Essentials of Prophetic Understanding
By Ernest L. Martin, Ph.D., 1987
Transcribed and edited by David Sielaff, December 2006
Read the accompanying Newsletter for December 2006
Listen to the Byte Show Interviews on this article:
Essentials of Prophetic Understanding Part 1 - Listen Download MP3
Essentials of Prophetic Understanding Part 2 - Listen Download MP3
More Byte Show Interviews...
It is important for us to recognize a major factor in the proof of Christianity in the message God the Father has given to mankind concerning his salvation. That factor is prophecy. This matter is easy to demonstrate when we look at the biblical revelation.
Pay attention first of all to the first advent of Christ into this world. It came about through fulfillment of numerous prophecies recorded over 4000 years about a Messiah that God would send in order for mankind to be saved. Without these earlier prophecies being recorded, and accomplished precisely by Christ, there would not have been the legal proofs to sustain the role of Christ in human affairs some 1,900 years ago.
The same thing holds true for prophecies that are yet to occur concerning the future Kingdom of God on earth, and the Kingdom of God in the heavenlies. Indeed, the final proof that Christ is who He says He was rests on the fulfillment of the central prophecy given by Him on the Mount of Olives two days before His crucifixion. That particular prophecy not only records events that are to take place in the future, and in the generation just preceding the Second Advent of Christ, but there is a chronology associated with those events which we must recognize as well. The timing is most important. In addition we need to know the place or places where these events will take place. In fact, these three points always must be taken into consideration to understand anything about prophecy:
If you get all three of these correct in your understanding, then you will know what prophecy is all about. All of these are most important to take into account when we come to understand the prophecies to occur in the generation prior to the Second Coming of Christ.
The first place to see all three factors in action is in the prime prophecy given by Christ Himself known as the Olivet Prophecy given two days before He was crucified. In that prophecy we have a summary of events that will occur just prior to Christ’s Second Coming. This prophecy deals with a time yet future to us, but we are coming into that period right now. When we put all of the Old Testament and New Testament prophecies together to coalesce around this Olivet Prophecy, we will see that we are on the threshold of the fulfillment of these major prophecies given in the Bible.
This Olivet Prophecy in Matthew chapter 24 is paralleled in Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21. When you put those two accounts together with Matthew 24, we have a comprehensive appraisal of the events, the chronology, and the geography. These are the events we should look for leading to His return from heaven to earth with His holy angels, and establishment of the Kingdom of God here on Earth and throughout the heavenlies. That is when the resurrection from the dead [your resurrection from the dead] will take place, or when those living believers in Christ will be changed into glorious spiritual beings, having the same type of characteristics, the same nature, and the same type of character as God the Father and Christ Jesus have.
We need to concentrate on some factors in the Olivet Prophecy because many people today are not looking at them properly. I will comment on Matthew chapter 24 which provides the skeleton of all prophecy. Then we will go into the Old Testament for some prophecies there, which are paramount for our recognition, then we will take a look at what the final prophecy says in the Book of Revelation. Looked at together, there is a lot of flesh put on the skeleton. As we approach the time of the end, the Bible says we will have a better understanding of the knowledge of prophecy. The Book of Daniel says we will come to a full knowledge of that prophecy. We do not have to be in the dark. Even the apostle Paul said that was to be the case.
We still are not perfect in all of these matters. None of us is a prophet at the present time. The prophets wrote the words in the past. They wrote their prophecies under the divine inspiration of God in the Holy Scripture. Christ Jesus has given His teaching about these things and now all He has to do is to open our minds by the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit and we can begin to put these things together in a proper chronological sequence. That is what Matthew chapter 24 really is all about. It describes the end-time generation when the events will take place that lead to the Second Advent of Christ.
You could say that each event counts down to that momentous occasion when Christ Jesus returns with His angels from heaven. This prophecy was given about two days before Christ’s crucifixion. He was coming to a time of great personal degradation when He would be apprehended by the authorities two days later. He was going to be tried, not only before the Jews but also the Gentiles, Pilate in particular who represented the Roman Caesar and government. Then He would be crucified, put on a tree, and then stoned to death, along with the crucifixion, and He would die.
All that is degradation prophesied in Isaiah chapters 53, 54, and other places. There was to be a glory that would come forth from it afterward. Three days later Jesus Christ was up from the grave. He was in glory before the Father on that Sunday morning and presented Himself before the Father with His own blood to redeem you and me from all of our sins. He is presently at the right hand of God the Father in heaven preparing shortly to come back to this earth. Before He does, the events mentioned in this Olivet Prophecy must transpire. In this prophecy Christ gives a sequential rundown of events from a particular point in history leading to His Second Advent.
Let me tell you a fact. There will be no deviation from the teaching that Christ gave here. He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). He said this so we can be assured that what He has related here and recorded by Matthew, Mark, and Luke will absolutely take place. It is true that we must have the original Greek translations on some of the points, to see what Christ actually says, but that is not very difficult to do.
We need to understand, have faith in, and rely on the fact that these events are prophesied to occur and that they were given by Christ Jesus Himself, the Firstborn Son of God. His words will not pass away unfulfilled.
Let us look at the context in which this prophecy was given:
“And Jesus went out, and departed from the temple: and his disciples came to him for to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said unto them, ‘See you not all these things? verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down.’”
They were showing Him the grand buildings of the Temple. Beyond the Temple was the city of Jerusalem itself. We have eyewitness accounts of what Jerusalem was like in the time that Christ made this prophecy. It was majestic indeed. I would venture to say that Jerusalem and some of the buildings there, particularly the Temple, would have been looked upon as some of the Seven Wonders of the World in ancient times. Even we would have been inspired by what was seen there from the Mount of Olives looking westward toward the Temple and the complex of buildings associated with it, and the city of Jerusalem beyond. It would have been a marvelous and wondrous sight.
