Believers and cultists have made predictions about the return of Jesus Christ. Most were made by the cults, but all predictions have only led to disappointment for everyone who has placed their hope in them. Date setting always harms the faith of those involved.


William Miller


 William Miller was a New York farmer and a Mason, who became a Baptist in 1816. He is credited with founding the Adventist movement. Most false prophets in America based their predictions on his work.

He studied the Bible from 1816 to 1818 before he came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ would return to Earth “about the year 1843.” He kept his discovery secret until 1831.

His prediction of the Second Coming was based on the passage in Daniel that says there are 2300 days from the time the sanctuary is defiled to when it is cleansed (Daniel 8.13-14). He chose 457 BC (decree to rebuild Jerusalem by Artaxerxes I) as the date of the defiling, and then 1843 as the date of the cleansing. One day was symbolic of one year in his thinking. 

In 1840 he gained a following, and when his prediction of the Second Coming failed in 1843, he reset the date to 1844. When that date failed, most of his followers gave up their faith. Miller continued to believe that Christ would return at any moment, until his death in 1849.

Miller died a false prophet, but some of his disciples held to his beliefs and formed the Seventh Day Adventist denomination.


Joseph Smith, Jr.


 Joseph Smith, Jr. founded the Church of Latter Days Saints (Mormon Church) in 1830 with the publication of the Book of Mormon. He then became a Mason along with a large number of his followers. He made a prediction in 1835 that Jesus would return in 1890. He used the work of William Miller to choose his date. This is what is recorded in the history of the Mormon Church:

 President Smith then stated that the meeting had been called, because God had commanded it; and it was made known to him by vision and by the Holy Spirit. He then gave a relation of some of the circumstances attending us while journeying to Zion – our trials, sufferings; and said God had not designed all this for nothing, but He had it in remembrance yet; and it was the will of God that those who went to Zion, with a determination to lay down their lives, if necessary, should be ordained to the ministry, and go forth to prune the vineyard for the last time, or the coming of the Lord, which was nigh – even fifty-six years should wind up the scene. 1830. (History of the Church, Vol. 2:182)1

 This prophecy is recorded in the Doctrines and Covenants:

I prophecy, in the name of the Lord God, that the commencement of the difficulties which will cause much bloodshed previous to the coming of the Son of Man will be in South Carolina. It may probably arise through the slave question. This a voice declared to me, while I was praying earnestly on the subject, December 25th, 1832. I was once praying very earnestly to know the time of the coming of the Son of Man, when I heard a voice repeat the following: “Joseph, my son, if thou livest until thou art eighty-five years old, thou shalt see the face of the Son of Man; therefore let this suffice, and trouble me no more on this matter.” I was left thus, without being able to decide whether this coming referred to the beginning of the millennium or to some previous appearing, or whether I should die and thus see his face. I believe the coming of the Son of Man will not be any sooner than that time. (Section 130.12-17) [Ed. Note: Joseph Smith was born in 1805. That means the Second Coming should have taken place in 1890. It did not. He was correct about a war breaking out in South Carolina.]

In a prophecy made on December 27, 1832, Smith declared that great calamities would befall the world:

I prophesy that the earth will tremble and the sun be hidden in “not many days”: “For not many days hence and the earth shall tremble and reel to and fro as a drunken man; and the sun shall hide his face, and shall refuse to give light; and the moon shall be bathed in blood; and the stars shall become exceedingly angry, and shall cast themselves down as a fig that falleth from off a fig-tree.” (Doctrine and Covenants 88:87) [Ed. Note: This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.]

He also made a prophecy that Isaiah 11 was about to be fulfilled:

In addition to these, he quoted the eleventh chapter of Isaiah, saying that it was about to be fulfilled. He quoted also the third chapter of Acts, twenty-second and twenty-third verses, precisely as they stand in our New Testament. He said that that prophet was Christ; but the day had not yet come when “they who would not hear his voice should be cut off from among the people,” but soon would come. (Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith, History, verse 40)

Isaiah 11:6-9 says:

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea. [Ed. Note: This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.]

