What Part of “No One Knows” Do We Not Understand?

Well here we go again—another occasion with another failed end-time prediction. The latest in the emergent amorphous collection of failed end-time predictions relates to what is popularly termed “the Four Blood Moons.” Some of the proponents of the Four Blood Moons prophecy suggested that Sukkot in September of 2015, following the lunar eclipse of the supermoon, would roll forth the end of the world as we know it. This follows a vast array of similar predictions, repackaged of course, which suggest the ultimate end of the world as we know it. Yet here we are. You are reading an article written by the author in a time that has come as a postscript to yet another failed “prophecy.”[1] Unfortunately, the Four Blood Moons has joined a growing list of failed prophecies including, but not limited to: Grigori Rasputin’s claim that the would end on August 23, 2013; the Mayan Apocalypse of December 21, 2012; Ronald Weinland’s prediction of May 27, 2012; Harold Camping’s prediction of October 21, 2011; and even a suggestion by famed televangelist Pat Robertson that the Lord would return on April 29, 2007 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_dates_predicted_for_apocalyptic_events).[2] This leaves me with one thought…

WHAT PART OF “NO ONE KNOWS THE DAY OR THE HOUR” DO WE NOT UNDERSTAND???

 Subscribers of this website know that I had great concerns pertaining to this recent Four Blood Moons hype. You can read my comments at https://pastorbrianchilton.wordpress.com/2014/05/25/does-the-four-blood-moon-prophecy-biblically-remain-in-orbit/. Yet, this fiasco brings me back to a pertinent message given by Jesus.

Jesus said in his famed message titled by scholars the “Olivet Discourse,”

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, not the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24:35-38).[3]

In this article, I would like to approach two concurrent issues as it pertains to such failed eschatological claims: 1) truths found in Jesus’ teaching, and 2) the problems behind eschatological date-setting.

Certain Truths of the End Found in Jesus’ Olivet Discourse.

From Matthew 24:35-38, one will note four important truths as it relates to the end-times paradigm. These four truths represent information that is knowable concerning the end-times.

1. God’s Word will endure. Despite what takes place, God’s word will remain true regardless. Instead of buying into the speculation of would-be prophets, why not rely on the sure and certain Word of God?

2. Only God the Father Almighty knows when the end will come. This is an important truth to grasp. One must wonder if Jesus’ professesed ignorance pertaining to the end-time was only limited in his human ministry?[4] That discussion is beyond the parameters of this article. Nevertheless, what should be especially noted is that ONLY the FATHER knows the time when such an event will occur. This truth presents a tremendous problem for date-setters, a problem that is addressed in the second section of this article.

3. Society will become greatly depraved towards the end. Jesus notes that the end days will be much like the early days of human history—greatly depraved. Society will morally continue down a path of depravity leading to Christ’s return. The level of depravity that resonated in Noah’s day would return before the end.

4. Life will continue as normal up until the end. Jesus teaches that the end will not necessarily include any dramatic event before his return. In fact, things appear to be a “business as usual” type of affair. People continue to marry. People continue with their daily affairs. Just as there were not indicators to the populace that a flood was coming in Noah’s day, there will likewise be no special indicators that the end will occur when it transpires–give my regards to Hollywood. The return of the Son of Man takes everyone by surprise…everyone.

Problems Found in Eschatological Date-Setting.

From the truths known by Jesus in the Olivet Discourse, one will find at least three major problems behind eschatological date-setting.

1. Eschatological date-setting is blasphemous as it claims knowledge known only to God. It seems that this truth eludes many of the speculative end-times date-setters. If Jesus says that only God the Father knows the coming of the Son of Man, then it is blasphemous to claim that a person has knowledge attributed only to God. Certain truths have been revealed to humanity. God has revealed much of his character to us, as well as the pathway to salvation. However, humanity must acknowledge that much about God remains a mystery. Humanity must also acknowledge that God knows much more than we ever could. Certain things will only be known to God. Date-setters will claim, “God is giving us signs.” However, do you think that God would go against his word when he says that “no one knows save the Father alone?” Date-setting makes God to be a liar in this regard. It is due to this that I feel that date-setting comes close to, if not dives right into, the realm of blasphemy.

2. Eschatological date-setting causes an unnecessary “black-eye” to the Church. The second problem with date-setting is that failed so-called “prophecies” cause undo and unnecessary cynicism towards the Church. Many hold a resistance towards the Christian faith. Unfortunately, every failed date (as each predicted date will fail due to the truthfulness of God’s word) set by those who purport Christianity adds one more notch against Christianity for the skeptic. There is a simple solution. Stop setting dates and start focusing on the ministry of the church.

3. Eschatological date-setting redirects the known mission of the Church towards unknowable speculation. The third problem for date-setting is that such speculation unnecessarily redirects the known ministry of the church towards the speculative fascination found in eschatology. Eschatology is important, extremely important. The Church needs to know that Christ is going to return and that God is going to bring salvation and judgment in the end. However, the Church cannot forget the mission it has been given…to preach Jesus to a lost, dying world until he does return.

Conclusion

From the truths found in the Olivet Discourse to the problems found in end-times date-setting, one should see that the Christian should stay focused on what really matters. Focus on the ministry that has been given to us, while awaiting in glad trust and anticipation for the day that Christ will return. A person must ask oneself, will I place my trust in what God says about the end-times or will I trust the uncertain dramatization from the propagators of speculation? Along with John, we can say, “Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20)! But until he does, let us focus on the calling given to us by God, so that when he comes, we will hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

© September 26, 2015. Brian Chilton.

[1] I am using “prophecy” to refer to the suggestions of end-times date-setters, not the actual fulfilled prophecies provided in the text of the Bible, many of which have been fulfilled in startling detail.

[2] Found in the 1990 book The New Millennium: What You and Your Family Can Expect in the Year 2000.

[3] Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture comes from the English Standard Version (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001).

[4] This does not impede upon the divinity of Jesus. Even among the Godhead (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) there appear to be certain roles while all three still hold to their divine status.

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