By the time of Christ the Temple had been there for some 50 years, and the major part of it had been completed. It was a beautiful building indeed. That is why the apostles on the Mount of Olives called attention to Christ about these wonderful buildings that they could see on the western prospect. When they looked they were just amazed, and no doubt they should have been, but Christ said the time was coming when not one stone will be left upon another. 1
After 70 C.E. when the Romans had completed the war against the Jews they literally tore down every building in the city of Jerusalem. They were looking for gold and treasure in walls or in basements. They tore that city down to such an extent that Titus, the Roman general in charge of the four Roman legions that destroyed Jerusalem, traveled north into Syria, returned after six months, and got on top of Mount Scopus. Titus looked over Jerusalem that was once there and he said with his own lips (recorded by Josephus who was there), “I cannot believe there was ever once a city here” (Josephus, Wars of the Jews, 7.1–3, 112–113). He did know it because he helped tear it down. He bivouacked the 10th Roman Legion in the city of Jerusalem. They stayed there until about 285 C.E.
The city of Jerusalem was totally destroyed exactly as Christ said it would be in those first two verses of Matthew chapter 24. But that does not end the prophecy, in fact, that just gives the context for the prophecy dealing with the end time. The apostles were amazed when they heard Jesus Christ speak about the destruction of this wonderful and beautiful city. 2
Let us look at those words which Jesus said “shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35). You can rely on them because Christ came exactly when God said He would. He fulfilled His role of salvation and redemption for mankind precisely in the manner that prophecy said would occur, and that He was resurrected from the dead right on time, and He is now in heaven with the Father, soon to come back to this earth.
Here is the account of events leading up to that Second Advent of Christ back to this earth, that is so important for us to pay attention to:
“And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, ‘Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of your coming, and of the end of the world [aion, age]?’”
By “end of the world” they did not mean the destruction of the earth, they said the end of the aion, the end of this system of things, this age.
“When shall these things be?” They knew a new age was coming, a new age in which the Kingdom of God would exist on earth, a new age of beauty, of glory, and grandeur, indicated in several prophecies of the Old Testament. They wanted to know when that time period would come. It was known as the Kingdom of God. They wanted to experience that time (and they will experience it), but they wanted a rundown of events leading up to that glorious time of the Kingdom of God when God’s Messiah, Christ Jesus Himself, would be here on earth and we would have that wonderful period of the great prophesied Millennium. They had to be told what would take place in a chronological fashion so they could be knowledgeable to tell others to prepare for the coming Kingdom of God to this earth. It will be initiated by the Second Coming of Christ with His angels back to this earth. Before that time occurs, we have these events mentioned in this Olivet prophecy.
Notice what the apostles were particularly interested in. They wanted to know “when shall these things be?” They knew of the “things.” The things were the destruction of Jerusalem amongst other matters, but they had in mind all the other prophecies of the Old Testament, which was all they had in their midst.
That is mainly our concern also, is it not? We can read of the events easily. Events are usually not too difficult to understand, although they can be problematical from time to time. All you have to do is to read about them. If it says the Temple will be destroyed, then you can rest assured it will be. The event is only part of the prophecy. You want to know when that will occur because it may affect your life, the life of your children, or your grandchildren, or your nation, your people.
You also want to know where these things were going to occur. Obviously if a major disaster is to occur in Asia it may not affect those in the United States or Europe, or vice versa. If an event is to occur 100 years from now, we might be in prosperity until that time. So the most important things that you can know are not just the events themselves, but also the major points of the chronology of those events, and the geography of those events. These are the main things we need to take into consideration to understand about these events to occur just prior to the Second Coming of Christ to this earth.
This is why the apostles said, rightly and intelligently:
“‘Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign  of your coming, and  of the end of the world [age]?’ And Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [the] Christ; and shall deceive many.’”
The first mistake most people make when they appraise this prophecy is they think this may mean that there will be many Christs coming along, many people who will say they are the Christ. That is not what it means at all. He is saying that many people shall come in the name of Jesus, saying the name of Jesus, having faith in the name of Jesus, relying on the name of Jesus, even calling themselves after the name of Jesus Christ. 3
There will come people at the end of the age who will come in Jesus’ name saying that I [Jesus] am the Christ. They will admit He is Christ, but they “shall deceive many.” The many, not the few, will be deceived. 4 Jesus Christ’s name is known very well in the world today especially in our Western civilization. That is what Jesus meant by “many shall come in my name … and shall deceive many.” 5 Just because people use the name of YHWH, or Jesus, or the Messiah, or Christ, does not mean they are righteous. Other factors must accompany the use of that name which will distinguish whether or not a person is or is not a proper Christian.
So Jesus says the first thing we should be aware of when dealing with this time of the end was when shall these things be, and what shall be the sign of your coming, and what will be the end of the age. That is what they wanted to know. Christ begins to tell them about events that will precede the Second Coming of Christ, events that introduce the end of the age into this world.
“Jesus answered and said unto them, ‘Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am [the] Christ [admitting that Jesus is the Christ]; and shall deceive many. And you shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that you be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers [many] places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.’”
These are the sorrows associated with the time of the end. These events from verses 5–7 precede the major events leading to the Second Coming of Christ. They are the birth pangs so to speak. They are the beginning of sorrows. Look at verse 9. Notice the adverb “then.” Every time you get an adverb such as “when,” or “then,” or something like that, you have chronology coming into it. Remember the apostles asking in verse 3, “Tell us when shall these things be”? He answers them:
The question of when is being answered by Jesus because He says, “when,” “when,” “then,” “then,” “then,” “immediately”; He then gives the events preceding His Second Coming:
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and you shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”
Again, it says many will be deceived. These false prophets will come in the name of Jesus Christ, which is what He said in verses 4 and 5. They are not coming in the name of Buddha, or the Shinto religion, or some type of animistic religion out of barbarism. No, these prophets are prophets all right, but they are false prophets. They will use the name of Jesus Christ to sustain their teachings, but those teachings will be deceptive. If you find the many are going in one direction, even accepting Christ, these prophecies teach that you had better be wary of the direction in which you are being led, because the many shall be deceived, even though the false prophets use the name of Jesus Christ.
