Knowing the Day and the Hour

One logical question all Christians should ask themselves is, “When is Jesus Christ going to return?” When I read my Bible, I run across words like, “For ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Mat 25:13) I also read, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come.” (Mat 24:42) I understood Him as meaning, “You’re not going to know until I come for you.”

Other people throughout history have read the same words of Jesus and have come up with different interpretations of what He intended. They’ve somehow managed to get around all restrictions against precise date setting. On a number of occasions, by doing so, they created pure havoc. The following is a list of some past failed dates and some dates yet to come.

53 AD
Even before all the books of the Bible were written, there was talk that Christ’s return had already taken place. The Thessalonians panicked on Paul, when they heard a rumor that the day of the Lord was at hand, and they had missed the rapture.

A Roman priest and theologian in the second and third centuries, predicted Christ would return in A.D. 500, based on the dimensions of Noah’s ark.

This year goes down as one of the most pronounced states of hysteria over the return of Christ. All members of society seemed affected by the prediction that Jesus was coming back at the start of the new millennium. There really weren’t any of the events required by the Bible transpiring at that time. The magical number 1000 was primarily the sole reason for the expectation. During concluding months of 999 AD, everyone was on their best behavior; worldly goods were sold and given to the poor, swarms of pilgrims headed east to meet the Lord at Jerusalem, buildings went unrepaired, crops were left unplanted, and criminals were set free from jails. The year 999 AD turned into 1000 AD and nothing happened.

This year was sighted as the beginning of the millennium because it marked 1000 years since Christ’s crucifixion.

The “Letter of Toledo” warned everyone to hide in the caves and mountains. The world would be destroyed and only a few would be spared.

The Taborites of Czechoslovakia predicted every city would be annihilated by fire. Only five mountain strongholds would be saved.

Muntzer, a leader of German peasants, announced that the return of Christ was near. After he and his men destroyed the high and mighty, the Lord would return. This belief led to an uneven battle with government troops where he was strategically out-numbered. Muntzer claimed to have a vision from God where the Lord promised that He would catch the cannon balls of the enemy in the sleeves of His cloak. The vision turned out to be false when Muntzer and his followers were mowed down by cannon fire.

A repeat of the Muntzer affair occurred a few years late. This time Jan Matthys took over the city of Munster. The City was to be the only one spared destruction. The inhabitants of Munster, chased out by Matthys and his men, regrouped and lay siege to the city. Within a year everyone in the city was dead.

The Fifth Monarchy Men looked for Jesus to establish a theocracy. They took up arms and tried to seize England by force. The movement died when the British monarchy was restored in 1660.

To the citizens of London, 1666 was not a banner year. A bubonic plague outbreak killed 100,000 and the Great Fire of London struck the same year. The world seemed at an end to most Londoners. The fact that the year ended with the Beast’s number (666), didn’t help matters either.

Mary Bateman, who specialized in fortune telling, had a magic chicken that laid eggs with end time messages on them. One message said that Christ was coming. The uproar she created ended when she was caught forcing an egg into the hen’s oviduct by an unannounced visitor. Mary later was hanged for poisoning a wealthy client.

Spiritualist Joanna Southcott made the startling claim that she, by virgin birth, would produce the second Jesus Christ. Her abdomen began to swell and so did the crowds of people around her. The time for the birth came and passed – she died soon after. An autopsy revealed it had been a false pregnancy.

John Wesley wrote that “the time, times and half a time” of Revelation 12:14 were 1058­1836, “when Christ should come” (apud A. M. Morris, The Prophecies Unveiled, p. 361)

William Miller was the founder of an end-times movement that was so prominent it received its own name– Millerism. From his studies of the Bible, Miller determined that the second coming would happen sometime between 1843-1844. A spectacular meteor shower in 1833 gave the movement a good push forward. The buildup of anticipation continued until March 21, 1844, when Miller’s one year time table ran out. Some followers set another date of Oct 22, 1844. This too failed, collapsing the movement. One follower described the days after the failed predictions, “The world made merry over the old Prophet’s predicament. The taunts and jeers of the ‘scoffers’ were well-nigh unbearable.”

Rev Thomas Parker, a Massachusetts Minister, looked for the millennium to start about 1859.

Someone called Mother Shipton 400 years earlier claimed the world would end in 1881. A controversy hangs over the Shipton writings, as to whether or not publishers doctored the text. If the date was wrong, should it matter anyway?

