The "Great Generation"
and Modern Prophecy
By Ernest L. Martin Ph.D., January 2002
Edited by David Sielaff, December 2002
Read the accompanying Newsletter for December 2002
There is a central prophetic teaching profoundly evident in scriptural interpretation. It is what we can call the cyclical theme in prophetic understanding. This is the involvement of set (or standard) chronological periods that God has devised to provide clues to the reader of the Holy Scriptures as clues regarding the true meaning of prophecies. In some sections of the Scriptures, this principle of cyclical attribution of time is of paramount importance. It is the duplication or repetition of historical events that God devised to occur on earth by the divine scheme He originated before the foundation of the world. This method of revelation is explained in a book of the Bible devoted mainly to the study of wisdom. That book by King Solomon is the Book of Ecclesiastes. Note what the son of David had to say on the circularity of historical occasions.
"I know that, whatsoever God does, it shall be to the eon [for a long time in the future]: nothing can be put [or added] to it, nor anything taken away from it: and God does it, that men should fear before him. That which has been [in the past] IS NOW [it is also in the present]; and that which is to be [in the future] HAS ALREADY BEEN; and God requires that which is past [again God devises the past events to repeat themselves in a future occurrence]."
Ecclesiastes 3:14–15 KJV
[adjusting the word "forever" to read as is proper: "eon"]
A cardinal book of prophecy elaborates on this principle, the Book of Isaiah. Note this prime teaching of this important prophet.
"Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure.’"
"Produce your cause, saith the Lord; bring forth your strong reasons, saith the King of Jacob. Let them [Israel] bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the FORMER THINGS, what they be, that we may consider them [the former things], and know the latter end [the future end] of them or declare [to] us things for to come."
There are three factors emphasized in those verses of instruction given above by Solomon and that of Isaiah. Note especially what Isaiah had to say. If the nation of Israel asks God "what will happen in the future," then they are first to study the Holy Scriptures and consider "the former things, what they be, that we may consider them." The fact is no one will comprehend what the future holds for any generation unless that group of people considers "what the former things are about." Then, God states that there will occur a "latter end of them [a latter end of the former things]" which is a key to comprehending "things for to come." This means that God applies the REPETITION of historical and chronological events as a means to develop a future history. These repetition phases are what Isaiah means.
Other sections illustrate this "repetition theme" of interpretation. Isaiah several times shows a cyclical nature to events that are destined to repeat themselves in prophetic themes.
"Behold, the former things are come to pass [earlier things have happened again], and new things [that have not happened before] do I declare: before they spring forth I tell you of them."
"I have declared the former things from the beginning [from the beginning of time God showed past things that came to pass]; and they went forth out of my mouth, and I showed them; I did them suddenly, and they came to pass ... I have even from the beginning declared it [the prophecy] to thee; before it [the prophecy] came to pass I showed it [to] thee [before the prophecy occurred]."
Isaiah 48:3, 5
The primary section of the Holy Scripture that singles out the central prophetic rule of interpretation is found in the Book of Ecclesiastes. It is given by King Solomon, reputed to be the wisest man who ever lived on earth. The Israelite king stated with utter simplicity and candor that ALL historical events that occur on earth (and especially those recorded in the Holy Scriptures) are REPETITIOUS in nature. This means that any historical event of the past will find its fulfillment again in the future. Some of the dimensions of the history or prophecy change (for example, the first actors in the early event are no longer living, and others have taken their place, and this also applies to the role of nations and peoples in history and prophecy), but there will be a re-occurrence at some time in future history. It is based on the biblical rule of "type and antitype." Notice again how Solomon made this principle a cardinal fact of history and prophecy.
"I know that, whatsoever God does, it shall be to the eon [for a long time in the future]: nothing can be put [or added] to it, nor anything taken away from it: and God does it, that men should fear before him. That which has been [in the past] IS NOW [it is also in the present]; and that which is to be [in the future] HAS ALREADY BEEN; and God requires that which is past [again God requires the past events to repeat themselves in a future occurrence]."
- [adjusting the word "forever"
Ecclesiastes 3:14–15 KJV
to read as is proper:
an "eon" or long period of time]
Sometimes God does not begin to perform His circularity of human events until late in the history of the earth. Indeed, most of the prophecies given in the Book of Isaiah were first written down by Isaiah in the 8th century before Christ. But after the first prophetic occasions take place, then we can witness a repetition of those events in a normal cyclical fashion that God has established. This means that God also has some brand new predictions to present to Israel and the world that had long been hidden from the knowledge of mankind. 1 But it is also true that God can wait until the time is ripe in the prophetic plan before He divulges any of that divine drama to people on earth. As a matter of fact, God decided to reveal some of that plan to the people of Israel through the prophet Isaiah back in the 8th century before Christ. Note what God placed in the mouth of Isaiah to tell the people of Israel back in that time.
"I have showed thee [Israel] new things from this time [from the 8th century B.C.E. — in the time of Isaiah the prophet — God began some entirely NEW prophecies], even hidden things, and thou didst not know them. They are created now [these are new prophecies that were not previously given or known], and not from the beginning [not revealed "at the beginning of time"]; even before the day when thou heardst them not [the prophecies were so new that only the day before no one knew of them]; lest thou shouldest say, ‘Behold, I knew them.’"
Simply put, these verses can be summarized by the statement of James in the New Testament: "Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world" (Acts 15:18). Indeed, God knows all things from BEFORE the world system was even created (2 Timothy 1:9).
Though God knows thoroughly the outcome of everything, He most often will not share His knowledge with others until He deems it proper to do so. And strange as it seems, God is even reticent in providing His own people (the prophets or Israel) the fullness of the knowledge of His intent. Many verses in the Old as well as the New Testament witness to the fact that God blinds the eyes of even His own people so that they cannot comprehend even some of the simple prophecies which He has written in the Bible. As a matter of fact, the Israelites (especially in the 8th century B.C.E.) had their eyes blinded by God and those who lived at the time were unable to comprehend them. God said: "Yea, thou heardest not [you do not understand the real meaning of the prophecy]; yea, thou knowest not; yea, from that time that thine ear was not opened [by God to understand]" (Isaiah 48:8).
Yes, some prophecies given in the time of Isaiah were accompanied by God blinding the eyes of Israel at the very time He divulged them. This blinding caused the people of the time to evaluate the meanings improperly because God closed their eyes and their ears stopped up lest they comprehend correctly the meanings. Had God opened their minds, the prophecies would have been rather easy to interpret had they applied the proper principles of interpretation. And remember, one of those "keys" to prophetic recognition was given by Isaiah and Solomon. It is God’s "repetition theme" (that historical and chronological events are applied by God through REPETITION). The prophetic events repeat themselves in regular cyclical patterns that God has determined. It is up to us (His children) to discover what those repetitive patterns are.
There is another "key" that I will mention now, but I will elaborate on it later in this research study. That "key" is the fact that under normal circumstances, the FIRST TIME God uses a Hebrew word in the Holy Scriptures, that is where the real meaning of that word can be discovered. In other words, if the context in which the word occurs is not metaphorical (one in which God is using any figure of speech), then the context of that first usage most often provides the real meaning of that word in ordinary speech forms in later parts of the Bible. This is an important principle to know and to use.
Also, there is an adjunct teaching to this matter. In prophetic contexts, if God mentions a chronological time period as important, it is prudent to reckon that interpretation of God in future contexts in which prophetic matters are being discussed. For example, at the beginning of the Bible God tells Abraham that a period of 400 years equals 4 generations in prophetic teaching (Genesis 15:13–16). This is different than an ordinary "generation" which we reckon as being the length of time that exists from the birth of a father to the birth of his son (or any time similar to that normal usage). A hundred years for a generation of time is FAR LONGER than you and I would experience today in our own fleshly existence on earth. This longer generation can be called a "Great Generation" in comparison to the ordinary "generation" of 30 or 40 years that we are accustomed to use today (or that is found in other parts of the Bible).
