Timothy S. Morton
we posted this article some of the brethren have taken issue
with me for my position. That's not unusual. However, I did some
research on the decree to build Jerusalem dates, the crucifixation
dates, and the "prophetic years" claims and came up with a little more
information. Most of the updates are in "The Formula Analyzed"
of the Past
to know the likely date of the rapture is not a new concept. Many
believers in the past have conjured up usually complex formulas
designed to pin down the day or even hour of the Lord's return for His
saints. Obviously, hindsight proves them all to be failures.
Probably one of the most notable date setters in the not too
distant past was Baptist, William Miller. As Thomas Ice describes,
the 2300 days from Daniel 8:14 when "the holy place will be properly
restored" and turned them into years. Miller's starting year was 457
B.C., the time when Nebuchadnezzar profaned the Temple in Jerusalem.
When you add them up you arrive at the year 1843 as the time of
Christ's second coming. But when that year came and went, like any
other year, it was discovered that a year had been left out for the
shift from B.C. to A.D., thus 1844 was the true year. However, it too
came and went and Miller's scheme became known as the "Great
Those who followed Miller later formed the "Seventh Day Adventist"
Another notable "seer" was Charles Taze Russell. Although he made some
predictions for earlier dates [1874, 1878, 1881, 1910], 1914 was
supposed to be the definitive year Christ was to return and
"Armageddon" occur. Well, Christ didn't return then and instead World
War 1 started. As many of you may know, Russell was founder of the Watchtower Bible and
Tract Society which later
became the Jehovah's
Witnesses. In spite of this
failure the JW's have not given up on the prediction business. They
officially predicted Christ would return in 1918, 1925, 1941, 1975,
1984, and 1994. History has shown their track record is impeccable.
They have been consistently wrong without exception.
Neither Miller or Russell believed in the Pre-tribulation rapture. Thus
they were not predicting the rapture in itself but the date of the
second advent or the coming of the Lord to earth.
Your author remembers when he first became a Christian in 1980 that
prophecy was an amazing and exciting topic. Most new believers are
enthralled with prophecy and as a result are somewhat gullible. They
want to know all they can as fast as they can know it and
they can be led down a vain or unprofitable path that will effectively
sidetrack them from a balanced Christian life. He will sometimes tend
sacrifice what some consider "dull and mundane" doctrinal studies for
flashy and exciting "biblical predictions" and date setting.
Unfortunately, there are "Christian leaders" out there to encourage
them in their [mis]adventures.
One of the most prominent and visible prophecy teachers is
Jack Van Impe. I remember listening to Van Impe in the early 80s and
some of his prophecy messages were mesmerizing. He would talk about the
rapture, tribulation, mark of the beast, millennium, new heaven and new
earth, etc., and this was
manna to the ears of a new believer. He seemed to have a good grasp of
what the Bible said about the future. However, Van Impe also liked to
set dates. He did not set specific days the Lord would return but
general dates such as the year. I remember him saying in the mid 80s he
thought Christ would come in the late 80s. In the late 80s he said the
early 90s looked excellent. In the early 90s he specifically said 1996
looked like it would be the year, and on and on. Van Impe usually kept
the rapture 2 or 3 years ahead until recently. Now he says it looks
like the second advent will be 2018 making the rapture occur
around 2011. He gets this by saying a generation is 51 years and dates
that from the recapture of Jerusalem in 1967.
Another date-setter who got even more press than Van Impe for a while
was Edgar Whisenant. He wrote a book in 1988 called, "88 Reasons the Rapture
is in 1988." He concocted
88 reasons why the rapture would occur during the Jewish feast of
Rosh-Hashana which was September 11-13 that year. Whisenant was so
confident his calculations were correct that it is reported he said, "If there were a king in
this country and I could gamble with my life, I would stake my life on
Rosh Hashana 88."
His confidence apparently affected others as well because Paul and Jan
Crouch of the Trinity Broadcast Network swallowed it whole [no
of airing their nightly Praise the Lord television
talk show, they ran videotapes of prerecorded shows dealing with the
rapture. For non-Christians who might be watching, the revised
programming included specific instructions on what to do in case
Christian family members or friends disappeared and the world was
thrust into the tribulation."
