There is a generation that will witness the rapture of the church. Jesus said: “Behold the fig tree, and all the trees” (Lk 21:29). In Scripture, trees symbolize nations. The Fig Tree is the nation of Israel. After 1878 years of oblivion (AD70-1947), the modern state of Israel was born on May 14, 1948. The other trees include Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon and Russia. This is the Fig Tree generation. Jesus said: “this generation.” That means the generation that witnessed the budding of the fig tree, the rebirth of Israel shall not pass away before the coming of the Son of Man. Suppose the oldest person born before midnight on 14th May 1948 will die at the age of 100 years. It means the Rapture will occur in the year 2048.
Jesus did not say that only one person will be left of those born before 14 May 1948. What Jesus said is that the generation that saw the rebirth of Israel as a nation is the generation that will witness His Second Advent. The emphasis is on the fact that the last person in that generation would not have died before His return. That in reckoning time is big latitude. It means the rapture can take place from this moment to the time the last person in that generation would be at the throes of death. The wide time spectrum is enough to discourage any speculation on the day and hour of rapture. Rather, the heirs of salvation should be concerned with preparations for the Second Coming of Christ and not dissipate energy on speculative time schedules that God has put in His own exclusive power.
Focus on the general rapture of the Church should not diminish the importance of what I call the private rapture of saints. Since it is appointed unto men once to die and be judged immediately, eternal destination is determined at the point of death. When a person dies, he either goes to be with Christ or is forced in hell for his punishment. Those who are with Christ are said not to have died but “sleeping.” Why are they sleeping? They will be brought back from heaven on rapture day to be clothed with glorified bodies. Perfection of the saints i.e. the redemption of the body, will be done simultaneously for all. It is not an event that can take place perfunctorily. The Marriage of the Lamb to His Bride is a single event. If those who die before the rapture are given glorified bodies, what would they be doing while the rest are still in the making? The body of Christ is one. As Paul explained in Eph 2:21 a building is not complete when the last block has not been fitted in. So, until the last saint is sealed by the Holy Spirit into the Body, the Body of Christ would remain incomplete.
The job of the Holy Spirit on the earth is to form the Body and deliver same to the Head. He must complete His work before returning to the Father and the Son who sent Him. Imagine what would have happened if Eleazer was unable to persuade Rebecca to follow him to his master. Isaac who had left his home for the fields to await his bride would have been terribly disappointed and Eleazer’s journey to Padan-aram would have turned out to be a total failure. So, the redeemed saints have to ‘rest’ until “all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord” (Eph 2:21).
The point to note is that the saint cannot do anything to alter the situation at the point of death. The dead cannot come back to the earth to do anything otherwise salvation could be lost. Remember that as long as you are here on earth the propensity to sin remains. The doctrine of once-saved always-saved is a doctrine of devils. All those people who saw heaven and came back to earth did so for a God-ordained purpose.
The next event in the Plan of God is the rapture of the Church of Jesus Christ. It will take place any moment from now. Many people around the world who were born on or before 14 May 1948 will be alive when eligible saints of God dead and alive will be evacuated to meet the Lord in the atmospheric heaven and remain with Him thenceforth.