The Central Key to Prophetic Understanding
We should notice these primary "keys" given by Solomon in Ecclesiastes 3:14–15 and that concerning the "Great Generation," because they can be the determining factor to evaluate correctly what the prophecies in Isaiah mean and also the other prophecies even the New Testament in their various contexts. Note the central teaching that I am revealing in this research study. Solomon spoke of events that happening "NOW" (at the moment he wrote). Those things then occurring were also events that had at some time in the past had "ALREADY BEEN" [they had happened before], but that was not the end. Those events of the past and the present were also required by God to occur again in the future. The interpretation of various prophecies involves themes that relate to the PAST, to the PRESENT, and to the FUTURE. Just like any sentence made up of words can be understood in the past tense, present tense or future tense, so prophecies as a whole (Solomon means the events that make up a prophecy) will have a PAST effect, then a PRESENT effect, and finally they will have a FUTURE relevance. It is like having an historical anchorage in the past regarding events that are repeated, and then completed by a final fulfillment in the FUTURE. God provides the repetition of prophetic events in a THREE-FOLD fashion. In the Bible the normal manner is to have a BEGINNING prophecy, then a MIDDLE or SECONDARY fulfillment, and then an End-Time CONCLUSION. This combination of occurrences of repetitious events is found in the THREE-FOLD fashion.
The reason for this repetitiousness of God in the Holy Scriptures is for teaching purposes. There is a favorite phrase of many in the teaching profession (and I have long used the method). It is, first to tell your students what you will teach them, then secondly, teach them thoroughly what you said you would teach them, and then thirdly, remind the students what in fact you did teach them. By using this long tried method that I learned from the Bible, I have been accused of being quite repetitious in my research papers. True, I am repetitious. Most people do not like the method because it tends to boredom and it is not good English to prevail with it. Yes, but God did not write His divine word in English, nor did He select our language as the best to convey His thoughts. The use of this principle is one of the safest ways to teach complicated subjects found in the Bible. The Holy Scriptures are very profound and NOT EASY to understand. I do not apologize for being repetitious. Yes, I often get criticized for it, yet I have been called by many of my students one of the best teachers they have had. In my teaching methods, I am simply following the scriptural means of teaching (yet I admit that many people do not like repetitions). That is one reason the Bible is not being comprehended by people (even educated individuals) because they do not like the manner in which God instructs those He teaches.
The apostle Peter commanded his readers, however, "to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (2 Peter 3:18). The way to grow in the knowledge of God is to utilize to the full the repetitiousness found in the Bible and capitalize on it (in spite of its boring multiplicity of words). The Bible method of teaching is designed to provide a little information at first (or, to present the ABC’s of the subject), then in a secondary sense to elaborate on the matter (with an MNO section of the subject), and then finally to renew the message with an additional capstone teaching in the third section (this is the final XYZ phase). So, the first phase of discussing any subject is almost always found in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. The second phase can be found in some parts of the Old Testament, but mostly in the early sections of the New Testament. The third phase is almost always reserved for the New Testament alone, and often within the difficult theological sections of the apostle Paul. The very fullness of the Gospel, that final teaching is not revealed until the apostle Paul and his companions revealed it totally in what is called "the Mystery" that Paul disclosed in the Books of Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians. There is always a progressive method of teaching in the THREE-FOLD manner of instruction that is a cardinal method for educational growth that God promotes in the Bible.
Prophecies Are Repetitive in a THREE-FOLD Manner
There is a prime example in the Bible and history, which demonstrates what Solomon and the prophets/apostles had in mind when the rule of circularity in history and prophecy came into play. Events are scheduled by God to repeat themselves at three different time periods. The first time occurs in the Old Testament period. The second time is the period of Christ and the apostles (the time of the 1st century). The third time happens in the generation of the End-Time, now on our doorstep. Let us see how this works with a historical example. Look at the destruction of the Temple.
There is recorded a remarkable repetition of a major event in history. It concerns the time that the Temple of Solomon was destroyed the first time by the armies of Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The capitulation and destruction of the Temple took place on the evening of the ninth and into the tenth of the Hebrew month of Ab (a month that corresponds closely to our modern month of August) (Jeremiah 52:12–14). This was the Old Testament period of fulfillment. But the event was repeated a second time in the 1st century. The Romans destroyed the Temple that existed in the time of Christ on the exact day of the month and year that the ancient Jewish historian (Josephus) said occurred at the time of Nebuchadnezzar a little over 600 years before (War VI, iv, 5 para.250). But that will not end the parallel for the destruction of the End-Time Temple. There is yet one more time for this event to be repeated. That will take place at the Time of the End. The person called "Nebuchadnezzar" in Jeremiah chapters 50 and up to 51:58 is not the same historical "Nebuchadnezzar" that Jeremiah was acquainted with in the 6th century before Christ. This new "King of Babylon" will exist at the End-Time and his status as the "Babylonian king" is denoted with the encrypted name "Sheshach" found in Jeremiah 51:41. 2
This is Jeremiah’s way of calling attention to this End-Time "Nebuchadnezzar" and what will be done in the time just future to us. This future King of Babylon called "Nebuchadnezzar" will fulfill in a circular fashion some of the things the first king in Jeremiah’s day was thought to accomplish. The prophecy Jeremiah 50 up to 51:58 shows the judgments that will befall this future King of Babylon. It may also involve the future Temple in the same way that the former Nebuchadnezzar destroyed the first Temple in Jerusalem (see Jeremiah 50:28 and 51:11, 24 and 50). The destruction of the future Temple could well happen on the same day of the year as in Nebuchadnezzar’s time (and also when the Romans destroyed the Temple in the 1st century). The final fulfillment is to complete the THREE-FOLD prophetic event. This is a simple example provided by God to illustrate the THREE-FOLD prophetic principle in action.
We can pretty easily understand the THREE-FOLD aspect of prophetic fulfillment, and it is something for us to watch. The problem, of course, will be in recognizing the exact chronological time periods that the THREE-FOLD eras begin and end. This is not always easy to understand. Christ stated that none of us will be able to disclose the precise chronological events of the End-Time (Matthew chapters 24 and 25). However, as the Time of the End gets closer, we are told by Daniel that the knowledge of these important prophecies will be made clearer (Daniel 12:4, 9).
The exact dating of the year in which the Temple in Jeremiah’s time was destroyed (and that same day in the time of apostle John) gives a sufficient "key" to make one believe that the next destruction of the Temple will also occur on that same day of the year. This was a significant occurrence in the time of Nebuchadnezzar, and God must have intended it to be so. When Nebuchadnezzar burned the First Temple, we find that Jeremiah the Prophet ordained that the Book of Lamentations was to he read by all Jews on the anniversary date of that occasion (this was the first occasion of the prophecy, or what we can call the "A" part). It is interesting that in 70 C.E. (almost 600 years after Jeremiah) the Jews throughout the world (from Spain to India) were officially reading the Book of Lamentations in their synagogues at the very time the Temple and Jerusalem were being destroyed by the Romans. This second ruin is what Christ foretold in his Olivet Prophecy (Matthew 24:14) and it represents the second occasion of the prophecy, or what we can call the "B" part). The third ruin of the Temple will be accomplished by a future "Nebuchadnezzar" who will be King of Babylon (Sheshach). This future Babylonian king will again destroy Jerusalem and the Temple (Jeremiah 50:28 and 51:11, 24 and 50) and this will be the third occasion of the prophecy, or what we can call the "C" and final part).
Now, you and I, being humans, may not reason in the fashion of the THREE-FOLD fulfillments, but God does. God is accustomed to having an "A" fulfillment as an initial phase of the prophecy, followed by a "B" fulfillment and then (at the End of the Age) a "C" or final fulfillment. If we do not recognize this THREE-FOLD cycle, we will often be blind to the accurate time of His actions.
One of the prime attributes associated with the interpretation of the Holy Scriptures that we of ASK try to provide to all of you, is the fact that we seek to know "God’s methods of teaching and recognizing prophetic events." Our research endeavors are NOT to use our own ways that we would do if we were in charge. In no way! Our prime purpose for existence is to discover God’s ways of actions (His beliefs) and then to share them with all of you.
Indeed, we find that God often does not perform his prophetic teachings in ways that are normal to us who are living at any given age or generation. If we wish to comprehend God’s ways in their entirety, then we must adopt the manner of interpretation given to us by God, even if it does not square with our usual way of determining things. In almost all occasions, when God wishes to blind people from recognizing the truth of any prophecy, God will cause them to misinterpret the chronology of the prophetic themes. His confusion on the chronological issues is a sure way to hide His real meaning until He sees fit to straighten out our understanding of the times in which we live and are researching.
Yes, God confuses the chronology of the events. When this is done, people are not able to determine the correct application of the PAST to what is happening at the MIDDLE part. They may misapply the MIDDLE part in projecting the complete fulfillment into an improper FUTURE relevance. What is essential for understanding the prophetic messages of the Holy Scriptures is to correctly appraise those PAST events (the "A" part), the MIDDLE events (the "B" part) and then apply the FUTURE events (the "C" part) in their proper chronological fashions.
