matthew 24:6-8) Did you notice that Jesus told His disciples to not be alarmed by wars and rumors of wars in the first sentence?

 

During the Iraqi war of January 1991, a radio talk-show host on WLW in Cincinnati made the remark: “ever notice how apocalypse people come out of the woodwork whenever terrible things happen?” He was referring to the “end of the world” types that came forward with prophetic utterances as America was going to war. He reasoned that if the Iraqi war was in Bible prophecy, why were we just now hearing about it? He noted that the Bible was written thousands of years ago, and if the Iraqi war was prophetically significant, prophecy expositors should have predicted this specific war before Iraq invaded Kuwait in August of 1990. He asked, “Isn’t the purpose of Bible prophecy – knowledge about the future?”

 

Yes, one of the purposes of Bible prophecy is knowledge about the future. But there is much more. God has a larger purpose behind Bible prophecy than future-telling. Bible prophecy allows us to understand something of the plans and purposes of God. Bible prophecy deals with more than the rise and fall of world empires – a spectacular sight indeed. But the grandest view that Bible prophecy offers is beholding the actions of God. Watching God work through the plans and actions of men to accomplish His will and purpose is one of the greatest insights we can have about God. This is what prophecy is all about.

 

Does soon mean thousands of years?

 

Because God has kept the amount of remaining time a secret, many people run into a problem with the understanding of inspiration. Here’s the problem: down through the ages prophets have been shown scenes of the second advent of Christ, but these prophets are not shown when the Day of the Lord occurs. As a result, they have consistently interpreted the Great Day of the Lord as being near, soon or imminent. Notice the consistency of their words even though they lived centuries apart:

 

Paul thought the end was imminent:

“What I mean, brothers, is that the time is short. From now on those who have wives should live as if they had none.” (1 Corinthians 7:29)

 

“And do this, understanding the present time. The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. {12} The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.” (Romans 13:11-12)

 

“…But now he (Jesus) has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.” (Hebrews 9:26)

 

John thought the end was imminent:

“Dear children, this is the last hour, and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour.”

(1 John 2:18)

 

“The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John.”

(Revelation 1:1)

 

Peter thought the end was imminent:

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect. {20} He was chosen before the creation of the world, but revealed in these last times (years) for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:18-20)

 

At Pentecost, Peter said, “These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! {16} No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: {17} ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.’” (Acts 2:15-17)

 

Isaiah thought the end was imminent:

“Wail, for the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.”

(Isaiah 13:6

 

Ezekiel thought the end was imminent:

“For the day is near, the day of the Lord is near -  a day of clouds, a time of doom for the nations.” (Ezekiel 30:3

 

Joel thought the end was imminent:

“Alas for that day! For the day of the Lord is near; it will come like destruction from the Almighty.” (Joel 1:15)

 

“Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.” (Joel 3:14)

 

Obadiah thought the end was imminent:

“The day of the Lord is near for all nations. as you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.” (Obadiah 1:15)

 

Zephaniah thought the end was imminent:

“Be silent before the Sovereign Lord, for the day of the Lord is near. The Lord has prepared a sacrifice; he has consecrated those he has invited.” (Zephaniah 1:7)

“The great of the Lord is near – near and coming quickly. Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there.” (Zephaniah 1:14)

 

A day is as a thousand years!

 

To defend the idea that everything written by the prophets is inerrant, some scholars argue that God represents time as short to His prophets because in His sight, a day is like a thousand years and a thousand years as a day. I find no value in this argument for two reasons. First, the only infallible person to ever live was Jesus Christ. Prophets are forgiven sinners just like the rest of us and even thought they are inspired, they remain fallible and they do make mistakes. See Galatians 2:11-14; Acts 21:4-14 and 1 Kings 13.

 

Secondly, and more importantly, God has not revealed the amount of remaining time to any person. For example, in Nebuchadnezzar’s vision, no time was specified for the fulfillment of the vision. In the visions of John, Peter, Paul, Joel and others, God showed them scenes that they describe to the best of their ability, but without any knowledge of remaining time, they all conclude (without exception) that they must be living at the end of time. We find this phenomenon to be consistent among the prophets across the centuries. John was taken into vision to see scenes about the end of the world. He clearly saw them and wrote them down in the book of Revelation, but God did not reveal anything to him about the amount of time between his day and the end of the world. Consequently, John was left with the impression that the end must be very near and he wrote accordingly.

 

I also find no value in the argument that the Bible uses words such as near or soon to refer to a time span of thousands of years. Don’t misunderstand. We know that time is nothing to God – a thousand years are as a day and a day as a thousand years.

(Psalm 90:4) But, my point is that God does not mislead humanity by using His perception of time. He would not represent something as imminent for the sake of deceiving people into believing something untrue. As Paul said, “…Let God be true and every man a liar…” Romans 3:4 Fact is, God has never said that the remaining time on earth was short.  This was the conclusion of the prophets. And three thousand years of history proves that it was their perspective and not a revelation from God. Keep in mind, the subject here is quantity of time. Because God has not revealed the quantity of time, prophets have consistently reached for the same conclusion – time is short. However, when God declares something is about to be fulfilled, He knows how to use our language, and He uses words we understand, He tells us what He is going to do and it happens just as He declared. For example, see Ezekiel 24:14.

