When Will Christ Come?
Dr. Fredk A. Tatford of England is a well-known Bible teacher and conference speaker, as well as the author of over 60 books on Biblical themes.
“Of that day and hour,” said the Master in relation to the end-times, “knoweth no man, no, not the angels who are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you know not when the time is” (Mark 13:31, 32). The words were clear enough, yet the attempts to fix the date of those events still continue unrelentingly.
Many have seized upon our Lord’s words in the same discourse, “this shall not pass, till all these things be done” (Mark 13:30). Taking Moses’ words in the wilderness, it has been assumed that a generation is 38 years (Deut. 2:14) or 40 years (Num. 32:13). Reckoning from the date of Israel’s nationhood, 1948, there has been added 38 or 40 years to bring the date up to 1986 or 1988 respectively, to arrive at the date of our Lord’s Second Advent in glory. Deducting from these dates the 7 years of Daniel 9:27, the enthusiasts have declared triumphantly that the Lord’s Coming for the Church must, therefore, be in 1979 or 1981. Unfortunately, both years have passed without a realization of the hope.
Much play has been made over the facts that Allenby liberated Jerusalem in 1917, that the U.N. voted for Israel’s statehood in 1947, and that Israel captured the old city of Jerusalem in 1967. For some inexplicable reason, we are told that our Lord may, therefore, be expected in 1987.
More recently the idea propounded in the Middle Ages has been revived. It is said that, from Adam to Christ was 4,000 years, or on the basis of a thousand years to a day (2 Pet. 3:8), 4 days in the so-called Divine calendar. The thousand years’ reign of Christ will be the sabbath rest of mankind, or the 7th day in the Divine calendar. The 6th day, therefore, must end at the year 2,000. Again deducting the 7 years of Daniel 9:27, the Return of our Lord for His Church must occur in 1993. Why?
The mind boggles at some of the theories which have been propounded. Michael Baxter, for example, declared that the Lord would come between 2:30 and 3 p.m. on the 12th March, 1903. With commendable reserve, he did not indicate whether or not it would be G.M.T. But our Lord did not come then.
William Miller misled the Seventh Day Adventists into believing that the date would be the 22nd October, 1844, but much has happened since then and still Christ has not come.
Jehovah’s Witnesses maintain that the Lord returned to earth in 1874, that He was crowned as King in 1914 (the news must have been overshadowed by the outbreak of the First World War!) and that He cleansed the temple in 1918 (to coincide with the end of the war, perhaps?). But the facts have not yet been published in the daily press.
The sixteenth century physician and astrologer, Nostradamus, predicted that Christ would come in July, 1999, but, as an old friend remarked recently, “that is a long time to wait for an imminent event.”
Malachy, Archbishop of Armagh, who died in 1148, predicted that the Papacy would end with a Pope called Peter. If his description of one relates to Pope Pius XI, only six others would occupy “Peter’s Chair” before the final Pope, and then “the city of the seven hills will be destroyed and the Awful Judge will judge His people.”
Buddhist tradition says that the world will end 2,500 years after the birth of Gautama Siddartha, the Buddha, and then mankind will be redeemed by Maitreya, the future Buddha. The period has elapsed and claims are being made that Maitreya is now in London, awaiting his “declaration.”
Even Mother Shipton’s writings of four centuries ago are being quoted today by the gullible. She predicted that the world would end in 1981 (a little premature apparently) and described the conditions of that time in rhyme:
When women dress like men and trousers wear,
And cut off all their locks of hair,
When pictures look alive with movements free,
When ships, like fishes, swim beneath the sea,
When men outstripping bird can soar the sky,
Then half the world, deep drenched in blood, shall die.
Many of the so-called predictions of the past have been based on astrology and some bear reflections of Biblical prophecy. But our Lord’s statement is perfectly clear — we do not know the date of the end-time, when He will be manifest in glory, and we certainly do not know the date of the Rapture of the Church or His Coming to the air. On the other hand, there seem indications today that events which, according to Biblical prophecy, are to occur at the time of the End, are obviously imminent. If that is so, our Lord’s Return for His people — which is to precede those events — must be even closer.
We do not base our hopes upon human calculations (or miscalculations) or astrological deductions. Our Master has promised to come back for us and to take us to the place He has prepared, and for this we patiently wait. Perhaps today!