Happy New Year!
Blow the trumpets! Sound the shofar! Stop all work and celebrate the New Year! Eat apples dipped in honey for a sweet year ahead. Bite into a pomegranate in hope that your good deeds for the coming year will be as many as the 613 seeds of this delicious fruit. Bake challah bread and shape it into round loaves symbolizing the precious circle of life. Examine your heart and reflect on your existence. Repent for the wrong things you have done. Make amends with others that you have offended. Contemplate, but be content!
For two days beginning this past Wednesday at sundown (which is actually the start of Thursday), millions of people all over the world celebrated another New Year by engaging in these activities and more. Each day the shofar was blown one hundred times!
What New Year? The year isn’t over yet, so what’s this all about? Most of you probably know … the shofar gave it away. Yes, the people I’m referring to are Jews. Yes, their New Year is different from the rest of the world. It comes directly from the Bible as one of the seven annual festivals, also called High Holy days; anniversaries that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (the true and living God) commanded the Jews to remember.
“Again the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, In the seventh month on the first of the month you shall have a rest, a reminder by blowing of trumpets, a holy convocation. You shall not do any laborious work, but you shall present an offering by fire to the Lord’” (Leviticus 23:24-25).
When the 2nd Jewish Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, there was no longer a fire offering to the Lord. In fact, the entire Jewish sacrificial offerings were eliminated … to this very day. For those of us who recognize that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah, we understand that his once and for all sacrifice for our sins ended Israel’s animal sacrificial system. While Jesus was still on the cross, the Temple Veil that protected the holiest sanctuary of the Temple was mysteriously and miraculously torn apart. This miracle confirmed the New Covenant of God’s Grace, whereby every man and woman could enter the very presence of God by simply believing that Messiah Jesus purchased their salvation at the highest possible price.
“For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood … God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus” (Romans 3: 25-26).
Although the Old Covenant atonement through animal sacrifice is gone, many Jews still keep all or most of the seven holidays (Holy days). Especially, the three festivals that take place in the Jewish calendar seventh month of Tishrei, which is the overlapping Gregorian months of September and October. They are: The Feast of Trumpets or Rosh Hashana that begins on the first day of Tishrei; then Yom Kippur or Day of Atonement that begins on the tenth day of the month; then Sukkot or the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) that begins on the fifteenth day of Tishrei.
Rosh Hashana has also become the Jewish New Year. In Hebrew, rosh means head, ha means the, and shana means year. Thus, Rosh HaShana is the head of the year or the first day of the New Year.
But wait a minute! If Rosh Hashana on the 1st of Tishrei begins a new year, then why is Tishrei the seventh month of the year? Even though the Jewish calendar consists of 30-day months (a lunar calendar) or 360 days in the year instead of the Gregorian calendar of 365 days, there are still twelve months in the Jewish year. In fact, the Bible declares that the Jewish month of Nisan is the first month of the Jewish year (overlapping our months of March and April). “The Lord’s Passover begins at sundown on the fourteenth day of the first month” (Leviticus 23:5). The seventh month can’t also be the first month.
The reason God selected Nisan as the first month is because the very first festival to be perpetually kept by the Jews was that of Passover. You remember: celebratory remembrance of Israel’s deliverance from Egyptian bondage. In effect, Israel became a nation on that inaugural Passover.
Does that mean that the Jews have two months each calendar year that are the beginning of a new year? Yes and no … mostly yes!
Two New Year’s Every Year!
For the observant (Orthodox, Conservative) Jew, but also for the less religious among them, Passover is the first High Holy Day of the year and, therefore, is the beginning of the first ceremonially religious new moon festival month of any given calendar year. But somewhere along the way, Jewish rabbis, priests, and scribes realized that the beginning of human history was much broader and more universal than when God chose Abraham to be the ancestor of the Jewish people. Although they knew that the Jews and Israel had been chosen by God to reveal himself through the Scriptures, to be a light to the Gentiles and to be the source of the Messiah, they also understood that human recording of time itself must begin with God’s creation of the first man and woman … Adam and Eve.
Whether the traditional Jewish calculation of time beginning with Adam is accurate or not, they identified the first day of Tishrei as the beginning of the first year and every New Year, thereafter. Thus, Rosh Hashana is the anniversary of Adam (including Eve even though she was created after Adam) who is the progenitor of the human race. But, they also calculated that it was the day (1st of Tishrei) that Abraham bound Isaac for the sacrifice that God mercifully withheld when Abraham demonstrated that his love for and obedience to God was greater than his love for the child promised by God … Isaac as opposed to Ishmael. So there is both Gentile and Jewish significance to Rosh Hashana, which essentially is the civil or calendar beginning of every year for the Jews. However, for religious festival purposes, Tishrei is still the 7th month of the (religious) year.