The revisit of Haley’s comet was, for many, an indication of the Lord’s second coming. The earth actually passed through the gaseous tail of the comet. One enterprising man sold comet pills to people for protection against the effects of the toxic gases.

Charles Russell, after being exposed to the teachings of William Miller, founded his own organization that evolved into becoming the Jehovah’s Witnesses. In 1914 Russell predicted the return of Jesus Christ.

In 1918, new math didn’t help Charles Russell from striking out again.

The Witnesses had no better luck in 1925. They already possessed the title of most wrong predictions. They would expand upon it in the years to come.

When the city of Jerusalem was reclaimed by the Jews in 1967, prophecy watchers declared that the “Time of the Gentiles” had come to an end.

The True Light Church of Christ made its claim to fame by incorrectly forecasting the return of Jesus. A number of church members had quit their livelihoods ahead of the promised advent.

A comet that turned out to be a visual disappointment, nonetheless, compelled one preacher to announce that it would be a sign of the Lord’s return.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses were back at it in 1975. The failure of the forecast did not affect the growth of the movement. The Watchtower magazine, a major Witness periodical, has over 13 million subscribers.

We all remember the killer bee scare of the late 70’s. One prophecy prognosticator linked the bees to Rev 9:3-12. After twenty years of progression and the bees are still in Texas, I’m beginning to think of them as the killer snails.

One author boldly declared that “The Rapture” would occur before Dec. 31, 1981, based on Christian prophesy, astronomy and a dash of ecological fatalism. He pegged the date to Jesus’ promised to return to Earth a generation after Israel’s rebirth. He also made references to the “Jupiter Effect,” a planetary alignment that occurs every 179 years, that would supposedly lead to earthquakes and nuclear plant meltdowns.

It was all going to end in 1982, when the planets lined up and created magnetic forces that would bring Armageddon to the earth.

A group called the Tara Centers placed full-page advertisements in many major newspapers for the weekend of April 24-25, 1982, announced: “The Christ is Now Here!” and predicted that he was to make himself known “within the next two months.” After the date passed, they said that the delay was only because the “consciousness of the human race was not quite right…” Boy, all these years and we’re still not ready.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses made sure in 1984 that no one else would be able to top their record of most wrong doomsday predictions. The Witnesses’ record is currently holds at nine. The years are: 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984. Lately, the JW’s are claiming they’re out of the prediction business, but it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks. They’ll be back.

The Harmonic Convergence planned for Aug. 16-17, 1987, and several New Age events were to occur at that time. The second coming of the serpent god of peace and the Hopi dance awakening were two examples.

The book “88 Reasons Why the Rapture is in 1988” came out only a few months before the event was to take place. What little time the book had, it used effectively. By the time Sept 11-13 rolled around, whole churches were caught up in the excitement the book generated. I personally had friends who were measuring themselves for wings. In the dorm where we lived, my friends were also openly confronting all of the unsaved. It became my job to defuse to situations. In one case, an accosted sinner was contemplating dispensary action against my now distant friends. Finally, the days of destiny dawned and then set. No Jesus. The environment was not the same as Miller’s 1844 failure. To my surprise, the taunting by the unsaved was very brief. I took it that people have very little understanding of the Bible, so they had nothing to taunt my friends with. I made one other interesting observation. The time for the rapture was a 3 day window from Sept 11 to the 13 – my friends had given up hope on the morning of 12. I pointed out that they still had 2 days left, but they had been spooked nonetheless.

After the passing of the deadline in 88 Reason’s, the author, Edgar Whisenaunt, came out with a new book called “89 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1989.” This book sold only a fraction of his prior release.

A local group in Australia predicted Jesus would return through the Sydney Harbor at 9:00 am on 31st March, 1991.

Nation of Islam Leader Louis Farrakhan proclaimed the Gulf War would to be “the War of Armageddon … the final War.”

Menachem Schneerson, a Russian born rabbi, called for the Messiah to come by Sept 9, 1991, the start of the Jewish New Year.

A Korean group called Mission For The Coming Days had the Korea Church a buzz in the fall of 1992. They foresaw Oct 28, 1992 as the date for the Rapture. Numerology was the basis for the date. Several camera shots that left ghostly images on pictures was thought to be a supernatural confirmation of the date.

