The Christian world believes in the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ to the earth that will mark the end of this world. From century to century some believers in the doctrine of the return of Jesus Christ to the earth had at various times literally gazed at the crystal ball or interpreted many scripture prophecies to predict the probable date or year that Jesus Christ will come back to the earth to take up the elects precedent to the reign of the anti-Christ government and the eventual end of the world. Till date all the various dates and years that such believers or religious sects predicted that Christ would return have failed.
William Miller predominantly featured in the great Second Advent movement that swept in the United States in 1840s. According to Walter Martins in his book, The Kingdom of the Cults, William Miller confidently taught in the year 1818 that in about 25 years, that is 1843, Jesus Christ would come again. He claimed to have studied the scriptures for about two years to the solemn conclusion that in about 25 years from that time (1818) all the affairs of our present state would be wound up. “I am fully convinced that between March 21, 1843 and March 21 1844 Christ will come back and bring all his saints with him,” Miller predicted.
When William Miller’s predicted dates of Christ second coming failed, his associates, who also had been known as the Millerites set October 22, 1844 as the final date when Jesus Christ would return. Miller, who was a Baptist minister, however confessed that he goofed when the prediction on Christ second coming failed. He said, “I confess my error and acknowledge my disappointment. Yet, I still believe that the day of the Lord is near. I exhort you to be watchful and not let that day come upon you unawares.”
Although Williams Miller popularized the 1883-1844 concept of Christ coming again, he was by no means alone in the rash of date setting for the second coming of Christ. Ellen G. White, the founder of the Seventh Day Adventist Church also made many predictions about the advent (second coming) of Christ that all failed. The most specific prediction she was said to have made about the second coming of Christ was her interpretation of a vision she claimed to have had. She told a 1856 conference that some participants in the meeting would be alive “at the second coming of Jesus.”
Jehovah’s witnesses arrived at 1914 for the second coming of Christ from a dispensationally inspired study of the Book of Daniel. When 1914 passed, their prediction was changed with 1915, 1818, 1920, 1941, 1975 and 1994 being other dates that failed. Jehovah’s witnesses declared that Christ had actually returned to the temple in 1914 and cleansed it by 1918 for judgment upon sinful men and Satan’s organization. They affirmed that since he did not rise physically, neither will he return physically.
Herbert W. Armstrong also predicted the second coming of Christ to occur in 1975. He and his associates consistently warned that Jesus may come in a “few short years.” In 1948, the state of Israel was founded and this encouraged dispensationalists around the world to predict that this was “the beginning of the end.” Many dispensationalists decided that the generation Jesus had reference to was in Mathew 24:34 started in 1948. When the Israeli army captured all of Jerusalem in 1967, this made people believed that the rapture would come quickly. In 1978, Chuck Smith, Pastor of Calvary Chapel in Costa Rica also predicted that ‘the Lord is coming for his Church before the end of 1981.” Pat Robertson predicted that the world would end in 1982. Hal Lindsey predicted that the rapture would occur in 1988. In 1988 Edgar Whietnaut sold 4 million copies of 88 reasons why rapture will occur in 1988. At the last count of this rash of predictions was a period when there were apprehensive expectations globally that the year 2000 would witness a worldwide computer driven meltdown that might lead to the extinction of humanity from the earth. The eventual failure of the year 2000 apprehension turned out the second “Great Disappointment” after William Miller’s “Great Disappointment” of 1843.
Does the failure of all of these various predicted dates on Christ second coming suggest that Christ will never ever come back after all? Walter Martins offers that one needs only to read the words of the Lord Jesus Christ to realize that all the predictions on the second coming of the Lord Jesus Christ were contradictions to the word of God. Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only,” (Mathew 24:36, also 24:42; 24:44; 25:13). And far from it that Christ will ever never come again. Every believer that is heaven-conscious needs to be daily guided by the following scriptures that in spite of the failed predictions, Christ second coming is inevitable. “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night,” (1 Thessalonians 5:2).
“But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up,” ( 11 Peters 3:10). Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee,” (Rev. 3:3). Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth and keepeth his garment, lest he walks naked, and they see his shame,” (Rev. 16:15). We must therefore live ready daily, like Rev. Tony Akinyemi said, lest the day comes upon us unawares.
#Editor’s note: This article by Dr. Wole Olarinde was first published in Christian Benefits magazine in March 2012