- 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 understand that to mean, "You're not going to know until I come
- 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 attempts at date settings
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 rumour that the day of the Lord was
at hand, and they had missed the rapture.
- A Roman priest living in the second century predicted
Christ would return in 500 AD, based on the dimensions of Noah's ark.
- This year goes down as one of the most heightened periods
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.
None of the events required by the Bible were transpiring at that time;
the magic of the number 1000 was the sole reason for the expectation. During
concluding months of 999 AD, everyone was on his best behaviour; 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. When the year 999 AD
turned into 1000 AD, nothing happened.
- This year was cited as the beginning of the millennium
because it marked 1,000 years since Christ's crucifixion.
- The "Letter of Toledo" warned everyone to hide
in the caves and mountains. The world was reportedly to be destroyed with
only a few 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 Muntzer and his men destroyed the
high and mighty, the Lord would supposedly return. This belief led to an
uneven battle against government troops. He was strategically outnumbered.
Muntzer claimed to have had a vision from God in which the Lord promised
that He would catch the cannonballs of the enemy in the sleeves of His
cloak. The prediction within 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 later.
This time, Jan Matthys took over the city of Munster. The city was to be
the only one spared from 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.
- For 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.
- 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 an unannounced
visitor caught her forcing an egg into the hen's oviduct. Mary later was
hanged for poisoning a wealthy client. History does not record whether
the offended chicken attended the hanging.
- 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 she
had experienced a false pregnancy.
- John Wesley wrote that "the time, times and half
a time" of Revelation 12:14 were 1058-1836, "when Christ should
come" (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 build-up of anticipation continued until
March 21, 1844, when Miller's one-year timetable ran out. Some followers
set another date--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 had, 400 years earlier,
claimed that 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 Halley'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 the Jehovah's
Witnesses. In 1914, Russell predicted the return of Jesus Christ.
- In 1918, new math didn't help Charles Russell from striking
- 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 1970's.
One prophecy prognosticator linked the bees to Revelation 9:3-12. After
20 years of progression, 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 December 31, 1981, based on Christian prophecy, astronomy, and a
dash of ecological fatalism. He pegged the date to Jesus' promised return
to earth a generation after Israel's rebirth. He also made references to
the "Jupiter Effect," a planetary alignment occurring every 179
years that supposedly could 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, announcing:
"The Christ is Now Here!" They 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 currently holds at nine. The years are: 1874, 1878,
1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984. Lately, the JWs 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 was planned for August 16-17,
1987, and several New Age events were also to occur at that time. The second
coming of the serpent god of peace and the Hopi dance awakening were two
- 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 the predicted dates, September
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 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. Although the time
for the rapture had been predicted to fall within a three-day window, September
11-13, my friends gave up hope on the morning of the 12th. I pointed out
that they still had two days left, but they had been spooked, nonetheless
- After the passing of the deadline in 88 Reasons, the
author, Edgar Whisenant, came out with a new book called 89 Reasons Why
the Rapture is in 1989. This book sold only a fraction of the number of
copies his prior release had sold.
- A group in Australia predicted Jesus would return through
the Sydney Harbour at 9 a.m., March 31, 1991.
- Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan proclaimed the
Gulf War would be "the War of Armageddon ... the final War."
- Menachem Schneerson, a Russian-born rabbi, called for
the Messiah to come by September 9, 1991, the start of the Jewish New Year.
- A Korean group called Mission for the Coming Days had
the Korea Church an uproar in the fall of 1992. They foresaw October 28,
1992 as the date for the rapture. Numerology was the basis for the date.
Several camera shots that left ghostly images on pictures were thought
to be a supernatural confirmation of the date.
- If the year 2000 is the end of the 6,000-year cycle,
then the rapture must take place in 1993, because you would need seven
years of the tribulation. This was the thinking of a number of prophecy
- 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 in Los Angeles caused
quite a stir when he announced he had received a vision from God that warned
of apocalyptic event on June 9, 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 possibly
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 interpret
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 would return in September 1994. The book was full of numerology
that added up to 1994 as the date of Christ's return.
