Nowhere in the Scripture are believers commanded to figure out the date of Christ’s return. In fact, there is a great deal of Scriptural warning against date setting.
Matt. 24:36 But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. Matt. 24:42 Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. Matt. 25:13 Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.
Acts 1:7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
I Thess. 5:1-2 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
The Scripture teaches that we should be ready at anytime for the return of Christ. Nevertheless, many religious leaders claim to have discovered hidden codes in the Scripture, special methods of interpretation or revelation from God that allows them to determine the time of Christ’s return.
DATE SETTERS OF THE PAST
Prov. 14:15 The simple believeth every word: but the prudent man looketh
well to his going.
In 365 A.D. Hillary of Potiers concluded that the Bible taught that Christ must return before 400A.D.
In 236 A.D. early church father Hippolytus concluded that the return of Christ in 500 A.D. was taught in the Scriptures. Lactantus (250-330 A.D.) echoed this teaching as did a historical writer Julius Africanus.
In 1179, John Toledo determined that Christ was returning in 1186. In 1147, Gerard of Pochide declared that he had found evidence of a 1306 return of Christ in Scripture. In 1190, Joachim of France taught that the return of Christ must take place before 1205. Pope Innocent III declared that Christ must return in 1284.
German preacher Militz of Kromerig declared that the Bible taught that Christ must return between 1365 and 1367. In the 1520’s German preacher Melchoir Huffman taught that Christ must return in 1533.
Michael Stiefel, an early German Lutheran preacher, claimed to have discovered the return of Christ in the Bible. He announced that Christ would return at 8:00 a.m. on October 19, 1533. He was rejected by Luther. A crowd gathered at the appointed time in Lachau, Germany.
In 1490, Christopher Columbus wrote that Christ must return in 1672. The Fifth Monarchy men announced that they would begin the millennium and cause the return of Christ in the 1660’s. Baptist preacher, Benjamin Keach announced that Christ would return in 1689. German Lutheran preacher Alsted predicted the return of Christ in 1694. Johann Philipp Petri (1718-1792) taught that Christ must return around 1847. James Purves (1734-1795) wrote that Christ must return in 1766. Christopher Huffman preached that Christ must return in 1826. William Cunningham preached that Christ must return in 1839.
John Wesley, founder of Methodism, preached that God must return in 1836. John Albrect Bengel (1687-1752) also interpreted the Bible as prophesying an 1836 return of Christ. Theologians named Ellicott and Cumming predicte
The followers of William Irving (Catholic Apostolic Church) offered several conclusions as to the time of the return of Christ. First, 1835, then 1838, then 1864, then 1866. A once flourishing religious movement then died.
Daniel Wilson, Archbishop of Calcutta, promised that the return of Christ must take place within 14 years of 1847.
English preacher, Thomas Parker, concluded that the return of Christ must take place in 1859.
William Miller, the inspiration for the Seventh Day Adventist Movement, preached that the Bible taught March 21, 1843 return of Christ. Disappointed followers were assured that October 22, 1844 would be the time.
American preachers Brewer and Decker taught an 1867 return of Christ.
Class Epps, a Russian preacher taught that Christ must return between March 8, 1889 and March 8, 1891.
Joseph Smith, the founder of Mormonism, predicted an 1890 return of Christ. He claimed that he heard the voice of God declaring the date.
In 1902, 1600 Russians called Dukhobers waited in the nude for Christ to return to a rural Canadian village. There were a number of cases of frostbite.
Charles Taze Russell, founder of Jehovah’s Witness movement, taught that his study of the Bible revealed that Christ would return in 1910. Then 1914. Then 1929.
A preacher named Guiness wrote that 1923 was the year.
In 1860, Piazzi Smith, Royal Astronomer of Scotland, wrote that the Great Pyramid of Egypt revealed that Christ would return in 1960.
In the 1930’s, Australian preacher Leonard Sale Harrison, toured the U.S. preaching that Christ must return in 1940-1941.