What we usually find in the Holy Scriptures are three distinct periods of time given over the ages in a repetitious fashion in which God deals with His people. It is imperative that the chronological factors of the THREE-FOLD prophecy be comprehended correctly and placed in a proper sequence of events.
This is shown in the basic prophecy of Hosea in which God shows the time periods in which He is active with Israel. Note the THREE-FOLD aspect.
"Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath TORN [the flesh with penitential stripes upon Israel], and He will heal us [He will bind up the stripes]; He hath smitten us [for sins], and He will bind us up [God will still put on bandages to heal them]. After two days ["days" meaning two periods of time] He will revive us: in the third day [in the third and final period] He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. [Note this THREE-FOLD time.] Then shall we know [at the conclusion], if we follow on to know the Lord [desire the knowledge of His divine ways]: His going forth is prepared as the morning [at the beginning of day —the "A" part of the prophecy]; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the LATTER [at the springtime rains, see Joel 3:23, — this is the "B" part] and [then finally as] the FORMER [during the wintertime] rain unto the earth [this is the "C" or the last part of the prophecy]."
The initial work of God in any major prophecy [the "A" part] often has a strong and significant beginning with miracles, then God will let the prophecy lay dormant for some time. Then in the second repetition (or the MIDDLE section — the "B" part) God will have a revival of the same type of prophecy. Then will occur a third and final repetition at the End of the Age [this is the "C" part] which is often more glorious and grand than the first and second occurrences. An example of this is recorded in Habakkuk chapters two and three. Notice the prophecy in question.
"The Lord answered me and said, ‘Write the vision and make it plain upon tables [tablets for writing], that he may run [read through the prophecy quickly] that readeth it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak [clearly], and not lie; though it tarry [though it waits a long period of time], wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry’" [beyond God’s time for its fulfillment].
And then the prophet dissects the vision. The prophecy continues:
"O Lord, I have heard thy speech [concerning the vision to appear at the End-Time], and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years [cause a renewal of the prophetic vision in the MIDDLE period of fulfillment — this is its "B" part], in the midst of the years [during the MIDDLE time or its second fulfillment] make known [its contents even before the End-Time]; in wrath remember mercy. [So, in the text of Habakkuk God heeds the appeal of Habakkuk by saying:] God came [or, will come] from Teman, and the Holy One from mount Paran [the Mount Sinai region], Selah. [When this occurs] His glory covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise. And his brightness was as the light [as the Sun in its full strength]: He had horns [bright streams of light] coming out of his hand: and there was the hiding of his power."
Though the complete fulfillment of this visionary prophecy given to Habakkuk in chapter two was a prediction for the End of the Age (when it will have its final fulfillment in the "C" part of its chronological history), we find that the prophet Habakkuk asked that a REVIVAL of the prophetic vision be given to the people "IN THE MIDDLE of the years" (in the "B" part — in the second chronological phase of the prophecy). The second phases of almost all the early Old Testament prophecies find their fulfillment in the time of Christ and the apostles. Yes, almost always, the "B" phase of the THREE-FOLD prophecies is confined exclusively to the 1st century when Christ and the apostles were on earth. This is certainly the case in the fulfillment of the "B" part of the prophecy of Habakkuk.
This "B" part was demonstrated when Jesus appeared with His Father on the Mount of Transfiguration in all His splendor and glory. That glorious event took place on Mount Hermon in the presence of the three apostles, Peter, James and John. That was when Jesus showed forth the same type of glory that accompanied the manifestation of the Law to Israel at Mount Sinai in the time of Moses (which was the "A" part of the vision). As a result of the Transfiguration of Jesus on that high mountain overlooking Damascus, Mount Hermon then became the "second Zion" of Israel (see Psalm 133:3). 3 This, however, does not end the completion of the vision. There is yet the "C" part of its fulfillment. The final part of the vision given to Habakkuk will be disclosed to us at the End of the Age at the time that God has planned for the accomplishment of His divine prophetic events.
There is a principle that can usually be relied on in interpreting prophecy. The longer the prophecy, the more its interpretation adheres to this THREE-FOLD scheme of predictive fulfillment (its "A," "B," and "C" factors). We find that an initial portion of the prophecy (its "A" part) will occur in the PAST (sometimes even before the prophecy was given to any of the prophets), and then a further application can occur at a PRESENT time (the "B" part) if Christ refers to it as being a part of His ministry, but then there will be the final outcome of the single prophecy, a yet FUTURE event (or events) that completes the prophetic indications intended by the prophetic word. What I am speaking about is a THREE-FOLD aspect to the fulfillment of prophetic events. One of the "folds" was at the beginning of Israel’s existence (back in the time of Moses or at the start of the prophecy itself as first presented to the prophet — this is the "A" part), followed by a second "fold" which usually refers to New Testament times as was shown by the apostles in the quotes I gave above (this is the "B" part), and then a third "fold" (making a total of THREE-FOLD) at the End of the Age (this is the "C" part), or when the Messiah will come and fully establish God’s Kingdom on earth.
Some Examples of this Repetitive Prophetic Theme
This THREE-FOLD "repetitive theme" is shown in Daniel Seven in the prophecy about the four beasts. In the first six verses Daniel describes the activities of a lion, then a bear followed by a leopard. Then follows a long section of a future world power called the Composite Beast (he had the characteristics of the previous three beasts, but in a composite fashion). This final Composite Beast was to arise in the future and his demise would see the Kingdom of God emerge on earth. Now note this. At the end (when the End-Time events described by Daniel are to take place), Daniel says: "These great beasts which are four, are four kings, which shall arise [in the future] out of the earth" (Daniel 7:17). In other words, even though the first three beasts (which were soon followed by a fourth Composite Beast) were to have a RENEWAL (or what we would call a REPETITION) at the End of the Age, the third and final part of the THREE-FOLD TYPE of prophecy was to focus on the FUTURE or showing End-Time events through the use of a circular or repetitive interpretation. So, what has happened in the past has a very definite relevance to what will occur in the future, particularly at the very End when the world finally witnesses the emergence of the Kingdom of God on earth under the leadership of Christ Jesus.
The same prophetic theme is seen in Daniel chapters 10–12 called "The Scripture of Truth" (see Daniel 10:21). The prophecy starts out in the PAST (the is the "A" part) with the mention of the early empire of Persia (but that theme is in the PRESENT to Daniel), then it mentions Greece, and out of Greece [out of Javan, from the territory of Javan] comes "a mighty king" whose kingdom is divided into the four parts of the earth as viewed from Jerusalem (Daniel 11:4). Then, at verse 6 begins a story of a King of the North and a King of the South who will exist at "the end of years," coupled with the prophecy of Daniel Nine (which leads up to the time of the Messiah — this is the "B" part) and the destruction of the City of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. But after Daniel’s teaching of the appearance of the Messiah (Christ Jesus), he continues on in the present prophecy known as "The Scripture of Truth." These earlier kings of the three empires first mentioned will have a FUTURE relevance — this will be the "C" part of the extended or circular prophecy (with a REPETITIVE power being given to them in a united front against the armies of God at the End-Time).
In other words, these nations mentioned at the beginning of the prophecy in Daniel 10 to 12 will once again be in existence at an End-Time period to fight with Christ when He returns at His Second Advent. The outcome of these End-Time events is given in Daniel chapter 12 with the Kingdom of God then emerging on the earth at the resurrection from the dead (Daniel 12:1–13). So what Daniel provides us when his prophecies are combined is an "A" part dealing with the PAST (starting in Daniel’s time), then a "B" part dealing with the MIDDLE period that concerns Christ and His role in history; followed by a "C" part (a FUTURE period) that deals exclusively with the End of the Age (our time just on the horizon) in which the fullness of the prophecy will be completed.
When Does the End-Time Begin for Us Who Live in this New Millennium?