In 1832 Smith predicted the New Jerusalem would be built in his generation:

A city shall be built, New Jerusalem [State of Missouri], in which a temple shall be reared in this generation. (Doctrine and Covenants 84:3-5 – September 22 & 23, 1832) [Ed. Note: This prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.]

In 1843, Smith predicted the Holy Spirit would be withdrawn from the planet, among other things:

“I prophesy in the name of the Lord God of Israel, anguish and wrath and tribulation and the withdrawing of the Spirit of God from the earth await this generation, until they are visited with utter desolation... I prophesy they never will have power to kill me till my work is accomplished, and I am ready to die.” (History of the Church, vol. 6, p. 58 – October 15, 1843)5 [Ed. Note: The Holy Spirit has not been withdrawn from the world. “Utter desolation” was not visited upon the world. Joseph Smith’s work was not finished, and he was not ready to die when he was shot attempting to escape from jail in 1844. No one can possibly think Smith was ready to die, and that he thought his work was done in 1844.]

Of all Smith’s predictions, only part of one was correct. He died a false prophet.


Ellen G. White


Ellen Gould White was an avid disciple of William Miller. She took over the Adventist movement when Miller retired due to his false predictions. She founded the Seventh Day Adventist Church with help from her husband James White, and another Sabbatarian Adventist leader, Joseph Bates. She made many false predictions herself, and taught some unusual doctrines. She even claimed to write what God told her to:

“God was speaking through clay. In these letters which I write, in the testimonies I bear, I am presenting to you that which the Lord has presented to me. I do not write one article in the paper expressing merely my own ideas. They are what God has opened before me in vision – the precious rays of light shining from the throne.” (Visions of Mrs. E. G. White, Testimony 31, p. 63)6

This is what she had to say concerning Miller’s prediction that Jesus would return in 1843:

I have seen that the 1843 chart (Wm. Miller’s) was directed by the hand of the Lord and that it should not be altered that the figures were as he wanted them. (Early Writings, p. 64, edition 1882)6

White prophesied the world would end in 1843, 1844, 1845 & 1851:

Now time is almost finished, (1851) and what we have been 6 years in learning they will have to learn in months. (Early Writings, p. 57)6

For a time after the disappointment in 1844, I did hold, in common with the advent body, that the door of mercy was then forever closed to the world… I was shown in vision, and I still believe, that there was a shut door in 1844. (Selected Messages, 1 p. 63)6

White was wrong in all of her predictions concerning the Second Coming, the Civil War and other things. She did not know the specific warning signs that have to be fulfilled before the Rapture. Much of her writings were based on works of others that she plagiarized, and she died a false prophet.


Charles Taze Russell


Charles Taze Russell was a Protestant evangelist who established Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society in 1881. W. H. Conley was president, and Russell served as secretary and treasurer. The members of the society are called Jehovah’s Witnesses.

In 1870, Russell began his study of the Bible in earnest with George Storrs and George Stetson, who followed the teaching of William Miller. In 1876, he gave Nelson H. Barbour a great deal of money to publish his writings. Russell and Barbour picked 1877 as their date for the return of the Lord, but He did not return that year. Then in 1878 Russell personally told every Christian leader in Pittsburgh that Christ would return in April 1878. This false prediction led Russell and Barbour to separate in 1879. Russell went on to make more false predictions. Here are his more infamous false predictions:

1877 – The End Of This World; that is the end of the gospel and the beginning of the millennial age is nearer than most men suppose; indeed we have already entered the transition period, which is to be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation (Dan. 12:3). (Three Worlds, and the Harvest of This World, N.H. Barbour and C.T. Russell, p. 17)7

1899 – ...the “battle of the great day of God Almighty” (Revelation 16:14), which will end in A.D. 1914 with the complete overthrow of earth’s present rulership, is already commenced. (The Time Is at Hand, page 101, 1908 edition)8

1904 – According to our expectations the stress of the great time of trouble will be on us soon, somewhere between 1910 and 1912, culminating with the end of the “Times of the Gentiles,” October, 1914. (The New Creation, Studies in the Scriptures, vol. 6, p. 579)7

