The Market for Bad Predictions

During my lifetime there have been about 100 false predictions regarding the Lord’s return, and every one of them was made by someone who sincerely believed they were living in last of the last days. The end times, in other words (although the phrase “end times” is found nowhere in scripture).

Every time Halley’s Comet comes around, or the planets align, or there’s a solar flare, or the stock market tanks, or there’s a pandemic or Russia flexes its muscles, or Israel sneezes, these prognosticators come out of the woodwork to make their false and unsettling predictions.

You may say, “I would never fall for such predictions.”

Yet many do.

When I was in college a book came out that was entitled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988. Jesus would return in September of that year, said the book’s author. He didn’t yet the book is still available on Amazon, and I believe there was a sequel.

The market for bad predictions knows no bounds.

The four horsemen of bad predictions

Where do these bad dates come from? They come from four sources. First, there are the visions or revelations that inspired such people as William Miller (who said the world would end in 1844), John Hinkle (1994), and Nostradamus (1999).

Then there is the Newsweek eschatology of current events. Something big happens involving Israel, Russia, or the UN, and it triggers a fresh wave of rapture hysteria. The stock market falls or a new pope is elected and suddenly it’s time to go.

In 1997 it was Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat signing their peace accord on the White House lawn. In 2008 it was the Global Financial Crisis, and in 2016 it was Brexit. According to those with their fingers on the pulse of current events, the world was going to end or experience a great shaking in 1982 (Pat Robertson), 1987 (Hal Lindsey), and 2007 (both Pat Robertson and Hal Lindsey again), and 2015 (Jonathan Cahn).

The third source of end-times fodder is natural phenomena such as meteorite showers, passing comets, and solar flares. An earthquake strikes or a harvest fails and you can just about guarantee that some prophet will declare, “These are the birth pangs of Matthew 24:7. Jesus is coming!” A series of lunar eclipses was interpreted by John Hagee as pointing to a world-shaking event that would occur in 2015.

And let’s not even get started with Covid!

Finally, you have the prophetic and mystical significance of numbers. Hence some have predicted the Lord would return in 1996 (the 2,000th anniversary of his birth), 1998 (it’s three times 666), 2000 (Y2K and the millennium), 2017 (it’s 50 Jubilee years since Israel retook Jerusalem), or 2018 (Israel’s 70th birthday).

It doesn’t even have to be numbers from the western calendar – the Jewish calendar also works (watch out in 2017!), as do Mayan calendars for some reason (beware 2012!).

According to numerologists, the world will implode or the Lord will return in 1994 (according to Harold Camping), 1995 (Camping again), 1998 (Marilyn Agee), 2006 (Michael Drosnin), or 2011 (Camping having one more swing at it).

We need to stop getting worked up over useless dates. Every time we share some end-times prediction that involves a date, we open the door to mockery. We’re saying we know more than the Lord himself.

Ever wonder why the New Testament makes no predictions about the date of the Lord’s return? It’s because the apostles believed Jesus when he said, “Nobody knows the day or hour, not even the Son himself.” If we had the same mindset as them, the market for bad predictions would cease to exist.

When are the last days?

Many of us have been raised with the idea that our generation is the last-days generation, but this is not remotely scriptural. The apostles considered themselves privileged to live in the last days; we should feel the same way. Better to live this side of the cross in union with Christ than to hear about him secondhand from Old Testament prophets.

It is a mistake to define the last days in terms of our generation; the last days are defined by Jesus.

Jesus divides history into two parts, the first days and the last days, BC and AD. In the first days of history, people looked forward to the coming of Christ when he would build his house. In these last days, he is building his church, and the nations are streaming in.

The first half of history ended with Christ coming in humility. The second half ends with him returning in glory. The last days are last because they refer to the last half of history. So far, the last days have lasted for 2,000 years. They may last for many more, but ultimately the last days will end on the last day when Christ returns to judge the living and the dead (John 6:39–40, 12:48).