“And because iniquity shall abound, the love of [the] many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
He is implying that the end has not yet occurred, but is getting closer. The end is still to the future and those who continue to endure without being deceived, with the help of God supporting them, will be saved.
“And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
Only after this whole gospel, this gospel that Christ wants taught to the world, the Gospel that goes to Israel, as well as the Gospel called the Mystery that goes to the Gentiles (and we must distinguish between the two) those Gospels will be preached. They will be preached throughout the entirety of the world, “and then shall the end come.” 6
God does not have to rely upon men for their preaching of the Gospel in any way. In Revelation 14:6 there will be an angel who goes throughout the world with the everlasting (an aionian or age-lasting), Gospel to preach to those on earth. We do not have to have mankind doing that. It can be done by an angel who is not even a human being. We can have our part in doing this, but Matthew 24:14 is not an excuse, nor is it a commission, to preach the Gospel to the world. It is simply not there. This verse states a fact that it will be done. It does not say who will do it. In fact here there is no intimation that the apostles themselves would be involved in this preaching of the Gospel to the world. It just says it will be done.
I hope that you and I can be a part of that, but certainly it is not a commission that we have, or anybody else has, because the angel mentioned in Revelation 14:6 is the one who has the aionian Gospel to preach to all nations on earth prior to the Second Coming of Christ to this earth. I would hope that all of us would have our hearts in tune with the true Gospel message and that we would want to share that message with as many people in the world as God may call. He has us to be effective instruments in carrying out that. Clearly He wants us to be in partnership with Him, but this is not a commission to you or to me to get the Gospel around the world. (If it were, I would work feverishly to get missionaries into the world.) 7
God will not do anything to this world unless He gives it a warning. That is clear in the prophecies of the Old Testament. God does nothing unless He gives His prophets the knowledge so that they might tell the truth to the world. You and I might not be the prophets, but the prophets wrote of old, and you and I have the means of just quoting them, as we should as best we can, and that is what we at ASK want to do. We are not the prophets. The prophets were in the Old Testament and the New Testament. We are not the apostles. They were in the New Testament. We are not the ones commissioned to do all of these things. They were commissioned, but you and I have been given the privilege through the Holy Spirit to share these things with people in the world.
If we do so, even though we do not have a commission, God will bless our efforts, and I believe He is beginning to do it already. There is going to be a restoration of all things in this earth. That is what Peter told the Jews back there in Acts chapter 3. This restoration is prophesied to occur in Daniel and other places in the Bible. Here we find the Gospel will be preached throughout the world. The means by which it is done is in God’s sovereign will. I hope that you and I can have a part of it, but it is not a commission here for you and me to do this.
We ought to be of our own free will, motivated by the will of God, to do the things necessary to get the Gospel out at this present time. If we do, if we show a willing heartedness, and be generous in doing it, then I tell you this, the rewards that God can give us will be grand indeed (1 Corinthians chapter 3). I want to “be about my Father's business” (Luke 2:49), and I hope all of you do as well. That is what we should really have in our minds, to have a desire to share these messages of the truth with as many people as God is calling. He is the one responsible for doing the calling, but He also gives us the power and the authority on many occasions to get this message out. He says the Gospel will go out in greater power some time in the future. I hope all of us can be a part of this. I think that we can be.
Matthew 24:15 is when He gets to the one single event that starts the countdown, really, to the Second Advent of Christ. It is a particular event, not the general ones like nation against nation, and famine here and famine there. Those things are all important. They are pertinent, clearly, but they are general things. Now we come down to specifics. After the going forth of the Gospel to the world He says:
“When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place [the inner sanctum of the Temple], (whoso reads, let him understand).”
This means “whoso reads” Daniel, or even this section of Matthew here. That could have been put in by Matthew as a comment, that whoever reads this section here of Matthew should understand. Or it could mean that Christ Himself said be careful, but that whoever reads Daniel should understand. Be careful because this abomination of desolation is something that will be set up.
Notice that Christ Jesus said this was to be set up future to the time He gave this prophecy. In the Book of Daniel it speaks about the abomination of desolation in three different places [Daniel 9:27, 11:31, and 12:11]. 8 The abomination of desolation is something that can stand in the Holy Place, in the inner sanctum, in the naos as it is in the Greek, of the Temple. It means the Holy of Holies. Someone or something will stand in the middle of that Temple.
First of all, there will be a Temple there before someone or something can stand in it. Is that not a fact? Of course it is. The apostle Paul did say that a man was coming in the future just prior to the Second Advent of Christ who would be called “the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3–4 [see John 17:12]), “the man of sin” (2 Thessalonians 2:3), “that wicked [one]” (2 Thessalonians 2:8). He, it says, will proclaim himself God and put himself in the Temple of God, in the naos, in the very place that this abomination of desolation is destined to be housed.
That is coming in the future. Paul said that it was a man that would do that. In the Book of Revelation it goes farther and says that this man who is titled “the beast” will also have an image made to him. There will be a false prophet associated with this beast at the end of the age. This is all in Revelation chapter 13. This false prophet will cause an image to be made of this beast, this man, who will look very good by the way. He will look like God. He will look like Christ Jesus as the world conceives Him to look. This image will also speak.
The abomination of desolation, when you put all of the evidence together centers in on something like this: a man claiming to be God who has a glorious image that can speak. If it is going to be legally made, the only legal image that can be put in the Holy of Holies that Jews, Christians, or anybody else who knows the Scripture would accept, would be a cherub. Could a cherub then be made and then begin to speak? If it were that, then certainly it would have some scriptural relevance to it. That may be the answer to what the Book of Revelation is talking about. 9
Christ Jesus is talking about an abomination of desolation that will stand in the Holy Place of a Temple in Jerusalem future to Him. It will be there just prior to His Second Advent back to this earth. That means there must be a new Temple constructed in Jerusalem.