Whisenant sold over
million copies of his book, but when the time came and went, he began
damage control. As another said, "when
nothing happened by the end of September 13, Whisenant revised his
prediction, suggesting the rapture would come at 10:55 AM on September
15. When that failed, he revised it to October 3." After that he
admitted he made a "miscalculation" of one year and insisted the
rapture would occur in 1989. He even wrote another book to "prove" it.
However, the damage was done. Few believers wanted to take that ride
again. Whisenant has since fizzled into obscurity.
There have been many other rapture date setters of note: J. R. Church [
Prophecies in the Psalms], Harold Camping, and Peter Ruckman. I
personally heard Peter Ruckman during the fall of 1988 in Mt. Airy,
North Carolina give nearly an hour long message filled with reasons why
the rapture would occur in May of 1989. It was a very interesting and
powerful message. Ruckman made one stipulation throughout his message,
though. He said his "best guess" is it would occur in May "If
our calender is right." That was his only variable. I went back to Mt.
Airy the next October to hear his explanation. He basically said our
calender "must not be right" and went on. Now Ruckman suggests the Lord
has stopped "prophetic time" since the year 2000. One thing I learned
is even the most seasoned and learned Bible teachers can be caught up
in setting dates—and get them wrong. For a large list of
date-setting through the ages click here.
Next "Certain" Date
Recently I have began getting emails from people [along with all the
junk I get] asking me about the new-fangled 14000 day generation and
One fellow in particular, Stuart Cobbs, who fancies himself a prophecy
expert and contends his "gift from the Lord is an understanding of
Bible prophesy" has flooded me with emails that supposedly
prove the rapture must occur between October 3-5 of 2005. As usual with
these fellows, he writes to ask me a question and when I answer it he
then feels compelled to show me where I am wrong. Of a truth I can be
wrong and am wrong on some things [if I knew what they were, though, I
would change them. However, I know there are plenty of you out there
willing to show me], but these fellows can't seem to get anyone to
listen to them so they cruise the "net" looking for people to debate
Just like most of the other formulas that prove the date of the
rapture, Cobbs' idea is about as firm as a wet dishrag. He claims,
reason I believe Rosh-Hashana 2005 is the most scripturally grounded
date for the Rapture of the Church is because of the seemingly
incredible coincidence that Rosh-Hashana 2005 is exactly
from the recapture of Jerusalem on June 6, 1967. What is even more
incredible is that there are two additional 14000 day generations
mentioned in the Bible. It is fastinating that the two most important
generations in the history of the Jewish people were the Wilderness
generation and the generation which rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Both
of these generations were exactly 14000 days. It truly appears to me
that God is showing us something with the 14000 day timelines which all
Christians should understand!"
has established a "generation" as 14000 days. He goes into the
Testament and "proves" to himself at least that from the time the
Israelites crossed the Red Sea to the time Joshua crossed the Jordon
River was exactly 14000 days. From this contention he arrives at the
|69 weeks of years x 7 = 483
March 15, 445BC [decree to rebuild Jerusalem] plus 173880
days is April 6, 32 AD Palm Sunday
Jesus rides into Jerusalem April 6, 32 AD Palm Sunday
Destruction of temple August 5, 70 AD
Time interval is 14000 days or 2000 weeks.
14000 days or 38.8 Jewish ( 360 days/yr)
Israel recaptures Jerusalem on June 6, 1967
to Rosh Hashanah October 5, 2005
Time interval is 14000 days or 2000 weeks.
14000 days or 38.8 Jewish ( 360 days/yr)
That is, since Christ's triumphal
entry into Jerusalem to the
destruction of Jerusalem is
supposedly 14000 days, and from Israel's recapture of Jerusalem in 1967
to Rosh Hashana 2005 happens to be 14000 days, this must be a proof of
the rapture. Actually it only proves that a person can manufacture
dates to say pretty much whatever he wants.
this email was, I do not place
confidence in the
various timelines and dates that some of the brethren dwell
There are too many variables. It is easy to adjust the systems to
correspond with nearly any preconceived date or time period. We are
likely in the "times and seasons," but we don't know the "day or the
hour." And that's a fact. I
don't waste time trying to
determine something that cannot be absolutely determined. Why major in
a minor that can't be resolved?
suspected my answer to his system was not sufficient for such a
gifted scholar, and he replied ridiculing me. He implied I was "asleep"
to the truth and too "scared" to reveal it. That is nothing new. Many
of the brethren resort to ridicule and mockery when somebody pulls the
pacifier out of their mouth. All they want to do is debate and argue
about things that cannot be known or changed. I wrote him back with two
basic Scriptural challenges. I asked, where
in the Bible does it say a believer should seek to find the date of the
rapture, and where is there
any precedent in the Bible of anyone doing so?
