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<< Discover the Book, with Dr. John Barnett

Discover the Book - Jan. 14, 2007

  • 2007 Jan 14
  • COMMENTS


The Folly of Date Setting
Matthew 24

One of the greatest dangers in studying Biblical Prophecy is coming to unbiblical conclusions. That has been the constant threat over the centuries since Christ's messages on the side of the Mount of Olives. As we open again to Matthew, and continue to look at the stirring look into the future, as Jesus sees and tells us—not what may happen, but what He sees as it actually happens in the future.

Remember that about Bible Prophecy, it is not predictions of what “may” happen. Jesus, Daniel, Peter, Paul, and John in Revelation—actually are seeing the events as they happen and as they will happen in the future.

But we must always remember what Jesus told us.

  • Matthew 25:13“Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

Now what doesn’t it mean? It doesn’t mean we pick a date in some month or year and start thinking that is when Christ is Coming.

THE FOLLY OF DATE SETTING

Look at history. Some of the greatest saints made the mistake of date setting. Martin Luther, John Wesley, Isaac Newton and a host of others all succumbed to date setting in dramatic moments of history.

But, to stay Biblical, the only thing we are to do is to say “His Coming is near”—but when we go beyond that and also say a day, an hour, a year—we are being disobedient. Here are some pages from history to help us learn what not to do!

An untold number of people have tried to predict the Lord's return by using elaborate timetables. Most date setters do not realize that mankind has not kept an unwavering record of time. Anyone wanting to chart, for example, 100 BC to 2000 AD, would have to contend with the fact that 46 BC was 445 days long, there was no year 0 BC, and in 1582 we switched from Julian Years (360 days) to Gregorian (365 days). Because most prognosticators are not aware of all of these errors, their math is immediately off by several years.

More concerned with the date of Jesus' return than with how Jesus commanded his followers to live until he came, prognosticators went on misreading prophecy:

1000

This year goes down as one of the most pronounced states of hysteria over the return of Christ. All members of society seemed affected by the prediction that Jesus was coming back on Jan 1, 1000 AD. There really weren't any of the events required by the Bible transpiring at that time. The magical number 1000 was primarily the sole reason for the expectation. During December 999 AD, everyone was on their best behavior; worldly goods were sold and given to the poor, swarms of pilgrims headed east to meet the Lord at Jerusalem, buildings went unrepaired, crops were left unplanted, and criminals were set free from jails. The year 999 AD turned into 1000 AD and nothing happened.

1524-1526
Muntzer, a leader of German peasants, announced that the return of Christ was near. After Muntzer and his men destroyed the high and mighty, the Lord would supposedly return. This belief led to an uneven battle against government troops. He was strategically outnumbered. Muntzer claimed to have had a vision from God in which the Lord promised that He would catch the cannonballs of the enemy in the sleeves of His cloak. The prediction within the vision turned out to be false when Muntzer and his followers were mowed down by cannon fire.

1666
For the citizens of London, 1666 was not a banner year. A bubonic plague outbreak killed 100,000 and the Great Fire of London struck the same year. The world seemed at an end to most Londoners. The fact that the year ended with the Beast's number—666--didn't help matters.

1843-1844
William Miller was the founder of an end-times movement that was so prominent it received its own name, Millerism. From his studies of the Bible, Miller determined that the second coming would happen sometime between 1843-1844. A spectacular meteor shower in 1833 gave the movement a good push forward. The buildup of anticipation continued until March 21, 1844, when Miller's one-year timetable ran out. Some followers set another date--Oct 22, 1844. This too failed, collapsing the movement. Unwilling to accept the Great Disappointment that resulted when Oct. 22 passed without Christ's return, some explained that Christ began to cleanse the "heavenly sanctuary" on that date. They thus gave birth to the modern Adventist movement.

1874                                                                                                                                        Charles Taze Russell, whose public Bible studies formed the foundation of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, said Christ had returned to earth in 1874 and would begin his visible reign in 1914. Jehovah's Witness literature later spoke of "the Creator's promise of a peaceful and secure new world before the generation that saw the events of 1914 passes away."

1914
Charles Russell, after being exposed to the teachings of William Miller, founded his own organization that evolved into the Jehovah's Witnesses. In 1914, Russell predicted the return of Jesus Christ.

