Will Jesus return this year?
And so another year kicks off with a certain Christian magazines/websites making gloomy predictions about these last days. (I was going to provide some links here but it was depressing reading and I don’t wish to promote newspaper eschatology. If you’re interested, this stuff is not hard to find.)
What do all these articles have in common? I mean, apart from peddling fear and anxiety about current events? Answer: they all believe Jesus is coming back soon. In other words, they don’t believe what the Bible says about the timing of Christ’s return. (TL:DR; The scriptures are emphatically and deliberately silent on the date of the Lord’s return.)
“But the Lord’s return has to be soon, right? I mean, all the signs are there!”
If by signs you mean earthquakes, famines, wars, lawlessness, and false messiahs, these are signs that Jesus listed in connection with the fall of Jerusalem. There is not one scripture that links these signs with the Lord’s final return to earth.
“But there are other signs mentioned in scripture, like the rise of the antichrist, false prophets, the man of lawlessness, animal extinctions, new diseases, a rebuilt Jerusalem, a third temple …”
These so-called signs have been falsely connected with the return of the Lord for 2,000 years. They are not new, and they are not signs.
One of history’s clearest lessons is the consistent wrongness of eschatological predictions. For example, the turn of the first millennium was marked by fears that the devil would be released after 1,000 years of captivity, as “predicted” by Revelation 20:7. A few months before the critical date a new pope was installed in Rome. Many believed that Pope Sylvester II was the antichrist in league with the devil, for he had studied with the Saracens. Judgment Day was imminent.
When the new millennium came and Jesus didn’t, those who sought to excite the masses with their eschatological predictions simply revised their dates. If Jesus wasn’t returning in the year 1000 he would come in the year 1006 (when a supernova was seen in the heavens), or 1033 (the thousandth anniversary of his death), or 1186 (when the planets aligned), or 1284 (666 years after the founding of Islam), or 1346 (the apocalyptic terror of the Black Plague), or 1496 (it was 1500 years after the birth of Jesus), and so on. The dubious practice of picking dates for the Lord’s return continues to this day, as evidenced by our current fascination with ISIS, blood moons, and Russia.
You would think that with such a spectacularly abysmal record the prognosticators would give up. But there’s money to be made in this game. In the old days, fearful Christians anticipating the end of the world gave their possessions to the church. These days they buy books and fund doomsday ministries. They sign up to “prophetic” newsletters that spam their inboxes with newspaper eschatalogy. “Pope Francis is the antichrist.” “No wait, Mohammed Bin Salman is the antichrist. Here comes the Great Tribulation!” “Another red heifer got sacrificed – the third temple is about to be built!” “There was a tsunami – sudden destruction is coming on the whole world.” “Israel! Israel! Israel! Brace yourself for Armageddon!”
The puzzle is not that bad predictions continue to be made; it’s that people continue to heed them despite a 2,000-year record of being wrong. Every. Single. Time.
The inability to learn from history or believe what Jesus said remains one of the greatest follies of the church.
How’s this for a New Year’s resolution: I refuse to be swayed by fear-mongers and doomsayers who claim to know more than Jesus did.
Extracted and adapted from chapter 32 of Paul’s book AD70 and the End of the World.
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Predictions need to stop. Nothing gloomy about the Second Coming it is our blessed hope! Jesus coming to put things right!!!
From what I read here, it sounds like you hold to a full preterist view point. I am in agreement with what you have said. I see many friends who are buying into these doomsday Christian teachings and ministries. I have read some of them (not of recent times) and had to shake my head.
I am more of a partial preterist as I believe that Christ was referring to his Coming Judgment upon Israel. Interestingly enough, This judgment that befell Jerusalem in 70 AD mirrors the coming judgment and Christ’s return (whenever that occurs).
In the early 90’s (right about the time the Internet was starting up and available), I’ve heard numerous people relate stories of “Angels” walking, or getting picked up, and warning that the “trumpets were about to be blown” and Revelation scrolls were being opened.
Paul, writing to the Christians in Thessalonika, chastized them for their erroneous beliefs in the coming judgment of God.
Thank you for this article. Quite an interesting read.
It never ceases to amaze me how easily people misjudge my eschatological position. What in the article makes you think I’m a full preterist?
I did not say you are a full preterist. I said: “from what I have read here, it sounds like you are a full preterist”.