In the last paragraph I mentioned the long prophecy titled "The Scripture of Truth" in Daniel 10:21 that has its essential prophetic message from Daniel 11:2 on through and including Daniel 12:4. Indeed, in the prologue to this long prophecy Daniel is told by the angel Gabriel: "Now I am come to make thee understand what shall befall thy people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days [in the future]." In other words, the whole vision is for the End-Time that finally witnesses the Kingdom of God on earth. But there is a "key" given in this single prophecy of Daniel that helps us realize that there is more than one End-Time. The first "end" begins after the Persian empire of the PAST (along with the Grecian and that of the "mighty king") of Daniel 11:1–4 have fallen and a King of the North and a King of the South have come on the prophetic scene. The first "end" in this long prophecy of Daniel begins in Daniel 11:6 where the text states: "And in the end of years they shall join themselves together." But in verse 27, Gabriel informs Daniel that the first "end" was not the actual "end." The text reads: "yet the end [shall be] at the time appointed" (verse 27). That verse points to another "end" that will soon come on the scene. That second "end" is disclosed in verse 40 which relates: "And at the time of the end shall the King of the South push at him" (verse 40). Yet there is still a third "end" mentioned in the same prophecy. That third "end" is when Daniel is promised to stand up [in a resurrection] "at the end of the days" (Daniel 12:13).
The fact is, the Bible shows several prophetic events that will occur in the period just prior to the Second Advent of Christ that will each have their own particular "beginnings" and "ends." When we speak about the End-Time (or, the Time of the End) we must be careful to indicate what prophetic context we are discussing because there are several such periods for various prophecies with most having their conclusions at the resurrection of the dead that occurs at the Second Advent of Christ. In some past articles I have mentioned the End-Time (or, the End of the Age) being associated with certain prophecies that I was discussing and each of those individual prophecies have their own chronological beginnings and endings (some with more than one phase associated with them). In fact, one End of the Age occurred when Christ appeared on earth some 2000 years ago to put away sin and the apostle Paul made reference to it. He said in the Book of Hebrews: "But now once in the End of the World [Age or Eon] hath he [Christ] appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself" (Hebrews 9:26).
In fact, Paul thought several Ages came to an End with the First Advent of Christ. "Now all these things happened unto them [the historical events of the PAST that happened to the Old Testament people] for examples [to us]: and they are written [in the Scriptures] for our admonition, upon whom the Ends [note: the PLURAL] of the World [Ages, or Eons] are come" (1 Corinthians 10:11).
So, there were several "End-Times" that occurred even back in the 1st century with the First Advent of Christ. Yet, according to the prophetic principles I have been showing you in this article, these PAST "End-Times" are indicative of FUTURE "End-Times" when we find the REPETITION of these prophetic themes in the generation that witnesses the Second Advent of Christ.
The New Testament writers recognized the same principle of interpretation. The Apostle Paul stated in Romans 15:4: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope." It was customary for the apostles to refer to the experiences of the earlier prophets and kings as having relevance for people who lived at the End Time period for prophetic fulfillment whether it was the "End Time" to occur in their days some 2000 years ago, or in the final "End Time" that will undoubtedly happen in the years ahead of us.
"Now all these things happened unto them [the earlier biblical people in the PAST] for types and they are written for our admonition [upon Paul’s generation of Christians that represented to Paul the PRESENT] upon whom the Ends of the Eons are come."
- [adjusted to read "ends of the eons"]
1 Corinthians 10:11 KJV
But, that verse applies equally to us who do in fact live in the "End Time" period (or periods) associated with the Second Advent of Christ. Just when those various "End Times" begin and end depends on when they apply to the specific prophetic theme. Some we do not yet understand.
Points to Consider
What I wish to give you now are some points that you should study to know (whenever God opens the door of understanding) the precise chronological meanings to the prophecies. I have no doubt whatever that each prophecy will be fulfilled in its entirety, but we must remember that even Christ warned us who are the very elect that one of the main prophetic teachings that would long be misunderstood is that concerning chronology (Matthew 24:36–51). However, I believe the time is soon coming when God will dispatch to all of us who are diligently studying His divine word the necessary tools to comprehend these difficult themes. Let me give you some prophetic items that are not yet understood in their fullness. These themes will become known in a profound way at the very end. We should study to comprehend them.
One of the major principles we need to be assured of is that the Old Testament shows that historical events, which were reckoned as having been caused by God, were in themselves circular (or REPETITIVE) in occurrence. Remember, the Book of Ecclesiastes states most assuredly: "The thing that has been, it is that which shall be and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). And Solomon further said:
"I know that, whatsoever God does, it shall be to the eon [for a long time in the future]: nothing can be put [or added] to it, nor anything taken away from it: and God does it, that men should fear before him. That which has been IS NOW; and that which is to be HAS ALREADY BEEN; and God requires [again in a future occurrence] that which is past"
- [adjusting the word "forever" to read as is proper: "eon"]
Ecclesiastes 3:14–15 KJV
King Solomon (whom the Bible shows was the wisest of men and whose writings in the Bible are inspired) believed that all things were to be reckoned in a circular fashion when the ultimate dimensions of things were being discussed. He began his philosophical discourse called Ecclesiastes by referring to the Sun which arises in the East and goes down in the West and then returns underneath the earth to where it started the morning before (Ecclesiastes 1:5). Analogous to the Sun was also the wind, Solomon spoke about it sometimes going toward the South and then turns towards the North and whirls around in circular fashion until it returns to the place where it had once been (Ecclesiastes 1:6). Then he noticed that the rivers run into the oceans yet the sea level did not increase because of the excess waters from the rivers. Indeed, he noticed that clouds formed over the oceans and came over the land. Precipitation came down to the land which formed small streams that turned into rivers which then flowed right back into the ocean from whence the water came. "Thither they return again" (Ecclesiastes 1:7).
This circular phenomenon also applied to the activities of mankind. This is where Solomon began his long discourse on the fortunes of man by stating the prime principle that all things are circular. This applies to things in history, and also to things in prophecy (which is nothing more than the knowledge of historical events before they happen). Even here, things have the tendency (so Solomon believed, as did the apostles of Christ), of being circular in occurrence. Every event to happen in the future has a former event that was like it. This is the teaching of the Bible. "The thing that has been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the Sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). Or, to put it into its THREE-FOLD scheme, the verse describes: "The thing that has been [the "A" part], it is that which shall be [the final "C" part]; and that which is done [at present, the "B" part] is that which shall be done [at the final "C" part]: and there is no new thing under the Sun" (Ecclesiastes 1:9). All historical occasions that occur on earth throughout all time periods are in some way analogous with the "A" part, the "B" part, and the "C" part of the prophetic scheme of God.
What is the Principle of Circularity?
Just how does the biblical teaching of the circularity of history (which we find in several prophetic contexts) actually work so that we can interpret the significance of the teaching? This requires an application of judgment that must be based on biblical principles clearly stated in the Scriptures. One must be careful in such interpretation because some overzealous people have made wrong judgments in this matter without due regard to proper guidelines for an accurate understanding of God’s prophetic teachings. Indeed, there are several types of criteria for circularity in prophecy and one must be careful to select the correct one that God has in mind for the understanding of such teachings. While it is certain that factors involving intervals of TIME are essential ingredients in comprehending the principle, the interpreter must be careful to appraise correctly the benchmark incidents that begin and end those intervals of TIME. This is where a person needs the Spirit of God to help show what those proper benchmarks are and then one must clearly observe in the Bible what interval of TIME is applicable for the prophecy to occur.
Let me give an example of how the benchmarks of a circularity prophecy can be different from another similar prophecy in the Bible. Some do have different benchmarks. Note that the Flood of Noah happened when the tenth generation of humans existed on earth from the first generation of Adam and Eve. This is arrived at by counting the generations of what we might call the "righteous line" which culminated in Noah, the preacher of righteousness. That Flood was a judgment by God on people in the earth for their sins. Now note this factor.
In the tenth generation AFTER the Flood, the great destruction by fire took place on the Cities of the Plain (Sodom and Gomorrah). Since God promised Noah and all humans on earth that there would not be more judgments by a catastrophic unleashing of water on a worldwide scale, the next judgment was understood by humanity to come in the form of fire. Indeed, this is the precise interpretation that Lot, the nephew of Abraham, at first believed. When he looked around him at the fiery judgment that had happened to the whole of the plain of Jordan where the catastrophe occurred, Lot concluded that the whole world had been destroyed in conformity to the prophecy as he reckoned it. With the whole world destroyed, as he conceived it, that was one reason he was willing to get his two daughters pregnant, to save the human race (so that the prophesied Messiah would one day arrive). But Lot was mistaken. What a shock it must have been to him and his two daughters when they discovered that ONLY the Plain of Jordan had been judged at that time. However, the prophecy that the whole of the world would one day be consumed by fire still remains and the apostle Peter talked about that in Second Peter chapter three. Remember, the final judgments on earth are to be by fire.