Extracted from chapter 34 of AD70 and the End of the World

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33 Comments on The Market for Bad Predictions

  1. I shall refer to this again and again every time I hear of a new date being set!

  2. Olusesan Ogundare // May 25, 2017 at 12:36 am // Reply

    Good day Pastor Paul. May God continue to bless you over this and other works concerning the gospel of Christ. Kindly check the 2nd sentence of this article as it seems uncompleted. Thanks

  3. Great writing Paul! Keep up the tremendous work!!!

  4. “No man knowers THAT day” He isn’t talking about the day he comes back… He KNOWS about that day, he told the diciples all about it. He’s talking about the day heaven and earth pass away (Bc there is no timeline given after thousand year reign) Ya know I don’t know when he’s coming back, but there is going to be a constellation here September 23 that hasn’t been here since he was here at birth. That’s what people are talking about. Prove anything? No. Interesting? Yes. I don’t know when he’s coming back but I am watching. I’ve never been the type to buy into the “hype” but there are some note worthy things happening.

  5. Great article. (And by the way, I predict the end of Pat Robertson, Hal Lindsey, John Hagee, Jonathan Cahn, Michael Drosnin, Billy Graham, and the current pope, by the year 2117.)

  6. Thanks for sharing from your book. I once served a church where a mother and daughter approached me after the service. They were quite concerned about the Nostradamus prediction. I was able to talk them through it by encouraging them that it is a win-win situation. If by chance the Nostradamus prediction proved to be true (which I explained was a stretch) then we would be going home to the Lord. That’s a win. If the Nostradamus prediction didn’t come to pass, then we would be able to continue to live and experience this gift of life that God has given us. That’s a win. So often, we get caught up in the hysteria of these end time predictions. It may be profitable for these “prophets” but does nothing to promote scriptural understanding or advance the Gospel. True confession, I’m rather looking forward to the comments on this article (it’s a character flaw).

  7. OK, you sold me! I’ve avoided books on the end times ever since Hal Lindsey sucked me in with his first one. I should have known you would be the author to bring clarity to this horribly muddled subject.

    Thanks also for identifying the promoters of bad prophecy factually and without condescension. Just one more of your qualities that I admire.

  8. tonycutty // May 25, 2017 at 4:16 am // Reply

    Absolutely right. And I once saw a ridiculous program called the Jim Bakker show – run by a dude who’s been done several times for fraud. Accompanied by lots of staged, horrified expressions, and some dork gesturing at the Bible saying ‘It says it all in here’, the end of the world was indeed foretold. Accompanied of course, by the advertisement of end-of-the-world high nutrient food backs available for ‘only’ x dollars, where ‘x’ was a large number, and sold by – you’ve guessed it – the Jim Bakker group. As if people could survive the ‘end of all things’ by buying food packages… needless to say nothing happened and the video is now no longer available on YouTube. There was a late-middle-aged, sycophantic audience seated politely around dinner tables, all nodding in agreement. I can’t go on describing this because I am literally feeling sick. These charlatans persist to this day – *and people keep believing them!!* Absolutely polar opposites from the Jesus I know. These people should be shot. Slowly 🙂

    • Laurence Brill // April 20, 2019 at 11:25 am // Reply

      Hmm… shooting is a bit severe for the faith we have (even joking about shooting doesn’t sit right with all the literal shootings happening everywhere). May I suggest though, that they are forced to pay for and read their own books… over… and over… and over‼️

  9. Robert kinyua // May 25, 2017 at 8:06 am // Reply

    Wow!it’s nice and lovely.

  10. I totally agree with you Paul. I will not let this end time madness put me in a tailspin..I have friends who are running scared stocking up on food and water, sure they are going to be decapitated and martyred. I know that Jim Bakker is promoting some of this and I don’t agree with it, but I would like to say on his behalf that Jim was a victim of Christians who plotted against him and took advantage of him when he was being viciously attacked by Satan. He was eventually exhonerated by the court re fraud and Jesus has forgiven him for any bad judgments on his part. Let the past rest and pray for revelation knowledge for him now.