We do not have a Temple in Jerusalem at the present time, but there will be one. All prophecy demands there be a literal Temple in Jerusalem. There will be a time period for construction of that Temple. There also has to be an environment in which nations of the world agree to the building of the Temple, and that the Jews themselves will begin to build that Temple. That is coming in the next generation ahead of us because this Olivet Prophecy is giving a teaching coming from Jesus Christ Himself and He said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).
These prophecies, these indications, absolutely will occur according to Jesus Christ. He says when this abomination happens, “Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains” (Matthew 24:16). He said those “in Judaea.” He did not say those in America, those in Europe, those in Australia, He said those “in Judaea,” let them “flee into the mountains.” 10
“Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: Neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day.”
Do you know what this means? It means that when the abomination of desolation is established in the Temple in Jerusalem, the sabbath day will be back in operation and enforced. Jesus says you had better not flee for your lives on the sabbath because the authorities will be watching for you. What it means is that this man, this false Christ, will accomplish what the true Christ is supposed to do for Israel when He comes back the second time.
When Christ Jesus comes back to Israel He will establish His laws again. The New Covenant is laws being placed upon the hearts of individuals, and those laws will be kept. The laws of the New Covenant are similar to those of the Old, except there is a spiritual significance to all of them. The sabbath will be brought back into existence by Christ for those on earth who are part of the Covenant system.
Isaiah points that out as does Zechariah, not only will the sabbath be enforced but the holy days, the clean food laws, all of it. Do you know who will put them there? It will be the beast, the man of sin, the son of perdition, who reestablishes the law before the Second Coming of Christ, because the prophecies say that the true Christ will do that when He comes back, for the Israelites and those who wish to be associated with Israel. If that is the case, and it is plainly put in the Scripture that it will be so, then the antichrist, mimicking the true Christ, will deceive the world into believing that he is none other than Jesus Christ come back to earth. He will establish all the Mosaic laws that the early Christians themselves kept. 11 This beast, this antichrist, will reintroduce the childish things again.
Christ will do the same thing when He comes back the second time. You might ask why would He do that? It will be because people have deviated so far from the truth that Christ Jesus will start all over with the Israelites and reintroduce the laws to them once again so they can begin to understand that those laws were for children. When they grow in grace and in knowledge, then they can abandon those things later on. 12
This antichrist (who will mimic Christ) will establish the sabbath once more, and it will be strictly enforced in Jerusalem by the authorities. It will not be Sunday, it will not be Easter. The law of Moses will be put into effect in Judaea. “Pray you that your flight be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day” (Matthew 24:20). It may be quite arduous. It may be raining, snowing, hailing, the roads could be washed out. It could be very difficult. “Neither on the sabbath day.” If you are fleeing with your belongings on the sabbath day when the Beast power is enforcing the sabbath, they will notice you immediately and put you in prison because you are violating the truth of almighty God. You had better be careful at that time if you are living in Judaea.
These are profound teachings that Christ is giving to His apostles. He allowed His apostles to pick grain on the sabbath day and He acknowledged it was unlawful to do that (Matthew chapter 12). He allowed people to flee on the sabbath; that is perfectly fine. The authorities in Jerusalem, however, once the Temple is established and once this antichrist comes on the scene, he will put into operation the law of Moses. They will watch with hawk eyes to see who violates the sabbath or the holy days or the unclean food laws, believe me they will do it. That is why Christ is telling them here you better be careful that you do not flee on the sabbath.
This also tells us another thing, flee to where? Where will they go? It says “into the mountains” (Matthew 24:16). There are mountains around Jerusalem, that is quite true, that these people could flee to because obviously they are going from Judaea. (They are not going from Rome or from the United States.) In Revelation 12:5 the woman who has the man child, the ekklesia at Jerusalem, will flee “into the wilderness.” It must be a wilderness area and a mountainous area, and they will flee to this region. It says pray that you not flee on the sabbath (Matthew 24:20). That means they ought to be able to get there within six days of walking. It means that a place is going to be provided for the people of Judaea and Jerusalem so they can escape at this time. They will be there, according to the Revelation chapter 12, around 3½ years.
If you want to know where that place is, it is Petra. I have not the slightest doubt that is where the people who live in Judaea will go to, and they will be protected for 3½ years from this great time of difficulty, this great tribulation period prophesied by Christ Jesus. Petra is about 130 miles south and east of Jerusalem. It is a very interesting and beautiful place, a place associated with the Exodus as far as Moses is concerned, and it will be a place where God will protect His people from Judaea during this time, when you put all of the evidence together. Jesus says that they can flee to this place of protection.
For the rest of us around the world who live at this time, the apostle Paul told the Thessalonians (who lived almost 800 miles from Judaea) that they would be spared during this time. It does not mean that they would be taken to heaven or some place like that. The point is made by the prophet Isaiah:
“Come, my people, enter you into your chambers, and shut your doors about you: hide yourself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.”
We do not have to be wafted into heaven to be protected; we can be protected anywhere on this earth. It just so happens that the people in Judaea and around Jerusalem are admonished to flee to the mountains, to an area not very far from Jerusalem to a region which you could get to within six days, at a time when you would not have to flee on the sabbath day. He wants people not to flee on the sabbath day, not because God would be angry with them, but because the beast power, the antichrist, would be angry, because he has established the sabbath as a day to be kept. That means Friday sundown to Saturday sundown. It will be strictly enforced in Jerusalem at the time the abomination of desolation is established in the Temple. 13
Christ said “Pray you that your flight be not in the winter,” because it will be hard going at that time, “neither on the sabbath day,” because if you move on the sabbath carrying your goods, you have had it. That is when the beast power and his authority will make sure you are put in prison.
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.”
