Thursday, May 19, 2011

Date Setting

A fellow employee brought to my attention today that someone was traveling from city to city proclaiming that the Resurrection would occur this coming Saturday, May 21st, 2011. The end of the world was coming, and he had the numbers from the Bible to prove it. He came into Canal Park in Duluth yesterday to preach his message of coming destruction, and now (as I hear it) is in Cloquet doing likewise.

Is date setting biblical?

In Matthew chapter 24 Jesus is discoursing with His disciples about end-times events, and how they will occur. This would have been a good time for our Lord to let His people know the date of His return in glory. But what does the Son teach the first disciples? "But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only," Matthew 24:36. Jesus testifies that no man knows the hour of Christ's return. That knowledge is forbidden to us, who are all to curious about it, and leap at the chance to set dates to stir revivals or strike fear into the unsaved. The let down on the believer's part when these dates come (and go) is enormous, and has happened frequently enough to make everyone who hears a date-setter speak wary.

If Matthew 24 was insufficient evidence for prohibiting date setting for Christians, perhaps Mark's account will help: "But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. For the Son of man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch," Mark 13:32-37.

In this account (a parallel version of Matthew) Jesus even precludes Himself, having limited His knowledge on earth as to when the Father would choose to send Him back for His bride, the church. Jesus goes on to declare we do not know when the time of His return is. We are commanded to watch; we are not commanded to date set. Judging by Jesus' emphatic repetition of not knowing the time of His return, it is reliable to presume that date setting is forbidden, not to mention pointless. Again, not even Christians know when the master of the house (Christ) is returning.

The Seventh Day Adventist Church began in this manner. William Miller founded Adventism in its primeval state, and made bold predictions, primarily using Daniel and Revelation, that Christ would return in 1843. When his date failed to produce the desired result it was changed to October 22, 1844. Clearly that prophecy also failed and William Miller repented of his presumption and forsook this budding church founded on spurious date-setting. Helen White took up where Miller left off, testified that the dates were accurate and made the accomplishment of these prophecies mystical rather than literal. Adventism has been resting on this pillar of error ever since. This is the fruit of date setting.

For one final proof we turn to Acts. Jesus was about to ascend back into Heaven from the Mount of Olives. His disciples asked Him a vital, earthly question since they were still preoccupied with earthly kingdoms. "When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power," Acts 1:6-7. Even the twelve Apostles were denied the privilege of knowing the time of their Lord's return. It is not for us to know, Jesus informs us. One obvious reason would be that anyone living near such a time would wait until the "last minute" to repent (making such repentance doubtful) in order to enter the kingdom of God. Death could come at any time for us; it IS the end of the world for us when death draws near. Are you ready?

To sum up: In Matthew we are told no man knows the hour (date) of Christ's return. In Mark Jesus tells us that not only will no man know, but Christ Himself (while on earth) did not know. In Acts we are informed that it is not our place to know; we are not supposed to know. Attempting to fabricate such knowledge will inevitably lead into extra-biblical error or plain heresy. The Jehovah’s Witnesses Watchtower is famous for date setting; they have done so (and clearly been wrong) numerous times. What does the Bible say about date-setters and cults such as the JW's? "And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him," Deuteronomy 18:21-22.
God grant us clarity to rightly divide His word. Amen.

3 comments:

  1. Ian, what gets me is that these false prophets will never learn with they... When Jesus comes it will be like a thief in the night. But of course we still have about four hours left of the day (Pacific Time) so let us see if another prophet eats crow come morning.

    The question I have of these folks that take so much of their time and effort in trying to figure when Jesus is coming...is this: Will you be ready? Blessings my friend. Lloyd

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  2. Lloyd, I wholeheartedly agree. At least this misuse of God's word may allow a more open discussion with others about the Rapture and Resurrection. Since Christian position has been misstated, we may use this opportunity with interested people to clarify, and perhaps even use it as a witnessing tool. Who knows? God works all things for the good...

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  3. Deuteronomy 18:22 clearly stated that if the prophecy didn't come to pass, the prophet was a false prophet and according to verse 18, was to be executed. People who continue to support a clearly false prophet make it clear they don't care about what God says.

    Great post

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