Why ya’ got to be Predictin’?

The Blood Moons tetrad has come and gone and we are still here.

While Hagee apologists are now saying that he only predicted “something” would happen “around” the time of the tetrad, Mark Biltz, who provided most of the source research for Hagee’s slick DVD and posters, made clear predictions that the 7 year tribulation began in 2008 and would end with Jesus second coming this fall, following the last blood moon.

While I don’t want to spend time pointing out false prophets, I have been wondering about the need in the Church to guess the date and time of Jesus’ return. Hagee and Biltz aren’t the first, and probably won’t be the last to try to win the rapture lottery. I did some shameless cut and paste from Wikipedia. Below are just a few of the names who have tried their hand at guessing the day and the hour that God clearly says no man (or angel!) will know. These are just some of the names I recognized skimming the list:

Martin Luther Predicted the end of the world would occur no later than 1600.
Christopher Columbus In his Book of Prophecies (1501), Columbus predicted that the world would end during 1656. He claimed that the world was created in 5343 BC, and would last 7000 years. Assuming no year zero, that means the end would come in 1658.
John Wesley Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, foresaw the Millennium beginning this year. He wrote that Revelation 12:14 referred to the years 1058–1836, “when Christ should come”.
Herbert W. Armstrong The founder of the Worldwide Church of God told members of his church that the Rapture was to take place in 1936, and that only they would saved. After the prophecy failed, he changed the date three more times: 1943,  1972,  and finally, 1975.
Chuck Smith The founder of Calvary Chapel predicted the generation of 1948 would be the last generation, and that the world would end by 1981. Smith identified that he “could be wrong” but continued to say in the same sentence that his prediction was “a deep conviction in my heart, and all my plans are predicated upon that belief.”
Pat Robertson In late 1976 Robertson predicted that the end of the world would come in 1982. In his 1990 book The New Millennium, Robertson suggests Apr 29, 2007 as the day of Earth’s destruction.
 Edgar C. Whisenant Whisenant predicted in his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1988 that the Rapture of the Christian Church would occur between 11 and 13 September 1988. After his September predictions failed to come true, Whisenant revised his prediction date to October 3. After all his 1988 predictions failed to come true, Whisenant revised his prediction date to Sep 30, 1989. Contrary to some reports, he did not name his new booklet, 89 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Be in 1989
Harold Camping Camping predicted the Rapture would occur on September 6, 1994. When it failed to occur he revised the date to September 29 and then to October 2. He would later update his prediction to March 31, 1995.

Camping predicted that the Rapture and devastating earthquakes would occur on May 21, 2011 with God taking approximately 3% of the world’s population into Heaven, and that the end of the world would occur five months later on October 21.

 Isaac Newton  Newton predicted that Christ’s Millennium would begin in the year 2000 in his book Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.
 Ed Dobson  This pastor predicted the end would occur in his book The End: Why Jesus Could Return by A.D. 2000.
Jerry Falwell  Falwell foresaw God pouring out his judgement on the world on  Jan 1, 2000.
 Tim LaHaye, Jerry B. Jenkins These Christian authors stated that the Y2K bug would trigger global economic chaos, which the Antichrist would use to rise to power. As the date approached, however, they changed their minds.
 Jonathan Edwards This 18th-century preacher predicted that Christ’s thousand-year reign would begin in 2000.
 John Hagee and Mark Biltz  The Blood Moon Prophecy, first predicted by Mark Blitz in 2008 and then by John Hagee in 2014. These Christian ministers claim that the tetrad in 2014 and 2015 may represent prophecies allegedly given in the Bible relating to the second coming of Jesus Christ.

Why try to guess? I haven’t seen much from the above prophets concerning their motivation for making false predictions, but, logically most, if not all of the failed predictions should fall into two basic categories:

Sincere mistakes and selfish deceptions.

Sincere mistakes happen for a number of reasons, usually rooted a unwittingly believing a lie. Those making sincere mistakes often lack specific knowledge of a key truth or hold as truth a deception, an often subtle lie, that becomes part of the foundation for their “prophesy”. But like a broken brick or a poorly measured footer beam, this false idea begins to slant the entire construction like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, built half on good bedrock and half on soft clay.

Selfish deceptions are another matter, and unfortunately seem to be the most common type of prophetic mischief. As best as I can tell, these intentional deceptions have some similar motivations behind them that are pretty easy to recognize when you look for them:

Pride and Prejudice

This is the “Look how smart I am” drive to prove their significance. These prophets will fight to the end end to defend their theories because their are directly tied to their egos. Even then they prove to be wrong, they “shift the goal post” and point out how we really just didn’t understand what they were saying. We would have understood if we were as close to God as they are and would know the date of Jesus’ second coming was really ______.

Prophets for Profit

I have a hard time seeing that a “prophet’s” motivation isn’t strictly money when they say the end is coming soon and sell a ton of books and DVD’s to prove it. What would be the point of amassing a bunch of cash just before the rapture unless (a) it’s not true and you really only wanted the Benjamins, or (b) it is true and your not planning on going. Of course there could be (c) – it is true and your taking the money with you, but that’s just silly.

I’m not telling others how to act, but IF I really knew the time and date of the return of Jesus, I would be giving all my stuff away. If my new address was going to a mansion on streets of gold, why would I want to build a fortune of paper bills and copper coins to buy plastic houses and jet planes.

Fostering Urgency

This is a pragmatic view of evangelism, where the ends justify the means. If I scare you into accepting Jesus, it still counts, right? Better yet, I could get the Church up off the couch if they thought the end was near.

But if fear anticipation of Jesus’ imminent return changes how you participate in the mission, how about remembering that for 161,264 people, the end was yesterday. Only 31% of those were likely to be followers of Jesus.

Forestalling the Inevitable (or Not)

Perhaps a subcategory of the “The End is Coming, Do Something About It!” motivation of false prophesy would be the idea that if we only know when the end was, we could do something to prevent it. Act better, be more moral, pray harder. Maybe we can just defeat Satan with our fists and a big sword like Arnold in the movie, End of Days. “Come with me if you want to live… forever!”

I know Jesus is coming back, He promised He would and I believe Him. But more to the point, He is here now, in guise of His Church and there is stuff we need to be doing. Our mission hasn’t changed and isn’t going to change, regardless of signs of the time. How about we stay focused on being subversive traffickers of grace and love instead of getting caught up in being town criers of fear and doom.

Did they say “there’s a bathroom on the right”? Now I’m worried…


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