    God has not given us a spirit of fear so why get into fear at this end time issue. God told us what would happen in these times, not because He ordained these events, but because He knew where the chuch would be at this time and that they would not understand the authourity that He has given them to take dominion over this earth. We don’t have to accept these evil events, we can pray against them.
    When Jesus was crucified, He finished everything at the cross that mankind would need for a successful life and then He sat down at the right hand of God and said now you go in my Name and heal the sick and cast out demons, etc.

  11. To set a rapture date is wrong to do. One thing no one can deny is the fulfillment of the Great Sign in the heaven in Revelation 12. The women clothed with the sun and 12 stars at her head and is with child. Which the constellation Vergo with “The King planet, representing Christ is in fact in her womb area and emerges September 23,2017. This perfect alignment has not happened since the beginning of time and according to models that can skip forward never show it happening again. This is called a Great Sign by God and we would be ignorant to ignore signs such as this that the Creator uses. It could mark the beginning of the tribulation period or as the scripture says the child was ” caught up ” or harpazo same word as rapture to the Lord. It can’t be Christ the child that’s caught up because Christ is already up, but the body of Christ “the church ” could very well be caught up. Just have to wait and see. A believer should not worry if or when just keep awake and as the word says ” when you begin to see these things look up because your redemption draweth nigh

  12. Bad news sells, and fear is a powerful motivator. Many people would lose hoards of their followers if they relinquished the right to use such methods, not to mention plummeting book and DVD sales. If your eschatology is that Jesus is returning to rescue his bride from a world growing darker and more evil, you are gonna want to lap up every hint of a rescue date while you huddle in your fallout shelters.

  13. Len Swanepoel // May 26, 2017 at 12:18 am // Reply

    … as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming.
    2 Peter 3:12 NIV
    Peter told us to look forward, not to set dates, and then we speed its coming. Setting dates is gross error. Thanks Paul, great work.

  14. I always suspected these end time alarmists were a bunch of goobers. When I read, “Victorious Eschatology” by Harold R. Eberle, it confirmed my intuition with scriptures, facts and history.

    I have since read, “AD70 and the End of the World: Finding Good News in Christ’s Prophecies and Parables of Judgment” by Paul Ellis. Again, the author uses scriptures, facts and history to teach the truth about pessimistic prophecy.

  15. I was.just laying in bed thinking of all the replies to this post and several thoughts came to me. I don’t believe Jesus is in any rush to return. He went through horrendous torture to redeem mankind. There are still so many unsaved people yet to come into the kingdom of God. He so loves the world that He wishes none should perish. Unlike the attitude of the church, He is not sick of this world and the people in it. He said He has great plans for us. Has He spoken to you on your purpose, your destiny? Have you fulfilled it? I know He has told me many plans He has for me and I plan to be here to accomplish them before He returns.

    Many people talk about how evil this world is. I think of the Old Testament days and I question that. Violence and religion caused wickedness beyond my imagination. God turned to living under law because man did not want to live by grace. God turned them over to their reprobate minds. Now we have Jesus, the light of the world, to conquer darkness. We need to use His powerful name to bring more light to this world. Don’t let His suffering be in vain.

    • Oops maybe too many words! Anyway I think that as the Body of Christ wakes up to what we have in Jesus, the power that has been given to us in His Name, the potential we have to change this world, we would not be in such a rush to leave this world. The revelation of God’s love that is permeating the church is phenomenal and the information revealed by people like Paul Ellis is so liberating. Religion and false teaching have crippled the church, but that is changing and we are going to make a difference like never before. Jesus delights in seeing us walk in victory. Let’s finish what God started with Adam and bring more of the garden of Eden into this world. Take the dominion we were given and make our Father God proud of His children ! He is rooting for us.