From the illustration above, we have the two benchmarks being judgments of destruction both occurring after an interval of ten generations. So, the use of generations is invoked by God (ten generations, in this case) to provide the circularity factor in understanding the prophecy. I mention these prophetic indications as an encouragement to each of you to join me in doing research on these matters so that we might be able to comprehend what significance they may have for our period today. I do not yet have the answers to assure me that the future applications are now understood.
Notice what this could mean. It could be interpreted from the above example that God could well bring on similar destruction of civilizations ten generations from the beginning of other new times of civilizations such as those which began with Adam and then Noah. There may be a reflection of this principle in the Law of Moses. We find that God would not allow illegitimate children or those descendants of Moab and Ammon into the civilization of Israel at the beginning of its national existence until the tenth generation (Deuteronomy 23:13). After that interval of TIME, then the Moabites and Ammonites could enter into the civilization of Israel. It is interesting that in the genealogies of Christ as recorded by Matthew and Luke, the tenth generation from Abraham (who was accounted as the head of the Israelite family) was Salmon who begat Boaz (the eleventh generation) who then married Ruth of Moab, the grandmother of King David. Israelites used inclusive reckoning in such matters and Abraham is to be counted as the first generation in the series. This means that God kept Moabites and Ammonites ten generations out of the official family of Israel. But when would the modern "generations" begin? This is our job to find out.
New information has come to the fore that may help. Let me give it to you. There is an illustration that may give a person some confidence that God views the tenth generation from the beginning of nations, civilizations, or even important families as a prophetic interval of TIME in the circularity of prophetic (or historical) events. As a matter of interest, note that in the genealogy of Christ in Matthew’s Gospel, if one counted David as the first generation, the 10th would be Ahaz who received the grandest prophecy of all about the birth of a virgin to come in the future. Then if you count Ahaz as the first generation of that prophecy, one comes to a man named Eliakim that we know nothing about but it is interesting that a certain Eliakim in Hezekiah’s day is given a sure peg in the House of David and that he will have an immovable "key" called "the key of the House of David" (Isaiah 22:20–25). This strange prophecy goes on to say that this Eliakim who receives the "key to the House of David" will have his secure nail fastened in a sure place, but that at some time in the future that "secure nail" will fall (Isaiah 22:25). That "nail" is to be uprooted and fall down. It is interesting that if one counts the Eliakim of Matthew 1:13 (where an "Eliakim" is mentioned) as the first generation, then the 10th generation is Christ Jesus who was indeed the inheritor of the "key of David" (Revelation 3:7). And though many of the prophecies showed that the Messiah would indeed inherit a Kingdom that would never fall, it is interesting that in this prophecy about the mysterious "Eliakim," that what was considered indestructible would be "uprooted and fall." Indeed, this is precisely what happened to Christ Jesus when He was crucified on the Mount of Olives. These "tenth generation indications" may mean more for the present than we recognize. 4
The THREE-FOLD Theme in Regard to the Circularity of Significant Personalities
We are aware that the Bible speaks about the return in future historical periods of important biblical personalities (or the return of their antitypes). The apostle Paul mentioned the first man Adam, and then Paul follows up with information about a second or another "Adam." Paul identified Christ Jesus as such an "Adam." But when Christ appears again at the End of the Age, He comes as the last Adam or what we might call as an antitype: the spiritual Adam to rescue humanity from their evil ways. This type of "Adam" was to appear three times in history. His second appearance was in the 1st century. The third appearance will be at the End-Time, at the glorious Second Advent of Christ back to this earth. Some have interpreted that it is God the Father Himself who might be considered the "Third Adam" in His creation of all of us as His divine Family when He gives us control of the entirety of the universe under His benign control. This may be.
What we have in these THREE-FOLD indications is type and anti-type, or the DUALITY principle in effect in these prophetic fulfillments. Interestingly, during the second appearance He comes as a poor person and having an ignominy among the general public, while in the third appearance He manifests Himself as glorious beyond compare and with all the prosperity imaginable. Individuals in history and their ministries are shown in this circular fashion. The Bible speaks of the importance of the first Adam and that a second Adam would appear to die for mankind, and at a third time He will be glorified in His world Kingdom. There was also a first Moses, and a second Moses when Christ gave His Sermon on the Mount and at a third time when Christ inherits the glorious Kingdom of God. There was also the first David, the second David when Christ was in the flesh, and at a third time when Christ comes in His glorious Kingdom. There was also a first Elijah, and also a second Elijah (who was John the Baptist), and there will be a third Elijah at the End of the Age (and just before his Second Advent back to this world) to introduce the glorious Kingdom of God (Matthew 17:10–13). It should be noticed that during the second manifestation, the person being discussed appears always in the era of Jesus’ life.
What we have in these indications is type and anti-type, or the DUALITY principle in effect in these prophetic fulfillments. The type may show poorness, that is, penury as the theme in the first era, and in the later anti-type the theme often shows a contrasting richness, that is, prosperity and glory in the final period. Another way of wording it, the type may show a NEGATIVISM as a central motif while the anti-type often indicates a contrasting POSITIVISM as the primary theme.
Individuals in history and their ministries are shown in this circular and contrasting fashion. For example, the Bible speaks of the importance of the first Adam and that a second Adam would appear to die for mankind, and at a third time He will be glorified in His world Kingdom. The second Adam had NEGATIVISM attached to his life experiences, while the final Adam (Christ) has a POSITIVISM. Again, there was a first Moses, and a second Moses when Christ gave His Sermon on the Mount and at a third time when Christ inherits the glorious Kingdom of God. The first Moses was NEGATIVELY refused entrance to the Holy Land, while the second Moses died with all the sins of the world on Him, but Christ will finally bring the whole world into a glorious and POSITIVE condition.
There was also the first David, the second David when Christ was in the flesh, and at a third time when Christ comes in His glorious Kingdom. The first David was punished for wanting to conquer the world before the time allotted by God (this was a NEGATIVE aspect), while the second David (Christ), as with the second Moses, died with all the sins of the world on Him, but Christ in His final appearance reigns triumphant in the whole universe through the revelation of "the Mystery" (a very POSITIVE thing).
Remember as well that there was also a first Elijah, and also a second Elijah (reckoned by Christ to be John the Baptist), and there will be a third Elijah at the End of the Age (and just before Christ’s Second Advent back to this world) to introduce the glorious Kingdom of God (Matthew 17:10–13). There are NEGATIVE aspects associated with the first "fold" of the THREE-FOLD theme. There are also both NEGATIVE and some POSITIVE aspects with the second "fold" period of time. Then there is the primary POSITIVE nature of the third "fold" era of time associated with the End-Time events prophesied in the Holy Scriptures.
What is consistent in these illustrations of type and anti-type is the fact that the second manifestation of the THREE-FOLD theme always occurred within the era of Jesus’ life and that of His apostles. Though this second aspect always has a POSITIVE theme to it because of Christ and the apostles (who are emphasized), there is still a NEGATIVE side in the sense that Christ and the apostles were unable to bring into existence the final glorified and prosperous realm of God that Christ and the apostles preached about. Indeed, Christ himself was crucified on the tree of crucifixion (a NEGATIVE aspect though it finally had POSITIVE results), and Paul in introducing the final mature teachings of "the Mystery" in 63 C.E. found himself saying the whole of the Christian world had rejected him and his final message (a very NEGATIVE aspect). The truth is, the real POSITIVE results of the teachings of Christ and the apostles will occur in our age — the generation that witnesses the Time of the End and the introduction of the Kingdom of God on earth and the manifestation of the rewards of "the Mystery" throughout the universe.
For further emphasis, note that in the Bible there are two different phases of Christ’s life that are presented. One is NEGATIVE in the flesh and the other is POSITIVE at His Second Advent. Though there are some glorious miraculous events associated with Christ’s life in the flesh, His overall position is one of being in degradation and out of favor with mankind. Christ’s time in the flesh is a period in which He is poor and despised by the world, and the other He shows Himself in His rich and His glorious phase that will occur at His Second Advent. Each of these prophesied periods must be distinguished from the other or utter confusion will result. They are utter CONTRASTS to one another. Let us note the differences as expressed in statements in the Holy Scriptures.
