Return in the Year 2000?
By Thomas Williamson
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,"
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
no signs by which one can know, no way of figuring by the Bible, or of marking things by
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
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
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
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.