He is quoting from Daniel 12:1, referring to the end time. There can only be one such time. There could never be a “type” of this because if there is a type of this in the past, however severe, then that type would never have been surpassed in intensity. There would be two times, the type and then the actual in the future. But there is no type involved in this event. There is only one time in history in which this Great Tribulation is going to occur.
“For then shall be great tribulation,” at that time once the abomination of desolation is established in the inner sanctum of the Temple and you start fleeing to the mountains if you are in Judaea (and be sure not on the sabbath day):
“For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved:”
He does not say the overall chronological scheme of God’s plan will be shortened, He just says only
“… except those days [of tribulation] should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not?”
See all these chronological indications, these adverbs coming out: “then,” “then,” “then,” “when you see,” and all of that. He is giving a sequential tally of events which will lead up to His Second Advent here.
“For there shall arise false Christs [messiahs], and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before [beforehand].”
“The very elect” would be the apostles. These signs and wonders are going to be so outstanding, and they will be in a context of so-called “righteousness” in an environment in which people would think the true Christ is really on the earth, that this man sitting in the Temple of God is indeed Christ Himself. That is what people are going to think. When that happens with signs and miracles, the very elect themselves will be within an ace of expecting something, if they did not know better. That is how deceptive this whole thing will be at the end of the age. We have to be very careful about it. That is why Christ said to those apostles on the Mount of Olives some 1900 years ago:
“Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, ‘Behold, he is in the desert’; go not forth: ‘behold, he is in the secret chambers’; believe it not.”
“He is in the desert” means like Moses approaching from east of the Jordan River. “The secret chambers” mean where it is secret, like chambers in the Temple. If someone is in the Temple “believe it not.” That is a sign for you and for me.
“For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.”
If any person comes to this earth and says He is the Christ and starts to establish his kingdom on earth like this antichrist will mimic, like it says he will in Revelation chapter 13 with his false prophet, if they do that and the Mount of Olives has not split in two, you can be sure he is the wrong one.
Zechariah chapter 14 says that when Christ Jesus comes back, just before He establishes His kingdom, that Mount of Olives will split in two. That is a miracle I can believe in! When I see that happen I will not have any doubts. Before that time people can call themselves “the Christ” all they want to, and they may be teaching moral and ethical principles that are good and right. But if they demand worship and all of the factors of Christ’s Second Coming have not yet occurred, you had better be careful. Christ said Himself that even the very elect would be close to accepting it because of the signs, wonders, and miracles that will be associated with this time (that God the Father will allow to take place). There will be a great deception. God allows the world to believe this lie (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Only the elect will not believe it. It is easy for us to understand what the truth really is if we just pay attention to all of these things. It is not difficult.
“For as the lightning comes out of the east, and shines even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcass is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
“The carcass” is a cipher for where He will come to, or where people will go. I have said in the past that “wheresoever the body is there will the eagles be gathered together,” like in Luke 17:37. The only body that eagles were associated with in the Old Testament was the body of Moses that was buried in a place that no one knows, east of the Jordan River. It is one possibility of what Christ was referring to.
The other is that He is giving a simple proverb that where you expect the eagles to be. They will be where a carcass is, not that the carcass (or the body) itself is important, but just wherever you find a dead body you will find the eagles, or, wherever the eagles are is the place to which you should pay attention. Christ may be referring to Job 39:27–28. It says that the eagle dwells in the rock in Celah (sometimes spelled Selah), that may be another name for Petra.
The two witnesses in Revelation chapter 11 that we are told will appear just prior to the Second Coming of Christ will be killed, but after 3½ days they will be resurrected and taken into the heavenlies. It does not mean up to God’s throne because the 1st resurrection does not take place until it is reported in Revelation 20:5. They will be taken to this place where the others will be taken.
It says that one could be plowing in the field, another could be grinding grain, another could be harvesting, at all times of the day it seems, one will be taken, and the other will be left (Matthew 24:40–41). Where will they be taken? They will be taken to a place of safety. They will be taken to an area to assemble with Christ Jesus in the clouds when He comes back the second time.
These are very interesting things that we need to consider and we need to study. I tell you this, as the time gets closer we are going to know more and more about these points. They are very interesting indeed.
“Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken [note this]:
And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is nigh: So likewise you, when you shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.”
Some people will be living during that period who will see all these events in this Olivet Prophecy, beginning in verse 3 all the way to this point here. All people will be able to see them. When you see them you will know that the time is very near, it is “even at the doors.” Notice verse 34:
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled [or be accomplished].”
This means the generation that sees “these things.” 14 It was future to Christ that an abomination of desolation will be set up. The Great Tribulation is a one-time occurrence. It is unique. Nothing has ever happened like it in the world before, nor will it ever happen again. All of these things are just prior to the Second Coming of Christ back to this earth. In fact, we find in verses 30 and 31 the records of how Christ will appear which ends this prophecy. He will establish the Kingdom of God on earth. The generation that sees all of these things, will experience all of these things, and it means a generation of time.
How long is a generation? 15 From the beginning of these Olivet Prophecy events to the time when Christ Jesus will come in the heavens — including the false Christ coming on the scene, the abomination of desolation being set up, as well as the Great Tribulation — all of these events in Matthew chapter 24 will take place in a single generation of time. It is the generation that will be at the last final period of human history, the end of the age, leading to the Second Coming of Christ.
[ EDITORIAL NOTE: This article was transcribed from a 1987 audiotape. In the last year of his life (he died January 2002), Dr. Martin came to understand the biblical concept of a special “Great Generation” of 100 years as the length of the last generation before Christ’s return. This 100-year generation was what Christ referred to in His Olivet Prophecy. To understand the biblical evidence, read (or reread) Dr. Martin’s article “The Great Generation and Modern Prophecy” at http://www.askelm.com/prophecy/p021201.htm in relation to the article here. DWS ]
The prophecies of the Old Testament dealing with the time of the end, or the Day of the Lord, in both Old and New Testaments, must fit in with this period. Many of the events in Matthew chapter 24 could not possibly be fulfilled tomorrow, because there is no Temple in Jerusalem in which the abomination of desolation could be housed. And there are other factors that are not in evidence at present. We have to recognize that we have a few more years left. When will the last generation begin in the future? When will the final end of the age, the final years actually begin to transpire?
