Vol. 7, No. 3
~ Page 12 ~
It is supposed that a natural curiosity on the part of man regarding the return of Jesus to this world for the purpose of judging us in righteousness (Acts 17:30-31) is to be expected. However, date setting is an exercise in futility, for God has not revealed when his Son will return to execute the sentences of eternal damnation or bliss. Since God has revealed no dates, nor hints of dates, it is useless for us to set them. In the lifetime of this writer, no less than twenty dates have been set for the return of Jesus, and that event never materialized. If what a man predicts does not come to pass, we are to ignore such a prophet because he is a false one (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).
Nevertheless, men continue to comb the Holy Scriptures in the hope that they can find some hint or sign of the Second Coming of Christ. We have heard it said that we will know when Christ is coming because the only way we will be able to tell one season from another is by the falling of the leaves. That is not much of a hint! How do we tell one season from another now? The Bible nowhere says anything remotely like this. This is called "chimney corner scripture," meaning it is not Scripture at all!
Predictors of the Second Coming along with many "doomsday" predictors often turn to Matthew 24 and tell us these are the signs of Christ's coming. Then they will speak of Christ's prediction of wars and rumors of wars, followed by, "Just look what is going on in the Middle East today." We are painfully aware of what is going on in the Middle East and wish to say unequivocally that a great deal of it is happening because of the theology of those who use Matthew 24 to predict the "end of time." Jesus nowhere gave a hint of the "end of time," and most certainly, he did not do that in Matthew 24. When Jesus gave signs of a coming destruction in this passage of Scripture, as well as in Mark 13 and Luke 21, he spoke not of the end of time, but of the end of the Jewish nation, their Temple and their religion. The seventeen signs given by our Lord are not things that are to happen in our time or in a time future to us because these events were fulfilled in the destruction of the great city of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
There is one simple passage in Matthew 24 that shows conclusively when the events prophesied by our Lord were to come to pass. The Lord said, "Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things are fulfilled" (Matthew 24:34). Notice, dear friend, Jesus said that the generation to whom he was speaking would not pass away (die) until all the things he had predicted in the passage would be fulfilled. These are not things coming on us, or on the people of the future, but these are things that came to pass in the generation living when Jesus spoke these things. The words, this generation, are found at least five times in the Book of Matthew, and in every instance, they mean precisely the same thing--the generation that was then living.
Someone may say, "No, this generation refers to the one now living, that is the one in which we are living." Not so! How do we know? Because J. N. Darby applied them to the generation in which he was living in the 1820s and they did not come to pass. C. I. Scofield applied them to the generation in which he was living in the 1920s and they did not come to pass. Hal Lindsay applied them to the generation living in the 1980s and they did not come to pass. Remember what Deuteronomy 18:20-22 said? If a prophet speaks a thing and it does not come to pass, forget him, he is a false prophet!
When one goes to the 24th chapter of Matthew to find signs for the "end of the world," he goes to the wrong place, because such signs do not exist, and this is a misapplication of Sacred Scripture.