Have you ever tried to figure out when Jesus is coming back? If you have, join the crowd because many people have attempted to figure this out over the years. This should not necessarily disturb you because it is quite natural to wonder when Jesus is coming back. Even the disciples wanted to know when Jesus would return and asked Him what would be the sign of His coming (Matthew 24:3).
This desire is not strange or unusual because people have been wondering about the return of Jesus since He told people He was coming back some day. While it’s okay to wonder, it’s not okay to speculate and make predictions about when this is going to happen. Beyond being a terrible thing to do it is also a dangerous thing to do and I want to share with you why it’s dangerous to predict the timing of the second coming of Jesus.
1. Every prediction will be wrong
I don’t want to leave any speculation here. Anyone who makes a prediction about the timing of Christ’s second coming is going to be wrong. Notice I didn’t say could be wrong or might be wrong. I said they will be wrong. You don’t have to be a Bible scholar or know how to translate Greek to understand that no one can predict when the rapture is going to happen. Here are three simple Scriptures that underscore this point.
Matthew 24:36 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”
Matthew 24:42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.”
Matthew 24:44 “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.”
These three verses all agree on one thing; no one knows when Jesus will return. The last time I checked no one means no one. There is no Bible scholar, preacher, or teacher that can tell you when this is going to happen. So not only is it dangerous to make such predictions, it’s also just as dangerous to listen to those who do. In fact, you can completely ignore anyone who attempts to suggest when Jesus is coming back, because according to the Bible, it is going to be wrong.
History has given us a long list of people who have attempted to predict Jesus’ coming and all they have done is prove that what Jesus said is true. They couldn’t get it right and this should not surprise you because Jesus said no one can and that is not going to change anytime soon.
2. We are called to be disciple-makers, not sign-watchers
One of the last instructions Jesus gave before He left the earth was to go and make disciples of all nations. The expectation was that we who are believers would continue doing this work until He comes again. In one of the last conversations Jesus had before He ascended into heaven, the disciples asked Jesus about restoring the kingdom to Israel. Pay close attention to Jesus’ response.
Acts 1:7-8 “He said to them: ‘It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.’”
After their question, Jesus redirected their attention to what is most important right now. Don’t worry about times and dates but be filled with the Holy Spirit so you can be my witnesses in the earth. After He said that, He was taken away and I love the angel’s response:
Acts 2:11 “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
Here is my interpretation of what the angels were saying.
“Stop looking up at the sky and get to work. There is a lot that needs to be done before Jesus comes back and that work starts now.”
People that spend their time making predictions or trying to figure out what all the signs mean ultimately get distracted. They usually end up not doing what God wants us to do which is to preach the gospel and make disciples with the power and strength of the Holy Spirit. In other words, don’t be a sign-watcher be a disciple-maker.
3. You may damage someone else’s faith
Aside from being wrong, the next reason why it’s dangerous to make end-times predictions is that it can damage someone’s faith. Perhaps one of the more well-known predictors of the end of the world was Harold Camping. In his lifetime he made somewhere in the range of 13 specific end-times predictions. Because he had a big following, his predictions caused people to respond. As a result of his false predictions people sold possessions, donated money to his organization, and made choices all because they followed the speculation of a man who more than once had gotten it wrong.
People who engage this kind of speculation run the risk of ruining people’s lives now and possibly damaging their faith altogether. What do you say to the person who sold everything and gave their money away because they listened to someone who convinced them Jesus was coming back on a certain date? When the predictor is proven wrong how do you begin to repair the life and the faith of someone who listened to them?
4. You are dishonouring the name of Jesus
Perhaps the greatest reason why it’s most dangerous to speculate and offer end-times predictions is that in doing so we bring shame and ridicule to the name of Jesus. When a person makes a prediction and it is wrong, which we already know it will be, who ends up looking bad in the process? Sure, the person looks foolish and is discredited, but even more so, Jesus is dishonoured and the doctrine of His second coming looks weak and foolish. You must understand, that simply proclaiming Jesus is going to return brings with it its own set of scorn and shame which we are reminded of in Scripture. We don’t need to add to that by speculating when, where or how!
2 Peter 3:3-4 “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, ‘Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.’”
Some people are already scoffers, let’s not do anything to make them even more sceptical.
Since it is dangerous to guess and make predictions, how then should you talk about the second coming of Jesus? The best way is to follow the lead of Jesus Himself. In the book of Revelation one of the last things Jesus said was this.
Revelation 22:20 “He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’”
Remember Jesus said this 2,000 years ago, so whenever you talk about the return of Jesus, this is all you ever need to say. Jesus is coming soon. Soon means you know He’s coming but you don’t know when. Soon means because you know He’s coming you will be ready. Soon means because He can come at any time you want to be doing what He expects of you when He comes.
Soon could be in the next thirty minutes, the next thirty years, the next three centuries, or even longer than that. Regardless it is going to happen soon. Your job and mine is not to make predictions or promote speculation as so many have foolishly tried to do and failed. We must simply do what He has asked us to do until He comes or until He calls us home, both of which could happen soon.