Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Just When Will Yeshua the Messiah Return?
For centuries men -- some claiming to be prophets of YEHOVAH God -- have dogmatically stated that the Messiah would return on a certain date. However, none of these men have agreed with each other; and the dates they have proposed vary by as much as a 1,000 years! To present these guesses and theories as fact is a LIE of no mean proportions; and the results can be devastating to those who take them seriously. Such prophecy "experts" are nothing but religious charlatans who earn the eternal contempt of YEHOVAH God. Stay away from them and PROVE ALL THINGS! (I Thess. 5:20-21)
by John D. Keyser
On the night of October 30, 1938, Orson Welles presented a dramatic radio production which depicted an invasion from the planet Mars. The program was presented as though it was actually happening -- complete with "news" bulletins and "eye-witness reports" of the invasion and the resultant destruction of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States!
Before the program started Welles explained that it was only a play, but out of the approximately six million people who heard it, an estimated 2 million believed that the report was true! Radio stations, police headquarters and newspapers were swamped with hysterical calls.
September 11, 1909 was another time of mass fright when a certain Professor Wolf announced that Halley's Comet would leave death and destruction in its wake when it came close to the earth on May 18, 1910.
Some astronomers agreed with Wolf's conclusions; and one went so far as to say the comet's tail was composed of deadly cyanogen gas. Once again people panicked, and stuffed the cracks of their windows and doors with rags and old papers to keep out the poisonous fumes! Others bought tanks of oxygen while some figured they might as well eat, drink and be merry before the end came. Many prayed. However, the night of May 18, 1910, came and went -- and the hysteria was soon forgotten!
History is replete with times of mass hysteria connected with dates that have been variously set for the coming of Yeshua and the end of the world. In Matthew 24:36 Yeshua clearly said: "But of that day [when he returns] and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only." Mark 13:33 adds: "Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is." Nonetheless, men have repeatedly set dates over the centuries for this very event. Many have justified this practice by insisting that while we may not know "the year or hour," this does not mean we can't know the YEAR!
William Miller and the Adventists
In 1844 many thousands sincerely believed that Yeshua would return in that year. William Miller (from whom the Adventists trace their origins) is credited with setting the 1844 date. When Miller first came to the conclusion he knew when Yeshua would return, he mentioned it only to his wife and closest friends. For a long 13 years he remained silent and stayed on his farm. He continued, however, his study of the Biblical prophecies and attended the Baptist Church regularly.
Then, one day in 1831, he was asked by his neighbors to come to a nearby town and share with them his understanding on the second coming of Yeshua. Since Miller was a wellliked farmer in the area, the farmers and town people of New York and New England felt they could trust him since he was one of them.
Miller impressed the people with his sincerity and zealous conviction. The word spread quickly and thousands of Christians from various church denominations accepted his Advent teaching and the date of 1844. Not only had he set the year for the coming of Yeshau, but also the day -- October 22, 1844.
When the eagerly awaited day finally arrived, many thousands gathered in churches and meeting halls to await the end. Others remained quietly at home. "The daylight hours passed, then dusk and night. When the clock struck midnight, the failure of their hope was evident. Uncontrolled weeping, disappointment, and grief on every hand resulted. Concerning this time, one of the early Adventists wrote: 'Such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before...we wept and wept till the day dawned'" (Ralph Woodrow: His Truth Is Marching On. Pg. 8).
It has been claimed that those who awaited the 1844 date were dressed in white "ascension robes" and congregated on local hills to meet the returning Yeshua. However, careful investigation has shown that this was not the general practice. These people understood that a robe made with their own hands could not be the robe of righteousness referred to in the Bible.
But why, one might ask, was the date of 1844 taken as the time of Yeshua's return? The scripture that Miller derived his "understanding" from was Daniel 8:14, which reads: "And he said to me, 'For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.'" Miller interpreted the "sanctuary" to mean the earth -- that the earth would be cleansed by fire. And since the Bible elsewhere speak of Yeshua returning in "flaming fire," he convinced himself that the passage was a reference to the second coming of Yeshua. Deducing that the 2300 days symbolized 2300 years -- and that the prophecy should be measured from the same starting point as he had come up with for the 70 weeks (457 B.C.) -- he concluded that the 2300 years would stretch to the year 1844.
It is difficult to understand how so many normally careful people became convinced that October 22, 1844 was the correct date, for the whole theory was based on assumptions -- not plain Biblically-based statements: (1) It was assumed that the "sanctuary" meant the earth. (2) It was assumed that the "cleansing" of the sanctuary referred to the fire (Shekinah Glory) that will accompany Yeshua at his coming. (A careful reading of these verses in Revelation 19 point to YEHOVAH returning in the form of His Shekinah Glory -- not Yeshua). (3) It was assumed that the 2300 days symbolized 2300 years. (4) It was assumed that the prophecy started at the same time as the 70 weeks prophecy -- the latter being "cut off" from the former. It was by assuming all of these points that people came to believe in the 1844 date for Yeshua's return!