 

How does inspiration work?

If God gave you, an ordinary person, a vision about the end of the world, would that make everything you say thereafter infallible? No. If you thought your vision was soon to be fulfilled and plainly said so, and then a thousand years pass by, would that mean the vision was a hoax? No. This is a delicate matter and some people may not be able to resolve this. But, the answer is quite simple as I see it. At various times God reveals things to ordinary people. They are then free to write down what they have seen and make comments about the meaning. The point is the comments about the vision come from the prophet. (1 Corinthians 13:9) So, we must apply two tests to the statements of the prophets regarding chronology. First, we can look at history and see if their conclusions were correct. Secondly, we can look at the 17 apocalyptic structures of Daniel and Revelation and chronologically determine where their visions belong in the long sweep of things.

My point is that all of the prophets we have investigated were shown scenes about the Great Day of the Lord and not one of them had the faintest idea that it was still thousands of years away.  God did not allow them to understand when the end was coming. Everyone of them, without exception, thought the end was about to happen in their day.

In God’s time

Another problem arises from the study of time. If we conclude that thousands of years can exist between two verses of the Bible, how can we know when a long period of time exists between two verses? There is only one way to answer this question that I know of. The answer is found in the prophetic matrix of Daniel and Revelation. When all 17 stories of Daniel and Revelation are properly aligned, we discover the chronological location and relative timing of each part.

Progression towards fulfillment shows where we are in the prophetic process. Because God lays out a few periods, this is the only way we can know when the end is near. Wars, famines and earthquakes are not positive proof that the end of the world has come. Civilizations come and go. Famines come and go and earthquakes happen frequently. But, there has to be clear evidence that the end of the world has been reached if we are going to believe such a claim. So where do we find such evidence? Only through confirming the progressive fulfillments of apocalyptic prophecies with historical records can we find our place in God’s allowance of time. Now that the mystery of Daniel and Revelation has been understood, we discover that remaining time is short. Perhaps less than 4 years.

Bottom line

Can the final generation positively know they are the last generation? Yes, but only when they know the amount of remaining time. Is there evidence in the Bible suggesting that the 2010’s are earth’s final years? I think so. While the evidence is not solid, it nonetheless is there if you are looking for it and it makes 2011 and the years that follow appear to be quite important. (See Appendix D.)

Appointed time of the end

The Bible clearly says there is an appointed time of the end. Notice these two verses:

Daniel 8:17 “As he came near the place where I was standing, I was terrified and fell prostrate. ‘Son of man,’ he said to me, ‘understand that the vision concerns the time of the end.’”

Daniel 8:19 “he said: ‘I am going to tell you what will happen later in the time of wrath, because the vision concerns the appointed time of the end.’”

In these verses we find the vision of Daniel 8 reaches down to the time of the end. We als find that there is an appointed time of the end. And, we also find that the appointed time of the end is a time of wrath.

Now, add these four verses to the equation:

Daniel 11:27  “The two kings, with their hearts bent on evil, will sit at the same table and lie to each other, but to no avail, because an end will still come at the appointed time.”

Daniel 11:35  “Some of the wise will stumble, so that they may be refined, purified and made spotless until the time of the end, for it will still come at the appointed time.”

Daniel 11:40  “At the time of the end the king of the South will engage him in battle, and the king of the North will storm out against him with chariots and cavalry and a great fleet of ships. He will invade many countries and sweep through them like a flood.”

Daniel 12:4  “But you, Daniel, close up and seal the words of the scroll until the time of the end? How long is it? When does it begin? When does it end?

When does the end begin?

The reader probably noticed that all six quotes are taken from Daniel 8-12. We know that the 2,300-day prophecy of Daniel 8 reaches from 457 B.C. to A.D. 1844. If we literally apply the words of Gabriel, he says that the vision concerns [events] occurring during the time of the end.

It appears that the time of the end began in 1798, at the end of the 1,260 years of the little horn domination because the judgment of human beings identifies the final phase of Christ’s ministry in heaven before the second coming. The scenes in Revelation 4-5 that John observed and the court scene in Daniel 7:9,10 that Daniel observed identify the same process in heaven that began in 1798. The key that connects these two scenes is the exaltation granted to Jesus. Compare Daniel 7:13,14 with Revelation 5:1-12.

We also find the end of the little horn power’s 1,260 years is connected to the beginning of the judgment scene in heaven. See Daniel 7:20,21,26.

 Add to the above, the opening of the third seal in 1844 and we find our chronological position in time awaiting the opening of the fourth seal. If my calculation and conclusions are correct, the judgment of the living will begin in the fall of 2011. (Appendix D) Since it can be reasonably shown from the Bible that 2015 marks the 6000th year of sin’s existence, it therefore appears that 1798 to 2015 is the appointed time of the end.

From the beginning, God appointed the time of the end. He set the limits by His own authority. Have we reached the end? Is it possible to know? Yes. 

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