  16. Funny how our understanding and interpretation of scripture changes the outcome. Acts 3:20-21 does just that. When Peter said Jesus will be held in the heavens until the restitution of all things. If we have a victorious view of the Church then Jesus is waiting on us to restore the Earth. If we have a Futurist view then it will mean the Church will be almost subdued and rescued! Then Jesus will restore the Earth!

    • When I accepted Christ I had no preconceived ideas of what to expect. I had not ever met any born again people.
      One of my first observances was how the people seemed to get saved, live a boring life, or a life full of sickness and suffering, just accept it and wait for heaven. This really confused me as Gods said that He wanted His will to be done on earth as it is in heaven. From my understanding there is no sickness or suffering of any kind in heaven. As I learned what Jesus did on the cross, I became even more dismayed. Most of the people I met didn’t even believe in healing.
      Jesus said that He came to give us life and life abundantly. I assumed He meant on earth because everything is a given in heaven ! I know so many people that just live a shallow life and wait to get to heaven to prosper and be healed.
      Jesus doesn’t want us to live in the future, He wants us to live a victorious life now, knowing that He has great plans and a purpose for us on this earth and then one day we will live eternally with Him.
      The JOY of the Lord is my strength ! I don’t want to live a defeated, powerless life and then look forward to Christ’s return with an attitude of doom and gloom. His perfect love casts out all fear, including end time fear. He said He would never leave us or forsake us!

      • tonycutty // May 30, 2017 at 2:19 am //


      • I love your outlook! I was raised in church and am in my 40’s now. The pessimism and spirit of defeat is getting to me.

      • Marjorie // June 23, 2017 at 1:33 pm //

        Thanks Sara! I wish I could have had a site like this for fellowship. God has so much more for His kids. God Bless !

  17. Eddie Lowe // May 29, 2017 at 12:47 am // Reply

    Love your revelations, they have set me free to an understanding that makes sense of who I am and what Christ has done for me.😄☕️. Born again in 1978.

  18. Roshan, there is no condemnation, guilt or shame in Christ Jesus. He came to save the world not to condemn it. He forgave your sins, past, present and future, on the cross. He says they are buried in the depths of the ocean and never to be brought up again.
    If you are being tormented by thoughts of sin, it is not God, it is Satan, the accuser of the brethren. Rest in the finished work of Jesus. He Loves You!

  19. Nostradamus did NOT say the world would end in 1999 – he predicts a lot of activity for the early 21st century. The main thing Nostradamus predicted for the years 2001-2028 is a slowly accelerating 27 year war between Islam and Christianity. Within a few more years America will be temporarily knocked down, Europe will be invaded and WWIII will be fully under way. Russia, China, and India will all be at war – and as I interpret the prophecies, Nostradamus specifically describes India being on the victorious side against Islam.

    • No, but he famously predicted the “King of Terror” would descend from the skies in 1999 (which many interpreted as a vision of Armageddon). Surprise, surprise, it didn’t happen.

  20. Nice summary of unbiblical thought by people who claim to follow Bible prophecy (or, indeed, be Bible prophets). Part of the problem may be confusing prophecy with predicting the future. Prophets in the Bible predicted, to be sure, but they had much else to say. In fact, in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10, the gifts that appear to involve revelation (including prediction) are the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and discernment of spirits. Prophecy, then, would appear to be a gift of the Spirit in a known tongue that has no revelation in it. 1 Corinthians 14:3 defines prophesying as speaking words to strengthen, build up, and comfort. Assuming that prophetic writing must predict something and then looking in the newspaper to see how it might be coming true is looking for trouble!

  21. I think the last days was the end of the Old Covenant

  22. I agree Mike…..obviously Peter, Paul, John and the author of Hebrews all thought they lived in the “last days” and to fit a futurist theology one must interpret that to mean we have had and continue to have 2000 plus years of last days! Or it ended with the “Old Covenant” and more importantly, began with the NEW Covenant!

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