DATE SETTERS AND ESTIMATORS

After decades of failed predictions and expectations, the question demands an answer:  When has the Prophecy Industry ever got one right?

Popular prophecy preachers claim they are not “date-setters” like William Miller or Harold Camping. No, they only estimate the “season” of Christ’s return, not the exact day. But this is a splitting of hairs. From the warning, “neither the day nor the hour,” they deduce we can calculate the approximate “season” of his return.

In fact, this self-serving argument has been used by the Prophecy Industry since at least the 1830s, including by Mr. Miller. But if we have been in this final “season” for two hundred years, well, then, this has become an exercise in futility.

Moreover, end-times prophecy experts cannot maintain their audience’s attention without raising expectation levels. The future coming of Jesus will remain only of academic interest to me unless I believe it is very probable that he will return within my natural lifetime.

That is, in fact, what the New Testament does by insisting that I cannot know the timing of that event. I must be prepared every day since I do not know and cannot calculate the time of his arrival in glory. In contrast, the Prophecy Industry does this artificially and deceitfully by claiming to know what, in fact, they cannot know.

But using their logic, can we not also conclude that Jesus did not say that we cannot know the week, the month, the year, the decade, the century, or the millennium of his return? All this boils down to word games employed to create loopholes in what Jesus clearly intended to say – God alone knows the timing of that day. Arguing from what he did NOT say is false logic, arguments from silence.

In fact, Jesus did say he would come in a “season” (‘kairos’) when we least expect him, and he told the disciples further that “it is not for you to know the times or seasons” (‘chronous é kairous’), and the two plural nouns cover just about any way man knows how to delimit time (Acts 1:7-8).

But contrary to this self-serving myth, William Miller did not, in fact, set a date for Christ’s return. Instead, he merely estimated the general timeframe based on his calculations of Daniel’s 2,300 “evenings and mornings,” coming up with a timeframe around 1843-1844 for the end of the age. Essentially, Mr. Miller calculated the general “season” of his arrival from heaven, which is exactly what today’s prophecy preachers do who then claim they are not setting dates, “unlike William Miller.”

But in fairness, the accusation of “date setting” certainly did apply to Harold Camping, who set a precise date not just once, but at least three different times.

Nevertheless, both William Miller and Mr. Camping differed from today’s prophecy experts in one very critical way – both came to admit their errors before they died.

In the mid-twentieth century, the Prophecy Industry told Christians that Jesus would return within a “biblical generation” of 1948, the year the modern state of Israel was founded. At the time, a “biblical generation” supposedly was about forty years in length. But ever since 1988 came and went without the rise of the Antichrist, the commencement of the Great Tribulation, the attack on Israel by “Gog and Magog,” Armageddon, let alone the return of Jesus “on the clouds of heaven,” prophecy teachers have busied themselves redefining terms and recalculating chronologies. And this has become the standard operating procedure whenever their projections and predictions fail.

I am not saying the end is not near, nor am I denying that Jesus will come in great power and glory. But I am saying – shouting from the rooftops! – that something is fundamentally wrong with popular preaching on the end-times as demonstrated by its long string of prophetic failures.

It is high time to return to Scripture to discover what it says about the end of the age and the “arrival” of Jesus, beginning with the clear and repeated warning that “no one” with the one exception of “God alone” knows when he will appear “on the clouds.”

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