Don’t Let Scoffers and Date-Setters Steal Your Crown :: By Arden Kierce

Those who are watching and eagerly waiting for Jesus’ return at the Rapture are given a very special promise. In 2 Timothy 4:8, the Apostle Paul reveals that everyone who loves the idea of Jesus’ appearing will receive the Crown of Righteousness as an eternal reward.

However, in Revelation 3:11, Jesus himself warns that it is possible for this crown to be taken away, seized, or even stolen by others.

We can know that the crown Jesus mentions here is indeed the Crown of Righteousness because, in context, this warning comes only one sentence after Jesus promises that he will keep the Christians of the church of Philadelphia (and by extension, all true Christians who are alive today) out of the time of trial that is about to come upon the entire world (Revelation 3:10). This is the promise of the Rapture, and so it truly is a most blessed hope (Titus 2:13).

Believers today often call this upcoming period of time which follows the Rapture ‘the Tribulation.’ It consists of twenty-one devastating divine judgments that will occur on Earth during the final seven years before Jesus returns at his Second Coming to set up his Millennial Kingdom, as described in the book of Revelation. The Tribulation will be the worst time in the entire history of the planet (Matthew 24:21).

So, getting back to Revelation 3:11, it seems that this special crown, which is promised to everyone who is looking forward to the Rapture, can indeed be lost due to the actions of other people.

How might such a situation occur, and who are the people who might metaphorically ‘steal’ our crowns?

One possibility that immediately comes to mind is the mockers and scoffers.

The Apostle Peter warned that in the last days, people would doubt that Jesus will be coming back soon at the Rapture. They will insist that nothing has changed for the past two thousand years, and life continues on just like normal, so this means that Jesus is not coming back anytime soon (2 Peter 3:4).

Unfortunately, today, such scoffers exist even within faithful Christian communities. They will say they love Jesus and will heartily sing worship songs at church, regularly attend Bible study, and compassionately pray for others, but the moment the topic of the end times and the Rapture comes up, they suddenly don’t want to talk about Jesus’ return.

The reason Peter gives for this behavior is that the scoffers want more time to indulge their sinful desires (2 Peter 3:3). This may seem harsh; however, even our desires for apparently ‘good’ things, such as getting married, having children, finishing a degree, getting a promotion, going on a vacation, or enjoying retirement risk becoming sinful if they outrank our desire to finally see Jesus face to face and be with him forever.

When Christians who do look forward to the Rapture more than any other worldly goal dare to mention the signs of the end times that we see occurring all around us, and precisely the ones which Jesus warned us would indicate his return at the Rapture is very near, the scoffers effectively say the exact line that Peter prophesied. In modern language, it might sound something like:

“Well, all of those signs have been happening ever since Jesus left. Nothing has changed. Don’t get too hopeful or excited. Just enjoy your life and plan for the future since he might not be coming back for hundreds of years.”

Hearing this reply can be both disheartening and frustrating for believers whose whole hearts are set on Jesus’ appearing at the Rapture. If we hear such scoffing often enough, whether from family members, friends, fellow Christians at church, or even pastors, we might be tempted to give up our hope.

But if we take the advice of the scoffers, we will be letting them steal our crown. Therefore, it is important to not let the scoffers persuade us to give up our blessed hope in Jesus’ coming at the Rapture. Instead, let us see their scoffing as simply one more sign that Jesus’ return truly is at the very door.

Yet there is another group of people who I believe can also act as potential crown-thieves. In the Bible-prophecy community, they are frequently referred to as ‘date-setters.’ Many date-setters can be found on YouTube where they gain a large following by producing videos that argue for their favorite dates for the Rapture.

Now, I do have sympathy for some of these people. Many date-setters do seem to be genuine Christians who are truly excited about Jesus’ return at the Rapture. They may even preach the correct gospel message that we have eternal salvation only by putting our faith in Jesus Christ as our Savior who died for our sins on the cross and that our salvation does not depend on any good works we may do so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9, Galatians 2:16, Romans 3:21-28, John 3:16-18, 6:28-29).

Many date-setters argue that trying to find the date of the Rapture is an expression of their love for Jesus and that it is their way of watching for Jesus’ return. They may also warn non-Christians to believe in Jesus before the Rapture occurs, encourage fellow Christians to share the gospel with their unsaved family and friends, and warn them about how little time may be left before the Tribulation begins.

As good as these motives are, I believe that attempts to search for the precise date of the Rapture are potentially dangerous. This is not just because of how the date-setters risk losing their own crowns by becoming disheartened when their predictions fail to be fulfilled, but also because the date-setters may inadvertently discourage fellow Christians who have been convinced by their date-setting.