The Contrasts in the Types
The fact is shown by comparing the prophecy in Isaiah about the role of Christ in human affairs with that of the Psalms in which Christ is shown in complete glory and power in His divine or celestial existence. They are contrasting prophecies. In Isaiah the Messiah (Christ Jesus) is shown to grow up having "no comeliness" or "no beauty that we should desire him" (Isaiah 53:2–3). All the earliest scholars of Christendom interpreted this prophecy to mean that Jesus was relatively ugly in his physical appearance while He was in the flesh up to the time of His crucifixion. This is a NEGATIVE aspect of the prophecy. But with Psalm 45:2 there is a distinct contrast. The apostle Paul referred Psalm 45 in Hebrews chapter one to Christ before His incarnation while He was still in heaven with the Father (and to be later applied to Him after Christ’s resurrection from the dead). The two prophecies give very different descriptions. The contrasting [POSITIVE] text in Psalm 45 reads: "Thou art fairer [better looking in appearance] than the children of men [than any human]." Two different time periods for Christ are being shown. They contrast each other. The negative is replaced by the positive. One is ignominious and the other (the final) is glorious beyond compare. 5
Whereas there was a NEGATIVISM that prevailed in the 1st century when Christ grew to manhood and then was crucified (and the apostles continued teaching until the mature doctrines of "the Mystery" were revealed in 63 C.E.) — this was because the world back then rejected Christ and His message and the world (including the Jewish people) turned down the teachings of Paul concerning "the Mystery." 6
The End of the Age is fast approaching. The real POSITIVISM of Christ’s final and mature teachings is now being revealed, and the POSITIVISM will get better and better in human knowledge and understanding. This time the world will begin to see Christ in a very different way. The world will soon commence to adore and worship Him in a very POSITIVE manner and even the Jewish people will soon become the type of Christians they should have become back in the 1st century.
Many Prophetic Events Are in the Three-Fold Circular Fashion
We also need to pay attention to what is known as the THREE-FOLD approach to prophetic understanding. Let us notice an example or two. In regard to the destruction of the Temple and the City of Jerusalem by hostile forces, God told the prophet Ezekiel that there would be three such destructions in history. To see this fact, one should read all of Ezekiel chapter 21 because the whole of the chapter contains a prophecy about the overthrow and destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple. God told Ezekiel to take a sword (which was to be a symbol of God’s divine judgment upon Jerusalem and the land of Israel). This symbolic sword was to be the instrument of judgment that God would use to destroy Jerusalem and Israel on three different occasions. Note God telling Ezekiel that this "sword" was reckoned as,
"... a trial, and what if the sword contemn [rejects] even the rod? It shall be no more, saith the Lord God. Thou therefore, son of man, prophesy, and smite thine hands together, and let the sword be doubled [Hebrew "twice even a"] THIRD TIME, the sword of the slain: it is the sword of the great men that are slain, which entereth into their privy chambers. I have set the point of the sword against all their gates?"
This prophecy has a THREE-FOLD fulfillment.
It should be noted that God told Ezekiel to let the judgment come twice (that is, "doubled’) and that it would finally strike "a third time" (verse 14). So certain was Ezekiel that Jerusalem would be destroyed three times in the manner that he was prophesying that he said the crown and diadem of the King of the Jews would be overthrown and perverted in three "overturns."
"Thus saith the Lord God; ‘Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same [as it had been]: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it [to] him.’"
Thus, Ezekiel was told that the Temple, Jerusalem and the sovereignty of the Jews (as shown by the king who ruled the nation) would be overthrown by the sword of God’s judgment in three times. The first time would be that witnessed by Ezekiel and those contemporaneous to him; the second overthrow would occur at some undesignated time in the future (its fulfillment answers to the events that occurred in the 1st century); and the third overthrow at a further undesignated time in the future (and after the third overthrow there would appear the prophesied ruler "whose right it is" to rule over Israel in a proper way). This was to be the reign of the Messiah whose Kingdom would never end (verse 27). The THREE-FOLD nature of the prophecy in a chronological sense is: The "A" part that took place in the time of the early prophets when the prophecy was first given; the "B" part that occurred in the 1st century period of Christ and the apostles; and the "C" part destined to happen in the End-Time period that we are now entering (leading up to the Kingdom of God and its establishment on earth and in the universe).
Let me repeat the THREE-FOLD biblical interpretation in another way. For the first fulfillment, the Temple, Jerusalem and the sovereignty of Israel on earth were all destroyed just as Ezekiel said when Nebuchadnezzar the King of Babylon accomplished the task in the time of Ezekiel. Then, for the second fulfillment, on the exact day of the month and year, the Romans destroyed the Temple that Christ knew (along with the destruction of Jerusalem and the sovereignty of the Jews) in 70 C.E.. But Ezekiel said there was to be a third time (a third OVERTHROW just like the former "overthrowing") that would occur at a further time in history. It is only logical to believe that the next (and final) destruction will also occur on the same day of the month and year that the former destructions took place. And after this third overthrow, the Messiah will arrive to claim His throne and set up a world kingdom that will never be overthrown (Ezekiel 21:27). Or, in plain language, what happened in Ezekiel’s time was repeated in the generation of Christ and the apostles, and will be repeated once again in the generation of the End-Time just in advance of us who are now living on earth.
The "Great Generation" in the Holy Scriptures
In the Bible the word "generation" can mean, in a time period sense, the lifetime of any person no matter how long the individual lived. An example of this is the fact that each time a person is born into the world, a new "generation" commences for that family. Another usage is strictly chronological in interpretation and is not dependent upon an actual birth of a person. There is also a prophetic period of "30 years" and particularly "40 years." I have numerous examples of this usage in my book Restoring the Original Bible and I will not repeat them here. But the first usage of the length of a "generation" in the Scripture (and a very important one for chronological purposes) is what is called by interpreters "the great generation" (which means "great" in length of years). This is found in the account recorded in Genesis 15:13–16. Since it is the first time a "generation" is prophetically defined in the Holy Scriptures, it may mean that this is the clue to prophetic interpretation regarding the word. Notice the context in which it occurs.
"And he said unto Abram, ‘Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years; And also that nation, whom they shall serve, will I judge: and afterward shall they come out with great substance. And thou [Abram] shalt go to thy fathers in peace; thou shalt be buried in a good old age. But in the fourth generation they shall come hither again: for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet full.’"
In simple language, the earliest indication of the length of a "generation" is 100 years and it is found in a clear prophetic context. The length of life of Abraham illustrates the prophetic usage of 100 years as a significant era of time to God. This 100 years is shown in two ways. The first way is that which is shown above, that is "the fourth generation" being four generations of 100 years each for the captivity period of Israel in Egypt. The second way is to note that Abraham was called to his divine commission when he was 75 years of age (Genesis 12:1–4) and he had exactly 100 years to accomplish his commission since Abraham died at 175 years of life (Genesis 25:7–8). The account of Abraham’s commission along with the birth of Isaac and Isaac’s life as like an only Son of Abraham in the legitimate genealogy is so typical of the experience of Christ Jesus with the Father (Isaac being a type of Christ and Abraham being a type of the Father). This analogy was well recognized in the early history of Christendom.
The example of Abraham/Isaac reckoned as a unit of prophetic teaching was the Old Testament example and it embraced the 100 years of Abraham’s commission [this was the "A" part of the fulfillment]. It easily follows that the second "fold" of the THREE-FOLD theme of prophecy would also occupy 100 years (from the birth of Christ, through His commission of teaching the Gospel and through the complete teaching of the Gospel in the 100 years through the final activities of John the apostle up to 98 C.E.). This second fold was the "B" part of a prophetic "generation" being fulfilled. It is interesting that the whole of the New Testament period (when all the events recorded in the New Testament took place until the final writings of the New Testament were published) almost exactly equals a period of 100 years (from the birth of Christ in 3 B.C.E. to the final writing of the Book of Revelation by the apostle John in 96 C.E. and then the death of John in 98 C.E.). This "B" part is to be followed by a "C" part at the End of the Age. With this as a circular pattern, it could well be reckoned that the third "fold" of this THREE-FOLD scheme could apply to the End-Time accomplishment for this type of prophetic fulfillment. I am not sure if this is a proper comparison, but it has merit in the type and anti-type form of prophetic fulfillment.
If this interpretation is correct that the Scripture sanctifies its prophecies in a repetitious or CIRCULAR manner (which is certainly states it does), and that each occupies a space in time of 100 years (to equal the "Great Generation"), then we may have a real clue to length of our End-Time period in overall sense. If the THREE-FOLD aspect of prophecy is in effect, then each period could well equal a "hundred years." This would mean that all the events mentioned in the New Testament dealing with Christ and the apostles which happened primarily in a NEGATIVE theme in the 1st century (except for Christ’s resurrection which was POSITIVE), would come back into force for an equal amount of 100 years but this time in a POSITIVE motif that will be glorious indeed as the New Testament states. I presented in my book Restoring the Original Bible a section which shows that almost all of the writings of the New Testament were written with the authors believing in the soon expectation of the Second Advent of Christ being right on the horizon.
