When Will Christ Return? (Revisited)
I remember reading Don Koenig’s article When Will Christ Return? back in 2009 and becoming extremely disheartened with his bleak conclusions. What stood out to me about his projections back then, was that they stood apart from the general consensus and excitement of most prophecy teachers of that day. He projected the Rapture to happen at some point way off in the mid-late 2020s, with the Second Coming in the early-mid 2030s. At the time, I thought he was just being overly cautious in his estimations, however, I had a difficult time arguing against his reasoning. As much as I didn’t want to admit it, they seemed to make sense.
I just remembered thinking how impossibly far away the 2020-30s seemed and wondering how much worse things had to get before the Lord would finally intervene. After all, we had the first Marxist president coming into office. The economy was in the tank. The US was still mired down in fighting in two Mid-East wars. I couldn’t fathom how much worse things could get…until they did.
Yet, life kept belligerently trudging forward with its own dogged stubbornness.
Here we are now in the Year of our Lord 2021, soon to be 2022, and 2009 seems like ancient history. The thirteen years between then and now, apparently having occurred in the blink of an eye, illusorily belies how long it actually took us to get from then until now.
I’m older now and wiser (my wife would beg to differ on this last point), and so much life has happened since then. I finished out a successful military career and retired. Moved to our forever hometown and landed a semi-permanent second career. All five of my kids are in school and thriving. I finally finished my first fiction novel I'd been dawdling over for years. My website is about as finished as it’s ever going to get. I’m officially, as they say, in the third season of my life. The general chaos of the world notwithstanding, things seem as they should be.
And yet, a singular thought survived all these years hidden away in the recesses of my mind like a forgotten stowaway.
Could it be?
It seems too good to be true.
Are we really now on the cusp of that long-awaited prophetic window Don had written about so many years ago?
Should we now get our hopes up for the long-awaited Blessed Hope?
For sure, like many of you, I am increasingly second-guessing my own hopes and dreams. Could it really be this soon? True, it didn’t seem that soon back in 2009. However, standing on the threshold of the time the angels and prophets have longed to see, is both exhilarating and somewhat nerve-wracking. The doctrine of imminence aside, it seems too good to be true, and yet, I can’t help but wonder, what if it is? This prompted two subsequent questions.
What if the Rapture really was just months away? If true, what (if anything) would this knowledge change in my life today?
What if we are wrong, and the Rapture was still another 20, 30, or 40+ years away? If true, what (if anything) would this knowledge change in my life tomorrow?
I think the answer to both of these should be the same in that, whether today, tomorrow or 20 years from now, we are to live as if the Lord could come back (or we to Him) at any moment. I know living with this mindset has certainly steadied my walk over the past 13 years, as it has you over the course of your lives.
If I were being really honest, and I somehow gained some heavenly insight and knew without a doubt that the Lord’s coming was still another 20 years away, I would be as discouraged now, as I was in 2009. Discouraged, but not deterred. I would keep on writing, teaching, and doing everything I could to warn the world of what is coming upon the earth.
Thus, for the purposes of today's brief, I would like to revisit that particular article and go over the major points to review his findings and see if his 2007 projections still hold water today. Let’s call it a prophetic-sanity check. Could we in good diligence and discernment, push his timeline back years and decades without butchering the original text and context? Could all of this prophetic stage-setting really go beyond the 2020s and 30s? What would that even look like and how could it be possible?
Let us revisit Don Koenig’s Second Coming timetable and show how improbable a date beyond the 2030s really is. (See here for the article and table) Sidenote: The years in parenthesis are his 'best guess' projections for the Second Coming (not the Rapture). You would need to subtract at least seven years from the dates in the parenthesis to get the Rapture.
1. Seven Day Week Theory (2028-2038)
This theory proposes that just as God created the world in seven days, humanity has six thousand years appointed to it, with the seventh being concluded in the Millennial Kingdom.
Some obvious problems that stem from this theory are when exactly to begin, as many scholars (both Jewish and Christian) have come up with different starting points. Probably the most famous of historical chronology comes from Bishop James Ussher back in the 1600s. His conclusions (which have their own errors and issues), had a creation date of 4004BC.
According to Ussher’s chronology, the six-thousandth year would have ended in 1996, and since that date has come and gone, we are only left to recalculate where he went wrong. One issue Don addresses is the fact that Ussher began the four-thousandth year at Christ’s birth (4BC), and not at His death, bringing in a 30+year discrepancy. This meant at a minimum, the six thousandth year would now be 2026. The mean (average) of the dates associated with this theory is a Second Coming at 2033.