It is based on this statement right here: “If by signs you mean earthquakes, famines, wars, lawlessness, and false messiahs, these are signs that Jesus listed in connection with the fall of Jerusalem. There is not one scripture that links these signs with the Lord’s final return to earth.”
You hyperlinked the latter part of the sentence. Then, at the end, referenced how your article is adapted from AD70 and end times.
Having studied preterism over the years, the statements in this article may seem to lead someone (like myself) that you may hold to a full preterist view point.
A full preterist is someone who believes Jesus has returned. I am not such a person. (But I have friends who are.)
I’m sorry if my tone sounded snappish, but I get this all the time. “Paul Ellis is a preterist, what an idiot.” Or “Paul Ellis is a futurist, what an idiot.” The temptation to label people for the sake of dismissing their views lies at the heart of tribalism, and I hate it. Why not simply discuss the merits of the article?
I hear you on that and am quite familiar with how people can be dismissive of another person’s viewpoint. I’m a partial preterist myself. Hence, my familiarity with the subject matter.
They are absolutely sure they are right….until they are wrong. Again.
Then ‘adjustment theology’ kicks in…and Jesus is made to appear the Great Pumpkin rather than the Good Shepherd…… 😦
Paul if I John says ‘it is the last hour’ , for 2000 years now and counting, is it possible we’ve missed something?
On a serious note….
Is one’s eschatology a salvational issue ? Am I as a charismatic preterist (Do Not Adjust Your Set) unsaved ? Or historicists? Anyone w/o a John MacArthur Study Bible?
Who then can be saved ;p ?
Establish your work in the field, afterwards build thine house…Paul you are SO scriptural :)))
One thing is certain. Christ is indeed coming. May we as Christians be ready by living our lives for Him now so that we will not be ashamed when we see Him!
That’s it, Karen. And one of the ways we can avoid being ashamed, is by proclaiming what he said and not what we read on Facebook or some silly magazine.
So instead of you saying that Jesus is coming soon, Jesus is telling the angels that Paul Ellis is coming soon. Right? 🙂
You’re very correct in that the Bible does teach us that nobody knows the hour or day of the Lord’s return, but Scripture is very clear that we should be looking up and awaiting His return daily. I also agree that many people use the ‘end-times’ and the false ‘pre-tribulation’ rapture theory to make quite a bit of money sadly 😦
With all that said, I personally had a dream of Jesus coming back on January 21, 2018 and He told me as I was lifted up to Him to “keep preaching grace and I’m coming back soon” I then woke up but I saw Jesus and so many heavenly beings behind him that it was utterly amazing!
Another brother in Christ went code blue and during this process, he had an encounter with the Lord and He told him to tell the church He’s coming back soon. The Lord told him nobody would believe him and they don’t believe He’s coming back soon but He is.
What are your thoughts on the word quickly meaning the same thing as soon?
Watch and pray for the Lord Return people of God. Jesus is coming very soon believe it or not. ( 2 Peter 3:9).
There would be mockery about the coming of the Lord Jesus. Be careful! Be careful! Be careful people about what you’re saying!.
A month ago, I heard in my dream : “Maranatha: Christ is coming! Maranatha: Christ is coming.”
Paul is so brief, lol. I think he means that the word that has been translated as soon, is better translated as quickly. That happens all over in the bible, the same original word has been translated into various English words, sometimes, even often times, giving them different meanings. Weird.
Great post, Paul. Fear continues to run rampant in the body of Christ despite us being given a spirit of power, love and a strong mind. Blessings on you, your family and your writing.
I feel like predicting the return of Jesus is just another symptom of religion. All of Jewish and Christian history is lined with people creating systems and then using that system as their lense for seeing the Scriptures and the world. We love control. We build boxes and then competeting boxes that we claim God fits into. Jesus will not be put in your box but if you’ll let him have your box then He’ll make something beautiful out of you.
You have nailed it, Sam. We like to be in control and hate not knowing. Nevermind that Jesus chastised the disciples for asking – “It’s not for you to know the times and seasons” – we have to ask and we have to know. Instead of trusting, we have to figure this out for ourselves, and thus we leap out of the strong arms of Jesus into the unreliable embrace of the flesh.