Did you get all that? If not, then just think in terms of Rosh Hashana as the first day of the new calendar year for the Jews. Tishrei 1st is the same as our January 1st. Did you also know that many Bible scholars (including me) place the time of Jesus’s birth in the month of Tishrei? But that’s another article for another day.
Naturally, Jews all over the world recognize the Roman (Gentile) or Gregorian calendar as one means of measuring time as each New Year (January 1) rolls over. In that respect, it’s just one of many accepted differences between Jew and Gentile that isn’t significant enough to merit discord or dispute that might result in hostilities between the two peoples. In fact, many Jews also celebrate January 1st alongside their Gentile neighbors, but mostly because it’s just another opportunity to party and/or to be courteous!
Yet, when it comes to commencement of world history in terms of God creating the first man (and woman) in God’s image, the Jews invariably revert to and rely on revered tradition, i.e. that the Jewish calendar is the accurate record of how long man has been on the earth.
Thus the first day of every New Year begins on the 1st of Tishrei, which by the Gregorian calendar is no sooner than September 5th and no later than October 5th. Whereas, some Jews may concede that the Gregorian measurement of time could be a viable representation of recorded history (as long as the 365 days are reduced to 360 days in a year), they adamantly refuse to accept the Gentile demarcation of time before and after Christ. Although Jews in all walks of life will, out of necessity, often refer to historical events in the same manner as Gentiles, ultimately they reserve the right to classify time without reference to BC or AD. Or the contemporary designation to eliminate any reference to Christ by using BCE and CE … before Common Era or Common Era.
The Gregorian calendar tells us that we are in the year 2014. If, however, we use the Jewish calendar, then what New Year began just three days ago? Answer: 5775. Five thousand, seven hundred, seventy-five years ago God first breathed life into Adam and he became a living soul. The Jewish year 5775 actually corresponds with the Gregorian year of 2015.
Whether we use the Jewish calendar or the Roman calendar, I’d like to redirect the emphasis of this article to some eventful milestones in recent Jewish history that correlate remarkably with the Mount Olivet discourse found in Matthew Chapters 24 & 25, in which Jesus announces his return will take place before one specific generation (what I have termed the Omega Generation) passes from the scene. Further, that this final generation will have witnessed significant events (birth pangs), to include the miraculous rebirth of Israel, which must take place before Christ returns to the earth. Although the rebirth of Israel is not specifically referenced in Matthew 24 and 25, it is a clear prerequisite to the Rapture and Physical Return of Christ to the earth, as demonstrated by dozens of Biblical prophecies, particularly in the Old Testament.
Before we define a Biblical generation and examine some key benchmark dates, let’s first review the amazing words of Jesus; a statement that specifies a generational link between the stunning events of the last days and his glorious return.
“Now learn a lesson from the fig tree. When its branches bud and its leaves begin to sprout, you know that summer is near. In the same way, when you see all these things, you can know his return is very near, right at the door. I tell you the truth, this generation will not pass from the scene until all these things take place” (Matthew 24:32-34).
Definition & Applications of Generation with 20th and 21st Century Target Dates
Because this part of today’s article was addressed in a previous Eye of Prophecy article entitled, The Omega Generation, published on 2-15-14 under the category of The Rapture, I will quote from that article.
Excerpt from: The Omega Generation: (in italics)
When Jesus says, “this generation” he is not referring to some vague, unspecified, undefined, ambiguous period of time. Rather, he is identifying the precise generation that will be alive and witness the amazing end time’s events described in Matthew and Luke. In other words, this is a literal, identifiable generation. Scripture gives us two primary designations or parameters of a generation, both of which are measured in real-time.
One Hundred Years: “Then the Lord said to Abram, ‘You can be sure that your descendants will be strangers in a foreign land, where they will be oppressed as slaves for 400 years … After four generations your descendants will return here to this land, for the sins of the Amorites do not yet warrant their destruction’” (Genesis 15: 13-15).
This is a phenomenal prophecy given to Abraham even before Isaac was born, in which God not only talks about the (many) descendants of Abraham; but hundreds of years before the fact announces that they (the Israelites) would be slaves in a foreign land (Egypt), only to return to the Promised Land of Israel. Moreover, God equates a generation to 100 years … 400 hundred years equals four generations. Think about it for a moment. Although unusual (perhaps even rare), there are people the world over who live to be one hundred … some even a few years more. Yet, 100 years of age is pretty much the maximum scope of any given lifetime or generation.
