Looking back at how Christians have viewed Christ’s second coming in the past, we find many people obsessed with figuring out all the details and making predictions.
Here is a quote: “The last days are upon us. Weigh carefully the times. Look for him who is above all time, eternal and invisible.” That statement was not made by a modern prophecy expert. That statement did not come from a religious TV. It was made by a Christian named Ignatius, who lived in 110 AD, just a few decades after 1 John was written.
Here is another quote: “There is no doubt that the Antichrist has already been born. Firmly established in his early years, he will, after reaching maturity, achieve supreme power.” That statement wasn’t made by a radio prophecy teacher. It was written by a Christian leader named Martin living in 375 AD.
In the year 236 AD, a church leader named Hippolytus predicted that Christ was sure to return by 500 AD.
The years between 999 and 1030 AD were characterized by excessive speculation about Christ’s second coming among Christians, so much so that it led to social chaos as farmers didn’t plant crops for the next year, buildings weren’t repaired, and the details of daily life were neglected because they thought Christ would return in their lifetime.
In the 1500’s the Protestant reformer Martin Luther said, “We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world will not last any longer… than another hundred years.”
Christopher Columbus said he was sure the world would end by 1656. The year 1666 saw an explosion in end time speculation, so much so that one pastor wrote in his journal that every time a storm hit, people would go to church to await Christ’s second coming.
In the 1800’s a Christian named William Miller said, “I am fully convinced that somewhere between March 21st, 1843 and March 21st, 1844 Christ will come.” When Miller’s date came and went, hundreds of people walked away from the Christian faith. If their pastor was wrong about that, what else was he wrong about?
In our own generation, many modern day prophecy experts guessed that 1981 would mark the rapture of the church and the beginning of the terrible seven year tribulation period that would culminate in the battle of Armageddon. Now as we near the year 2000, dozens of prophecy experts on Christian TV, radio, and in books are making new predictions related to the year 2000.
Christian historian Richard Kyle cautions us, “Through two thousand years of Western history, millions of sincere, devout, and knowledgeable people have seen the end as [about to happen in their own lifetimes]…But they have all been wrong.”