As for the date of October 22, this evidently stemmed from the belief that Yeshua would return on the Day of Atonement. But truth would have it that the Day of Atonement fell on September 23rd in that year -- not October 22nd! In The 2300 Day Prophecy of Daniel Eight, p.57, it is stated: "... in 1844 the correct date for the Day of Atonement was not October 22nd but September 23rd. This date has been verified over and over from the most authentic sources."
When the Messiah did not return at this time, some -- including Miller -- simply would not give up! They argued that the 1844 date was indeed correct, but that Yeshua on this date cleansed the heavenly sanctuary -- instead of the earth as they had supposed. While one Hiram Edson formulated this theory, Ellen G. White elaborated on it in the years that followed.
"In 1844, attended by heavenly angels," penned Ellen G. White, "our great High Priest entered the holy of holies, and there appears in the presence of God, to engage in the last acts of His ministration in behalf of man -- to perform the work of investigative judgment, and to make atonement for all who are shown to be entitled to its benefits" (Great Controversy, p. 546).
It seems clear that this teaching -- that Yeshua cleansed the heavenly sanctuary, began an investigative judgment and made atonement in 1844 -- was dreamed up to justify the mistaken date of 1844.
The Cleansing of the Sanctuary
Can we determine, from Daniel 8, what the correct interpretation about the sanctuary being cleansed after the 2300 days is?
In a nutshell, Daniel saw (in vision) a fight between a two-horned ram and a goat which had a horn between its eyes. Exactly what the ram symbolized is revealed in verse 20: "The ram which you saw, having the two horns -- they are the kings of Media and Persia." What the goat represented is found in the following verse: "And the male goat is the kingdom of Greece. The large horn that is between its eyes is the first king."
In the battle between the ram (Persia) and the goat (Greece), the vision revealed that the Grecian Empire would decisively win. History confirms this fact. The great horn on the goat which was "the first king" was, of course, Alexander the Great.
Next, Daniel saw that the horn (Alexander) would be broken, and four others would rise (verse 8). This is fully explained in verse 22: "As for the broken horn and the four that stood up in its place, four kingdoms shall arise out of that nation, but not with its power." True to the prophecy, the Grecian kingdom was divided into four parts when Alexander died at a young age. These four parts were ruled over by Lysimachus, Cassander, Seleucus and Ptolemy -- each assuming the title of king.
Continuing in the vision, Daniel saw the four horns of the goat "and out of one of them came a little horn which grew exceedingly great toward the south, toward the east, and toward the Glorious Land. And it grew up to the host of heaven; and it cast down some of the host and some of the stars to the ground, and trampled them. He even exalted himself as high as the Prince of the host; and by him the daily sacrifices were taken away, and the place of His sanctuary was cast down. Because of transgression, an army was given over to the horn to oppose the daily sacrifices; and he cast truth down to the ground. He did all this and prospered" (Daniel 8:9-12). This "little horn" would be a king that "shall arise, having fierce features, who understands sinister schemes. His power shall be mighty, but not by his own power; he shall destroy fearfully, and shall prosper and thrive; he shall destroy the mighty, and also the holy people. Through his cunning he shall cause deceit to prosper under his hand; and he shall magnify himself in his heart. He shall destroy many in their prosperity" (Daniel 8:23-25).
In short, this sinister king that would arise out of one of the four parts into which the Grecian Empire was divided, would destroy the holy people (YEHOVAH's people), would be powerful, would discontinue the daily sacrifice in the Temple in Jerusalem and defile the Holy of Holies. All of these things were fulfilled by the Greek king Antiochus Epiphanes.
Author Albert Barnes wrote: "All the circumstances of the prediction find a fulfillment in him, and if it were supposed that this was written after he had lived, and that it was the design of the writer to describe him by these symbols, he could not have found symbols that would have been more striking or appropriate than this" (Notes on Daniel, p. 344).
The cruel and blasphemous character of Antiochus Epiphanes is well known by all historians and Bible students. This "little horn" planned to exterminate the "holy people" without exception -- and many of them were indeed put to death. Onias the high priest was driven into exile and later killed in a cruel manner. After stopping the Jews from practicing their religion, Antiochus dedicated the Temple to the pagan god Jupiter and turned it into a whorehouse. Pigs were killed within the Temple walls and their blood poured over the furnishings of the holy place.