1984
The Jehovah's Witnesses made sure, in 1984, that no one else would be able to top their record of most wrong doomsday predictions. The Witnesses' record currently holds at nine. The years are: 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984. Lately, the JWs are claiming they're out of the prediction business, but it's hard to teach an old dog new tricks. They'll be back.

1988
Contemporary failed speculations include those of Edgar C. Whisenant, who in 1988 listed 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988 (when Christ failed to return, he predicted the rapture for 1989);

1992                                                                                                                                               A Korean prophet's assertion that the rapture was set for midnight, Oct. 20 or 28, 1992. (In South Korea, 20,000 Christians left school or quit jobs to await the end.)

2060
Sir Isaac Newton, Britain's greatest scientist, spent 50 years and wrote 4,500 pages trying to predict when the end of the world was coming. The most definitive date he set for the apocalypse, which he scribbled on a scrap of paper, was 2060.

Well enough of what not to do. When Jesus preached Matthew 24, He is seeing them actually unfold, and describes them for us. The reason we are even studying this is because of His application to the disciples. Do you remember that part?

What Does Jesus Command?

Over and over He says that we must WATCH. He commands us, exhorts us, and reminds us that while we are alive on this planet we must be watchful.

What exactly does that mean? Note the verses that follow this message:

  • Matthew 24:42Watchtherefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.
  • Matthew 24:43But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watchedand not allowed his house to be broken into.
  • Matthew 25:13Watchtherefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
  • Matthew 26:38-41Then He said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here and watchwith Me.” 39 He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” 40 Then He came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What! Could you not watchwith Me one hour? 41 Watchand pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
  • Colossians 4:2 Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilantin it with thanksgiving;
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:6,10 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watchand be sober. 10 who died for us, that whether we wakeor sleep, we should live together with Him.
  • 1 Peter 5:8Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
  • Revelation 3:2-3 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. 3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.

What does the world look like when Jesus come back? We can know if we read His messages about His Second Coming. And if we read carefully we see a very clear picture He describes.

Most of what Jesus described were events and elements that have always been some where on earth occurring—but He tells us that when these events and elements begin to go global, watch for Him.

So what do we see at the end? Here is another look at the next few elements of the world when Jesus Returns. I like to call them 25 trends that are present when Christ returns.

What are some of them? We will actually in the days ahead look at these in detail, but here they are in summary. We have already seen from the Scriptures the first ten.

Elements of the World When Jesus Returns

When Christ Returns there is-- Global Travel

  • Daniel was overwhelmed when he caught a glimpse of the number and speed at which people were moving about the planet.   Daniel 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” The Bible says that there would be many involved in travel, and today the transportation industry is one of the largest segments of the global economy. Prior to the industrial revolution, few individuals traveled beyond their community. Until recently, horse, foot, and boat were the only modes of transportation. Yet, in our day millions travel to and fro great distances every year.     

When Christ Returns there is-- A Global Explosion of Knowledge.

  • Knowledge would increase. This month saw the introduction of a new generation of computer chip. Each generation has basically doubled the processing speed and power. The newest chip called the “Cell” doesn’t double—it multiplies everything that the computer does by sixty times. Daniel 12:4 “But you, Daniel, shut up the words, and seal the book until the time of the end; many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase (Isaiah 11:9). Specifically, this is referring to an understanding of Bible prophecy, but also an increase in scientific knowledge is implied.      

When Christ Returns there is-- Global Telecommunication and Television

  • God's Word explicitly declares that mankind will be able to see and hear globally. When the world fastest know means of travel was the speed of a horse—God says the whole world will see an event and all at the same time, celebrate that event! Truly global communication was foreseen. Revelation 11:9-10 Then those from the peoples, tribes, tongues, and nations will see their dead bodies three-and-a-half days, and not allow their dead bodies to be put into graves. 10 And those who dwell on the earth will rejoice over them, make merry, and send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 17:8 The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is. The Bible predicts that the entire world will "see" certain events unfold. The invention of the television and the deployment of global satellite networks during the 20th century allow news to travel the world at the speed of light for the first time ever. Remember that in the Apostle John's day, news traveled at the speed of horseback.  

