Opinion

If You Believe the End of the World Will Happen on Sept. 23, Sign Over All Your Assets to Me Effective Sept. 24

A few years ago I received an email from someone who made a prediction about when the end would come. I told him that if he was serious that he would sign over his assets to me effective on the day after he was sure the end would come.

He wouldn’t do it. I did email on the day after the supposed end-of-the-world date reminding him of his folly. He emailed the following to me, “I was hoping you had forgotten.”

If you know anyone who truly believes that end is coming on September 23, 2017, have them message me on Facebook and I’ll send them a contract.

For more than 40 years I have been following the views of prophecy speculation and the claims made by people about end-of-the-world scenarios. The latest is said to happen on September 23, 2017.

Trending: More Fake News About the ‘Rapture,’ the Antichrist, and the End Times

People have short memories or have no memory about prophecy speculators who have assured an anxious public that Jesus would return by this or that day, week, or year. His coming is always said to be “near.” The 1980s was described as the “terminal generation.”

In 1970, Hal Lindsey wrote The Late Great Planet Earth that included a prophetic teaser that something called the “rapture” would take place before 1988. It was based on his claim that when Israel became a nation again in 1948 that the “rapture” would occur within a 40-year prophetic window.

In 1988, NASA engineer Edgar Whisenant wrote 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be In 1988. When the “rapture” didn’t occur, he revised his book with 89 reasons why the rapture would be in 1989.

Following a similar prophetic script, Pastor Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel in California wrote in his 1976 book The Soon to be Revealed Antichrist that “we are living in the last generation which began with the rebirth of Israel in 1948 (see Matt. 24:32–34).” He repeats the claim in his 1978 book End Times:

“If I understand Scripture correctly, Jesus taught us that the generation which sees the ‘budding of the fig tree,’ the birth of the nation of Israel, will be the generation that sees the Lord’s return. I believe that the generation of 1948 is the last generation. Since a generation of judgment is forty years and the Tribulation period lasts seven years, I believe the Lord could come back for His Church any time before the Tribulation starts, which would mean any time before 1981. (1948 + 40 – 7 = 1981).”1

On December 31, 1979, Smith told those who had gathered on the last day of the year that the “rapture” would take place before the end of 1981. He went on to say that because of ozone depletion Revelation 16:8 would be fulfilled during the tribulation period: “And the fourth angel poured out his bowl upon the sun; and it was given to it to scorch men with fire.”

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In addition, Halley’s Comet would pass near Earth in 1986 and would wreak havoc on those left behind as debris from its million-mile-long tail pummeled the planet. Here’s how Smith explained the prophetic scenario in his book Future Survival which is nearly identical to what appears on the taped message:

“The Lord said that towards the end of the Tribulation period the sun would scorch men who dwell upon the face of the earth (Rev. 16). The year 1986 would fit just about right! We’re getting close to the Tribulation and the return of Christ in glory. All the pieces of the puzzle are coming together.”2

Nothing significant happened in 1986 related to Halley’s Comet, and there is no reason why it should have since it’s been a predictable phenomenon for more than two millennia as it makes its way around the sun every 75 to 76 years. The same is true of eclipses, as I wrote in “Eclipses, Blood Moons, and Last Days Madness.”

A Depiction of Halley’s Comet Passing Over Jerusalem in AD 66.

Do you remember all the hype and hysteria generated by the planetary phenomenon called the Jupiter Effect? No? Let me refresh your memory. In 1982, there was to be an unusual alignment of the planets. The planets would be in a straight-line formation perpendicular to the sun. This alignment — an event that occurs every 179 years according to Astronomers John Gribben and Stephen Plagemann in their 1974 book The Jupiter Effect — supposedly exerts an uncommon gravitational pull on the planets. The planets did align as seen from earth, as they do regularly.

Hal Lindsey wrote in 1980, “This alignment causes great storms on the sun’s surface, which in turn affect each of the planets. The sun storms will not only affect our atmosphere, as was previously mentioned, but they will slow down the Earth’s axis slightly.” This slowdown, according to Lindsey and his “author-experts,” would mean putting “a tremendous strain on the Earth’s faults, touching off earthquakes.” This new wave of earthquakes was to bring about great floods because dams have been built over fault lines. In addition, we were to see “nuclear power plant meltdowns at facilities built on or near the Earth’s faults.”3 Nothing unusual happened. Gribben admitted in his 1999 book The Little Book of Science that he was sorry he “ever had anything to do with it.”

