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Discovery Magazine 5/1/2005

When Will Christ Return?

by  Alden Bass

It was a breezy day in March, with a slight chill in the air. The anxious group huddled together on the hilltop, waiting. They had been waiting for this date, March 21, 1844, for nearly two years, and it was finally here. They had sold their possessions, quit their jobs, made robes out of pure white linen, and now they waited. They waited for Christ’s return.

As we all know, this group was bound for disappointment. Christ did not come back on March 21, or on October 22, which is the second date the leader of these people chose. William Miller believed he could predict the Second Coming using prophecies in the Bible, but instead of seeing Christ, all he saw was a handful of very disappointed people. This is not the only time someone has tried to predict Jesus’ return. The Jehovah’s Witnesses predicted it in 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, 1984, and 1994. Thousands of people expected to see the Lord on January 1, 1000, just as they did on January 1, 2000, and January 1, 2001. Hundreds of similar predictions have been made, based on numbers and phrases found in the Bible, but none has been accurate. Some examples are funny, such as the 1977 prediction based on the arrival of killer bees in Texas. Others are more serious, such as the 1666 prediction based on the hundreds of thousands of deaths in Europe from the Black Plague and war. One thing they all have in common, however, is that they completely ignore the Bible’s clear teaching on the Second Coming.

 Before His death, Jesus said, “Of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Even Jesus, while He was on Earth, did not know when He would return (Mark 13:32). Other passages also make it clear that God has intentionally withheld the time and date of His arrival. Peter said that Christ would come un-expectedly, “like a thief in the night” (2 Peter3:10). Back in A.D. 53, some of the Christians at Thessalonica seemed to worry that when Jesus came, He would leave behind those who had already died. Paul assured them that even those who had already died would not missJesus’ Second Coming, and he encouraged them to live every day as if it were their last.

God does not want us to know the time of the Second Coming, because He wants us to live for Him every day, not just for the few days before He returns. That’s one reason why it will be a surprise. Even though the time is a secret, when the great event does occur, everyone on Earth will know it. There will be a shout, the voice of the archangel, and the sound of a trumpet, and those who are prepared will meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16). Let us live every day as though it was the day Christ returns, so when that day actually comes, we will be ready!



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