By Dr. David Allen Lewis
1993 conference, Pre-Trib Study Group
article against “date-setting” the author makes some serious blunders.
Secondly, why select 1948 for the year when the "fig tree," Israel, began to
put forth its leaves? The text does not say when Israel becomes a nation.
Perhaps the fig tree began to put forth leaves at the time of the first aliyah
(return) of the Jews in the late 1800's? Why not the founding of modern
Zionism by Theodore Herzl in
Switzerland, in 1897? Why not the founding of TelAviv, the first all-Jewish
city in modern times, established in 1909? All these points of time were
pointed out by prophecy teachers as the beginning of the final generation.
He has totally
missed the point of Jesus’ message at Matthew 24:32-34. He is not alone in
this error, for it is repeated by the vast majority of Bible interpreters
regardless of their eschatological viewpoint.
The parable that Jesus relates has absolutely nothing to do with the nation of
Israel. Not only is it un-provable that the “fig tree” is designed to be a
symbol for the nation of Israel, but what Jesus actually taught was that the
appearance of leaves on trees was a sign that summer was near. The fig tree is
only ONE of the trees. This is established by comparing with Luke 21:29.
”And He told them a parable: Behold the fig tree AND ALL THE TREES; as soon as
THEY put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is no
near. Even so you, when you see these things happening, recognize that the
kingdom of God is at hand.”
The focus is
NOT on one tree (fig tree) but on ALL THE TREES. Thus, the intent is to
communicate knowledge of the SEASON for the arrival of Jesus in the clouds of
the sky with power and great glory.
And the signs of the season are the events of the tribulation, as Jesus
clarified in Matthew 24: 9-26.
It is AFTER the tribulation of those days has been CUT SHORT (that is,
interrupted from its expected duration) by the sovereign decree of God, that
Jesus will return to rescue His saints from the earth.
serious error, which admittedly is not held by all pretribbers, is the
application of verse 36 to the rapture, but
interprets the COMING at verse 30 as Christ’s arrival at Armageddon.
May we suggest that it was not our Lord's intention in this passage to provide
a means of fixing the time of His return since He immediately says that would
The context DEMANDS that there
is only ONE SECOND COMING in view in this passage. It is the arrival of Jesus
in the clouds of the sky to gather together His saints, just as He promised
at John 14:1-3 and as Paul taught at 1 Thessalonians 4:14-17.
The pretribber CANNOT use verses 36-44 for the rapture and separate them from
However, such ones are correct in applying verses 36-44 to the rapture,
because that is exactly what Jesus was talking about at verses 29-31. And this
coming IN THE CLOUDS is perfectly consistent with what Paul taught at 2 Thes.
1:6-10, when the church age believers will be delivered out from the
tribulation and be given rest “at the revelation of the Lord Jesus from heaven
with His mighty angels in flaming fire.”
Some pretribbers use this
passage in an attempt to prove imminency. However, the rapture is only
imminent within the context of verse 33, “even so you too, when you see all
these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.”
In other words, the rapture is only imminent after the season of the
tribulation begins; that is, the MID-70th week tribulation. And this teaching
by Jesus is the basis for the apostles use of the phrase, “like a thief in the
1. He comes like a thief in the night, at an unknown day and hour AFTER the
tribulation has begun.
2. And although the day and hour will remain unknown to believers during that
time, to those who are watching and waiting, He will NOT come like a thief (1
Against Date Setting
clearly says that no man can know the day or hour of the Lord's coming, and in
Mark 13:33 we read, "Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the
time is," thus indicating that date-setting serves no good purpose. And date-
setting of the rapture or Second Coming has historically always proven to be
false prophecy which is damaging to the cause of Christ.
We are living in the last days and nothing must be allowed to detract from the
nobility and power of the message of end-time Bible prophecy.
Therefore we, the undersigned, hereby respectfully demand that all
date-setting and date-suggesting cease immediately. Let abstinence from this
type of speculation prevail until the Lord comes.
We absolutely must stop this type of activity or there will be few who will
take the message of prophecy seriously. If Jesus does not return by or during
the year 2000, we envision that by 2001 the message of Bible prophecy will be
scorned, attacked, and possibly outlawed by legal means, thus giving the New
Age movement a clear field for the introduction of their occult humanist
manifesto has been signed by hundreds of church leaders, denominational
officers, pastors, evangelists, seminary professors, teachers, etc. If you
want your name added to the list please write David A. Lewis,
And they are all missing the clear intent of Jesus in Matthew 24 and Mark
The second coming that Jesus taught about is in fact His coming for the
church, immediately after the tribulation has been directly cut short by God
Now some pretribbers are consistent in keeping the entire context as
applicable to the arrival of Jesus at Armageddon – what they call “the
second advent.” But they are still wrong in failing to see the connection of
Christ’s words here with His words elsewhere (John 14:1-3) and with the
words of the apostles.
But to do as David Allen has done in this article, and as many, many others
have done in their writings, is totally destroying the contextual intent of
what Jesus was teaching.