Will Christ Return in the Year 2000?

By Thomas Williamson

 


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As we approach the year 2000, there are many self-appointed prophecy experts who are predicting that Christ will return in that year, or that the Millennium will begin then, or that the year 2000 will bring us into close proximity with the Second Coming of Christ.

The Scriptural answer to the question as to whether Christ will return in 2000 is "Probably Not." "For in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh," Matthew 24:44.

Our Lord made it quite clear that the timing of His Second Coming is an area of knowledge which is denied to men. "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no not the angels of heaven, but my Father only," Matthew 24:36. "Watch therefore, for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come," Matthew 24:42.

We are not to speculate as to even the approximate time of the Second Coming, since God has ordained to hide this knowledge from mankind. "It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power," Acts 1:7.

Christ is not going to advise us in advance of the time of His coming, any more than burglars announce in advance when they are going to strike. "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," 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2.

As for the alleged "signs of the time," or signs of the second coming, we should keep in mind that God never promised us any signs of the second coming, that the alleged signs have no scriptural basis, and that all predictions of Christ's coming based on signs have been 100% wrong up to now.

Evangelist John R. Rice taught that "Certainly it is clear that no man in the world knows or can know when Christ will come… there are no signs by which one can know, no way of figuring by the Bible, or of marking things by world events… No one can know even approximately when Jesus will come," ("Christ is Coming, Signs or no Signs").

I am not aware of any problem with date-setting for Second Coming of Christ in the BMA movement, but we still need to disassociate ourselves from those who set dates and thus bring ridicule and disrepute on Baptists and all evangelical Christians.

Let us briefly review some of the sadly mistaken predictions of the Second Coming which have been made over the centuries, and which have all completely failed to come true.

In the Second Century AD, the tongues-speaking prophets and prophetesses of the Montanist movement predicted that Christ would return in their lifetime and set up the New Jerusalem in the city of Pepuza in Asia Minor. Today no one knows the location of Pepuza.

In 999 many Europeans gave away their possessions to the Catholic Church, to prepare their souls for the expected end of the world on January 1, 1000. The Catholic priests carefully recorded all donations to the church and refused to give them back when Christ failed to show up on schedule.

In 1190, English King Richard the Lion-Hearted conferred with prophecy expert Joachim of Fiore. They determined that the Antichrist was already then living in the world somewhere, that it would be the destiny of Richard to deal with and defeat him, and that the Millennium would begin by 1205. Richard missed his date with Antichrist, dying in 1199, leaving no children, since he was a homosexual.

Thirteenth Century prophecy experts, disciples of Joachim of Fiore, determined that the Millennium would begin in 1260 and that the Emperor Frederick II would be the Antichrist. Frederick shocked everyone when he suddenly died in 1250.

Melchoir Hoffman announced that Christ would return in 1533 and set up the New Jerusalem in the German city of Strassburg. The rulers of Strassburg put him in prison, where he remained until he died.

The Old Believers of Russia predicted the end of the world in 1669. When it didn't happen, 20,000 of them burned themselves to death in the period up to 1690 to protect themselves from the coming of Antichrist, who was later identified as Peter the Great.

In 1830 prophetess Margaret McDonald announced that Robert Owen would be the Antichrist. Owen later participated in the founding of New Harmony, Indiana and then died in 1859.

Mormon prophet Joseph Smith predicted the end of the world to come before the end of the 19th Century. He also stated by revelation that the Moon was inhabited by a race of men 6 feet tall and dressed like Quakers.

Baptist preacher William Miller, founder of the Millerites, announced that Christ would come on March 21, 1843, and when that failed, he prophesied that Christ would come in late October, 1844.

Prophecy teacher Michael Baxter of England pinpointed the arrival of Christ to come on March 12, 1903 between 2:30 and 3:00 AM. Presumably he was using Greenwich standard time, but I don't really know.

The Jehovah's Witnesses announced that Christ would come in 1914, then in 1925, then again in 1975. During World War II, faithful witnesses were encouraged not to get married because the war was a sure sign of the soon coming of Christ. Until recently the Watchtower taught that the generation that saw the events of 1914 would see the return of Christ, but with the extended passage of time, that teaching has been quietly dropped.

In 1978 Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, Costa Mesa, California announced that the Rapture was coming in 1981.

Prophecy expert Hal Lindsey led his followers to believe that the Rapture was coming in 1988. At last report, the late great Hal Lindsey was still alive and well on Planet Earth, enjoying book royalties with his third wife.

Prophecy teacher Edgar Whisenant published a book entitled "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Occur in 1988." No word on whether or not he is working on a sequel, "2000 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Occur in the year 2000."

Korean preacher Lee Jang Rim announced that the Rapture would come on October 28, 1992. When it didn't happen, the Korean authorities put him in jail and many of his followers committed suicide.

Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, announced on his radio programs the world would come to an end in September, 1994.

Florida Assemblies of God preacher Benny Hinn predicted that the Rapture would come in 1993, and also that God would destroy all homosexuals in America by 1994 or 1995 at the very latest.

Florida Baptist preacher Peter Ruckman stated, based on his inside knowledge of the King James Version, that the Rapture was to come in 1990, give or take a year or two, and that the Millennium would begin by 2000 or earlier.

One thing that all of these false prophets had in common is that they added to the word of God, and that is something that God has told us not to do. "Add thou not to his words, lest He reprove thee, and thou be found a liar," Proverbs 3:6. "If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book," Revelation 22;18.

As the year 2000 draws near and the millennial hysteria grows, let us not join with those who discredit themselves with wild speculations and unscriptural date-setting. Let us be content to continue to proclaim what the Bible teaches. Christ will physically, literally, bodily return to earth, Acts 1:11; there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust, Acts 24:15; there will be a day of judgement of ungodly men, 2 Peter 3:7. We do not deny these and other Scriptural truths about the Second Coming of our blessed Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, when we deny that it is possible for man to know the time of His coming.

 

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