Date-setting may take the form of believing that certain feast days listed in the Old Testament are ‘high watch’ days for the Rapture. I used to think this claim made some sense because I believed that if the Rapture were to occur on such a day, it would be more likely to wake the Jews up to the idea that the disappearance of millions of Christians around the world is somehow related to their God. This would make the Jewish people jealous (Romans 11:11), which would be a first step toward them putting their faith in Jesus as their true Messiah.

Following this logic, ‘high watch’ dates among date-setters often include Passover, Pentecost, Shavuot, the ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, or sometime during the Feast of Tabernacles, or maybe even Hanukkah.

Lately, some end-times watchers are promoting the supposedly ‘hidden’ Feast of New Wine as a potential true Pentecost date, based on Acts 2:13, where onlookers accused the early Christians of being drunk on “new wine,” which was supposedly only available at a certain time of year.

However, date-setting gets complicated because there is disagreement among date-setters regarding exactly which calendar to use to determine when these feasts and ‘high watch’ days occur. Should we use the Western Protestant/Catholic calendar? Eastern Orthodox? Jewish? Enochian?

Various date-setters argue for why their favorite calendar is correct based on various factors. It may involve finding the first day of the Jewish year, but there is debate about whether this day is in the fall or the spring. Some say it depends on the date of the equinox, or equilux. The dates of some fall feasts also supposedly change depending on whether it is a ‘jubilee’ year or not, and date-setters then debate how to calculate whether it currently is or is not such a year.

Other date-setters argue about whether the date of these feasts depends on the sighting of a new moon or a full moon in a particular constellation. Yet there are questions about whether this is even still valid, given the precession of the equinoxes over the last two thousand years from when Christ walked the earth.

Some date-setters attempt to create a ‘biblical’ calendar by arguing that certain dates have to be a certain number of days or months from other days based on events that occurred on these days as documented in Scripture. These days are then correlated with our current calendar (again, using debatable methods), and theological arguments are made as to why particular days would be an appropriate day for the Rapture to occur.

A few date-setters may attempt to figure out the exact day, month, and year when Jesus was crucified, add two thousand years to that (based on Hosea 6:2 and 2 Peter 3:8), and then subtract the 2,520 days of the Tribulation to try to find the last possible day by which the Rapture supposedly must happen.

Using these above approaches can lead to having a ‘high watch’ day almost every week, if not twice per week, depending on the season.

At least these approaches listed above are more legitimate than various modern self-appointed ‘prophets’ who claim they were given a particular date for the Rapture directly from God. These supposed prophets’ evidence is often based on purely subjective and unverifiable data, such as their dreams and visions or their followers’ dreams and visions.

Even more dubious ‘evidence’ that such date-setting prophets might rely on may include how they saw a certain number on their grocery receipt or an expiry date on a food product in their fridges. Maybe they woke up at a particular time or looked at the clock at a particular time. Basically, they can appeal to almost any possible way that someone might find a particular combination of numbers, and then they claim that this was divine revelation about the date or time of the Rapture.

At the most subjective, some date-setters may claim they “just feel” that the Rapture will be on or before a particular date, with no specific justification for it at all. They may also go on to insist that anyone who disagrees with them is simply not as ‘spiritual’ as they are. At worst, the ‘prophet’ may claim that other Christians who disagree with them do not truly have the Holy Spirit in them because if they did, they would agree with said ‘prophet.’

The problem with all of these attempts to find the exact date of the Rapture is that after one of these ‘high watch’ dates comes and goes, there is always a feeling of disappointment, if not outright despair among those who had become so convinced by their favorite date-setter that this was truly going to be the day of the Rapture.

And then the date-setter simply moves on to a new date that is weeks, months, or sometimes even a year ahead.

In this way, it can feel to those Christians who follow these date-setters that we are running a race with ever-changing goalposts. We think we see the finish line up ahead, get excited, and even start celebrating, only to realize it was all a mirage and we still have an unknown number of miles left to go.

This is how I believe that date-setting can lead people to potentially lose their crowns.

At best, Christians who are convinced by the date-setters can be tempted to give up on watching for Jesus to return at any time, and instead, they simply sit back and wait for their next favorite ‘high watch’ date to come.

In this way, the return of Jesus is no longer seen to be imminent but is limited to only particular days of the year. Yet Jesus gave a strong warning that we should not say that his coming is delayed until some yet-future time, as it can tempt us to slack off or behave badly in the meantime (Matthew 24:48-51).

At worst, after being promised by date-setters that this next high watch date is definitely, absolutely, 100% the one, but it still passes by without the Rapture happening, it’s natural that some believers feel like they are spiritually exhausted, and they become tempted to give up watching for Jesus’ return altogether.