As usual he
refused to answer them. These fellows seldom to let scriptural
principals get in their way of finding "the truth."
A brief look at the 14,000 day generation formula reveals many
potential variables and problems.
- Over and over again the Bible
time the Israelites wandered
in the wilderness was 40 years, not 14000 days [Ex. 16:35; Num
14:33-34, 32:23; Deut. 2:7; Josh. 5:6; Acts 7:36, 42; etc.].
- Although there is some consensus
March 15, 445 BC was the day Nehemiah was allowed to rebuild Jerusalem
[Neh. 2:6-7; Dan. 9:25], it is
not certain. Bullinger insists it was 454 BC.
- Furthermore, the statement in
Daniel 9:25 could refer to either of two other statements in the Bible.
One around 538 BC when Cyrus, King of Persia, issued a decree to
Zerubbabel to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chronicles 36:22-23;
Ezra 1:1-3; and Ezra 6:1-5). And another around 457 BC when
Artaxerxes, King of Persia, issued a decree to Ezra authorizing him to
reinstitute the Temple services, appoint judges and magistrates, and
teach the Law (Ezra 7:11-26). Some contend the 457 BC decree is the one
to measure from. Here
- Likewise it is highly
that April 6, 32 AD
was the day Christ road into Jerusalem. Isaac Newton the great
physicist, mathematician, and theologian through extensive
astronomical, mathematical, and scriptural research claimed Christ was
likely crucified on April 23, 34 AD. However, he said it could have
been in 33 AD. Because Jewish months always begin on the new moon,
many today insist only the years 30 AD and 33 AD are possible for the
date because they allow a Friday Passover. 31 AD, however, has a
Wednesday Passover. This allows for three full days and nights between
Wednesday. and Sunday. A quick check on the US Naval
Observatory website shows in 32 AD Passover would have been on a Monday! Quite
impossible. I haven't wasted much time researching this myself. If the
important the Lord would have included it in the Scriptures.
Nevertheless, it is clear the date of the crucification is not known
with much certainty.
- Cobb and his ilk insist a year
is not 365 days in the Bible but 360 days. They call this a "prophetic
year." This idea was promoted in Sir Robert Anderson's book "The Coming
Prince" published in 1894. Anderson could not get his dates to match up
right and thus used the "prophetic year." Even with that the dates
are still off by three days as any good calender conversion tool will
show. Many Fundamentalists over the years have swallowed Anderson's
claims "hook, line and sinker," "prophetic days" and all, but his
calculations are full of holes. Often the excuse is used that the Jews
have a lunar calender thus 12 times 30 days is actually a 360 day
year, but this is just ignorance manifested. The Jews do have a lunar
month, but they have on average a solar year. The sum of their months
adds up to a 354 day year [12 times 29.5 days], but every few years
they add an extra month [called an "intercalary month"] to the year to keep the months synchronized with the
year. Otherwise after a few decades the winter months would be in the
summer. Christmas —uh— Hanukkah in July anyone? It can be
said that Jews have short years and long years, but on average the
years are 365.25 days long.
- Most do agree that the date of
destruction of Jerusalem was
August 5, 70 AD, but so what? It's not 14000 days from anything
- True the Israeli military
Jerusalem on June 6, 1967, but
what does this mean? Some today, including Cobbs, insist this was the
end of the "times of the Gentiles" [Luke 31:24], but this is
short-sighted nonsense. As any unbiased observer can see the Gentiles
are still in power and in control of the world. The Jews can barely
retain their little speck of land in Palestine and have given up
control of the Temple Mount to the Gentile Arabs!. It is the definitive
spot of Jerusalem. This is a far cry
from them being the premier nation on earth at the expense of the
Gentiles. This will not occur until their Messiah returns and destroys
the Gentile Beast at Armageddon and sets up His throne in Jerusalem.