I’ve always felt a little guilty (more like made to feel a little guilty) because I don’t talk about the Lord coming soon. I would love for it to happen and if God gave me a button I’d push it. But candidly I just don’t see the upside of thinking it’s going to happen today. I feel like I’m just setting myself up for disappointment. Also, isn’t a lot of this mindset people just wanting God to fix everything in our lives? Jesus came once and gave us so much. Shouldn’t our focus, apart from evangelizing, be to appropriate what he has done for us? I want to be optimistic that way.
Just as well me and you aren’t God Bob, because if I had a button I would push it too!
Paul I must emphatically state here that Jesus knows when he will return. He is God.
He did say that while he was on earth He did not know. Scripture is silent on the reason why but apparently the information was retained only by the Father at that specific point.
Right, we are not to be setting a date, but more accurately, be ready for such a time, by “looking for”(being in anticipation of) the coming of Christ, Titus 2:13
Why can’t we do both? Why can’t we study the signs of the times in hope for His soon return AND live life in the here and now for the Lord Jesus. Have we allowed the enemy to deceive us to the point of such division? Are we behaving as unbelievers and you cannot even tell we carry such an amazing hope? I believe in a pre-trib rapture…am I a pre-triber? NO…I am a child of God that happens to read scripture and interpret this event this way. Does it mean I am 100% correct? NO. Why can’t conversations between believers go like this.. hey my brother if the rapture happens..I will see you at the wedding supper of the Lamb…if it doesn’t…I will see you on the battlefield. Where is the unity between us? Why do we enjoy shaming each other over hoping in the soon return of our Lord? We say things like..its all about money…this is not the case for all ministry..so that is not a complete truth… but an opportunity to put forth your opinion and drive it in with a stake. The Holy Spirit does a much better job at correcting us than we do..let Him do his job. We can pray for one another and focus together on our Blessed Hope..Jesus. God Bless to all my brothers and sisters in Christ.
God bless you too Sister. Well put!
I like your comment Traci.
I find many of scripture’s and life’s mysteries interesting and thought provoking, but the more I get to know Christ the more I’m able to accept that things are what they are without being triggered into fear, or pulled into debate, or letting guilt be used to manipulate me. People take positions on topics as if it all absolutely must fit together a certain way. And as if they couldn’t possibly be wrong when it is obvious we are not able to know certain things and, in many cases, not meant to know them. At least not yet. That’s not scary to me, but freeing. My dependency is on Jesus because Jesus knows all things and he is FOR US. Jesus is the source of and purpose for all things. That is a concept that is a mile deep and we can only really see into it about a few inches in my opinion. As limited humans, we are unable to perceive and unable to comprehend the totality of all that has been created and the full story of what has been unfolding for a long time. One thing is certain – it all began with Jesus, the maker, and it will end with Jesus, as King. He has always been and always will be the supreme ruler. My point is this. If there is a rapture, then Jesus is Lord. If there is no rapture, then Jesus is Lord. If the earth turns out to be flat, then Jesus is Lord. If it’s a sphere, then Jesus is Lord. If it’s around 6000 years old, then Jesus is Lord. If it’s a billion years old, then Jesus is Lord. If we are alone in the universe, then Jesus is Lord. If there are countless other species of life in the universe, then Jesus is Lord. Multiple dimensions, clones, cyborgs, virtual realities… there existence or nonexistence ultimately matters little. And WHENEVER Jesus returns, he will be Lord. Regardless what the scenario might be, Jesus is not overcome with anxiety over it – he is at peace. He reins in victory over it. When we let the Gospel flood our hearts, we discover peace that is not shaken by these issues. They become mere peripherals.
Well said, Jason. I feel exactly the same way.
Great response Jason. See you the other side my brother.
Traci and Jason – Thank you! Awesome blessings of God!
As for all those false predictions about Jesus’ return, just add William Miller and the Millerites re 1843, then 1844, (all of which were based on a total misunderstanding of Daniel’s 2300 days) which false prophecies only prompted Ellen G. White to start the SDA’s with their doctrine of investigative judgment.
Then think of the Jehovah’s Witnesses many predictions of Jesus’ return to establish his kingdom – a kingdom, by the way, that was established on the first Day of Pentecost after Jesus’ resurrection. Read Acts 1-2; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28 and Colossians 1:12-14.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.