This may be especially true for believers whose personal health is failing, or who are barely able to make financial ends meet, or who may be on the verge of (or are actually experiencing) homelessness, or whose family situations are difficult. It’s completely understandable that these Christians would look to the Rapture as the ultimate escape from their problems. Yet this also means these Christians can be particularly vulnerable to disappointment and disillusionment when the Rapture doesn’t happen when they hoped it would.

I have even seen some people who put their trust in particular dates become angry at Jesus himself for not coming back ‘on time’ or for supposedly stringing them along with date after date. Yet, in fact, the source of the problem was actually the dubious practice of date-setting, not Jesus’ tardiness.

It is also confusing to Christians when date-setters do not agree with one another regarding the date of the Rapture, yet they all claim to be led by the same Holy Spirit. However, we know the Holy Spirit will not lie, contradict himself, or change his mind about things he has inspired the prophets to prophesy (Numbers 23:19, 2 Peter 1:21). So then how should we know which date-setter(s) are truly in tune with God’s spirit?

And if Christians cannot even agree among ourselves about all of this, then what do the non-Christians who are watching us think about it? I doubt it would persuade them to take our warnings about the coming Rapture very seriously. Such skeptics may easily become scoffers when they see that none of the ‘high watch’ dates that have been hyped by various Christian date-setters have led to anything thus far.

For all of the above reasons, I believe that date-setting is not what Jesus meant for us to do when he told us to watch for his return. I also believe that we can support this claim from Scripture.

After all, Jesus said that if we do not watch for his coming, we will be taken by surprise when it occurs (Mark 13:32-37), like when a thief breaks into a house at night at an unexpected time (Matthew 24:36-44, Luke 12:35-40, 1 Thessalonians 5:2-5, Revelation 3:3).

Jesus did not warn that we would be surprised by the Rapture if we do not:

– Figure out the proper calendar to use to calculate ‘high watch’ days.

– Study obscure biblical details to determine the most likely ‘high watch’ day for his return.

– Count the correct number of days from significant solar or lunar eclipses, new moons, or full moons.

– Accurately determine if it is or is not a jubilee year.

– Research the exact year and day of Jesus’ crucifixion.

– Follow the proper divinely anointed ‘prophet’ or channel on YouTube.

Actually, if we are actively watching for the signs that Jesus gave us regarding his return, Paul said that we would not need anyone else to tell us about how close the end times are or, by extension, how soon the Rapture will be (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2).

When we see everything beginning to come together just like Jesus prophesied it would before the Tribulation begins, we will know that we should be looking up for him to come redeem our bodies (Luke 21:28, Romans 8:23). This redemption will occur when living Christians will be instantly transformed from mortal to immortal at the Rapture (1 Corinthians 15:50-53, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18), and will have bodies that will be similar to Jesus’ own resurrected and glorified body (1 John 3:2, 1 Corinthians 15:49, Philippians 3:20-21).

Yet there is no hint that we will know the exact day or hour of this event. Indeed, if we did know the exact time of the Rapture, we would not have to watch, but we could do exactly what many date-setters do: simply sit back and wait for that day to come.

Even Jesus, who is God’s own divine Son incarnate, said that he did not know the day and hour of his return since this was known only to God the Father (Matthew 24:36). Naturally, date-setters do not take this verse literally, but usually say it was only Jesus making an allusion to the customs of a first-century Galilean wedding.

For such a wedding, the bridegroom would supposedly return to take his bride to the wedding ceremony only after the bridegroom’s father had deemed that everything was ready for the wedding to take place. These preparations included inspecting and approving the bridal chamber that the bridegroom had built and outfitted for his bride, which was built as an addition onto the groom’s father’s house.

This tradition should remind us of how Jesus promised us that he was building dwelling places for his disciples in heaven and that one day he would return to take us to be with him there (John 14:1-3). This is exactly what will occur at the Rapture.

We also see that the true Church, composed of everyone who has put their faith in Jesus Christ alone for their eternal salvation, is referred to as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33, Revelation 19:7-9). Thus, the similarities between these verses and the details of a Galilean wedding are quite compelling.

However, contra the date-setters, this wedding analogy should actually reinforce the idea that Christians will be slightly surprised by the exact timing of the Rapture, just as a first-century Galilean bride would be surprised by not knowing the exact time that her bridegroom would come to take her to her wedding. So date-setters should not dismiss Jesus’ claim that no one except God the Father knows the day or hour of the Rapture just because it may have also been a first-century Jewish idiom that referred to a Galilean wedding ceremony.

Alternatively, I have heard some date-setters dismiss Jesus’ warnings that his return will occur at an unpredictable and unexpected time by saying that these warnings only apply to Jesus’ Second Coming, not the Rapture.

But I do not see why Jesus would provide so many warnings for his people to be awake and watching for his return if he only intended these warnings to apply to the Tribulation saints (i.e., the people who will put their faith in Jesus after the Rapture).

