How long do you REALLY think we, the New Testament church, have left before the rapture?
Thank you for your question. I will give you a direct answer to your question as to when I believe the rapture will occur. However, I would first like to give you some background on my thoughts.
Over the years I have done a lot of thinking about when the rapture will occur. However, I have had mixed feelings about discussing it, for several reasons:
– The Bible does tell us that nobody knows the day or the hour when Christ will return (His Second Coming).
– Many foolish people have spent way too much time on this when their time would have been better spent in other pursuits. This includes the many people who have predicted the end of the world, only to have been proven wrong when the time of their prophecy came and went without incident (so they usually just established another date in the future).
– Regardless of when we believe the rapture will occur, I believe that this should have no impact upon how we live our daily lives. We should live our lives today for Christ, no matter if the rapture occurs today or in a thousand years. This is especially true considering the fact that we could be wrong in our expectations, just like so many others already have been.
However, when I read your question, I felt moved to give you a direct answer. I have a B.S. degree in Mathematics, and I have always been intrigued by numbers, dates, etc. When combined with my desire to know God’s Word, this has resulted in my spending quite a bit of time in thinking about when the rapture (the next prophecy of Scripture) would occur.
However, like many before me, I have had to be careful about staying intellectually honest about this subject, without letting my emotions interfere. After all, it’s only natural that a believer would hope that the rapture would occur soon, and sometimes our hope (wishes) can sway our sound judgment.
At one time, I felt quite certain that the rapture would occur in the year 1988, primarily because that would have been 40 years (one generation; i.e., Matthew 24:34) after Israel was re-established as a nation in 1948 (although this passage refers to the Second Coming, and not the rapture). When 1988 passed and the rapture did not occur, I went back to the drawing board. So, over the past 30 years, I have developed a new “prediction” about the rapture, based on several different trains of thought, and I’ll know share those with you here:
1) In 1987, I published a book entitled, “Believe: A Synopsis of the Entire Bible.” This book is available free on my website at Believe, A Synopsis of the Entire Bible. While doing the research for that book, I decided to construct a timeline of Biblical events by using the Bible as my only source. I went through the painstaking process of recording every event in the Bible that had a specific time frame associated with it. This included every place where the Bible noted a certain number of years between events, etc. Then I had to sort of backtrack in order to determine the historical perspective for all of these events, including the date (in B.C. years) as well as the number of years after Creation. As a result, I included some timeline charts in the appendices at the end of my book, and you can view these at the web page noted above.
2) When I had completed my timeline, my results showed that God created the earth in the year 4,241 B.C. My extra-biblical research indicated that this did not agree exactly with anyone else’s timeline. The most widely accepted date for Creation was/is 4,004 B.C. I decided that I could still accept my date with a fairly high level of confidence, based upon the fact that others included extra-biblical sources for their timelines, while my timeline used only the Bible. Then one day I happened to be at the library (back in the days before the Internet), and I decided to do some more research to see if I could find any reference to the date 4,241 B.C. What I discovered was that this is the first date recorded in the ancient Egyptian calendar. Although all sources do not agree on that fact either, I decided that it was good enough for me. I elected to interpret this as direct confirmation from God that my calculations were correct, so I suddenly had an extremely high level of confidence in my timelines.
3) There is an extra-biblical book called The Book of Barnabas which was not included in our New Testament Canon. I think that there is the possibility that it does indeed belong in our New Testament. However, regardless of whether or not it was truly inspired by the Holy Spirit, I believe that we can learn much from many of these ancient extra-biblical books. The Book of Barnabas 13:3-5 says this: “And even in the beginning of creation He makes mention of the Sabbath. And God made in six days the works of His hands; and He finished them on the seventh day, and He rested on the seventh day, and sanctified it. Consider, my children, what that signifies, He finished them in six days. The meaning of it is this: that in six thousand years the Lord God will bring all things to an end. For with him one day is a thousand years; as Himself testifieth, saying, Behold this day shall be as a thousand years (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8). Therefore, children, in six days, that is, in six thousand years, shall all things be accomplished.” It just makes sense to me that God would follow this pattern.
4) I am a dispensationalist, so I believe that God grants stewardship to certain groups of people throughout certain eras of time. This includes the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of the Jews, the (current) Age of the Church, and the Age of the Millennial Kingdom.
5) Now, I also believe in the rapture (1 Thessalonians 4:14-18) at the end of the Church Age. Based upon the above, I believe that the same amount of time will be granted to the Age of the Gentiles, the Age of the Jews, and the Age of the Church. The charts mentioned above can be summarized as follows:
- The Age of the Gentiles from Creation in 4,241 B.C through the call of Abram in 2,218 B.C. This is 2023 years.
- The Age of the Jews from the call of Abram in 2,218 B.C. through the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ in 29 A.D. This is 2247 years.
- The Age of the Church from the death burial, and resurrection of Christ in 29 A.D. through the rapture (see below).
Now, you can see that these first two time periods are not equal in length, but there’s a caveat: There are many places during the Age of the Jews when the Bible says that “God forsook Israel.” Most of these occurrences are during the times of the Judges, and they’re all denoted in my charts. I believe that God is not counting the time when He forsook Israel; i.e., He didn’t count those years when He decided how long to extend time. So, here’s how the numbers work out when this is considered:
- The Age of the Gentiles was 2023 years
- The Age of the Jews was 2247 years, less the 224 years when God forsook Israel. This results in 2023 years.
- If the Age of the Church is also 2023 years, then this is from 29 A.D. through 2052 A.D. So, this is when I believe the rapture will occur: 2052 A.D.
6) I received some unexpected confirmation on this as well. It turns out that Sir Isaac Newton was also a mathematician, as well as a theologian. Some of his notes have indicated that he expected the world to end in the year 2060 A.D. Now, I don’t know how he came to this number, but it seems to coincide with my calculations. If the rapture occurs in 2052 A.D., as I expect, and this is followed by the seven-year tribulation period, then Christ’s second coming (the end of time, as we know it–as well as the beginning of the Millennium) would occur in 2059 A.D. This is a difference of only one year from Newton’s date, and this could easily be due to a rounding error or a different reconciliation for the year zero. Now, I know that 2023 years for each dispensation results in 6069 years instead of exactly 6000 years, like Barnabas indicated. I can’t explain this for sure, but the difference could be due to something like the way that years were represented in the ancient calendars.
For example, I’ve often read that the Jewish calendar used 360-day years instead of 365-day years. If the 6069-year time periods were 360-day years, then this would be 5986 years in 365-day years, and this is even closer to 6000 years. Again, I can’t really explain this difference, but this is the closest I can come with my current understanding. There is, however, an interesting coincidence here. If we considered that the 2023 years was given in terms of a 360-day calendar, then we can calculate that this would be 1993 years in terms of a 365.25-day calendar. If this period of time actually corresponds to 1993 years, and we added that to the year 29 A.D., we get the year 2023 B.C. So, again, the number 2023 shows up–this time as a date instead of a number of years. So, I guess the year 2023 A.D. could be an alternate date for the rapture.
So, of course, I could be wrong, but I believe that the rapture will occur in about 30 more years. What about you? When do you think the rapture will occur? Do you think that my argument above is worth considering? I’ll tell you what: If we’re still here in the year 2053, send me another e-mail, and we can discuss how I need to modify my prediction! However, I’ll probably be long gone by then!