You are familiar with the folk tale about the little shepherd boy whose job it was to protect the sheep. The townspeople and he had decided on a signal that whenever they heard him cry “wolf,” they would come running to help him protect the sheep. One day, as the job goes, he grew bored sitting out there all alone with just the sheep. He thought to himself, “I wonder what would happen if I yelled ‘wolf.’” So, he yelled at the top pf his voice, “Wolf. Wolf.” Hurriedly all the townspeople responded by running out to the pasture where the sheep were calmly grazing. There they found the little boy laughing with glee. No sign of a wolf. The people angrily chided him before returning to the town.
A while later after they had returned, the shepherd boy cried out again. This time fewer people responded. They did not want to look foolish again. You know the rest of the story. When the wolf finally did arrive, the boy cried out “Wolf,” and no one responded after so many false alarms.
On September 23, 2017, astronomical events took place, which some heralded as the end of the world. Many videos appeared on YouTube warning, “Watch before September 23, 2017.” Many claimed that these events were prophetic of something fantastic that was supposed to happen on earth, perhaps the Rapture of the church. Prophecies about the Messiah abounded. Some people claimed that these astronomical events had been predicted in Revelation 12:1-2. The configuration of the constellations Virgo and Leo along with the sun and the moon heralded some great event on God’s timeline.
Here are three reasons why Christians should not be concerned about such “prophecies.”
- “No man knows that day or the hour” (Mark 13:32). The book “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will be in 1988” got around this dilemma by saying that we may not be able to figure out the day and the hour, we could certainly determine the month and the week that it would take place. When the apostles asked Jesus about the dates of the end times, he said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power” (Acts 1:7). We are not to worry about setting dates, but to be concerned about being his witnesses.
- These predictions were based on only two verses taken entirely out of context. The sign in heaven recorded in Revelation 12 could not happen until the events of Chapter 11 had taken place. Revelation 11 talks about two witnesses that will preach in Jerusalem for 1260 days. That is about three and a half years. After that time, the beast from the pit kills them and leaves their bodies on the street for three and a half days without burial. The world watches and rejoices, creating a new gift-giving holiday in honor their deaths. Then they are resurrected and a voice calls them up to heaven while people looked on. After that, an earthquake strikes Jerusalem, a tenth of the city is destroyed and seven thousand people die. All that had to happen before the Revelation 12 prophecy could come to pass. None of that occurred.
- Another big reason why Christians should not believe such interpretation is because they are based on an astrological rather than a biblical interpretation. It is never a good hermeneutical (Bible interpretation) principle to interpret the Scripture by using a false religious system. Twenty-five years ago, a deacon in my church used a similar star computer program to determine the heavenly events around the time of the birth Christ. He held a PhD in astronomy, and had concluded that he knew what the star of Bethlehem was. He determined that it was a conjunction of planets and constellations that through astrological interpretations symbolically pointed to the birth of Christ.
Despite the fact I pointed out that it did not fit the description in the Bible, he never rejected his interpretation. I told him that a constellation in space could not go “before them (the magi), till it came and stood over where the young child was” (Mathew 2:9). His interpretation could not fit the biblical description.
The problem with false prophets crying “Messiah” all the time is that eventually people will tune them out like the little boy in the story. People who need to hear the message about the Messiah will not listen any longer. They will be like the village people who are thinking that it is another false alarm.
Peter warned us that in the last days doubters and scoffers would appear on the scene. “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Peter 3:3-4). These false prophets give fodder to the scoffers and make Christians look foolish.
Too harsh? God told Moses in Deuteronomy 18:22, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” It only takes one false prophecy to make a false prophet. These who have claimed these events to be signs of God have branded themselves as false prophets.