“Seventy years are given to us! Some even live to eighty” (Psalms 90:10).
This insight as to the customary lifespan of a human being was given to Moses, who is the author of Psalms 90, the only Psalm credited to Moses. Again, think about it. By and large, the normal or average lifespan of most people the world over is between 70 and 80 years of age. By seventy, virtually no more children are conceived and birthed by a woman. For all practical purposes, a person who reaches 70 years of age (perhaps a few more years) has lived a generational life-time. They have children and grandchildren who are the progeny of the next generation. King David, himself, died at exactly 70 years of age.
If Jesus is referring specifically to the last generation, and I believe the text/context is crystal clear that he is; then this generation must have a designated start-up date or dates. Without an actual event (which can be identified by a specific calendar year) to begin the generation, the 70-year or 100-year generational time frame is much too vague … meaning there’s too much overlap or ambiguity as to the actual decades involved. If you were explaining your generation to someone, what would be your reference point? How would you describe it? Wouldn’t you say, “In my generation….” Essentially, then, your reference or starting point is the date of your birth!
Using our first example of four generations of Israel’s enslavement in Egypt, God gave Abraham the point-in-time commencement of this 400 hundred years (four generations) captivity, i.e. from the time that the Jews no longer enjoyed freedom in Egypt, which was not too long after Joseph died. Another example is the 70-year Babylonian captivity, which just happened to be the exact length of the 2nd measurement of time for a generation … 70 years. Historically, we know the beginning (586 BC) and end date (516 BC) of this time-designated punishment of Israel.
Is it, then, possible to select or identify events/dates in Israel’s contemporary history that correspond to the Biblical definition of a generation … that is one hundred years and/or seventy years? The answer is a resounding, YES. In fact, we’ve already touched on these dates in the previous three articles. In addition, I partially addressed these events some time ago in the Eye of Prophecy article, entitled, When the Rapture, published 8-10-13, as well as The End of the Age article published 11-23-13.
So, let’s look again at the three monumentally crucial events of the last 100 years, relating to the return of the Jews to Israel.
- Balfour Declaration of November, 1917: England extended official support that Palestine could be a home for the Jews. This was the beginning of Jewish autonomy in Israel, although the land was still called Palestine at that time.
Recognizing this very important event/date, we can then apply the Biblical generational measurement of 100 years. Once again, however, we need to convert Roman calendar years to Jewish years. Doing the math we come up with 101.4 Jewish years which translates to 101 years and 5 months. From November, 1917, this would take us to March or April, 2019.
2. United Nations Resolution of November, 1947: UN voted to grant statehood rights to the Jews; the nation would be called Israel. (May 14, 1948, David Ben Gurion proclaimed the reborn existence of the State of Israel!).
This was the 2nd significant milestone in fulfillment of hundreds of Biblical prophecies concerning the Abrahamic Covenant, i.e. the physical restoration of Israel. Most Bible scholars and historians select the statehood date of May 14, 1948 as the historical landmark, which it certainly is; however, the actual declaration of statehood was almost anticlimactic. Reason: officially, the British Mandate (rule) over Palestine expired on that date. But it was the UN Resolution that delivered the pivotal turning point or breakthrough. Without the UN resolution of November, 1947, there would have been no recognized Israeli State in May, 1948. Yet, there is only a period of 6 months separating these two events; thus, selection of either one would be a legitimate application to the 70-year generational measurement of time.
Again, doing the conversion math, we arrive at a total of 70.97 or (rounding it off) 71 Jewish years. Adding 71 years to November, 1947, we arrive at November, 2018. If we utilize May, 1948 as the benchmark date, the 71 years would take us to May, 2019.
3. June, 1967 Six-Day War (Jubilee Years): In addition to the two Biblical measurements of a generation (100 years and 70 years), what happens if we also select the Jubilee time-frame of 50 years? As stressed in the previous seven times seven articles, the 50-year Jubilee was part of God’s formula for disciplining Israel, as the Jews also failed to keep the Jubilee. Consequently, I believe the Jubilee will also be a component part of God’s magnificent restoration of Israel.
In this instance, we will use the next epic milestone in Israel’s brief modern-history … that of the June, 1967 Six-Day War. We talked about this at great length in last week’s article, to include the fact that it occurred 50 years (not coincidentally, a Jubilee period of time) from the Balfour Declaration of 1917.
Once again we convert 50 Roman calendar years to Jewish time and we come up with: 50.7 years which is 50 years and 8.4 months (8-9 months). From June, 1967, this would take us through February or into March, 2018.
