Predictions about the return of the Lord Jesus are not new. I remember reading in the early nineties regarding the prediction that he would return in 1000 AD. Masses of people actually stopped whatever they were doing to wait for the appearing of the Lord Jesus.
Popular also at that time also was the one of the primary winning points against the Jehovah’s Witnesses who had predicted 1914 as the year of the Parousia based on Daniel’s prophesies which they seemed to have studied extensively by the way as well as their theology that the appearing of the Lord Jesus does not mean a physical appearing but a ‘presence’.
Further down the line are predictions from such charismatic preachers as Edgar Whisenant in his booklet 88 reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988. Whisenant went as far as giving specific dates and was reportedly supported by TBN at the time. Part of the rationale for this prediction was the statement of the Lord Jesus in Matthew 24:32-33 as follows, “Now learn this lesson from the fig tree: as soon as its twigs get tender and its leaves come out, you know that summer is near. Even so, when you see all these things,… I [Jesus] tell you the truth, this wicked generation will certainly not pass until all these things have happened”. Whisenant interpreted a generation as forty years and arrived at 1988 because Israel because a sovereign nation in 1948 (the fig tree becoming her national symbol).It all seemed to all fall in place, didn’t it?
A tetrad is defined in our context as four consecutive blood moons coinciding with Jewish feasts. A blood moon is a rare occurrence which happens when the Sun, earth and moon align thus casting a shadow on the moon that makes it appear red depending on where are looking at it from. There have reportedly been seven tetrads since Christ died and was raised from the dead. Significant events were recorded shortly after theses tetrads. The last three tetrads coincided with major events in Israel’s history.
1. [162 – 163 AD] – Worst persecution of Jews and Christians a well as death of eight million people by the Antonine Plague.
2. [795 – 796 AD] – King Charlemagne of the Roman Empire established a DMZ buffer zone between France and Spain, ending centuries of Arab invasions into Western Europe.
3. [842 – 843 AD] – Vatican church in Rome was attacked and looted by an Islamic invasion from Africa.
4. [860 – 861 AD] – Byzantine Empire defeated Arab armies at the Battle of Lalakaon in Turkey and permanently stopped the Islamic invasion of Eastern Europe.
5. [1493 – 1494 AD] – The Jews were expelled from Spain and America was discovered shortly after.
6. [1949 – 1950 AD] – The birth of Israel as a modern day nation.
7. [1967 – 1968 AD] – Israel won an unexpected victory in the six-day war against her neighbours.
I am sure the respected men of God who have come to certain conclusions and given cautions regarding the implications of the current tetrad have studied the matter much more than I so I do not claim to have all the answers. Two well-known proponents of the importance of this year’s events are Pastor John Hagee and Pastor Mark Blitz. Rev. Hagee places emphasis on the fact that this tetrad may not necessarily mean the return of Christ but a dramatic event in the middle-east involving Israel. Some sources report it as certain troubling times for Israel out of which she will come out victorious. On the other hand, Pastor Mark Blitz’s original prophecy in 2008 is reported to have explicated stated that the Lord Jesus will come this year.
Pastor John Hagee’s book The Four Blood Moons describes his views on this subject in details and is reported to have sold millions of copies. You may also want to look for Jonathan Cahn’s The Mystery of the Shemitah and The Harbinger which seem to tilt more towards the implications of the tetrad to America and its economic future.
Finally, here are my thoughts:
Israel as God’s Clock
It is difficult to completely discount the pattern of events, the significance of Israel and the mysterious events of history which make the current predictions believable. I have always had a struggle with the excessive focus on physical Israel and observance of days because the Apostle Paul throughout the New Testament keeps talking of what Christ has done on the cross as superior to the earthly Jerusalem as well as to observance of Jewish feast (refer to Galatians and Hebrews). Do the Jews need Christ for salvation? If YES, then why act as though we are going backwards to the old order? Again I must balance this by saying we do not claim to completely understand God’s ways. Paul himself in the nineth, tenth and eleventh chapters of Romans went into detail in projecting Israel as a fundamental part of God’s plan, the gentiles being only grafted into the tree.
The Scriptural Reference
That said, we must add that I prefer to consider the Bible as the final arbiter in matters of Christian faith not men’s experiences. Verses such as Joel 2:28-32 which states:
“28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
30 And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and the terrible day of the LORD come.
32 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.”
However this can be subject to some other interpretations. One of such other approaches is a chronological interpretation of the events listed:
1. The outpouring of the Spirit
2. The signs in the heavens
3. The great and terrible day of the Lord
The outpouring of God’s Spirit happened in the first century for the first time in a major visible way. Why wait two thousand years for the fulfillment of the second part of the same prophecy? Some have interpreted the second part of the prophecy as the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, which happens to align with about forty years from Jesus’ statements in Matthew 24 as well as matches a chronological interpretation of Joel 2. Jonathan Welton explains this view in his book Raptureless.
No One Knows the Hour
One fundamental thought in eschatology according to most evangelicals is the fact that the return of Christ will be a surprise. This is explicit n many parables of the Lord Jesus as well as his very words and those of Paul’s. The coming is as a thief in the night, we are meant to be ever ready. We have failed so many times trying to predict the year that we ought to have given up by now and simply keep doing what the Lord wants till He chooses to come.