Then one can truly say the "times of the Gentiles" have been
- What does a Jewish feast called
Rosh-Hashana have to do with the
Body of Christ? Nothing. The 7 feasts belong to the Jews. The Church
does not fulfill any of them. The church was a mystery until Paul [Rom.
16:35-36; Col. 1:25-27], and is a separate entity from Israel,
thus it has no application to the strictly Jewish feasts. Furthermore,
you will look in vain in the
Scriptures for a feast called "Rosh-Hashana." Leviticus 23 gives the
details about the Jewish feasts and there is no Rosh-Hashana.
Rosh-Hashana is a modern Jewish feast based on tradition and not the
Scriptures. Jews claim Lev. 23:23-24 mentions it, but this is
the Feast of Trumpets.
Danger of Date Setting
There are several detrimental consequences to setting a date for the
rapture. Among them are,
Turns Believers From Faith to Sight
Instead of living a life pleasing to God because of what He has done
for them and because of faith in the truth of the Scriptures,
date-setting leads people to trust in viable signs. There would be
little living by faith. Also, if the rapture is not going to meet the
Lord until a certain date in the future, there is little incentive to
"get right" until that time gets close.
Turns From Hope to Disappointment
failures of the Date-Setters causes some to become doubtful and
disappointed. They were built up for a huge event and then become
dejected when it fails to come to pass.
Causes God's Word to Be Mocked And Ridiculed
have a field day reminding believers of the failure of their
"prophecy." They mock and ridicule both the believers and their Bible.
Distracts Believers From What They Should Be Doing
Instead of inventing elaborate schemes
to "predict" the rapture,
believers should spend their time doing what the Scriptures clearly say
for them to do: pray, study doctrine, seek lost souls, and help the
Bible Believers Attitude
Toward The Rapture
Bible Believers have always rightly contended that the rapture was
imminent. Prophetically nothing else must occur before the Lord comes
FOR His saints. This position is based on verses like the following,
above passages make it clear: there are no signs the Church must
wait for before the Lord's return for His saints in the rapture........
wait a minute,...... I do know of one—no, three!
They are found in 1 Thes. 4:16, "For
the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a
with the VOICE
of the archangel, and with the TRUMP
of God: and the dead in Christ SHALL RISE
"So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord
plainly says the Corinthians were waiting for the Lord. Not for a date,
the Tribulation, or anything else.
our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the
Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:"
As another said, "This
verse strongly emphasizes that our focus is upon waiting for Christ,
which would exclude knowing the time of His arrival. For if the time of
His coming could be known, then we would be waiting for a certain day
or hour. Instead, eager waiting for a person implies that timing is not
And to wait for
from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered
us from the wrath to come.
How much plainer do you want it? We are to wait on Christ, not wrath.
yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief
in the night.
For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction
cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall
But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake
you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are
not of the night, nor of darkness.
Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be
For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are
drunken in the night.
But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of
faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our
Lord Jesus Christ,
Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live
together with him.
the lost the Lord will come unexpectedly like a thief. But to believers
who are expecting Him and do not sleep, Christ will not come "as a
thief" This does not mean that we are prepared because we know
the date of His return, instead we are not surprised because we are
expecting an imminent rapture.
for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and
our Saviour Jesus Christ;
Our Blessed Hope is the imminent return of Christ in the rapture. We
are to look for Christ Himself, not signs relating to His coming.
gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the
grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
focus should be on Christ and His coming, not circumstances which we
may think indicate His return.
yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus
Christ unto eternal life.
again believers are to be looking for the Savior, not for signs.
Before the rapture
be a resurrection and before the resurrection there will be a shout and
a blast from a trumpet. All of
this will likely be less than 30 seconds. So, dear Christian, when
you hear a shout that is capable of raising the dead, a trumpet sound
like you have never heard before, and see bodies of long
dead saints coming from the earth and racing to met with
Christ in the sky, then you can determine the date of the rapture with
the utmost certainty—while you are racing up to heaven right