First of all, I suspect it is unlikely that any faithful saints who manage to survive to the end of the Tribulation would not be desperately watching for Jesus’ Second Coming to occur at any moment. This is because Jesus’ intervention will be their only hope to avoid being exterminated by the Antichrist who will be hunting them down (Revelation 13:7-10).

It should also not be difficult for the Tribulation saints to know the timing of Jesus’ Second Coming. Once the Antichrist confirms the covenant in Daniel 9:27, Jesus’ Second Coming will occur exactly 2,520 days later. That is 1,260 days for the first half of the Tribulation (Revelation 11:3), plus another 1,260 days or 42 months of 30 days each for the second half (Revelation 12:6, 13:5), for a total of 7 years of 360 days (Daniel 9:27).

Even if Jesus shortens the days of the Tribulation for the sake of the elect saints (Mark 13:20), such that each day is only two-thirds as long as it is now (Revelation 8:12), the total number of days must remain the same, or these prophecies listed above would be wrong.

And at worst, if some Tribulation saints are too preoccupied with fleeing from their enemies and trying to find food, water, and shelter for them to remember the exact number of days that are left before Jesus’ Second Coming, then at worst, Jesus’ return will be to them a sudden but very welcome rescue.

So I do not believe that any believers in Christ who are alive on Earth during the Tribulation will be negatively affected if they are not watching for Jesus’ Second Coming to occur at any time.

In contrast, for Christians who are alive now before the Rapture occurs, there are indeed many negative consequences for our lack of vigilance, not least of which is the possibility of losing our eternal crown.

Most seriously, if we are not watching for the signs that indicate Jesus’ return at the Rapture is approaching, we will also likely not be warning those around us that they should seriously consider putting their faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior right now, in order to be included in the Rapture and escape the terrible divine judgments of the Tribulation.

Furthermore, Christians today who are not watching for Jesus’ return will miss out on all of the spiritual benefits and blessings that come from living as if Jesus could return literally any day. I examine these benefits in my latest book, titled Why Study The End Times: The Relevance of the Rapture, Tribulation, Final Judgment, and Heaven for Christians’ Lives Right Now (available at Amazon).

The fact that God will reward Christians who are watching for his return at the Rapture with a special crown also implies that this behavior is somewhat unusual, uncommon, and maybe even difficult to do.

It implies that watching for Jesus’ return at the Rapture will not be done by the majority of Christians but only by a committed minority of believers who have persevered in their hope despite the mockers and scoffers (2 Peter 3:1-7), and despite life around them generally appearing to continue on as normal with people buying, selling, building, planting, marrying, and so forth (Luke 17:26-37, Matthew 24:36-44).

Those Christians who receive this Crown of Righteousness will also have persevered in the face of the date-setters who tell us that the Rapture won’t happen until they say it will.

In fact, I wonder if when Jesus said he will come at a time when some of his servants are not expecting him (Matthew 24:44, 24:50, Luke 12:40), this means that Jesus will actually not come on one of the popular high-watch dates that all the date-setters are looking forward to.

However, by paying attention to what is going on in the news day by day, or even hour by hour at times, we will be the faithful servants who will not be completely surprised when Jesus returns at the Rapture.

We will also not risk losing our crowns by becoming discouraged and giving up watching when the next ‘high watch’ day comes and goes.

Instead, we will see that the signs of the approaching Tribulation are still all present and are escalating like birth pains (Matthew 24:7-8, Mark 13:8). We will see the people of the world crying out louder and louder for peace and safety (1 Thessalonians 5:3), and begging for a leader who can solve all their problems (Revelation 6:1-2, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12).

In this way, by looking at the signs, not at dates, Christians will be safe from losing our crowns.

And right now, there is especially no reason to become disheartened or discouraged since the Psalm 83 war seems like it’s on the verge of breaking out any day, along with the potential fulfillment of Isaiah 17. The alliances for Ezekiel 38 are quickly forming up also, and wars and threats of wars around the world just continue to multiply. Politically, no world leader seems to have any solutions to problems that just continue to pile on top of one another.

If it were not for the restraining power of the Holy Spirit, any number of slowly escalating crises would surely have already broken out and removed normalcy from our world. Yet for now, they keep simmering away below most people’s awareness, despite being ready to explode on the world scene just after the Rapture occurs.

So no matter whether the next high-watch day comes and goes, keep looking at the signs, and keep holding on to your hope that Jesus could return any day now. In this way, you will be sure to receive an eternal crown.


If you are interested in reading an easy-to-understand introduction to what the Bible teaches about the end times and the gospel, check out Arden’s book, A Detailed Biblical Introduction To The End Times: The Pre-Tribulation Rapture, Seven-Year Tribulation, and Pre-Millennial Return of Jesus Christ.

Links to Arden Kierce’s books and other writings can be found at