We’ll conclude today’s article with a final excerpt from Omega Generation, but first we need to determine which year of the Jewish calendar fits with the Roman calendar and its conversion to Jewish years as identified above. What then might be the Jewish calendar year when the Day of the Lord begins (with the Rapture extending through the seven-years of tribulation) and why?
Answer: The year 5777. Which begins at sundown on October 2, 2016 until Rosh Hashana approximately a year later in 2017.
Reasons: The year of 5777 fits quite nicely with the Gregorian year of 2017: One hundred year generation after the Balfour declaration, 70 years after the UN resolution of Israel’s statehood in 1947, and 50 years of Jubilee after recapture of Jerusalem in 1967.
It has everything to do with the numbers in this year. Five, then three sevens. Time doesn’t permit an in-depth examination of the number seven, or the number three (three sevens, i.e. 7, 7, 7). Except to say that both numbers are clearly and Biblically associated with God and divinity.
What about the number five? Some Christians attribute this number as symbolically depicting God’s grace and redemption. Although a case could be made to confirm this connection, an even stronger argument can be presented to establish a link between God’s gracious interactions with the Jews.
- There are five books in the Torah or what Gentile Christians call the Pentateuch … Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy. These books are also called, The Book of the Law or the Mosaic Law.
- In the original Tabernacle there were five curtains, five pillars, five sockets, and an altar that was five cubits long and five cubits wide.
- There were five kinds of offerings periodically required of the Hebrews: Burnt, sin, trespass, grain, and peace offerings. (Note: The entire sacrificial offering system was a demonstration of God’s grace, forgiveness, freedom from sin, and on-going restoration of the Jews. The sole purpose for these offerings was repeated atonement for breaking of God’s laws and gratitude for his pardon of their sins and provisions for their welfare).
- There were five parts of the Holy Oil used to anoint the priests and separate all things used in the Tabernacle as holy instruments for God’s use. Moreover, this Holy Oil is a distinct representation of the Holy Spirit, given to each believer, Jew and Gentile alike, after the Covenant Age of Grace was instituted by Christ sacrifice for our sins, which ended the daily and yearly Jewish animal sacrificial system.
Back to the final excerpt quote from Omega Generation article:
Now comes the really exciting feature of all these conversion tables and what you might consider to be some boring mathematics. First, none of these three possibilities give us an exact day/hour of Christ’s return that begins with the first phase which is the Rapture and ends with his physical return at the end of the Tribulation. And that’s good. Why? Because Jesus, himself, said that no one can possibly know the day or hour of his return. I emphasize that almost to a fault in my article, When the Rapture. Therefore, I wouldn’t even pretend to know the exact date of Christ’s return, nor would I ever venture a guess. Forget it!
On the contrary, Jesus did advise us to recognize the seasons, the times, the signs, and the symptoms if you will, of his glorious return. If he didn’t want us to put 2 and 2 together, then why did Jesus provide so many clues and signals? Why would he have even used the metaphor of the fig tree in bloom? Even more challenging: Why would he have selected a time-measured or time-dedicated point of reference (generation), if he didn’t want us to identify the noteworthy bench mark events of the final days, aligned alongside the pre-Rapture birth pains and post-Rapture (Tribulation) incidents that he describes.
Things to Ponder
The Lord will return at the appointed time, which is his time alone. But that time will be on a specific day in a specific year. He might choose a date that would match up with the Jewish calendar or with the Gregorian calendar or both. Would be just like the Lord to synthesize and/or overlap these dates, by giving both the Jewish and Gentile (Christian) calendars mutual consideration and credibility as a means of identifying the equally important events of the Rapture (for the church) and physical return of Christ (on behalf of Israel).
Meaning that the beginning of the Day of the Lord, which is the Rapture, could take place during the Jewish year of 5777 through 5780, with the corresponding Gregorian years of 2016 through 2019.
Whatever the date—today, tomorrow, next year, or 2017 (5777)—I will say what I’ve said before: I would be very surprised if the Rapture doesn’t take place by the end of the year 2020!
That statement is NOT a presumptuous prediction nor is it far-fetched conjecture. Rather, I prefer to call it spiritual speculation as it is based on Biblically supported evidence by means of careful correlation between Bible passages and connection with recent historical milestones affecting the nation of Israel.
Please understand … the physical return of Christ to the earth has everything to do with Israel. The Rapture is only a prelude to the Day of the Lord, but what an overture it will be: Resurrection of the dead in Christ and the transfiguration of both the living and dead in Christ with new immortal bodies like our Lord.
And away we will go!