Knowing that the Rapture must happen at least seven years prior, therefore at the latest, if the years 2026-28 comes and goes, then we are once again heading back to the drawing boards to recalculate our conclusions based on this theory.
2. The Parable of the Fig Tree (2020-2047)
“Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors! Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. Matt. 24:32-35 (emphasis mine)
The belief amongst the majority pre-trib bible prophecy teachers and watchers is that because the Tribulation (the 70th Week of Daniel) is about Israel and Jerusalem, and not the Church, the end of the last days is somehow tied to the supernatural rebirth of the nation of Israel. Thus, the four major years associated with the national rebirth of the nation of Israel are as follows:
1947: UN votes to approve their statehood
1948: Jews declare their statehood
1949: Knesset formed, government solidified
1967: Jews reclaim all of Jerusalem in Six-Day War
In the past, prophecy teachers confidently (and erroneously) proposed the idea that “this generation” was tied to the idea of a generation being forty years in length. However, when 1988 came and went, this proposition had to be either reconfigured (i.e., to another start date like 1967) or set aside altogether as incorrect for obvious reasons.
This also brought people back to looking at other aspects of this parable more closely. The use of the wording “this generation” had to mean one of two things; either it was forty years and we just started from the wrong start-point, or this “this generation” was the wrong thing to emphasize. This caused prophecy teachers to increasingly shift their focus from the rebirth of Israel to the recapturing of Jerusalem in 1967. However, as 2007 (forty years from 1967) also came and went, the forty-year generation had to be discarded altogether.
Since the Bible uses several different variations on the length of a generation, the once firm understanding of a generation, suddenly became opaque and unfit for use in attempting to measure time with or against.
Next came the emphasis on the second half of the phrase “this generation will not pass away.” This came as a clarification upon the antecedent “this generation” which is seemingly meant to convey Jesus’ focus was not on the length of a generation, but upon the length of a man’s life (70-80 years) as taught in Psalm 90:10. Considering the peculiarity surrounding Psalm 90 (i.e., the only Psalm penned by Moses-who himself lived to be 120 years old), as well as the rapture-like verbiage throughout Psalm 90, the associations are very intriguing.
However, there are potentially two problems with this understanding as well, despite its mysterious appeal. Seventy years from 1948 is 2018, which has come and gone three years hence. Eighty years is in 2028, and if this date comes and goes as well, then clearly, there is no definable way to understand “this generation” as meaning anything other than those who enter into the 70th Week, being the generation who sees its conclusion.
My only issue with this “tribulation-generation” view is how shortsighted it appears to be on the surface. I mean, seven years is not a long time. For example, if the Tribulation were to last say, forty years, then this view would make more sense. However, unless someone is already 75+ years of age, and/or barring any unforeseen accident or illness, let’s be honest, no one expects to die within seven years.
I am of the belief that 2028 will be the outer limit for the threshold for the start of the 70th Week of Daniel, primarily because of the Fig Tree Parable. I know prophecy teachers and scholars have differing opinions on this, however, these are why I think this prophetic parable stands as it does in relation to Psalm 90:10 and the outer limit of 2028.
a) If Jesus hadn’t meant to convey any association between the fig tree and Israel (He’d already done this here and here), then why use the fig tree again in this last parable regarding the last days? He could have used any number of trees or plants to convey a generic seasonal change.
b) My second reason for believing the fig tree represents national Israel, is because of Luke’s version of the Olivet Discourse, which states “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees…” Where else do we see this use of trees representing nations? I mean, is it a stretch to believe this? Not according to the parable of the trees as found in Judges 9, which does just that. I think Jesus knew that, and this is why He uses it in this particular prophetic parable.
c) My last point is in regards to the audiences the particular Gospels were directed at. If Luke's version of "Look at the fig tree, and all the trees..." is the full version, why did Matthew shorten it? Well, because Matthew's Gospel is tailored for a primarily Jewish audience and Luke's was not. This is why we see Matthew's genealogy in chapter 1 begin with Abraham, and not Adam. It is why Luke starts with Adam, and not Abraham. It's why John's Gospel (the last written and whose audience was the newly founded Church) does not even contain a version of the Olivet Discourse.
