Last week, I watched a segment on a Fox News program that featured guests discussing Bible prophecy and the end of the world. One of the featured guests was a Roman Catholic priest and the other the head of a midwestern Baptist seminary.
It was an interesting, albeit short, discussion that opened with the priest noting that people have ‘been predicting the end of the world for centuries,’ a position that was immediately echoed by the Baptist guest.
The conversation immediately called to mind 2nd Peter 3:3-4:
“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.”
But the fact is, they are right. History is replete with folks who have made various predictions about when the Lord is coming back. And obviously, they were wrong, since here we are.
Is it any wonder that the world is inundated with ‘scoffers?’ Most of these predictions, together with their prognosticators, were made by sincere and dedicated scholars who believed that they had ‘cracked’ some Biblical secret code that had been there all along, but that nobody else except them had discovered.
Their followers were equally sincere and dedicated believers in their prophecies, but they misplaced their faith. Our faith is not to be, as the Scripture says, rooted in WHEN He comes, but rather, in Who is coming.
This is why the Lord says, in clear and unambiguous terms, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32)
It means exactly what it says. No man can calculate the day or the hour because of the damage such false prophecies do to believers when they fail.
Look at the damage already caused by those sincere, well-meaning believers among the false prophets listed above. While some of them were undoubtedly well-meaning, the result has been the loss of uncounted souls for Christ.
Do you doubt me? Have you ever attempted to present evidence of Christ’s return in the hope that the evidence will cause somebody to accept the conclusion that God MUST be real and therefore the Bible MUST be true? And, having reached that conclusion, your prospect will recognize his lost condition and trust Jesus?
How MANY times have you then heard someone echo the sentiments expressed in 2nd Peter 3:3? “People have been predicting the end of the world for centuries, but we’re still here.” It is a fulfillment of prophecy, but it is also evidence of the incalculable damage centuries of false prophecy has been responsible for.
It’s been said before, and it didn’t happen. What makes this any different?
While no generation in the history of the Church Age has at its disposal more conclusive evidence of the fulfillment of end times prophecy, including the restoration of nations, the alignment of nations in precisely the configuration described by the prophets, the explosion of knowledge, the shifting weather patterns, the restoration of Israel, etc., this evidence is useless as a tool of evangelism if nobody can get past the ‘been there, done that’ part in order to present it.
Every failed prediction of the Rapture or the return of Christ takes its toll. If just one person is turned off to the promise of salvation as a result of the litany of failed prognosticators of the past — all of whom were in violation of the clear teachings of the Scriptures — the loss of that person’s soul is an incalculable tragedy, from Heaven’s perspective.
The joy Jesus spoke of in heaven when a sinner turns to Christ goes uncelebrated, replaced by the mourning of the angels.
The simple facts are these. No other generation has been blessed with such a preponderance of evidence. No generation in history has ever had so many reasons to accept the predictive nature of Scripture — and thus, evidence of the Divinity of its Author, than does the generation that witnessed the rebirth of Israel and the unfolding scenario predicted thousands of years ago by the Hebrew prophets.
But if the evidence doesn’t get a hearing, it is of no value.
“For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God,” writes the Apostle Paul. (1st Corinthians 2:11)
Attempting to divine by human means that which God has deliberately drawn a curtain around is an act of defiance that bears eternal and far-reaching consequences that no man will ever understand this side of heaven. But if we trust Jesus, then we must trust EVERYTHING He taught us.
Discussing His return, Jesus used an analogy that clearly explains the purpose of a secret, incalculable Rapture.
“And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through. Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour WHEN YE THINK NOT.” (Luke 12:39-40)
As events unfold that fill out the prophetic puzzle for this generation, it is abundantly obvious that the Lord must soon return for His Church.
But as to ‘when’ — ‘no man knoweth the day or the hour.’ The litany of failed attempts has provided much-needed ammunition to the enemy and done the Kingdom a grave disservice. And given the scoffers all the reasons they need to walk away, comfortable in their unbelief.