Now how long was this defilement of the Temple (sanctuary) and the casting down of the holy people to continue? This takes us back to verse 14: "And he said to me, 'For two thousand three hundred days; then the sanctuary shall be cleansed.'"
History has this to say about the cleansing of the sanctuary. Notice: "But Judas (Maccabee) and his brethren said, Behold, our enemies are discomfited: let us go up to cleanse the holy place, and to dedicate it afresh...and they went up unto mount Sion. And they saw the sanctuary laid desolate, and the altar profaned...and they rent their clothes, and made great lamentation...and they cleansed the holy place...And they took whole stones according to the law, and built a new altar after the fashion of the former...and offered sacrifice according to the law upon the new altar...And all the people fell upon their faces, and worshipped, and gave praise unto heaven, which had given them good success" (1 Maccabees, chapter 4). In this fashion was the sanctuary cleansed.
The total time of the persecution and defilement of the sanctuary was the period indicated by the prophecy -- "two thousand and three hundred days." There is more than enough information found within the historical writings of the Maccabees and Josephus to support this conclusion.
Maybe the reason many have by-passed all of this history and come to the wrong conclusion, and have sought to apply this prophecy to a time period just before the second coming of Yeshua, is because the Bible states that "at the time of the end shall be the vision" (Daniel 8:17). The vision, however, deals with two kingdoms -- both of which came to their "end" before Yeshua was revealed the first time. The little horn (Antiochus Epiphanes) was to rise from one of the four parts of the Grecian Empire "in the latter time of their kingdom" (verse 23). Clearly, we must conclude that the word "end" has to be understood within the framework of the plain statements of the text and the fulfillment which is now history.
There is absolutely no reason for stretching the 2300 days into 2300 years! There is no reason for applying the prophecy to a cleansing of the heavenly sanctuary in the year 1844. According to this theory, the 2300 years began in 457 B.C. and concluded in 1844 A.D. But what happened in 457 B.C. to defile the heavenly sanctuary? Was a Greek king removed from the heavenly sanctuary in 1844? Why would YEHOVAH in all His holiness allow His heavenly sanctuary to be defiled for all those years from 457 B.C. until 1844 A.D.? This makes no sense whatsoever.
Russell and the Jehovah Witnesses
There is another famous (or infamous) date that was set for the second coming of Yeshua and the end of Gentile rule. This was the year 1914. This date was set by Charles Taze Russell who founded the movement that is today known as the Jehovah Witnesses.
Writing 26 years before this date, Russell claimed that by 1914 "all present governments will be overthrown and dissolved" (Studies in the Scriptures, Vol. 2, p. 99). He also said that Yeshua "will then be present as earth's new Ruler"; and that "neither Israel nor the world of mankind...will longer be trodden down, oppressed and misruled by beastly Gentile powers. The Kingdom of God and his Christ will then be established in the earth" (p. 98).
Russell lived to see the year 1914 come and go, and to witness the failure of his prediction. How did he justify this failure? Writing in 1916 Russell stated: "The thought that the church would all be gathered to glory before October, 1914, certainly did have a very stimulating effect upon thousands, all of whom accordingly can praise the Lord -- even for the mistake" (ibid., foreword to Vol. 2).
Nonetheless the date of 1914 had been retained. Today Jehovah's Witnesses claim that the overthrow of Gentile power began in that year, and that Russell was wrong only in that he expected these things to happen more suddenly than they did. Of course, the Witnesses point out that World War I broke out in 1914.
Why was the date of 1914 chosen, you might ask? The Jehovah's Witnesses claim this was taught in Leviticus 26 where YEHOVAH told Israel that they would be blessed if they would obey him; but punished if they disobeyed: "And if ye will not for all this harken unto me, but walk contrary unto me; then I will walk contrary unto you also in fury; and I, even I, will chastise you SEVEN TIMES for your sins" (Leviticus 26:28).
Russell interpreted these "seven times" to mean seven symbolic years. Figuring that a year -- according to Biblical reckoning -- is 360 days instead of 365, seven times 360 would come out to be 2520 days. Taking these days as years, this would then be 2520 years. Now assuming, then, that the nation of Israel went into Gentile captivity under the hand of Nebuchadnezzar in 606 B.C., 2520 years from this date would bring us to 1914.
There are many flaws to this reasoning!
First off, if we study the Book of Leviticus we will find that the expression "seven times" does not appear once but four different times in this chapter. If the expression means 2520 years in one place, it should mean the same in others! If we multiply 2520 years by four -- does that mean the Israelites would be punished for 10,080 years?!