When Christ Returns there is-- Global Tracking and Positioning

  • There would be technology capable of tracking the world's population and commerce. Revelation 13:16-17 He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, 17 and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name. Visit:Technology    Club-Goers in Spain Get Implanted Chips for ID, Payment Purposes (April 14, 2004) Being recognized has never been easier for VIP patrons of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona, Spain. Like a scene out of a science-fiction movie, all it takes is a syringe-injected microchip implant for the beautiful men and women of the nightclub scene to breeze past a "reader" that recognizes their identity, credit balance and even automatically opens doors to exclusive areas of the club for them. They can buy drinks and food with a wave of their hand and don't need to worry about losing a credit card or wallet.   "By simply passing by our reader, the Baja Beach Club will know who you are and what your credit balance is," Conrad K. Chase explains. Chase is director of the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona. "From the moment of their implantation they will also have free entry and access to the VIP area," he said.   

When Christ Returns there is-- Global Weather Gone Wild

  • Jesus foresaw the time when weather would be so bad that not just a few, but the whole world would be troubled, fearful, and killed by the fear of chaotic weather that would become prevalent. Luke 21:25-26 “And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; 26 men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken.   Jesus foresaw those seas and the waves roaring in the last days, and compared these trends to birth pangs. Matthew 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. The Greek word odin, often translated as sorrows in Matthew 24:8, literally means birth pangs. Paul explains to us that all of creation is under the curse of sin. Romans 8:21 because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.   While creation awaits the coming of the Liberator Himself, Christ the Lord—just as   when delivery draws near, birth pangs always increase in both intensity and frequency--so the universe itself will travail as the time of delivery draws near. Romans 8:22 For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now. Of course chaotic weather has always existed, but there are indications that we are witnessing an increase in strange weather.
  • Matthew 24:1-4 1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.
  • Matthew24:5For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

When Christ Returns there are-- Many Groups of False Christianity

  • Religious cults would mushroom (2 Peter 2:1).   Matthew 24:5, 11 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. Numerous cults have emerged in these last days. Visit: Apologetics Index * Mormonism (carm) * Jehovah's Witnesses (carm) * A Cult is a Cult (the berean call) * Buddhist Prayer Wheel to Top New WTC? (world net daily)
  • When Christ Returns there are-- Many would call themselves the Christ .   Matthew 24:5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. Jesus was an itinerate preacher who never traveled outside the tiny nation of Israel and He had the audacity to say that many would come in His name, claiming to be the Christ. And yet today, multitudes within the New Age Movement, Eastern religions, and the cults call themselves the Christ.
  • Matthew 24:6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.

When Christ Returns there is-- Increasing Warfare Around the Globe

  • Many wars would erupt. Matthew 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. According to Project Ploughshares, there are about 40 armed conflicts in the world today. Visit:Wars & Rumors of Wars (harpazo network) Mark 13:7-8 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows.

When Christ Returns there is-- Global Weaponry Addiction

  • A global arms race would occur. Joel 3:9-14 Proclaim this among the nations: “Prepare for war! Wake up the mighty men, Let all the men of war draw near, Let them come up. 10 Beat your plowshares into swords And your pruning hooks into spears; Let the weak say, ‘I am strong.’ ” 11 Assemble and come, all you nations, And gather together all around. Cause Your mighty ones to go down there, O Lord. 12 “Let the nations be wakened, and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. 13 Put in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe. Come, go down; For the winepress is full, The vats overflow— For their wickedness is great.” 14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of the Lord is near in the valley of decision.      Revelation 16:14 For they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Never in history have so many nations stockpiled armaments. Visit:Global Arms Race (harpazo network)

When Christ Returns there are-- Global Famines

When Christ Returns there are-- Global Pestilences

  • Despite an increase in scientific knowledge, deadly diseases (which the Bible calls "pestilences") would be prevalent. Matthew 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. Emerging diseases such as AIDS, Ebola, Hanta virus, Dengue, West Nile, SARS, etc., underscore this fact. Ironically, just a few decades ago, some scientists were forecasting that advances in medicine might soon eradicate deadly diseases.     

When Christ Returns there is-- a Global Awareness of Quakes

  • Up to the 20 th century, news of an earthquake would takes days, weeks, months, and years to be spread around. And usually the exposure was minimal. Today in most of the world the daily news features any significant quake. Earthquakes occurring in diverse places predicted. Matthew 24:7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various placesVisit:EarthQuakes
  • Matthew 24:8-9 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.