There is a prophecy in the Book of Daniel, and I have referred to it in the past. It is most important. It is the last prophecy given by the archangel Gabriel to Daniel. It was the interpretation of a vision called the Book of Truth. This end-time prophecy occupies the 10th chapter of Daniel which relates how the prophecy was first given to Daniel, why he came when he did, 21 days later than Gabriel intended. Only then does Gabriel begin to state the prophecy in this Book of Truth.
The prophecy itself occupies Daniel 11:2–12:4. It is most interesting when you put it all together because almost none of the events in this long prophecy (future to Daniel) have happened yet to this day. Gabriel gives an introduction (which for us is historical) about the Persian Empire, about Alexander the Great and how his empire is divided into four sections. That gives us the historical basis for the entire prophecy. Gabriel then starts to tell what is in the Book of Truth. It is all for the future; and it is for the future to us today. It has never had a historical relevance. Even earlier in Daniel when Gabriel was telling Daniel about the vision and the interpretation of it, he says:
“Now I [Gabriel] am come to make you [Daniel] understand what shall befall your people in the latter days: for yet the vision is for many days.”
Indeed it is. The vision commences:
“I shew you the truth. Behold, there shall stand up [future to Daniel’s time]yet three kings in Persia; and the fourth shall be far richer than they all: and by his strength through his riches he shall stir up all against the realm of Grecia. And a mighty king shall stand up, that shall rule with great dominion, and do according to his will. And when he shall stand up, his kingdom shall be broken, and shall be divided toward the four winds of heaven; and not to his posterity, nor according to his dominion which he ruled: for his kingdom shall be plucked up, even for others beside those.”
Verse 5 starts with a description of a King of the South. Verse 6 talks about a King of the North. It does not identify who these kings are. This King of the South in verse 5 will be succeeded by someone of his own princes who will then have a daughter. This daughter will have a son called “the Branch” in verse 7. This man called “the Branch” who will be the King of the South who continues to live through the rest of the prophecy until the very end.
The first King of the North is succeeded by another king who has a short reign mentioned in verse 20, a raiser of taxes, but he rules just a short time. Then in verse 21 the third King of the North is mentioned who is called “a vile person.” He is the one who sets up the abomination of desolation at the end of the age. We are talking about a time span beginning in Daniel 11:5, certainly not much longer than that. When you study the prophecy it is all for the end time.
The abomination of desolation which you find in Daniel 11:31–32, Christ put in the future to Himself. This prophecy has no historical relevance whatever from Daniel 11:5 onward. The King of the South and the King of the North mentioned in verse 5 and 6 are future kings to us. We need to pick up this chronological sequential teaching. If we can pick it up and begin to understand in the near future who these Kings of the South and Kings of the North are, and follow it through, we have in front of us a major teaching which almost no one in this world today accepts, no matter who he or she is, whether they are a prophetic interpreter, preacher, theologian, or a scholar.
But we can know in detail what will happen in the generation leading up to the establishment of the abomination of desolation of Daniel 11:31–32, when the final King of the North proclaims himself to be God, higher than any god on earth, which starts in chapter 11:36–41. He begins to conquer the world in verse 44. He goes to the north and to the east and takes over all of the north and east of Palestine. It means not only into Mesopotamia, but it also means into the farthest parts of the Eurasian world.
Finally in verse 45 he establishes “the tabernacles of his palace between the seas.” That means between the Mediterranean Sea and the Dead Sea, right at Jerusalem. At the time that he does that, and has a world government going, it says in Daniel 12:1:
“And at that time [the time of the antichrist] shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time your people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting [olam, age-lasting] life, and some to shame and everlasting [olam, age-lasting] contempt.”
This talks about the resurrection from the dead, at the very time Michael stands up for the people of Israel. When does he stand up? At a time of trouble such as never was before or never will be in the future.
Did Christ speak about this in the Olivet Prophecy? Of course He did. There can only be one such time. That time is future to us. The abomination of desolation is yet future to us. When you look at this prophecy called “the Scripture of Truth” in Daniel 10:21, this long prophecy from Daniel 11:2 to 12:4, yet future to us, it gives detailed information of events in chronological, sequential order leading up to the abomination of desolation in the Temple, the establishment of this man calling himself God in the Temple in Jerusalem that the apostle Paul referred to in 2 Thessalonians chapter 2. He is conquering the world (Daniel 11:41–45), and establishes his tabernacles, his palace in Jerusalem, and proclaims himself King of King and Lord of Lords. On the heels of that is when it says (ignoring chapter divisions)
“And at that time [after establishing his palace in Jerusalem, claiming to be God] shall Michael stand up, the great prince which stands for the children of your people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time.”
That is the same period of time Christ Jesus spoke about. Here in Daniel chapters 10–12 (and you must couple with it Daniel chapters 7 and 8 which give parallel scriptures to all this), we find a prophecy for our day that parallels the Olivet Prophecy in Matthew chapter 24, Mark chapter 13 and Luke chapter 21 given by Christ two days before His crucifixion.
That also parallels Revelation chapter 6 through to chapter 21. You will find all of that parallels this exact time period which Christ called a “generation.” These things have not yet taken place but they are on the threshold of doing so. I think we have some very interesting times just ahead of us.
There is one other prophecy which is most important for us to understand. That is the last three chapters of Zechariah, chapters 12, 13, and 14. This single prophecy speaks of some interesting things to happen in Jerusalem amongst the Jews in Israel, and it dovetails marvelously well with what Peter said that there will be a restoration of all things, and the Book of Revelation saying that there will be 144,000 Israelites who will come to a knowledge of Christ. How will these people come to a knowledge of Christ? It is all explained here in Zechariah 12:1–14:21.