If the year 2000 is the end of the 6000 year cycle, then the rapture must take place in 1993, because you would need 7 years of the tribulation. This was the thinking of a number of prophecy writers.

In the book “1994 the Year of Destiny” F. M. Riley foretold of God’s plan to rapture His people. The name of his ministry is The Last Call and he operates out of Missouri.

Pastor John Hinkle of Christ Church Los Angels caused quite a stir when he announced he had received a vision from God that warned of apocalyptic event on June 9th, 1994. Hinkle, quoting God, said, “On Thursday June the 9th, I will rip the evil out of this world.” At the time, I knew Hinkle’s vision didn’t match up with scripture. From a proper reading of Bible prophecy, the only thing that God could possible rip from the earth would be the Christian Church, and I don’t think God would refer to the Church as “evil.” Some people tried to reinterpret the Hinkle’s unscriptural vision to mean that God would the rip evil out of our hearts when he raptured us. Well, the date came and went with no heart surgery or rapture.

Harold Camping in his book “Are You Ready?” predicted the Lord’s return in Sept 1994. The book was full of numerology that added up to 1994 as the date of Christ’s return.

After promising themselves they would not make anymore end time predictions, the Jehovah’s Witnesses fell off the wagon and proclaimed 1994 as the conclusion of an 80 year generation – the year 1914 was the starting point.

This had a special month, according to one author. He foresaw the month of Sept as the time for our Lord’s return. The Church Age will last 2000 years from the time of Christ’s birth in 4 BC.

California psychic Sheldon Nidle predicted the end would come when 16 million space ships converged upon the Earth on Dec. 17, 1996, along with a host of angels.Nidle explained the passing of the date by claiming the angles placed us in a holographic projection to preserve us and give us a second chance.

In regard to 1997, I’ve received several e-mail messages that pointed to a date when Jesus will return for his church. Two of the more widely known time frames was Monte Judah’s FEB/MAR tribulation start and a May 14 rapture which was based on numerology and the Psalms.

When Rabin and Arafat signed their peace pact on the White House lawn on Sept 13, 1993, some saw the events as the begin of tribulation. With signing of the peace agreement Daniel’s 1260 day countdown was underway. By Adding 1260 days to Sept, 1993; you get Feb 24, 1997.

Stan Johnson of the Prophecy Club saw a 90 percent chance that the tribulation would start Sept 12, 1997. He bases his conclusion on several end-time signs. The date of September 12 was chosen by Johnson because it will be Jesus’ 2000th birthday and it will also be the day of atonement, although not what is currently the Jewish Day of Atonement. Further supporting evidence came from Romanian pastor Dumitru Duduman. In several heavenly visions, Dumitru claimed to had seen the book of life. In one of his earlier visions, there were several pages yet to be completed. In his last vision he noticed the book of life only had one page left. Doing some rough calculating, Johnson and friends figured the latest time frame for the completion of the book of life would have to be September 1997.

Numerology: Because 666 times three equals 1998 some people point to this years as being a prophetically significant year. I had someone call me long distance just so they could pass on to me this earth shattering news.

A Taiwanese cult operating out of Garland Texas predicted Christ would return on Mar 31 of 1998. The group’s leader, Heng-ming Chen, announced God would return, and then invite the cult members aboard a UFO.The group abandoned their second coming prediction when a precursor event failed to take place. The cult’s leader said God would appear on every channel 18 of every TV in the world. Maybe God realized at the last minute, the Playboy Network was channel 18 on several cable systems, and he didn’t want to have Christians watching a porn channel.

On Apr. 30, 1998 – when Israel will be age 50 – The tribulation was to start. The reasoning for this date has to do with God’s age requirement for the priesthood, which is between 30-50.

Marilyn Agee in her book “The End of the Age” has her sights set on May 31, 1998. This date will conclude the 6000 year cycle from the time of Adam. Agee looks for the Rapture to take place on Pentecost also known as the feast of weeks. Another indicator is the fact that the Holy Spirit did not descend upon the until 50 days from Christ’s resurrection before descending on the Church. Israel was born in 1948, add the 50 days and you come up with 1998. If this prophecy fails, numerology will mark itself as one of the most unreliable method of foretelling and yet the most repeated.After her May 31 rapture date failed, Agee, lacking the ability to face up to her error, continued her date setting by using various scripture references to pointing to June 7, 14, 21 and about 10 other dates.