When Christ Returns there is-- The Rise of a Global Hatred of the Nation of Israel and the Jewish People

  • Who would think that there would even be a Jew left. No nation has been hunted more, persecuted more, exiled more, hunted down and exterminated—like the Jews. But still they remain the focus of an undying hatred by huge parts of the global community. The rise of anti-Semitism worldwide anticipated by Hebrew prophets almost 3,000 years ago.    Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.   Joel 3:2 I will also gather all nations, And bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat; And I will enter into judgment with them there On account of My people, My heritage Israel, Whom they have scattered among the nations; They have also divided up My land. Zechariah 12:2-3 “Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. 3 And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it. In the 1940s, Hitler tried to exterminate every Jew. And in the final 3 ½ years of the Tribulation, Antichrist will turn on the Jews and attempt the same. Visit:Anti-Semitism 
  • When Christ Returns there is-- Global Hatred of True Biblical Christianity
  • Jesus said Christians would be hated for His name's sake. Matthew 24:9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. Luke 21:17 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. Revelation 6:9-11 When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed. Revelation 20:4 And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The banning of the Bible, prayer, the Ten Commandments, nativity scenes, Christmas songs, etc., reflects this trend. Also consider that more Christians were martyed during the past century than during any other period in history. Visit:Persecution (harpazo network)
  • Matthew 24:10-11 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.

When Christ Returns there are-- False Bible teachers That Are Money Hungry

  • They would be smooth talkers, have many followers, and slur the Christian faith. Matthew 24:11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many.   For links:False Prophets   2 Peter 2:1-3 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber.
  • Matthew 24:12-13 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved.

 

 

When Christ Returns there is—Lawlessness That Discharges the Spiritual Zeal of Christ's Church

  • Many would forsake the Ten Commandments as a moral code: blaspheming, committing adultery, disobeying parents, stealing, lying, coveting, etc.   Matthew 24:12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.  
  • Revelation 3:14-21 “And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God: 15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. 17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked— 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.
  • Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

When Christ Returns there is-- Global Evangelism

  • Never before our generation was it possible to even know how many people are on this planet. Never was it possible to see the entire planet, let alone reach it all. Today we can send an email anywhere, bounce a radio or television wave anywhere, travel anywhere and most of all—get the Gospel anywhere on this planet. My little website alone has visitors from over 100 different nations on earth. The Christian gospel would be preached as a warning to all nations. Remember what Jesus said? Matthew 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Mark 13:10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. Today, portions or the entire Bible have been translated into over 2,300 languages and dialects covering over 90% of the world's population.  
  • Matthew 24:15-21 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 17 Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. 18 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 19 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 20 And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. 21 For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.

When Christ Returns there is-- The Return of the Wandering Jews to the Promised Land

  • God promised over 26 centuries ago that at the end of the world--Jews would begin to regather in Israel. Open with me to Matthew 24 and notice the “orientation” of this text. Matthew 24:15-16 “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Before we look at all the promises that god would regather His Jewish people back to His Land—notice that Jesus spoke of them at the end as—already there and with a Temple!

When Christ Returns there is-- Israel Building a Security Wall

  • God told Ezekiel 150 years after “ Israel” had been captured, its cities destroyed, and the population exiled to Assyria by Sargon, that Israel would build walls for security—there had been no “ Israel” for 150 years! And, there was no place called Israel for 2,520 years after the Assyrian conquest—until 1948. Listen to what Ezekiel was told to say. There would be a people gathered from across the world to Israel (38:12). They would be called Israel (38:18). But here is the amazing verse (38:11) they would dwell in a land where the walls have been taken down. This has always been spoken of as an illusion to defensive preparations—until 3 years ago. Israel has been building now for three years the most notorious wall in the world, trying to slow the flow of suicide bombers. And that wall will be built, because Ezekiel saw it taken down when Israel accepts the European Peace Treaty (through the Antichrist’s rule) and trusts in a false peace as foretold.
  • Ezekiel 38:11-18   You will say, ‘I will go up against a land of unwalled villages; I will go to a peaceful people, who dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates’— 12 to take plunder and to take booty, to stretch out your hand against the waste places that are again inhabited, and against a people gathered from the nations, who have acquired livestock and goods, who dwell in the midst of the land. 18 “And it will come to pass at the same time, when Gog comes against the land of Israel,” says the Lord God, “that My fury will show in My face.

 

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