According to a few beguiling preachers and teachers, today, September 23 is the date of the Rapture. According to this view, the number 33 is important because Jesus’ lived His earthly life for 33 years and September 23 comes exactly 33 days after the August 21 solar eclipse. Moreover, the sun, moon and stars will be aligned today just as Revelation 12 allegedly foretells. Additionally, it is claimed that a planet called Nibiru is heading toward Earth. When it passes later this year, it will cause catastrophes in the form of earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and tidal waves. According to these preachers, by the time we get to October, the seven year Tribulation will have begun.
These false speculations are so ridiculous, I am constantly flabbergasted that people are taking in by them. But worse than being ridiculous, these Doomsday scenarios oppose the clear teaching of the Bible, God’s word. Here’s why:
First, doomsday speculation contradicts the words of Jesus Himself. He said of the rapture, “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son—except the Father only” (Matthew 24:36). He told his disciples, when they began to enquire about the time of the end, “It is not for you to know times or periods that the Father has set by His own authority” (Acts 1:7). How strange (and brash) that any sensational preacher would claim to know what the Lord Jesus has said only our Father in heaven knows.
Second, doomsday speculation misinterprets the Bible. The whole speculation has to do with the alleged alignment of the stars being predicted in Revelation 12:1. There it says that “a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of 12 stars on her head.” But the problem with this allegation is that Revelation 12 isn’t about the alignment of the stars at all. The woman in the passage is symbolic and to help the reader identify the symbol, it includes an allusion to Joseph’s dream back in Genesis 37, where he saw his father Jacob and his mother and his brothers as the sun, moon and stars. The woman in Revelation 12 is Israel and refers to events that will take place yet in the future. It is decidedly not about the constellation Virgo being clothed in sunlight, in a position that is over the moon and under nine stars and three planets.
Third, doomsday speculation erodes biblical authority. This past week numerous articles have appeared in the secular press about the September 23 doomsday scenario. One major newspaper story said even said that the constellation of planets, “a sign prophesied in the Book of Revelation — would reveal itself in the skies over Jerusalem, signaling the beginning of the end of the world as we know it.” What struck me is that it states that the book of Revelation actually predicts this alignment of the stars, which it does not. When September 23 comes and goes, it will lead people to dismiss as nonsense what the Bible actually says about the return of the Lord Jesus. In the words of Peter, people will scoff, “saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming’” (1 Peter 3:4)? Whether it is 88 reasons Jesus will return in 1988, blood moons, or a made-up and fake planet Nibiru, secular people actually think the Bible teaches these foolish harbingers of the end, and then dismiss and doubt what the Scriptures truly foretell—that Jesus will indeed return.
Fourth, doomsday speculation undermines genuine faith. People get so caught up in the sensational speculations of these false prophets, that they begin to rely on sensationalism rather than the sound teachings of God’s Word. Paul warned his disciple Timothy of this danger, describing the product of the sensational teachers of their day this way: “These [teachers] promote empty speculations rather than God’s plan, which operates by faith” (1 Timothy 1:4). We should have faith in the good news because of the trustworthiness of the scriptures not sensational speculations.
Finally, doomsday speculation minimizes the imminent return of the Lord Jesus. The Bible teaches that Jesus’ return would be sudden and surprising, “like a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Using the analogy of the thief in the night in Matthew 24:43-44, Jesus said, “This is why you also must be ready, because the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” If we could know when the Rapture would happen, we wouldn’t need to get ready for it every day. I love the story about the little girl who asked her mom if Jesus could return soon. Her mom said “Yes, He could.” So the little girl continued to ask, “Today? This morning? Before breakfast?” Yes, said her mom, to which the girl replied, “Mommy, can you brush my hair?” She wanted to be ready for Jesus’ return and so should we, any day, any moment, not just on Sept 23.
I’ll give my final caveat to all this—I believe the one day the Rapture will most likely not happen is September 23. That’s because the Father would never want to endorse the silly speculations and fabricated falsehoods of the sensationalist prophets of doom. Neither should we.