The fact of the matter is that YEHOVAH warned Israel of punishment, and if they did not repent they would be punished SEVEN TIMES AS MUCH. These references have absolutely nothing to do with periods of time, but with the severity of the punishment meted out!
If a young child is spanked and the parent warns of punishment seven times as hard -- this is a figure of speech expressing the severity of the punishment. And so should the expression in Leviticus 26 be understood. Why? Because this same expression is used 23 times in the Old Testament and is never used to express a measurement or period of time.
As well as the references in Leviticus 26, the expression is found in connection with sprinkling the anointing oil on the altar seven times (Lev. 8:11; 4:6, 17; 14:7, 16, 27, 51). We read that the Israelites marched around Jericho seven times (Joshua 6:4, 15); Elijah instructed his servant to go again to the mountain "seven times" (1 Kings 18:43); "The child sneezed seven times" (2 Kings 4:35); and Naaman dipped in the Jordan River seven times (2 Kings 5:10-14).
Trying to force one verse about "seven times" to have a completely different meaning than in any other place where it is used in the Bible is, to say the least, highly suspect!
The "Seven Times" of Leviticus
Let's play the devil's advocate for a moment: Let's suppose that the "seven times" in Leviticus actually means seven years. Let us also assume that these years were symbolic years and we could figure a year for a day. What sort of year, then, should we use? In other words -- how many days to a year should we figure?
In order to arrive at the number 2520, 360 days to a year are used -- not 365. This is based on scriptures such as Genesis 7:11, 24; 8:3, 4 in which we can determine that five months made up 150 days. This, obviously, would make these months average 30 days each -- or 360 days to a year. Not only that, but in Revelation 11:2,3; 12:6; 13:5, the terms 42 months and 1260 days appear to be used interchangeably. By dividing 42 into 1260 it is seen that a month in Biblical usage is 30 days -- a year being 360 days.
But here is the crux of the problem and the sheer inconsistency of the whole 1914 (and others) date: In order to arrive at the number 2520, years of 360 days must be used! Yet, in counting these years off to reach 1914, years of 365 days are used!
If a logical person is going to use the 360 day year to get the number 2520, then he should figure the prophecy on the same scale. But here's the problem -- this would not come out to 1914! Using this scale, the 2520 years would have been up way back in 1878! Or, if we were to use 365 days to a year, then seven times this would be 2555 years -- not 2520. This would have measured to 1944 -- 30 years after 1914!!
Only by using a 360 day year to figure the seven times, and then using a 365 day year by which to count, could anyone ever arrive at 1914! Such date setting is totally arbitrary.
Let's take a closer look at the Book of Leviticus. Observe the uses of the expression "seven times" in the other places it is used. Take a close look at the original Hebrew. Note the awkward jumbling of seven times into years and these broken down into days and these multiplied by years to get the figure of 2520 years. See how inconsistent it is to use a year of 360 days to get the number 2520 -- and then turning right around and figuring a date based on years of 365 days by our Gregorian calendar of today in order to arrive at 1914.
In spite of all this inconsistency, thousands expected the end to come in 1914 -- and thousands still claim that the date was correct, only instead of it being the very end, it was the beginning of the end, the last generation! It is amazing how the human mind works!
Some even attempt to link the "seven times" of Leviticus 26 with the "seven times" found in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (Dan. 4). However, the expression found in Daniel 4 is not translated from the same words as those used in Leviticus 26.
In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, he became insane and lived with the beasts of the field -- after which he recognized that YEHOVAH was the supreme ruler. There is no reason in this world to try and make these seven years mean 2520 years, because what was prophesied was plainly FULFILLED! Notice Daniel 4:28: "ALL this came upon the king Nebuchadnezzar." And now verse 33: "The same hour was the thing FULFILLED upon Nebuchadnezzar."
If the Book of Leviticus -- or the Book of Daniel for that matter -- gave the year of Yeshua's return, WHY did Yeshua say that he did not know the time of his return, but YEHOVAH only? If it was possible to determine the date of the second coming from the Old Testament, Yeshua would surely have known it!!
The Jehovah Witnesses, with their great zeal, have been plagued with numerous dates and theories based upon them. Joseph Rutherford (who succeeded Russell as leader of the movement) wrote a book entitled Millions Now Living Will Never Die, published in 1920. In this book he taught that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob would be resurrected in 1925 to be made the visible and legal representatives of the Kingdom of God here on earth. An expensive home -- Beth-Sarim (the "House of Princes" -- was built in San Diego, California to be occupied by these men. It was constructed like a fortress with thick walls and minimal windows. Guess what -- Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are not living there today!!
Date Setting Through the Ages
Let us now look at other dates that have been set over the centuries.