3. Gog and Magog (2034-2046)
According to Don’s estimates, he believed (back in 2007) that “Israel is at peace living securely before the events of the Ezekiel chapters 38-39 northern invasion (assume 2020 to 2025 AD for Israel to achieve a peace agreement by also assuming that Islamofascism will be defeated before then. And assuming that it will take about ten more years after this for Israel to feel secure as a protectorate of a revived Roman empire.”
Granted, the idea of a successful Israeli-Arab peace plan back in 2007 seemed pretty far-fetched. I mean, the only peace accords we had prior to that were the 1993 Oslo Accords, which were an abysmal failure. So it was a surprise that the 2020 Abraham Accords (which focused on common-sense-based normalization) seemed as successful as they were. Its announcement by President Donald Trump as the “Deal of the Century” (DoTC) seemed to perk up the ears of the prophetically attentive. The question remains though, could the upcoming Israeli strike on Iran (to denuclearize them) as well as this DoTC mean we are still on Don’s time-track for the fulfillment of the rest of his timeline?
Yes and no. I believe we are much closer to a Gog-Magog War than Don predicted. I do, however, agree that the Gog-Magog War cannot happen within the confines of the 70th Week itself, because there simply isn’t enough time allotted to it (Ez. 39:9-16). Therefore, the war will have to take place prior to it. Just how far in advance we can’t say exactly.
We do know two things for certain. First, Israel will not let Iran go nuclear. Second, Iran will not stop their efforts towards obtaining nuclear weapons. We are also at the point where the US is increasingly becoming unable and unwilling to come to Israel’s aid. Nevertheless, given the increasingly “Gog-Esque” geopolitical conditions we see brewing today between Russia, Turkey, and Iran, this war is moving from impossible, to inevitable, without so much as a courtesy stop at improbable.
4. 490 Year Cycles (2030-2037)
According to biblical cycles, there were four 490 year cycles Israel went through to fulfillment. Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy, would be the fifth 490-year cycle. According to Grant Jeffrey (by way of Don Koenig) “There may be four 490 year periods between the fall of the Temple in 70 AD and the start of the final week of Daniel, 4 x 490 =1960 - 1960 + 70 = 2030AD. (Inspired and modified from a failed Grant Jeffrey speculation in "Armageddon".)”
Therefore, if Israel’s 490 Cycles are actually a thing (prophetically speaking) then we should see this come to a head in 2030. However, if this date comes and goes, we know this 490 Cycle may have held significance in Bible times, but has since become invalid after the destruction of Jerusalem. The late great Jack Kelley had this to say about the 490-year cycles-
The Bible contains four such periods in Israel’s history. Each one was actually longer than 490 years, but some scholars believe that for various reasons God didn’t count some of the time in each of the periods. I won’t go into all the details here, but the four periods are, 1) Abraham to the Exodus, 2) the Exodus to the First Temple, 3) the First Temple to the edict of Artaxerxes and 4) the edict of Artaxerxes to the 2nd Coming. (Source)
Dr. Dave Reagan, views the start to the fourth 490-year cycle as beginning with Ezra in 457BC, instead of with Nehemiah in 445BC. This shift would have the Lord’s ministry beginning in 27AD, and ending in 31AD, as opposed to the more traditional dating of 28-32AD or 29-33AD. I think Dr. Reagan makes a compelling case indeed here.
5. Times of the Gentiles (2034-2039)
Quoting Don Koenig here:
“Nebuchadnezzar represents the unbelieving Gentiles of the world. He was insane for 2520 days until he acknowledges that there is a God in heaven - each day = 1 year. 606 BC to 1914 AD is 2520 years and the start of World War One. Peter mentions scoffers would come in the last days and mentions the flood. Jesus says the end times will be as in the days of Noah. God waited 120 years in the time of Noah (Gen 6:3), then the flood came. -- 1914 + 120 years = 2034 (another of my highly modified Grant Jeffrey speculations from "Armageddon").”
While I don’t want to plant my battle flag on this particular hill and die defending it, I think it’s interesting nonetheless. According to Jesus, there is in fact, a ‘times of the Gentiles’ (Luke 21:24). I think Grant Jeffrey’s speculation here is as good as any, but it’s not something we can be super dogmatic about. However, if we are to believe there is some prophetic significance to Nebuchadnezzar’s 2,520-day insanity, and knowing that Jerusalem was first trampled on (militarily speaking) by the Babylonians when they conquered it, then 606BC is a good date to start from.
