If there is one single area of Biblical teaching that I would have more authority on than any other it would be the subject of end times date setting. If there is one lesson I have learned above all it is to avoid at any cost the pitfalls of trying to calculate the return of Christ – Because this is unknowable.
Let me repeat that. If there is a single lesson that I am most qualified to teach it is this – BEWARE the snare of date-setting! I have learned this lesson the hard way and if anyone has the right to warn against it, it’s me. Do not fall into the trap of trying to calculate the return of Christ, FOR THIS IS UNKNOWABLE!
Let me tell you a story – It was June 10th, 2002 and I was sitting on a porch swing watching the skies. It was a beautiful day, warm, sunny, with white fluffy clouds – the perfect day for a RAPTURE! And so I sat on the swing staring and waiting…and waiting…and waiting… and Jesus never came.
I can recall my curiosity in the return of Christ developed when I was young. I heard my parents and grandparents make statements like “When Jesus comes back” or “If the Lord tarries” and “When Christ returns”; My imagination ran wild with ideas of what I thought this meant, but I wanted to discover the truth. As I grew I began checking out books from the library on the subject and reading Biblical books like Revelation and Daniel over and over again. Then in ’97 we got the internet in our home (dial-up, whatever that is) and this opened a whole new avenue of research and studying that I could do! It felt like I had the whole universe at my fingertips but what I didn’t know at the time was how dangerous a world the internet was. I had access to plenty of information, but I had no one to guide me on what I should and shouldn’t have been reading. I had no filter.
I’m confident that I could have earned a degree in eschatology from all the effort I put into research and studying this subject. I spent all my free time reading about eschatology, prophecy and the return of Jesus. I read books, blogs, and articles – I watched videos, and listened to audio sermons – I thought about it, talked about it and wrote about it constantly, for years! I just couldn’t get enough information on the return of Jesus Christ.
In 1999 I came across a website that made a very convincing case that the rapture would occur June 10th, 2002 – And because of the deep passion I had for this subject, I ate it up! To me, it was such an enticing endeavor to uncover secret knowledge. It was mysterious, taboo and powerful – and without a filter, I fell head first into the abyss.
I had been anticipating June 10th for several years by the time it actually came and there I was, staring at an empty sky – so incredibly certain that at any moment I would see Jesus standing on the clouds and hear him shout out for me to come up. So I waited…and waited…and waited – but I went to bed that night broken and crushed.
I never questioned the existence of God because of that, and I knew that the issue wasn’t that Jesus stood me up. My pain and let down rather was a cause of my own ignorance of a clear statement from Jesus himself.
However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.
Predicting that day is impossible and hopefully my testimony can prevent others from stepping into the same bear trap. I didn’t escape unscathed. I limped away bloody and maimed.
That was now 10 years ago and I look back with wonder and amazement at how I could have been so foolish. What if Jesus had actually returned that day? What if Jesus came back and found me sitting on a porch swing? Did I really think Jesus would be pleased by this?
I have developed much more balance in my life since then. I still enjoy the subject of prophecy and end times but I have come to learn it’s proper place in my relationship with God. I am no longer interested in times and dates but rather I want to show the world Christ. I am now only interested in spending my life serving God and leading others to Christ and if Jesus returns in my lifetime then hopefully I’ll be found working to bring him glory and not sitting on a porch staring at the sky.