- After promising 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
- This year had a special month, according to one author
who foresaw September as the time for our Lord's return. The Church Age
will last 2,000 years from the time of Christ's birth in 4 BC.
- California psychic Sheldon Nidle predicted the end would
come with the convergence of 16 million space ships and a host of angels
upon the earth on December 17, 1996. Nidle explained the passing of the
date by claiming the angels placed us in a holographic projection to preserve
us and give us a second chance.
- In regard to 1997, I received several e-mail messages
that pointed to this as the year when Jesus would return for His church.
Two of the more widely known time frames were Monte Judah's prediction
that the tribulation would begin in February/March and another prediction
based on numerology and the Psalms that targeted May 14 as the date of
- When Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signed their peace
pact on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, some saw the events
as the beginning of tribulation. With the signing of the peace agreement,
Daniel's 1,260-day countdown was underway. By adding 1,260 days to September
1993, you arrive at February 24, 1997.
- Stan Johnson of the Prophecy Club saw a "90 percent"
chance that the tribulation would start September 12, 1997. He based his
conclusion on several end-time signs: that would be Jesus' 2,000th birthday
and it would also be the Day of Atonement, although it wouldn,t be what
is currently the Jewish Day of Atonement. Further supporting evidence came
from Romanian pastor Dumitru Duduman. In several heavenly visions, Dumitru
claimed to have 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 would have to be September 1997.
- Numerology: Because 666 times three equals 1998, some
people point to this year as being prophetically significant. Someone called
me long distance just so he could pass on to me this earth-shattering news.
- A Taiwanese cult operating out of Garland, Texas predicted
Christ would return on March 31 of 1998. The group's leader, Heng-ming
Chen, announced God would return and then invite the cult members aboard
- The group abandoned their prediction when a precursor
event failed to take place. The cult's leader had said that 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 April 30, 1998, Israel was to turn 50 and many believed
this birthday would mark the beginning of the tribulation. The reasoning
behind this date has to do with God's age requirement for the priesthood,
which is between 30-50.
- 1998 Marilyn Agee, in her book, The End of the Age, had
her sights set on May 31, 1998. This date was to conclude the 6,000-year
cycle from the time of Adam. Agee looked for the rapture to take place
on Pentecost, which is also known as "the Feast of Weeks. Another
indicator of this date was the fact that the Holy Spirit did not descend
upon the apostles until 50 days after Christ's resurrection. Israel was
born in 1948; add the 50 days as years and you come up with
- After her May 31 rapture date failed, Agee, unable to
face up to her error, continued her date setting by using various Scripture
references to point 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 set a new date for the rapture:
May 21 or 22 of this year.
- TV newscaster-turned-psychic Charles Criswell King had
said in 1968 that the world as we know it would cease to exist on August
- Philip Berg, a rabbi at the Kabbalah Learning Center
in New York, proclaimed that the end might arrive on September 11, 1999,
when "a ball of fire will descend . . . destroying almost all of mankind,
all vegetation, all forms of life."
- Numerology: If you divide 2,000 by 3, you will get the
devil's number: 666.66666666666667.
- The names of the people and organizations that 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 were a day on which Christ could not return,
it must have been January 1, 2000. To come at an unknown time means to
come at an unknown time. I think January 2, 2000 would have been a more
likely day for Him to call His Church home--right after the big let down.
- On May 5, 2000, all of the planets were supposed to have
been in alignment. This was said to cause the earth to suffer earthquakes,
volcanic eruption, and various other nasty stuff. A similar alignment occurred
in 1982 and nothing happened. People failed to realize that the other nine
planets only exert a very tiny gravitational pull on the earth. If you
were to add up the gravitational force from the rest of the planets, the
total would only amount to a 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 called for the Russian
Gog-Magog invasion of Israel to take place at sundown on October 28, 2000.
- Dr. Dale SumburËru looked 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 March 2001. Dr. SumburËru
is more general about the timing of 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."
- Priests from Cuba's Afro-Caribbean Yoruba religion predicted
a dramatic year of tragedy and crisis for the world in 2002, ranging from
coups and war to disease and flooding.