by Rev. Ed Schneider
Have you ever noticed that periodically folk try and convince either themselves or scores of others that they have inside information relating to “the mind” of God? You know the folks I’m referring to, don’t you? The individuals I am referring to are those who desperately try to convince the world around them that they somehow know the exact time and place of the Biblically professed time of Jesus’ return. With each passing example of false or failed predictions concerning the return of Jesus there continues, in the minds of many, a growing sense of evitable failure or fraud within the very foundations of the Christian faith.
If we believe the Bible to be true, and this preacher certainly does, then why is it so many people have tried over and over again to find secret knowledge hidden under the words of scripture instead of living within the depths of the living Word that thrives on the throughout the pages of the Bible.
So, what I am going to try and demonstrate within today’s sojourn down biblical road of understanding is the futile nature of trying to out-think The Divine. At the end of this reading I will let you decide whether or not it is a good idea to follow those who may tell you they know “the mind” of God.
Our Bible’s clearly tell us that no one knows the time or the exact place of the return of Jesus. Yet time after time, generation after generation, and situation after situation someone is prompted to think they know the inner secrets of God’s intention through some “special knowledge” of scripture. Some of these “special knowledge” folk are good intended although remarkably and disastrously wrong, while others are fraudulently misleading earnestly searching individuals for their own personal gain.
Ironically, the folks being so easily fooled are the same people who claim to have great belief in the Bible. What seems painfully obvious is that the foundational reason why these people continue to be fooled about what the Bible says and means is because they haven’t read the Bible, the whole Bible….in context….for themselves. They seem to have the common emotional fear of the future. They are trying to make sense of both current circumstances and the recent past. They are searching out any “way” or any “spiritual leader” who will be able to give the answers necessary to make sense out of a world that seems to constantly challenge the known perception of right and wrong.
Here are just a few examples of false predictions by folks who should have known better.
- The Roman theologian Sextus Julius Africanus claimed that the end of the world would happen 6,000 years after the Creation. He made the assumption that there were 5,531 years between the Creation and the Resurrection, and therefore the Second Coming had to take place no later than the year 500 CE.
- Pope Innocent III expected the Second Coming to take place in 1284. His reasoning for this prediction was the year 1284 would be 666 years after the rise of Islam.
- Anabaptist prophet Melchoir Hoffman predicted that in the year 1533 Jesus would return and that His return would take place in the city of Strasburg. He also claimed that 144,000 people would be saved while the rest of the world that would be left behind burned by an all consuming fire.
- In book written by Christopher Columbus called “The Book of Prophecies,” Good Ol’ Chris (let’s discover something) Columbus, claimed that the world was created exactly 5,343 years before the birth of Jesus, and that the world itself would last a mere 7,000 years. That would place the end of the world and the Second Coming of Chris in the year 1658.
- A guy by the name of William Miller, who began a following of folks called the Millerites, predicted Christ’s return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He was able, mostly because of his doomsday messages, to gather thousands of followers. When his predictions didn’t come true there was the inevitable loss of faith. Later a group calling themselves The Second Adventists, who were formed from the hardcore followers of the Millerite movement predicted The Second Coming would happen in the year 1845. When that failed to occur they “recalculated” the humanity’s doom in 1846, 1849 & 1851. The Second Adventists were the forefathers of the Seventh Day Adventists of today.
- How about Herbert W. Armstrong, the founder of the Worldwide Church of God, who told his members that the Rapture was going to happen in 1936 and that only his church’s members would be saved. After his predictions failed he “recalculated” three more times.
- Bonnie Gaunt used the “Bible Codes” to PROVE that the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah 5760…that would be September 11, 1999…is the absolute date of the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world.
There is so much goodness and depth in the pages of the Bible. Why is it that we constantly try and move in the most misleading fashion beyond what is on the pages of this divinely inspired book? I am overwhelmingly confident that the answer lies directly at the feet of humanity’s foundational difficulty with pride, vanity, and uncontrollable egotism. Us human-folk constantly are trying to “out-think” God. Far too many of us simply refuse to humble ourselves before the Creator of all that is known and unknown. We try and create an environment where we look better than God. Truth be told, God is doing a fine job all by himself.
I will leave it up to you whether or not it is better to look inside of ourselves rather than the outside of ourselves to find the God of Creation. Peace.