There is also an interesting correlation drawn by author Jeffrey A Manty (in his 2007 Prophecy Code II book) regarding a cycle of 2,520 years with major events at both the start and finish of the cycles. Don notes this as a theory (rightfully so), but I’ll include it here for added context. [Also, I would caution ordering directly from this site, as midway through the page is an infomercial on “Ayahuasca” which indicates Mr. Manty may or may not still be in full control of his page. His book is available on Amazon and other major booksellers if interested].
587 BC to 1897 -- (The fall of the ancient kingdom --- The first Zionist congress in Basel, Switzerland, plans for a new state of Israel)
536 BC to 1948 -- (Cyrus gives decree to return the Israeli captives from Babylon --- United Nations creates the modern Jewish state in the ancient homeland of Israel)
517 BC to 1967 -- (The dedication of the foundations of the second temple --- Israel established control of the temple mount area during the Six-Day War)
444 BC to 2039 -- (Nehemiah rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem --- The promised Kingdom is restored to Israel.
This is speculation on my part since neither Koenig nor Manty discusses it, but if we were to add 2,520 years to the year 457 BC (Ezra's decree), we might also see a prophetic correlation with the year 2027.
6. The Third Day (Hosea 6:2-3)
I’ve included this Hosea passage, which was not on the table, but one I think holds prophetic significance regarding the timing of the Lord’s return. If a ‘day is as a thousand years” perspective is true from God (it is- 2 Peter 3:8, Psalm 90:4) then this passage is indeed significant. I indicated as much on my Prophetic Pondering article some time back (copied below), and it's one of those ideas that have burrowed into my conscious like a splinter in the brain. Quoting myself:
Fourth Thought: Why we are the generation to see the Rapture. A lot of writers and teachers have given their lists as to why they think the Rapture is soon. I don’t want rehash the long list of the signs of our time, but I want to focus in on two verses.
1. Hosea 6:1-3
Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
We all know the passages that refer to the reality that to God, a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years is a day (Psalm 90:4, 2 Peter 3:8). In other words, God exists outside of time therefore time is (as a construct) irrelevant to Him. Just like a multi-billionaire is not constrained by money, God is not constrained by time. However, from this passage, we get two specific numbers- two days, and the third day.
Historically, we know that Israel spent nearly two thousand years in diaspora (70AD-1948AD), and was brought back near the end of that second, thousand years. Now, if we added 2,000 years to the year Jerusalem was sacked (AD70), we would come to the year 2070 (49 years from now). I can already hear some of you groaning at the thought of that!
However, if we added 2,000 years to the crucifixion year (30-33AD-wherever you think it falls), we come to the year 2030 (or 2031, 32, 33). Now because the passage prophetically uses the language “the third day,” and that most famous connection with Creation, Abraham, the Exodus-Mt. Sinai, and our Lord’s resurrection, I think we can safely assume we should start the countdown from the resurrection, not the sacking of Jerusalem.
So we have the promise given to the nation of Israel in Hosea that “after two days” He will revive us. If 2033 (for example) is the year that fulfills the two-day mandate, then after this year (2034+), will be the third day (or third thousand years since Christ’s crucifixion). Now, I’m not smart enough to figure out the calendar discrepancies in all the changes between the Lunar, Jewish, Julian, and Gregorian calendars, but IF this is timed to the crucifixion, we can proceed with a great deal of confidence knowing that we are quickly approaching the two thousand year anniversary of our Lord’s death, burial, and resurrection.
Anyway, something to think about.
I feel like I need to reemphasize this because somewhere out there on the ethersphere, someone will claim that I said I know the day or hour. I don't. We can and should know the season, however, we cannot know the day or hour. IOW, we are going to generally know the timing of the Lord's return, because of all the signs pointing at the Tribulation, but we are not specifically going to know when the Lord will return. Just as when we start to see the Fall Season coming into its own, and the lights and signs for Christmas begin to appear at businesses and homes, we know Thanksgiving is all the sooner.
Given all the signs and wonders increasing in both intensity and frequency in the world these days, I have a VERY difficult time seeing the 2020s come and go without the Rapture of the Church. Did I have this same perspective thirteen years ago? I suppose, but then again, my feelings don’t determine when the Lord returns. There are, however, some definitive points of no return that we have since crossed that cannot be undone. These are those proverbial bells which, when rung, cannot be unrung.