Well, you can’t call Marilyn Agee a quitter. After bombing out badly several time in 1998, Marilyn has set a new date for the rapture, May 21 or 22, 1999. When May 21-22 fails, I fully expect more dates to quickly follow.

TV newscaster-turned-psychic Charles Criswell King said in 1968 that the world as we know it will cease to exist on August 18, 1999.

Philip Berg, a rabbi at the Kabbalah Learning Center, New York has proclaimed that the End might arrive on Sept. 11, 1999, when “a ball of fire will descend . . . destroying almost all of mankind, all vegetation, all forms of life.”

Numerology: If you divide 2000 by 3, you will get the devil’s number 666.66666666666667.

The names of the people and organizations that have called for the return of Christ, at the turn of the century, is too long to be listed here. I would say that if there is a day that Christ cannot come back on, it must be Jan 1, 2000. To come at an unknown time means an unknown time. I think Jan 2, 2000 would be a more likely day for Him to call His Church home – right after the big let down.

On May 5, 2000, all the planets are supposed to be in alignment. This will cause the earth to suffer earthquakes, volcanic eruption, and various other nasty stuff. A similar alignment occurred in 1982 and nothing happened. People fail to realize that the other 9 planets only exert a very tiny gravitation pull on the earth. If you were to add up the gravitational force from the rest of the planets, the total would be only amount to fraction of the tug the moon has on the earth.

According to Michael Rood, the end times have a prophetically complicated connection to Israel’s spring barley harvest. The Day of the LORD began on May 5, 2000. Rood’s fall feast calendar calls for the Russian Gog-Magog invasion of Israel to take place at sundown on October 28, 2000.

Dr. Dale SumburËru looks for March 22, 1997, to be “the date when all the dramatic events leading through the tribulation to the return of Christ should begin” The actual date of Christ’s return could be somewhere between July 2000 and Mar 2001. Dr. SumburËru is more general about the timing of the Christ’s second coming than most writers. He states, “The day the Lord returns is currently unknown because He said [Jesus] these days are cut short and it is not yet clear by how much and in what manner they are cut short. If the above assumptions are not correct, my margin of error would be in weeks, or perhaps months.”

Because there was no year 0, the true millennium will not start until Jan 1, 2001. Most prophetic watchers still have their sights set on 2000. If the date passes uneventful, I’m sure they’ll realize their error and refocus on this year.

This date for Jesus’ return is based upon Psalmology, numerology, the biblical 360 days per year, Jewish holidays, and “Biblical astronomy.” To figure out this date you’ll need a calculator, a slide rule, and plenty of scratch paper.

For the past several decades Jack Van Impe has hinted at nearly every year as being the time for the rapture. Normally, he only goes out one or two years from the current calendar year. Jack’s latest projection for the rapture goes out several years. His new math has 51 years being the length of a generation. If you add 51 years to 1967, the year Israel recaptured Jerusalem, you get 2018. Once you minus the 7 year tribulation period, you arrive at 2011.

New Age writers cite Mayan and Aztec calendars which predict the end of the age on Dec 21, 2012.

An untold number of people have tried to predict the Lord’s return by using elaborate time tables. Most date setters do not realize mankind has not kept an unwavering record of time. Anyone wanting to chart for example 100 BC to 2000 AD would have contend with the fact 46 BC was 445 days long, there was no year 0 BC, and in 1582 we switched from Julian Years (360 days) to Gregorian (365 days). Because most prognosticators are not aware of all these errors, from the get go their math is already off by several years.

I believe we will never know the exact day of Christ’s return for His Church. Not only because the Bible spells it out plainly, but because it’s God’s nature to act independently from man’s thinking. If He returned on a date that someone had figured out, that person would deprive God of His triumph. When it comes to His glory, God doesn’t share the spotlight with anyone.

The return of Jesus Christ for His Church will easily be the most important event in history. The glory of heaven contrasted with our life on earth is like comparing the job of running a hot dog stand with the job of President of the United States.

Finally, when it comes to knowing the general time frame of Christ’s return for His church, the word of God is more generous. Jesus forewarned us of a number of events that will take place. When we see the predicted events coming together, we can conclude that time is short. Most of the prophecies will take place during the tribulation. Any forewarning of their arrival would make the rapture all the more likely, because it occurs at the start of the 7 year tribulation period.