This section also gives a chronological or sequence of events leading right up to the Second Coming of Christ because in chapter 14 of Zechariah it mentions a great battle against Jerusalem, that YHWH Himself will come, in the person of His Messiah, Christ Jesus:
“And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west.”
After that shall come the Kingdom of God on this earth. The Mount of Olives cleaving in two, when His feet shall touch it, is parallel to what the two angels said to the apostles who were on that same Mount of Olives when Jesus (after His resurrection) after 40 days of teaching them, He was taken up into the clouds. He disappeared. The apostles did not see Him again, except in vision by the apostle John.
Those two angels said in Acts chapter 1, why do you men gaze up into heaven like this. Do you not know that Christ Jesus will be up in heaven until the time when He is to come back and He is coming back in like manner as He went up in the clouds from the Mount of Olives, He is coming back to the Mount of Olives. His feet will touch on the Mount of Olives that day and that Mount shall cleave in two.
Before that happens, as mentioned in chapter 14 of Zechariah, you have to look at what precedes it in the chapters 12 and 13. It is one long prophecy. Read this long prophecy of Zechariah chapters 12, 13, and 14, from beginning to end, and you will find a sequential teaching of what will happen to the Jews in Israel. It is most amazing. Let us look at this prophecy quickly in closing. It says in chapter 12 of Zechariah:
“The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel [this is the title of the prophecy], says the Lord, ... Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.”
The prophecy begins with a war involving the people of Judaea and with Jerusalem:
“And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.”
The people of the earth today, whether you are in Japan, the United States, or Western Europe, it makes no difference, it seems like everyone is interested to know what is going on in Jerusalem because the very prospects of our history are dependent upon events in the Middle East. Believe me that is the key. The key is to pay attention to the Middle East because all prophecy is dominated by the geography of the Middle East. “In that day” people will see that Jerusalem is “a burdensome stone” to them.
“In that day, says the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God.”
In that time the Jews will be in control of Jerusalem. 16 For the past 1900 hundred years the Jews have not been in Jerusalem, but now they are, and this prophecy could not even begin to take place until the Jews would have complete control of Jerusalem. They have that now. At least one of the factors for the beginning of the fulfillment of this prophecy is already in effect. Going on:
“In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.”
Not somewhere else, but right in Jerusalem. The people who control Jerusalem, the Jews, will have great power and authority “round about” and no person or country will be able to overthrow them. They will be in a powerful position.
Is that not the case today? Since 1967 the Jews have been almost invincible in dealings with the nations around them. Not absolutely so, that is quite true. They had a set back in 1973, but yet they are the most powerful military nation in the Middle East. In fact per capita they are the most powerful military nation in the world today. Every country around them, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, there are millions upon millions of people who are their antagonists around them, but they are very wary of attacking Israel because they know that Israel has the superior power. That is a condition that they have right now [in 1987, and at present in 2006] which is being reflected from this very prophecy right here.
“The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.”
In other words Jerusalem shall be as powerful as all Judah. That is the way it is, not one against the other, but all of them together.
“And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness.”
It means there will be a great conversion of the Jews to Christ, after this happens some time in the future. After that there will be a tribulation in Zechariah 13:7–9 in which two thirds of the people will perish. On the heels of that, in a final war for Jerusalem, Messiah will come and set His feet on the Mount of Olives. Zechariah chapters 12–14 are yet future to us, except note this, it seems like chapter 12 is describing the condition in Israel today. The Bible is coming alive as never before.
Ernest L. Martin, 1987
Edited by David Seilaff, December 2006
1 The city of Jerusalem itself was a grand city at the time. Josephus said that Herod’s palace could almost equal the Temple. In one way he said it even exceeded the Temple in grandeur. That palace was on the western part of the city of Jerusalem. At the time of Christ that city was no Middle Eastern city like we are familiar with today. Jerusalem today, is nothing like it was in the 1st century in the time of Christ. Herod built that city up, including the Temple and his own palace and other buildings, to such a state that people came from around the world just to look at the beautiful buildings gracing the mountains on which Jerusalem was built. It was a very wonderful place to be as far as the physical ambiance was concerned. The apostles here are coming to Christ and pointing out these wonderful buildings. They were awe inspired by them, and so would you be if you were there at the time. Then Christ says there is coming a time when not one stone would be left upon another, especially of the Temple, and it will all be torn down. That is exactly what happened. ELM See Dr. Martin’s book The Temples That Jerusalem Forgot (Portland, OR: ASK Publications, 2001). DWS
2 It would be like us today hearing a prophecy that New York City or London or Tokyo would be absolutely devastated. That seems incomprehensible with one exception; we know that there are nuclear weapons capable of doing such things. ELM
3 It is true, as He says later, that there will be several people, with one main individual, who will say at the end of the age that they are the Christ, and they will deceive people by that means. That is not what is being talked about in Matthew 24:5. Christ in Greek means Messiah. In the Hebrew it means “the Anointed One” the prophesied one, the one to redeem mankind to God the Father. This particular anointed one, this particular Messiah or this Christ; He gave His name to a group of people called Christians. They were first called Christians under divine authority [in Acts 11:26] in Antioch of Syria. The word Christian, if you read carefully, was divinely inspired. You can call yourself a Christian if you are abiding in the principles of Jesus Christ. ELM
4 In this world today we have over 5 billion people [as of December 2006, 6.5 billion] living on earth today. That is a lot of individuals. About half of them, so we are told, have not even heard the name of Jesus Christ. They may have heard of Him intellectually, in literature, etc., but many have not. That is not the way it is in Western Europe, the Americas, Australia, or the islands of the sea, or even in Japan. In most developed countries like South Korea they at least know of Christ Jesus. Indeed it goes deeper than that. A full one billion people also believe in Christ Jesus. The many are coming in Christ Jesus’ name. In the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Australia, and such places, our whole governmental system is one way or another based upon the principles in this holy book that we call the Bible. ELM