I could offer example after example of these types of prophetic speculation. I have shelves full of books on the subject.

Here’s the latest. September 23, 2017, is said to be prophetically significant. Similar to the Jupiter Non-Effect and the fading Blood Moon phenomena, this prophecy is said to be written in the stars. The following “prophecy” is from Prophecy News Watch:

“On September 23, 2017 a sign will form in the heavens that fits the description of Revelation 12. According to computer models, this is the only time this sign will occur in history. Will this sign in the heavens literally fulfill the ‘Great Sign’ of Revelation? And if so, what does this mean?”

And what does Revelation 12:1-2 say?: “And a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.”

Today’s prophecy pundits are more about astrological signs than biblical signs. Anyone looking at the illustration of what’s supposedly going to happen can see the problem. Can you spot it?

Three of the “stars” are planets. Planets are not stars. In addition, constellations are manufactured. The stars are linked together in order to follow an arbitrary pattern. With enough imagination, you could build an image out of the thousands of stars that appear on a clear evening. Take away the background images, and you would never see a woman. Where are her feet? Charts like the one above are made to fit an already accepted interpretation.

The bigger problem is the biblical symbolism. What is the origin of the image of the sun, moon, and stars found in the Bible? It’s not from astrology or astronomy. The image is biblical and is representative of Israel:

“Now [Joseph] had still another dream, and related it to his brothers, and said, ‘Lo, I have had still another dream; and behold, the sun and the moon and eleven stars were bowing down to me'” (Gen. 37:9).

Joseph makes the 12th star with his father (Jacob) being the sun and his mother (Rachel) the moon (37:10). The image, therefore, is symbolic, representing Israel.

What does Israel, represented by a woman who stands on the moon, draped with the sun, and with a crown of 12 stars, do? She gives birth to a child: “and she was with child; and she ‘cried out, being in labor and in pain to give birth'” (Rev. 12:2).

And what or who is there to devour the child upon his birth?

“Then another sign appeared in heaven: and behold, a great red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and on his heads were seven diadems. And his tail swept away a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she gave birth he might devour her child” (12:3-4).

Revelation is describing the first coming of Jesus. The woman is Israel. The child is Jesus. The dragon is Herod. The Herods are descendants of Esau and are the Bible’s Edomites and Amalekites: “Now the first came forth red, all over like a hairy garment; and they named him Esau” (Gen. 25:25).

“Jesus is born, the great deliverer, but an Edomite/Amalekite, Herod, tries to take him out at the beginning; Jesus is rescued to safety in Egypt.” ((Peter Leithart, “Brother v. Brother,” First Things (January 28, 2015).

James Jordan writes: “the Herods are the false-prophet/land-beast” of Revelation 13.

By following biblical theology rather than astrology or astronomy, the Bible interpreter finds an actual biblical interpretive methodology without having to engage in prophetic speculation.

The imagery of “sun, moon, and stars” is found in the prophetic teaching of Jesus on the Mount of Olives. When Jesus says, “But immediately after the tribulation of those days ‘the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall’ from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken,” He is not saying that these things are going to happen to physical heavenly bodies. Jesus is borrowing language from the Old Testament. This type of language is used to describe the judgment of nations (e.g., Isa. 13:6-10; 24:23; 34:4; Ezek. 32:7-8; Joel 2:10).

Jesus is applying the sun, moon, and stars imagery to the coming judgment of Jerusalem before their (“this”) generation passed away (Matt. 24:34), an event that took place in AD 70.

If you would like a verse-by-verse study of this topic, see my book Wars and Rumors of Wars: What Jesus Really Said About the End of the Age, Earthquakes, a Great Tribulation, Signs in the Heavens, and His Coming.

  1. Chuck Smith, End Times (Costa Mesa, CA: The Word for Today, 1978), 35. []
  2. Smith, Future Survival, 21. []
  3. Hal Lindsey, The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon (King of Prussia, PA: Westgate Press, 1980), 31. []
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