An early Christian writer by the name of Tichonius believed that Yeshua would return in 381 A.D. Now, what did he base this date on? In the Book of Revelation we read about "time, times and the dividing of time." Tichonius concluded that a "time" was a century; thus time, times and the dividing of time would equal (in his mind) three and a half centuries. Then figuring, evidently, the time of Yeshua's ministry as the beginning for these 350 years, he arrived at the year 381 A.D.!
Another gentleman named Hippolytus (170-236), and also one called Lactantius (250-330) reckoned the year 500 A.D. would be the time of the second coming of Yeshua. This was evidently based on some erroneous dates given in the Septuagint translation of the Old Testament.
Thousands believed the year 1000 would either mark the coming of Yeshua or the appearance of the Antichrist with the final judgment soon after. Coming to the conclusion that the 1000 years of Revelation 20 referred to the Christian era, it was widely supposed that the year 1000 A.D. (1,000 years from the supposed birth of Yeshua) would mark the end of that era. Some people sold houses and lands, joined religious orders -- and awaited the year 1000!
Abbo of Fleury claimed that as a youth he had listened to a preacher in Paris state that the Antichrist would appear in the year 1000 -- and that the end of the world would come shortly thereafter. "The rumor had filled almost the whole earth," he wrote. But guess what, the year 1000 came and went without the special events that had been predicted.
There was, of course, some doubt about the calendar. They realized, at that time, that the calendar could be off as much as three of four years from the actual date of Yeshua's birth. In light of this, some felt the year 1000 was only an approximate date; so when news came in 1009 of the Turkish conquest of Jerusalem, it was supposed the end was near.
Still others thought they had the answer: the Christian era began with the death of Yeshua, rather than his birth. This would place the end of a 1,000 year period at approximately 1033 A.D. When a horrible famine struck in this year many thought the end was upon them. In all these years between 1000 and 1033 there was much conjecture and predictions regarding dates -- to such an extent that many people were relieved when this whole era had passed!
Without a doubt, one of the outstanding numbers found in the Book of Revelation is 1,260 -- but certainly not a number by which we can figure which year Yeshua will come. It should come as no surprise, then, when we learn that Joachim of Floris (an Italian monk of the Middle Ages) taught that the year 1260 A.D. would mark the purification of the church and the beginning of Yeshua's reign on earth.
In actual fact, however, several dates were set -- all supposedly based on the number 1260. To the sorrow of many, 1260 years from the birth of Yeshua did not bring the end. Regrouping, some reasoned that it should be figured from the death of Yeshua -- which (in their reckoning) suggested a date of 1294 A.D. Alas, this also did not prove to be true!
Then someone came up with the bright idea that the date of John's writing of the Book of Revelation should be used as the starting point. Figuring now that John wrote the book in the year 96 A.D. -- though there is no real proof for this date -- some added 1,260 years to this and arrived at the date 1356 A.D. One Benedictus Aretius of Berne (1505-1547) counted the 1260 years from 312 (Constantine's legalization of Christianity) and came to the year 1572. Once again, a false alarm!
Then there was Michael Stiefel (1486-1567), a friend of Martin Luther, who preached that Yeshua would come in judgment at 8 am on October 19, 1533! Disregarding Luther's advice not to make such claims, Stiefel continued and the news spread far and wide. Three days before Yeshua's expected return, crowds began to gather to await the final hours. Stiefel administered the Lord's supper. When the appointed time past with no sign of Yeshua, the disappointment was great. Hard working farmers who had believed Stiefel had neglected their work and lost their harvest. He was bound with ropes and transported to Wittenberg, where some tried to sue him for damages. But alas, Stiefel had given away all his possessions and had nowhere to live. Luther came to Stiefel's rescue and took him into his home. A group of Anabaptists had also held the 1533 date -- believing the millennium would begin that year.
During the first half of the 17th Century a number of Jews held the belief that the Messiah would appear in the year 1648. During that year Sabbotai Zevi proclaimed himself to be the promised Messiah but, of course, the era of redemption that had been expected failed to materialize.
There were Christians scattered throughout various countries and church groups who expected the year 1666 to signal the end. Isaac Newton -- famous for his research on gravity -- set the date of 1715 for the second coming of Yeshua. William Whiston (translator of Josephus' work) also held this view. When this failed, Whiston moved the date to 1734. When this also failed, he projected it to 1766 -- a date he did not live to see.