5 When it says “come in my name,” He did not mean coming in the Sacred names in Hebrew like YHWH, very few people know of YHWH today. They should know Him, and it is very important that we know His name, but we should not make a fetish out of it. Many people today do not even know what the name YHWH means or refers to. Almost 7,000 times in the Old Testament we find the proper name of God as being YHWH. That name is not known by too many people today. Even if the name of YHWH was known by those who use it, that does not mean that they are always righteous, by no means. “Many shall come in my name, saying, I am [the] Christ,” the Messiah, and many shall be deceived. ELM Read Dr. Martin’s articles: “How Should the Names of Deity be Properly Rendered?” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d910302.htm, “What Is the Proper Name of the Father of Jesus” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d910401.htm, and “The Divine Names and the New Testament” at http://www.askelm.com/doctrine/d910501.htm. DWS
6 Many today use this verse as an excuse to raise up denominations or works of some kind to carry the Gospel message to the world because they feel they have authority from this verse to preach the Gospel into “all the world.” The first thing I have to ask is this, what Gospel are they going to preach? The apostle Paul said there were several Gospels that were being preached back in his time, and they all had the name of Jesus associated with them. Some he called false gospels (Galatians chapter 1). We have to be careful when it comes to the Gospel going out. There are all types of people in the world today who are very intent in sending people overseas to various nations to preach, as they say, the Gospel of Christ to the world. They feel that any work that is God’s work at the end of the age must be preaching the Gospel to the world. They think that is one of the major signs. DWS
7 Many people misunderstand what Christ is talking about. He is not giving here a commission of any kind to preach the Gospel into the world. He just says it will be done. He does not say by what means. He does not say by what individuals. Obviously it would have to do with us somewhat if it is going to be humans, clearly, but at the same time an angel will do it and it even says in Revelation that the third angel’s message will go to the entirety of this world prior to the Second Coming of Christ. That is still not the end. The end will come immediately after the world has been given a full message of Christ. ELM
8 Many people say that abomination of desolation was set up about 200 years before Christ ever came on earth, before this time He is speaking, in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes about 168–165 C.E. in Jerusalem. Some have said that the abomination of desolation was set up in the Temple at that time. In no way is that true. ELM
11 We find in the Book of Acts that they kept the laws. They had to get further revelation from the apostle Paul and others that some of these things are only types. They were there for infants, for children, but when the children grow up they do not have to keep these laws. That did not mean that you go out and sin against the general moral and ethical principles of Scripture, no, but these ritualistic teachings of the Scripture were there simply to lead a person to Christ. Like the apostle Paul said in the Book of Galatians, the law of Moses was there to lead a person to Christ. Once a person was led to Christ, he becomes an adult and you do not need these childish things any more. That is what the law was all about. ELM
12 God the Father does not keep the sabbath today. Christ Jesus does not keep the sabbath. Jesus said: “My Father works hitherto, and I work” (John 5:17). He was saying that on the sabbath day. When you come to a proper and mature understanding of Christ you do not have to use these ritualistic teachings as a schoolmaster “to bring us to Christ” (Galatians 3:24), as a child would use toys or symbols or things like that until they become an adult, and then you can “put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11). That is the way that the apostle Paul worded it clearly in Galatians. Any time you have to adopt the law for rituals or for action or for doing anything to please God, you are still in school, you are still an infant, you are having to be led by the hand by a schoolmaster to bring you to Christ. ELM
13 When you get to Christ then you are mature and you do not need the law in that way any longer. Are you a mature Christian? Are you past 21, so to speak? The Law will always stay in effect for people “under 21.” I have given illustrations on this in the past. In California you cannot buy liquor until an individual is 21 years of age. You may be 20 years and 5 minutes before your birthday, you cannot buy liquor because it says that it is against the law to sell to minors. Five minutes after midnight when you have turned 21 years of age you can buy all you want. The law did not change. The person changed and became an adult. Those laws ordained for infants will continue to be there — for infants. If you have to be led by the hand, by a schoolmaster, all the time then keep the sabbath, keep the holy days, keep these things that are meant for children, and you will never grow up. When you grow up at 21 years of age, your rights change and are now those of adult, yet the law still stays the same. If that is the way you are spiritually, then you do not need these schoolmaster teachings any longer. That is what the apostle Paul was trying desperately to get over to the Jews and Gentiles in the 1st century. We need to pay attention to what he says today. We do not need these rituals any longer. In Jerusalem when the antichrist mimics Christ, he will enforce these schoolmaster laws. ELM
14 There seems to be a 40-year generation after Christ was crucified until the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 C.E. That generation back there may have seen one, two, three, or four things that looked like the fulfillment of this prophecy was in effect. However, the events that happened back at that time do not dovetail with this prophecy at all. This prophecy is talking about the future, future to us today. ELM
15 A generation is certainly several years. It could hardly go, though, beyond a hundred years because a generation of people means that a person is born and then he dies. First, the normal lifespan [in developed lands] is 70 years or 80+ because of strength. That could be “one generation,” meaning the time a person is born until that person dies. A second meaning of a generation is from the time a person is born and then he or she marries and they have children, and those children become the new “generation.” Third, in Hebrews chapter 3 the apostle Paul gives us one divinely inspired teaching on the length of a “generation.”
“When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, ‘They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways.’”
Hebrews 3:9–10 ELM
16 I wrote in my notes from about 1960 that this prophecy shows that the Jews will have control of all of Jerusalem before the end time. I only had to wait about 7 years after making the notes in there, because in 1967 the Jews took over all of Jerusalem. ELM
© 1976-2014 Associates for Scriptural Knowledge - ASK is supported by freewill contributions