Of course, Christ did NOT come in that generation back there. But He will come in the generation of the End-Time just on the horizon to us. Remember what Christ said with utter dogmatism:
"Now learn a parable of the fig tree; when his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is night: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily, I say unto you, this generation [that sees all these things] shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled."
Christ may mean (if He is referring to the "Great Generation" of Abraham) that the period of the End is to be exactly 100 years in length. In a later period of time, when Israel is glorified in a redeemed condition, we see that the childhood phase of a person’s life is equal to 100 years (Isaiah 65:20), whereas the whole of a person’s life at that time will equal the length of life of a tree (Isaiah 65:22) and some trees in Palestine live from 500 to 1000 years of life. Still, the "Great Generation" of Abraham was exactly 100 years of time.
This could well mean that the other periods of prophecy in the Old Testament were also centered around 100 years. Remember that Moses was called to his commission and then lived east of Egypt in the wilderness preparing for his role of leading Israel out of Egypt for 40 years, then he directed Israel in their wilderness journeys for 40 years, then Joshua took Israel into the Land of Canaan and led them until his death about 20 years later. This equals a "Great Generation" of time. So also, from the time the prophet Samuel told King Saul the Kingdom would be taken from him and given to David (1 Samuel 13:10–14) and 20 years later David became king, and then through the 40 years of David’s rule and that of Solomon for 40 years, the combined period also equals 100 years.
In other words, there seem to be a "great generation" of time centered around each of the major periods of prophetic activity that are recorded in the Holy Scriptures. It would be easy to center the activities surrounding the prophecies of Isaiah to period of 100 years. This could also apply to the prophetic periods surrounding Jeremiah and Ezekiel. The Post-Babylonian period from Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest, including the prophecies of Malachi the prophet, could equal 100 years. And, it is pretty certain that all the active period for the first audible development of the Gospel (when Christ first began to preach and before His teachings were written down) and up to and including the final written canonization of the New Testament books (from the birth of Jesus in 3 B.C.E. to the death of John the apostle in 98 C.E.) equals that of a "Great Generation." It is interesting that for the first 65 years of that crucial period of time, from Jesus’ birth to 65 years later when "the Mystery" (the final mature teaching of Christ to the world) was delivered to the world in the Sabbatical Year of 62 to 63 C.E. It then took the remainder of that "Great Generation" period for the books of the New Testament to be finally written and then published by John near his death in 98 C.E.
As I said before, isn’t it interesting that in all the writings of the New Testament (though written almost twenty centuries ago) they all have an End-Time chronological theme to them. All of them speak of the soon coming of Christ back to this earth as though it is just around the corner in time. The fact is, Christ did NOT return in that generation, but He is prophesied to come back in the third "fold" of the THREE-FOLD aspect of prophetic fulfillment. One of the reasons that the New Testament books were actually selected by Paul, Peter and John is because those particular books have themes within them that apply to the prophetic conditions that would exist in the End-Time. Those apostles who selected the books to go into the New Testament DID NOT erase the parts of those documents in which the people were stating that the End of the Age was THEN UPON THEM. In fact, the early apostles deliberately left in those specific New Testament documents all those words of warning of the soon expectation of the Second Advent of Christ back to this earth. The reason for this was for those selected books to be ready for our period today when they would be relevant in a chronological reality. I have not the slightest doubt that those writings of the New Testament—though written in the 1st century—were actually (in a prophetic sense) written for us who are living in the anti-type period of time to witness a POSITIVE aspect to all those earlier events that Christ and the apostles went through or what they were expecting. This interpretation bears watching.
Repetition of the "Great Generation" of the Old and the New Testament Period
Let me mention again another "key" to use in understanding the prophecies of the Holy Scripture. The key has to do with the first time that a word or a subject is introduced in the Hebrew Bible. In almost all cases, we find that the meaning of a particular word or subject is defined accurately within a context of prose writing (not allegorical). Recall that the first mention of a "generation" is recorded very early in the Bible in a prophecy concerning Abraham and the children of Israel in Genesis 15, where a "generation" is given to be 100 years in length.
We can apply the beginning of the principle of the THREE-FOLD circular fulfillment to the Old Testament prophecies that introduced the coming of the Messiah into the world. We could start in the Book of Isaiah, chapters 7–12, where we have the paramount prophecy about the introduction of Christ into the world. It talks of an Immanuel coming into the world who would be born of a virgin. This is where we need to consider the prophetic teaching of the "Great Generation."
The early portion of this Immanuel prophecy represents the "A" part of its fulfillment. In that early fulfillment, a time period of 65 years was mentioned, dealing with events the time of Isaiah and Ahaz. The first fulfillment of this period of 65 years ended when the enemies of Ahaz (to whom the prophecy was first given) ceased to exist in the time of Esarhaddon of Assyria. 7 Besides the historical events mentioned in the prophecy, it has within it a single chronological prediction involving a period of 65 years (Isaiah 7:8), well within a period of 100 years of a "Great Generation." However, this did not conclude the fulfillment of the prophecy. Much was left of the prophecy to be accomplished at two further times in the future.
The second fulfillment of the 65 years of Isaiah’s Immanuel prophecy [the "B" part of its completion] began in the with the birth of Christ in 3 B.C.E. and ended on the exact year that Paul and others received the teaching of "the Mystery" in the Sabbatical Year of 62–63 C.E. However, the final fulfillment of that "Great Generation" lasted until John gave us the final form of the New Testament with the final edition of the Book of Revelation and then died in 98 C.E.
What we need to ask is this? Will the final "Great Generation" appear in our day? There will be (it appears) a third fulfillment of this very period of time in our End of the Age [the "C" part of the prophecy which has not yet been fulfilled in any way]. This could mean that the world is to experience another 65 years of Isaiah (as well as the "Great Generation" itself) which could have begun with the anniversary of Christ’s birth at Rosh Ha-Shanah in 1998 C.E. The reason I pick this date is because (though I have never written on this aspect of prophecy before) this particular year is the first time that I began to think on this interpretation in a serious manner. In other words, could there be a repetition of the events of Christ and the apostles, from the time of Christ’s birth until the apostle John finally canonized the whole Bible in 98 C.E.? Or, in putting it another way, is the 1st century and its events to have a type of repetition in the century of time ["the Great Generation"] that began with the 2000th anniversary of Christ’s birth? It may well be the fact. The evidence is strong enough that it bears watching.
However, the 2000th anniversary was to be different. There were to be NO CELESTIAL EVENTS of such magnitude and beauty and with all their deep symbolic significance (like those that occurred in the "B" part of the Immanuel Prophecy) at the 2000th anniversary. Why? It is simple. ALL OF THE CELESTIAL EVENTS happened only with Christ’s actual birth into the world as Immanuel as a sign to the world of all ages (including our own). Those astronomical signs that did in fact astonish the world at the time (and are still astonishing it) were reserved as a one-time affair. That was to show in no uncertain terms that Jesus Christ was indeed the "Immanuel" of the prophecy who was to come into the world during the "B" part of the prophecy. But, the "C" and final part of the THREE-FOLD prophecy could well begin with that 2000th anniversary date. God counts "days" as 1000 years (2 Peter 3:8–10), and it is interesting that the day of Rosh Ha-Shanah in 2000 C.E. was exactly 6000 years from the date of Creation of Adam as recorded in Genesis One. The period of 6000 years seems to be the prophetic period of time that God allows mankind to live and experience life without much intrusion by God in his affairs. But with the End-Time, God begins to intervene in a grand scale.
We may find that the time of the anniversary of Christ’s birth in 1998 C.E. may be more significant than we now realize. Only time will tell. We could well have entered a phase of the End-Time at that very day. It could mean that the world now has a period of 100 years (from the 2000th anniversary of Christ’s nativity) to witness the "C" and final part of the Immanuel Prophecy of Isaiah, and its complete and thorough fulfillment.
