Posts Tagged ‘Judgment day’

Well, perhaps you’ve heard of the groups that have been proclaiming that Jesus will return on May 21st – which is this Saturday. They seem to be everywhere. They’ve been talked about a lot in the media, and they have a robust presence through their signs, websites, RV caravans in the U.S. and even missionaries going to other countries to spread their message.

This is all based on one man who feels he has been given special insight into Scripture; insight that has been withheld for centuries. [familyradio.com/PDFS/nmk_en.pdf] He uses cryptic numbers and dates to find hidden messages in the Bible. For instance, he gives a speculative date for Noah’s flood and then using symbolic numbers he forecasts the end of all things.

Many have bought into this, and some of these have even left jobs and spent their savings because everything will end this Saturday, so, ‘Why bother with worldly concerns?’

This man also preaches that people in churches – like us, who don’t listen to and respond to his teaching about the end will be judged and condemned by God on the 21st.

This is nothing new. In fact this very man predicted the end would come on September 6, 1994. As one news article says, “On September 6, 1994, dozens of . . . believers gathered inside Alameda’s Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event [he] had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven. But the world did not end. [He] allowed that he may have made a mathematical error. He spent the next decade running new calculations . . ..”  [sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/01/BA8V1AV589.DTL&feed=rss.news]

And there have been other groups that have set dates like this. The most famous example in American history is called ‘The Great Disappointment.’ The date was set for October 22, 1844. Some left jobs and responsibilities behind. But, of course, it didn’t happen. And people were certainly disappointed.

I want us to think about this today, and especially this group that says that Saturday is the big day – because this is an object lesson for us about listening to Scripture, and about how seriously we can get ourselves in trouble when we don’t.

First, let’s listen to the Scriptures, which teach that –

No one knows when Jesus will return

Turn to Mark 13, if you will. Jesus address this topic here head on. Speaking of his second coming he says, “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” – Mark 13:32. The phrase “that day or that hour” speaks to the issue of timing, when Jesus will return. And then he says clearly “no one knows.”

And then the next part I teach in the catechism class (it’s so basic and clear that beginning Bible students know it):

  • If the angels don’t know the time, you can be sure that neither you nor anyone else knows.
  • And if the Son, that is, our Lord Jesus, doesn’t know the time of his return, you can certainly be sure that no human knows.

Are we really supposed to believe that anyone knows more than Jesus – about his own return!!! Only the Father knows the time.

Moving down to v. 33, Jesus says, plainly, “You do not know when the time will come.” And then look at v. 35. Speaking of his coming, Jesus said,  “. . . you do not know when the master of the house will come.” This man says he knows. Jesus says to him and everyone,  “you do not know.” In the space of 3 verses Jesus says this three times – “no one knows” “you do not know,” “you do not know!”

And think about it. This last verse comes from the parable of the servants. The master goes away and puts his servants in charge. The point of this parable is to teach us to be ready and alert for Jesus’ return. Why? Precisely because we don’t know when Jesus the master will return. These people think that if we know a particular date it promotes being ready. But this is the opposite of Jesus’ message.

If you know the exact date, why be ready until the day before? Live your life like you want. The servants can sleep all they want, as long as they wake up on the day they know their mater will return. Their teaching undoes the very logic of the clear message of Jesus to be ready and awake at all times because it can happen at any time.

As if this were not enough, Jesus also teaches us that we should not even try to find a date. He warned us ahead of time that some would try. In Acts 1:7, regarding the coming of the kingdom, Jesus says, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” So why do people try – when Jesus says, don’t? There is no possible reason to nullify our Lord’s word. As he said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” – Mark 13:31.

So after all the calculations and corrections and charts from this man, as my title says today, we still don’t know when Jesus will return.

So let me say to you today with utmost confidence that there is nothing to what this group is saying about Saturday. Not because I know – no one does. I can’t rule out May 21, or any day for that matter. But Jesus did say “the Son of man is coming at an hour you do not expect” – Luke 12:40. So therefore May 21st is an unlikely day for Jesus to return.

The serious consequences of not listening to Scripture

When we don’t listen to Scripture and make it our standard we are susceptible to false teaching. This is a reminder to us that false teaching is alive and well. And we are called to avoid it. But we are vulnerable when we don’t listen to Scripture or when we give that responsibility over to some teacher and we just listen to what they say.

Jesus himself said concerning the coming of the end, “And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray” – Matthew 24:11. He knew people would take advantage of others with regard to his second coming. And so we are to be careful.

Jesus gives this warning in Luke 21:8 – “See that you are not led astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am he!’ and, ‘The time is at hand!’ Do not go after them.” We have already seen the Scripture is clear that no one knows when Jesus will return. And any time someone sets aside the clear teaching of Scripture – the very words of Jesus – they take up the role of a false teacher.

  • These people say, “the time is at hand” – this Saturday.
  • But Jesus warns us and says, “Do not go after them.”

And as your shepherd I am reminding you of your Lord’s teaching and warning you, “do not go after them.”

Also, when we don’t listen to the clear teaching of Scripture we become a stumbling block to others. Most of those swept up in this don’t know much if anything about the Scriptures. They are just following someone that they think does know. And they will be greatly disillusioned when nothing happens on Saturday. It will cause them to question their faith; to doubt Jesus; to doubt the Scriptures.

What I am saying is that the leaders of this movement are causing these believers to stumble; to fall off the path; to lose their way.

Jesus talked about this, and the seriousness of this in Mark 9:42. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Let me just say that drowning is not the way I want to die – and certainly not with a large stone around my neck. But Jesus says that it will be a worse judgment than this.

This reminds us of what James says, “Not many of you should become teachers, my sisters and brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness” – James 3:1.

All who don’t listen to Scripture and then, as in our case, set themselves up as the teacher that everyone should just listen to, and mislead others with false teaching will be judged. This is very serious.

Finally, when we don’t listen to Scripture, and then act on this, as in this case setting a date for the end against Jesus’ clear warning we defame God’s holy name.

Here I am talking about unbelievers. As Christians we are not to “misuse God’s name.” This is the third of the ten commandments (Exodus 20:7). Rather, Jesus teaches us to pray every day for God’s name to be “hallowed” or honored (Matthew 6:9).

And we bear God’s name. We are called by his name. And when we act in ways that bring ridicule to our faith, we bring ridicule to the Name that we bear.

Israel did this (Ezekiel 36:22). As Paul said, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you” -Romans 2:24. And Christians have done this. And now these people are doing this. For when nothing happens on Saturday in the eyes of many, Christian faith will have been shown to be foolish and false. “Here we go, once again. Those Christians are sitting on hills waiting for Jesus. Don’t they know by now that it won’t happen.”

It gives God a bad name, even though God is not behind this and Jesus forbids it. Indeed, there are already Atheist parties planned so that they can celebrate when nothing happens and mock the faith of these people, and Christian faith in general.

This is a serious thing. For the third commandment ends with these words – “The Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name” – Exodus 20:3 (NRSV).

The message

So as I said this is a kind of object lesson for us, of what not to do. And what will happen because of it. In this particular case it has to do with the return of Jesus and the resurrection. But it could play out in other areas of our faith as well.

The lesson is, listen to the Scriptures! Listen to Jesus. Because when you don’t, it gets you into all kinds of trouble. And you will see this play out this very week. As it does, remember what we have looked at today from the Scriptures.

William Higgins

Read Full Post »