Iranian Nuclear Agenda
Iran’s plan to acquire a nuclear weapon is a red-line Israel will not allow them to cross, and Iran is getting dangerously close. Israel cannot tolerate a nuclear-powered Iran because the Iranian government has sworn to destroy Israel with these weapons. I believe the Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure to be the catalyst that unites Iran, Russia, and Turkey together to once and for all, deal with their "Jewish problem"
Insurmountable National Debt
At nearly $30T in debt, our nation is past the point of ever salvaging our 20th century, legacy, fiat-based financial system. Not only are we bankrupt, but we have bankrupted future generations as well. Therefore, a new currency, presumably some form of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) will be brought online to replace the current US Dollar. Once this happens, the government (whichever form of government this ends up being) will have complete control over ALL buying and selling
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
The development of artificial intelligence is one of those break-away technologies, which, like the invention of gunpowder, splitting the atom, or creating the internet, cannot be undone. We are already at a dangerous juncture with regards to how invasive and pervasive AI already is in our modern society. However, AI is still just a computer program run by increasingly layered and complex binary codes. The real breakthrough will come when science figures out how to marry that code into the human brain (a biological computer) through our DNA and neural networks. And we are dangerously close to this as well
With the discovery of the human genome back in the 1950s, comes mankind’s predictable pattern: exploration, manipulation, and ultimately, the corruption of the human genome. Modern science is feverishly looking for a way to cheat death, and given God’s dire warning in Genesis 11:6, He is not going to allow it. Genetic manipulation was in part, why God had to destroy the world in Noah’s day (See Genesis 6).
The Third Jewish Temple
I’ve often used backward timelines to show both the inevitability and eventuality of a third Jewish Temple. It goes something like this:
_____You cannot have a Third Temple, without the Jews controlling the Temple Mount
Check: You cannot have the Jews controlling the Temple Mount, w/o the Jews controlling Jerusalem
Check: You cannot have the Jews controlling Jerusalem, w/o the Jews controlling Israel
Check: You cannot have the Jews controlling Israel, w/o a de jure authority granted by world powers
Check: You cannot have a valid de jure authority (Balfour Declaration), without the atrocities of the Holocaust creating just enough global sympathy to allow it (UN Resolution 181)
I want to conclude with some of what I call the “theological cheetah flips.” These are those things that however unlikely, would be required to happen in order for the world to move out of the 2020s without the Rapture happening first. Furthermore, if any of these things actually happened, it would mean Bible prophecy is likely wrong and thus, an unreliable indicator of telling us where we are on God’s timeline.
1. The two-thousandth year anniversary (2030-33) of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection comes and goes without any prophetic events happening. This would mean the first, two, 2,000 year anniversaries (Adam to Abraham, and Abraham to Jesus) were either flukes or coincidence
2. The Gog-Magog coalition (Russia, Iran, Turkey, Libya, Sudan, etc.) suddenly changes leadership, disbands, disarms, and makes true peace with Israel (theoretically, this could happen after an Iranian strike and these seemingly make peace with Israel only to later attack them)
3. The decades-long march towards one-world governance and a singular global currency, suddenly dissolves back into the old world order (i.e., anti-globalist, nationalist, fiat-based currencies, MAGA, etc.)
4. The lukewarm and nauseous Laodicean Church Age gives way to a true global revival ushering in a new golden age of Christian thought and primacy on the world stage
5. Artificial Intelligence, digital currency, and genetic manipulation technology are all outlawed and the technology is dismantled by every nation around the world
Just as Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4 about there being a “fullness of time,” which became the perfect and specific time God the Father would send forth His Son to earth, Paul also writes about a coming end of the ‘times of the Gentiles.’ This will be the time in which God’s focus will shift from the Church, back to fulfilling all of those unconditional Old Testament promises to Israel. While it is tempting to claim we are in the Tribulation now, we are in reality, in the in-between stage between the outgoing old world order, and the arrival of the new world order.
King Solomon once said, that to everything, there was a season (Eccl. 3). My earnest belief is that the 2020-30s is the season of His return. When exactly that is, and how exactly that works out, we can't know. What we can know, is that there are so many things in motion that most, if not all, sound prophecy teachers are coming to the same conclusion.
So between then and now, we must continue to do the work God has called each of us to do and to be faithful in that labor. When times look their darkest, remember Christ's promise in John 14:1-3. Just as the Church Age had a beginning (Acts 2), so too will it have an ending (Rev. 3)…and that end is becoming clearer by the day.
“Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. John 14:1-3
P.S. I'm scheduled to appear on Pastor Tom Hughes's "Hope For Our Time" YouTube Live program (Link) on Monday, December 20th at 4:00 PM Central Standard Time, or 2:00 PM Pacific Standard Time. More updates will follow via our Telegram page.