As for now, this matter of "the Great Generation" is NOT a certain prophetic indication, but it deserves our attention. If the historical period is to be repeated in an outline form as many of the prophecies denote, then something might happen in Jerusalem to make it an international city under the central control of the world’s dominating power in the very near future. Why do I say this? It so happened in history that nine years after Christ was born (within the "B" part of the fulfillment of the Immanuel Prophecy), the Edomite/Jewish kingdom of Herod headed by Herod’s son Archelaus was taken over by the complete control of the Roman Empire in a direct sense and the area was attached for government purposes to the Province of Syria with Antioch as its capital. The Jews had to give up control of Jerusalem in 6 C.E. (nine years after Christ’s birth). This is when the world’s greatest power took over to keep the peace in the region. Could it be that nine years after the 2000th anniversary of Christ’s birth, a similar thing could happen in the "C" part of the prophecy? This would take us to something of significance occurring in the year 2006 C.E. (remember, there is no "zero" year in going from B.C.E. to C.E.). Is this a year in which the world (under the leadership of the USA and Europe) demand of the peoples of Jerusalem and Palestine that an international solution is necessary for the region (like in 6 C.E. when the Roman Empire stepped in to rule Palestine and Jerusalem directly)?
What will happen after 2006 C.E. if this is a proper interpretation? Interestingly, history knows practically nothing of what happened in Jerusalem and Palestine for the next twenty years (from 6 C.E. to 26 C.E.). Even the Jewish historian Josephus, who recorded the events of Judea in his Wars and Antiquities of the Jews, is silent for the years from 6 C.E. to 26 C.E. No one knows why Josephus failed to record the historical events in Palestine and Jerusalem within that twenty years of time. However, an important event did occur twenty years later in 26 C.E. Rome sent Pilate to rule the Jews and the City of Jerusalem. In 27 C.E. John the Baptist began to preach. In 28 C.E. Jesus followed John in preaching.
Now for a Question
If the "Great Generation" of the 1st century is to be repeated in outline form (and this time with POSITIVE results for many details), does it mean that in 2006 C.E. (the 2000th anniversary of the Roman Empire taking over control of Judea and the City of Jerusalem), the final power that controls the world will find itself (with its allies) so disturbed with the continuance of the Jewish/Arab conflict (that threatens the whole world with consternation) that the world comes against Israel and forces an international status on Jerusalem and that it will hold for 20 years, until a new "Pilate" comes on the scene who will deal with a new John the Baptist — as the final "Elijah" to come?
Note that right after Pilate came to Jerusalem to rule, John the Baptist and Christ began their ministries. Of course, back in the 1st century the Jews were NOT converted to Christ, but in this End-Time period there will be a different outcome. The Jewish nation as a whole will be converted to basic Christianity. So, what was NEGATIVE in the 1st century will prove to have POSITIVE results in this "Great Generation."
To put it another way, the Scriptures prophesy that the Jews will turn to Christ and the Gospel (Zechariah 12:10–14 and 13:1–6). Just as Christ and the apostles’ ministry to the Jews was NOT a success (because God blinded their eyes back in the 1st century), this time the teaching of Christianity will take root among the Jewish people in a very POSITIVE manner. The combined ministry of John the Baptist was about 3½ years. Could it be that in a period of 3½ years commencing in 2027 C.E. the Jewish people will begin to accept Christ and the Gospel in massive numbers? If so, then by 2030 C.E. (the 2000th anniversary of the death of Christ on the tree of crucifixion when the Jewish authorities rejected Him and crucified Him), the Jewish people in the main will take over the mantle of Christianity and accept the crucifixion of Christ as essential for salvation. In other words, what they once rejected NEGATIVELY 2000 years ago, they will now accept POSITIVELY.
Since it took 65 years from the birth of Christ until "the Mystery" was revealed to Paul, could it be in the year 2063 C.E. (the 2000th anniversary of the revelation of "the Mystery"), that both the Jews and Gentiles of the world will accept the final and mature teachings of God found in Ephesians, Philippians and Colossians?
Then would come a 7 year period in which the Antichrist would be manifested in two different 3½ years of time that would lead to 2070 C.E. (the 2000th anniversary of the destruction of the Temple on the 9/10th of the month of Ab in the Hebrew calendar) which would also see the third "fold" of the THREE-FOLD aspect of the fulfillment of the final "Great Generation."
After that, Christ would arrive with His angels and then for the next 28 years (until 2098 C.E.) the Jewish people would return from a future exile into the Land of Canaan and resettle it as the prophecies state?
Brethren, all of this is possible, but it is still speculation on my part. I do not yet have the answer to these matters even if my suggestions are leaning toward the truth. However, the 2000th anniversary of Jesus’ birth (or starting from the Day of Trumpets in 1998 C.E.) seems to have some proper credentials (though we cannot be sure until a few other associated events recorded in the New Testament once again take place — in this final "C" part of the Immanuel Prophecy — which would be in tandem to this chronological benchmark within the final "Great Generation"). A major key date that we should watch for is the year 2006 C.E., four years ahead of us. 8
If there is a parallel between what happened in Jerusalem and Palestine in the 1st century with what will happen in a repetitious manner in our own "Great Generation," then we should expect to see the United States (the greatest power in the world today, and for the foreseeable future) joining the European Union of Nations (along with the rest of the world) to internationalize the region of Jerusalem and Palestine and control it like the Empire of Rome did in the area back in 6 C.E. This is what we should watch for (or something similar).
If something similar to that DOES NOT OCCUR, then I think we have to look elsewhere to discover what the exact chronological periods are that God has designed for our End-Times. I am not sure what is the case in these matters. One thing for certain, I am not a prophet. I am a historian and theologian. In my professional disciplines I feel I am competent and I have proved this in several ways. But when it comes to prophecy, only Christ Jesus knows for sure what is to happen in the next few years. Again, I am not a prophet.
However, we know because we are told, that as the End-Time nears, we will be given more truths as to the fulfillment of the prophecies. The matter simply comes down to this: Can we parallel in outline form our own events that are prophesied to happen in this End-Time generation with the exact events that occurred in the "Great Generation" from the time of Christ’s birth to the death of John the apostle? In showing any relevance to these matters, we must all use the REPETITIOUS or the CIRCULAR manner that the Scripture sanctions in several books of the Old Testament (and vindicated in the New Testament). None of us yet know for sure, but let us keep our eyes on these prophetic "keys" and others that God will open up to our knowledge. I will be mentioning these various "End Times" in future Prophetic Reports. One thing for certain is that we have the assurance that God will soon open the doors of understanding on these and other important matters (Daniel 12:4, 9).
Ernest L. Martin,
Edited by David Sielaff,
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1 True, the plan of history in which all humans exist on earth had its creation before the foundation of the world. See 2 Timothy 1:9 where the apostle Paul spoke of the plan of God as having been established before the world was brought into existence. James in the New Testament said that God knows all His works which He has performed on this earth "from the beginning" of time (Acts 15:18).
2 The word "Sheshach" is a manufactured word by Jeremiah derived by numbering the letters of the Hebrew alphabet in their regular position (numbering them from 1 to 22 — the complete number of the Hebrew alphabet). Then find the numerical position of the letters "BBL" (which in Hebrew equal "Babylon") and then counting the Hebrew letters from the back of the alphabet toward the front (from 22 back to 1). When one finds the same numerical position for "BBL" counting forward, then it will be "ShShCh" or "Sheshach" when the Hebrew letters are counted backwards. This particular King of Babylon (identified as a "Nebuchadnezzar" in Jeremiah 51:34) IS NOT the person that Jeremiah and Daniel knew, but he is "Sheshach" (the End-Time counterpart of the early Babylonian king.
3 See "The Damascus Phase of Modern Prophecy" for more details on this geographical matter.
4 If any of you have more information on the role this mysterious "Eliakim" plays in the life of Christ Jesus, please let me know, because the prophecy is very obscure to me. ELM
5 Some later scholars of Christendom tried to apply this condition of beauty to Christ’s appearance in the flesh, but they were wrong. Even Paul said that Christ in the flesh emptied Himself and gave up His former beauty to become a human, and even a human who would have no other human desiring Him from a physical point of view (Philippians 2:6–11). Of course, with Christ now in heaven with the Father, the description of Psalm 45 is applicable. Christ has returned to His glorious state and is again handsome. When He appears in the heavens at His Second Advent, the earth will see him in all His glory and present handsome condition. The negative will be succeeded by the positive.
6 True, the world did accept a type of "Christianity" that Rome and its legions finally subjected upon it, but the world did not accept the real emancipation of all human civilization by embracing the full teachings of "the Mystery" that you and I are now privileged to know and to believe.
7 The exact dates have yet to be worked out in my new chronology on which I am researching. ELM [Unfortunately Dr. Martin was not able to write this book. DWS]
8 As of when Dr. Martin wrote these words in January 2002, immediately before his death. DWS
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