Radio preacher Herbert W. Armstrong taught that his Bible study revealed the return of Christ in 1936. In 1937, he announced that 1972 was the real date. This was later changed to 1979.
Moses David Berg, founder of the Children of God cult, prophesied the return of Christ in 1973.
Baptist Evangelist Art Wilson preached for years that Christ must return in 1974. In 1957, British teacher Adam Rutherford published 1500 pages (4 volumes) on the relationship between the Bible and the Great Pyramid of Egypt. His research concluded that Christ must return in 1978 or 1979.
In the late 1970’s, con artist John Todd preaching a 1981 return of Christ in many Pentecostal and Baptist churches.
Arnold Murray founder of the Shepherd’s Chapel radio church, predicted a 1980 return of Christ.
In 1987, Edgar Whisenant published, “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988.” Thousands of copies were mailed free of charge to churches. He concluded that Christ must return between September 11-12-13. He followed this with a book “Why Christ Must Return in 1989.” This time the return of Christ was forecast between September 11-13 in 1989.
T.V. preacher Jack Van Impe has suggested a 1976 return for Christ, then 2000, now 2010. A Korean Pentecostal preacher, Lee Jang Rim, promoted the idea that Christ would return at 10:00 a.m. October 28, 1992. In the 1500’s Mother Shipton, a mystic promoted heavily by James Dobson, predicted a 1991 return of Christ. Pentecostal preacher Dorothy Miller taught a September 28, 1992 return of Christ.
Warren Jeff, of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ, taught that Christ must return between 1993 and 1997. The he declared April 6, 2005 as the date for Christ’s return. He now suggests 2010.
Pentecostal preacher Benny Hinn predicted a 1993 return of Christ.
In 1992, prominent radio preacher Harold Camping published “1994”. He taught that the Old Testament offerings predicted that Christ would return in 1994, between September 5 and September 27. He has more recently published “Time Has an End: A Biblical History of the World 11,013 B.C. – 2011 A.D.
Pastor John Hinkle also concluded that the Bible taught that Christ would return in 1994 A. D. The Seventeenth Week Newsletter predicted a 1997 return of Christ because of the Hale-Bopp Comet. Pentecostal preacher Tracy Peterson, prophesied the return of Christ on May 8, 1999. God’s Salvation Church promised that Christ would return in 1999 in Texas. Gulham Cooper prophesied the return of Christ on January 1, 2000.
Charismatic writer, Rebecca Harrison, promised a May 17, 2000 return of Christ. Charismatic preacher, Dan Millar declared September 21, 2000 to be the day. Jim Searey, a Presbyterian preacher, declared that Christ would return in October 2000. He also declared that Prince Charles was the Antichrist. He was influenced by the book “The Anti-christ and a Cup of Tea” by Jim Cohen.
The Lord’s Witnesses, a split off the Jehovah’s Witnesses, declared that Christ would return in October 2000. They later changed this to a date in 2001 then another date in 2001. They now promise the Lord’s return in 2008.
Pentecostal preacher, Marilyn Agee, first prophesied the return of Christ on May 22, 1999. She then changed the date to June 11, then June 20, then July 9 then August 20. She now predicts the return of Christ in 2006.
Stuart Cobbs predicted an October 5, 2005 return of Christ.
These date setters all have one thing in common – they were all wrong!
The literal interpretation of Scripture would prevent Bible students from making such mistakes. After his two embarrassing failures, Edgar Whisenant wrote “I guess God doesn’t always do think the way man thinks He will”. Amen! The internet abounds with prophecies about the return of Christ in 2006. Also in 2007, 2008, 2009 and especially 2010.
I would not at all be surprised if Christ returns during that time frame. But if He does, it won’t have anything to do with the calculations of any man or woman.
Deut. 29:29 The secret things belong unto the Lord our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
If Christ had wanted us to know the date of His return, He would have told us clearly in the Scripture.
By: Dr. Phil Stringer