The bizarre date-setting did not end here! Johann Albrecht Bengel (1687-1752) believed that 666 was the length of years the beast system would rule! Since another scripture in the Bible said it would be "forty two months," Bengel divided the one into the other and came up with each month equal to 15 6/7 years. Based on this he determined June 18, 1836 as the date of the overthrow of the Roman apostasy and the beginning of the millennium. It appears that John Wesley also favored this date. Even though such calculations now seem totally ridiculous, at that time quite a few people left their homes and moved to Southern Russia to await Yeshua.
One Joseph Wolff (1795-1862) -- who traveled more widely than any other man of his time with his theories about the return of Yeshua -- announced the soon coming of the Messiah throughout Asia, Africa, Europe and America. He even spoke before the assembled Congress of the United States, where his message was that Yeshua "died for our sins, rose again, went to heaven, and shall come again, according to my opinion, in the year 1847!" Just before one of his overseas trips, someone asked him: "What will you say, Mr. Wolff, when 1847 arrives, if the millennium does not commence?" To this he replied, "Why, I shall say that Joseph Wolff was mistaken." And mistaken he obviously was!!
It appears that Joseph Wolff picked the date of 1847 from a book written in 1774 by Johaan Philipp Petri. This date was evidently based on the same prophecy that Miller used -- the 2300 days of Daniel 8. Philo Britannicus thought that the ultimate establishment of the Kingdom of God would come in 1849. The Irvingites of England thought that Yeshua would come in the year 1864. Hans Wood (died 1803) began the 70 weeks and the 2300 days (figuring the days as years) at the same point! But since he figured the 70 weeks ended with the destruction of Jerusalem, his final date extended to 1880 as the end of the age and the beginning of the Kingdom of God. What confusion!
A certain "Mother Shipton" of the 16th Century arrived on the scene! Her date for the end of the world is contained in a poem she supposedly wrote:
Carriages without horses shall go, and accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the earth thoughts shall fly in the twinkling of an eye;
The world upside down shall be, and gold be found at the root of a tree.
Through hills man shall ride, and no horses be at his side.
Under water men shall walk, shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk.
In the air men shall be seen in white, in black, in green;
Iron in the water shall float, as easily as a wooden boat.
Gold shall be found and shown, in a land that's not now known.
Fire and water shall wonders do, England shall at last admit a foe.
The world to an end will come, in eighteen hundred and eighty one!
In actual fact, this edition of the poem was published in 1862 by Charles Hindley. It seemed that Mrs. Shipton, who had lived many years before, had predicted the automobile, telephone, the steam engine, the discovery of America, etc. However, in 1873 Hindley confessed that he had inserted these additional lines! Whatever insight Mrs. Shipton may have actually had, the folly of trying to date the end of the world is clearly seen!
To add to the list of false prophets, Joanna Southcott received much attention with her "visions" that predicted Yeshua would come on October 19, 1884. A well-known Boston pastor -- Edward D. Griffin -- spoke of "the complete establishment of the millennial kingdom" in about 1921 or 1922. This he publicly proclaimed in 1813 when the date was more than a century away. This man was a little different than most self-styled prophets who usually work dates to fit within a few years.
World War I, of course, brought its share of wacky date setting! The war ended on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month (November 11, 1918). More than a few believed the world had entered her Eleventh Hour and the "midnight" hour of Matthew 25:6, when Yeshua would come, could not be far off.
Moving to a more recent time, a man set the date of 1960. How, you might ask, did he arrive at that? Well, in the full tradition of wacky date setting, he reasoned that since there are seven churches mentioned in Revelation 2 and 3, each church must symbolize a century -- that is, a total of 700 years! The, by simple addition, he added 700 and 1260 to get the brilliant answer of 1960!! To be honest, such ridiculous date setting does not honor Yeshua or our Father YEHOVAH. And, on a human level, its effects have been spiritually disastrous for many, many people. If you love YEHOVAH and love your brethren, you will not take part in such faith-destroying exercises.
A number of people fully expected 1962 to bring the end. This was based, supposedly, on Daniel 12:10-13: "From the time that...the abomination that maketh desolation is set up, there shall be 1290 days. Blessed is he that waiteth, and cometh to the 1335 days...and stand in thy lot at the end of the days." According to this equally erroneous theory, the numbers must be figured as years. Then, it was figured that the "abomination that maketh desolate" was the Mohammedan invasion of Jerusalem and/or the building of the mosque upon the old Temple site. (Recent research has shown that the mosque was not, in fact, on the site of the Temple). According to a booklet that promulgated this theory, this invasion took place between 622 and 632 A.D. By taking a year more or less half way between these years, say 627, and adding the ever-present "1290 years," we arrive at the year 1917. This was the year that General Allenby ordered 100 planes to fly over Jerusalem and took the city without firing a single shot.
