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Jesus will most definitely return in 2024. Maybe


I vividly remember the first time I got snookered on the whole Jesus parousia date-setting thing.

I was a baby Christian who had just been saved by studying eschatology, which started with me reading Hal Lindsey’s best-seller The Late Great Planet Earth. Now, let me quickly pause and say that plenty disagree with Lindsey and his eschatology, but even if he’s wrong, my salvation is proof that God can draw a straight line with a crooked stick.

Anyway, still brimming with massive Second Coming enthusiasm after reading his first book, I rushed back out to the Christian bookstore and bought his sequel, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon. In it, Lindsey did some dot-connecting where he:

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1. Asserted that when Jesus spoke about the parable of the fig tree in Matthew 24:32-34, He was referring to the rebirth of the nation of Israel.

2. Said that the “generation” referred to in Christ’s statement “this generation will not pass away until all these things take place” could be biblically interpreted as being roughly 40 years, and so…

3. Concluded, “the decade of the 1980s could very well be the last decade of history as we know it” because Israel reemerged as a nation in 1948, and 1948 + 40 equals… 

I was sold!

I became a Jesus-is-returning-now evangelist and talked eschatology with anyone who had the fortune (or misfortune) of being near me. Being a newbie, I guess my bell never got rung with that all-important verse that comes just two lines later in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone” (Matt. 24:36).

And so, here we are about 50 years later, and Jesus still hasn’t returned. Wink-wink predictions like Lindsey’s and more outlandish ones made by people like Harold Camping who shot himself in the foot at least four times (judgment would fall, he said, on 9/6/1994, then 9/29, then 10/2, and then on 5/21/2011) accomplish nothing but damaging the credibility of Christianity and cause people like atheist Dennis McKinsey to make remarks like those he records in his Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy:  

“It is, indeed, unfortunate that millions of people still cling to the forlorn hope that somehow a messiah will arise to extract them from their predicament. How many years (2,000, 10,000, 100,000) will it take for them to finally say, ‘We can only conclude that we are the victims of a cruel hoax?’”

Of course, the Bible tells us there will be scoffers like McKinsey: “Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation” (2 Pet. 3:3–4).

Even so, it would be good for us to do what we can to not aid those ‘mockers’ in their jeering by getting square on some facts concerning Jesus’ return.

Things to come

Getting a grip on the second coming takes a little time because the Bible is loaded with prophetic talk.

Prophecy takes up 1/5 of Scripture and of that, 1/3 refers to the second coming of Christ. Some 1,500 passages in the Old Testament refer to the Messiah’s return and one out 25 verses in the New Testament mention it also. For every time the Bible mentions Jesus’ first coming, it mentions His second coming 8 times.

All this underscores the fact that the Bible isn’t shy about trumpeting the return of Christ.

But, let’s be honest, it’s been a long time since Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives and talked about His return. Is it true, like Peter’s fictitious scoffer said, that “all continues just as it was” since that time?

Actually, no.

Quite a few theologians in centuries past who studied prophecy asserted that, before Christ would return, Israel would regather as a nation. They were shouted down by many who allegorized the prophecies concerning a reestablished Jewish state or applied them to the Church, which many still do today.

Then came 1948.

The Bible had predicted, “Then it will happen on that day that the Lord Will again recover the second time with His hand the remnant of His people … and assemble the banished ones of Israel, and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth … Before she travailed, she brought forth; before her pain came, she gave birth to a boy. Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons” (Is. 11:11-12; 66:7-8).

World War I had prepared the way for the Jews as control of the land passed from the Turks to Britain. On May 14, 1948, Israel declared her independence, and the nation was recognized and established in one day just as the prophecy in Isaiah said. The very next morning, the nation was attacked, and her war for independence was fought just as the Bible predicted with the birth pains coming after the birth.

And just like that, one of the biggest prophecies in Scripture was fulfilled to the letter for everyone alive in the 1900s to witness firsthand. Bible prophecy scoffers were left limping away with their tails between their legs.  

So, with Israel now re-established in their land, what else must happen before Christ’s return? Well, that depends on your interpretation of biblical eschatology.

If you ask me, my answer is “nothing” and “something.”

It’s “nothing” because I believe the rapture event described in Scripture (1 Thessalonians 4, John 14, and 1 Corinthians 15) is a signless and imminent event that cannot be discerned. But Jesus’ physical return is also preceded by “something” in that the bodily second coming of Christ is heralded by many signs that are very observable as Jesus’ Olivet Discourse in Matthew 24 and the book of Revelation make clear.

So, will Jesus return in 2024? It’s certainly possible.

But since “with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years like one day” (2 Pet. 3:8), we could be kept waiting. Nevertheless, whether it happens in 2024 or not, all of us benefit from knowing as much as we can about His return and prophecy because “Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Rev. 1:3).

Just please don’t set a date for it. 

Robin Schumacher is an accomplished software executive and Christian apologist who has written many articles, authored and contributed to several Christian books, appeared on nationally syndicated radio programs, and presented at apologetic events. He holds a BS in Business, Master's in Christian apologetics and a Ph.D. in New Testament. His latest book is, A Confident Faith: Winning people to Christ with the apologetics of the Apostle Paul.

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