Then, on this very tenuous basis (that the 1290 years measured to 1917), it was taught that the second coming of Yeshua and the resurrection of the dead would take place 45 years after 1917 -- that is, 1962. This was based on the prophecy that said he would be "blessed" who would wait until the 1335 days and stand in his lot at the end of the days. Of course, according to this theory, the numbers must be figured as years. Now, when the year passed -- as it must -- those who held to this theory revised their booklets! They, in their great wisdom, found a way to stretch things out a little further! Figuring that the mosque which was supposedly built upon the Temple site was not completed until about 640 A.D., this was taken as the proper starting point. This stretched the date out to 1975 -- a date promulgated by Herbert W. Armstrong and the Worldwide Church of God. This date is now long past!
To continue in the bizarre, back in 1962 a man gave the year 1964 as the date for the end of the world. His whole teaching was simple (about as simple as the man himself, I would say) -- the date of 1844 that had been accepted by thousands of people was not the end of the world, but marked the beginning of the end! This was then compared to the days of Noah when YEHOVAH warned there was to be 120 years before the destruction of the flood would come. So, from 1844 (which marked the beginning of the end) until the actual end of the world would also be 120 years -- that is, 1844 plus 120 years or 1964! Ad nauseam!
One man claimed that Yeshua would return at sunrise on Easter morning of 1969. This poor, deluded man failed to take into consideration the difference in times zones around the world! Would this result in multiple returns?!!
A magazine once gave an account of a dream in which the earthly scene was changed from that of pollution and sin into a virtual paradise. After telling of this dream, the writer claimed: "I marveled at the radiantly glorious panorama before me. Suddenly, in final clarity, this date appeared before me: 1978!!!" The article then went on to mention that this date was based on the date set by William Branham.
Strangely (or is it?) the date suggested by William Branham was 1977 -- not 1978! Here are his words: "I sincerely believe and maintain as a private student of the Word, along with divine inspiration that 1977 ought to terminate the world system and usher in the millennium" (Branham, Seven Church Ages, p. 322). His claim -- as is that of false prophets and ministers of today -- was that while no man knows the day nor hour, this does not mean we would not know the year!
One radio preacher went so far as to say that while we may not know the day, this does not mean we can't know which NIGHT it will be!! Talk about stretching credulity! His weird claim was that Yeshua will come on the night of the Day of Atonement. In order to be ready for this event, he insisted, a person must be awake and watching -- physically and literally -- on this night! I know of a bridge in Brooklyn, New York that I would like to sell you!
Writes Ralph Woodrow: "Dates that are set for around the year 2,000 are based on the 6,000 year theory. Basically, this teaching is as follows: since the scriptures speak of six days of work and the seventh as the sabbath, and since the scriptures say that a day is with the Lord as a thousand years, some believe 6,000 years of human history will mark the end of the age, to be followed by a thousand years of rest. This teaching appeared for the first time in the ancient book called 'Secrets of Enoch' (chapter 32). Later it was referred to in the 'Epistle of Barnabas'" (His Truth Is Marching On, p.22).
While the Bible does say that "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years," it also says that "a thousand years [are] as one day" (2 Peter 3:8). This does not prove in any way that a day equals a thousand years -- any more than it could prove that a thousand years equals a day. It simply means that YEHOVAH is not limited by our ideas of time.
It is generally understood that Yeshua was born approximately 4,000 years after the creation of Adam -- and that the end of this present century will mark the close of 6,000 years. But according to the Jewish reckoning creation was October 7, 3761 B.C. -- see the article "Chronology" in the Encyclopedia Britannica. If this is correct, then the year 6,000 could still be almost three centuries away! It seems that this date is probably just as inaccurate as all the other dates we have looked at -- the Jewish calendar, in all likelihood, originated in the astronomical calendar which falls in the lifetime of Seth. Archbishop Ussher calculated that the 6,000 years would end in 1995. Still another author on Bible chronology (Russell) figured the end would come in 1873, and another around 1959 (Mauro).
There was a teaching prevalent some years ago that claimed a major event happens every 2,000 years: Two thousand years after the creation of Adam, there was the deluge. Two thousand years after this, Yeshua was born. Two thousand years more would undoubtedly be the second coming of Yeshua. It sounds pretty good -- except for one problem: From the creation of Adam to the flood was 1,656 years -- not 2,000 years.
To step up the level of absurdity a notch, some dispensationalists believe the Jews are "God's clock." Before 1948 they taught that the prophetic clock had quit running because the Jews were out of their land. As soon as the Jews would return to Palestine (with their own nation) however, the rapture of the saints would take place, they asserted. Well, as we all know, this hypothesis experienced embarrassment in 1948 when the nation of Israel was established. To hide their embarrassment some quickly added that the church was not taken up because only a part of Jerusalem was in "Jewish hands." This theory was completely blown out of the water in 1967 when the Jews captured the whole city in the famous Six Day War.
Some now teach that the "generation" which saw the Jews become a nation will live to see the second coming of Yeshua. Calculating a generation as 35 years (see Job 42:16), they have added this to 1948 to get the year 1983. Unfortunately (for their theory's sake), some who held this view taught the "rapture" would occur seven years before 1983. They have now had to recant -- for it did not happen in 1976.
Those who wish to continue in the setting of dates should realize that these things are only GUESSES or THEORIES -- and to present them as fact is a lie of no mean proportions. When dates are promoted in such a dogmatic way, as we see so-called "prophets of God" doing today, the results can be catastrophic to people who take them seriously. People have lost their homes, their farms -- and even their lives. Who hasn't read newspaper accounts of cults or groups who would set a date then lock themselves up in a house, or escape to some remote area to await the end? Some groups have literally seen the end as they committed mass suicide under the influence of some wildeyed "prophet."
A study of history presents some important lessons if we would only heed them. For example, take a book published in 1951. This book tried to pin-point 1953-54 as a time of special significance -- "a supreme climax" as the author put it. He was careful, however, not to say this would be the year Yeshua would come, but an unwary reader could easily have gotten this impression. He claimed that the Korean War (which was then raging) would more than likely spread until it became universal and lead right on up to Armageddon.
How in the world did he arrive at the year 1953-54 as an important time of prophecy? One of his "points" was that World War I broke out in the year 1914 -- and it was during this war that Palestine was made a homeland for the Jews. So, without batting an eyelid, he added 40 years to this date (taking 40 years as the Biblical length of a generation) and arrived at 1954! History shows us that Palestine was freed from the Turks in 1917, but this would not fit with his theory -- so he used the beginning of the war as his starting point! To add foolishness to foolishness, he further pointed out that our present calendar was inaugurated in 46 B.C. by Julius Caesar. Three cycles of 666 (omitting the year dropped in crossing from B.C. to A.D.) would run out in 1953-54!
To further test peoples' credulity, he stated that the Mohammedan era began in 622 A.D. Two cycles of 666 years would run out in the year 1953-54! Also, the Julian period which began, according to the astronomers, in 4713 B.C. would be in its 6666th year in 1953-54!
And then to top it all off (if this were indeed possible!) he claimed that two of the main numbers in the Book of Revelation -- 666 and 1260 -- total 1926 when added together. Adding 1926 to the time Yeshua began his ministry (27-30 A.D.) would bring us, once again, to the year 1953-54!
Stay Away From Vain Babblings
It should be readily apparent by now that such methods of interpretation are, to put it mildly, a little bizarre! But some people, it appears, become so infatuated with these things that they lose all balance and wander off into never-never land! If a date doesn't fit one way, they will fight and wrestle it, and stretch it out until it fits another way. I appeal to all Christians -- especially young Christians and new converts -- do not be alarmed or taken in by such calculations. While Paul said "Despise not prophesyings," he added in the next verse -- "PROVE ALL THINGS"! (1 Thess. 5:20-21). These two statements go together.
The history of date setting just covered in this article reveals the INCONSISTENCY of attempting to set dates for the second coming of Yeshua. But -- and note this well -- the SAME METHODS of interpretation that have produced these impossible dates are employed by some today who pretend to understand the Bible in such a way that they can give a detailed account of world events for the next several years. Such prophecy "experts" are nothing but charlatans who earn the eternal contempt of YEHOVAH God. Such prophecy "experts" who automatically appear to have a superior knowledge of the Bible are nothing but liars who have led many people away from YEHOVAH's truth to believe things that are a fabrication. Stay away from them!
In spite of the fact that many dates have been set -- and have failed -- we urge all Christians everywhere to keep alive the hope of the grand and glorious coming of BOTH Yeshua AND the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH his Father to reside on this earth and usher in a time of peace and prosperity such as this world has never witnessed! We should be content to leave the "times and seasons" in YEHOVAH's hands -- believing that some things He reveals, and some things He keeps from our view. We should seek to "occupy until he comes" and not live in constant fear about trying to escape to Petra, or Israel, or some place out in the desert! We do not pretend to know the day nor hour -- nor the year! -- of His coming. We do believe, however, that with every breath we take His arrival is getting closer all the time. As Paul wrote, "for now our salvation is nearer than when we first believed" (Romans 13:11), and with Peter we look forward to that glorious day when there shall be a "new heaven and a new earth in which righteousness dwells" (2 Peter 3:13).
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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