1908 – In view of this strong Bible evidence concerning the Times of the Gentiles, we consider it an established truth that the final end of the kingdoms of this world, and the full establishment of the Kingdom of God, will be accomplished at the end of A.D. 1914. (The Time Is At Hand; 1889; 1908 ed.; p. 99)9

1916 – The Bible chronology herein presented shows that the six great 1000 year days beginning with Adam are ended, and that the great 7th Day, the 1000 years of Christ’s Reign, began in 1873. (The Time Is At Hand, page 2, forward)9

1917 – The Spring of 1918 will bring upon Christendom a spasm of anguish greater even than that experienced in the Fall of 1914... The travail that is coming is to be upon nominal Zion – “Christendom” “Babylon”; and it will be a great and sore affliction – "A Time of Trouble such as was not since there was a nation." (The Finished Mystery p. 62 [stated to be the Posthumous Work of Pastor Russell on p. 2])7

1917 – No doubt Satan believed the Millennial Kingdom was due to be set-up in 1915... Be that as it may, there is evidence that the establishment of the Kingdom in Palestine will probably be in 1925, ten years later than we once calculated. (Studies In The Scriptures, vol. 7, The Finished Mystery, p. 128)7

1917 – Also, in the year 1918, when God destroys the churches wholesale and the church members by million, it shall be that any that escape shall come to the works of Pastor Russell to learn the meaning of the downfall of Christianity. (The Finished Mystery, 1917 edition, p. 485)7

None of the prophecies of Russell concerning the Second Coming of Jesus Christ came true. He died a false prophet as those before him did.


Joseph Franklin Rutherford


Joseph Franklin Rutherford was elected president of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society in 1917, succeeding its founder, Charles Taze Russell. It was under Rutherford’s leadership that members of the Watch Tower Society adopted the name Jehovah’s Witnesses. Here are a few of his predictions:

1938 – ...mark the words of Jesus, which definitely seem to discourage the bearing of children immediately before or during Armageddon... It would therefore appear that there is no reasonable or scriptural injunction to bring children into the world immediately before Armageddon, where we now are. (Watchtower, Nov. 1, 1938, p. 324)7

1939 – The abundance of Scriptural evidence, together with the physical facts that have come to pass showing the fulfillment of prophecy, conclusively proves that the time for the battle of the great day of God Almighty is very near and that in that battle all of God’s enemies shall be destroyed and the earth cleared of wickedness. Likewise today, all the nations and peoples of earth are face to face with the greatest emergency. They are being warned as God commands, that the disaster of Armageddon is just ahead. (Salvation, J. F. Rutherford, 1939, pp. 310, 361)7

1940 – The year 1940 is certain to be the most important year yet because Armageddon is very near. It behooves all who love righteousness to put forth every effort to advertise The Theocracy while the privileges are still open. (Informant, April, 1940, p. 1)7

1940 – The Kingdom is here, the King is enthroned. Armageddon is just ahead. The glorious reign of Christ that shall bring blessings to the world will immediately follow. Therefore the great climax has been reached. Tribulation has fallen upon those who stand by the Lord. (The Messenger, Sept. 1940, p. 6)7

1940 – The prophecies of Almighty God, the fulfillment of which now clearly appears from the physical facts, show that the end of religion has come and with its end the complete downfall of Satan’s entire organization. (Religion, J. F. Rutherford, p. 336, 1940)7

None of Rutherford’s predictions have come to pass. He died a false prophet.


Jehovah’s Witnesses

Zion’s Watch Tower Tract Society changed its name in 1931 to Jehovah’s Witnesses. It has made many false predictions about the Second Coming. Its co-founder, Charles Taze Russell, chose 1877 as the date of the Second Coming, and his successor, Joseph Franklin Rutherford, picked a few dates. The Jehovah’s Witnesses continued to make predictions about Christ’s return:

1942 – Now, with Armageddon immediately before us, it is a matter of life or destruction. Those who would be of the Lord’s other sheep that shall compose the great multitude of Armageddon survivors and live joyfully on earth forever must find the answer to a very personal question, and very important. (Watchtower, April 1, 1942, p. 139)7

1966 – According to this trustworthy Bible chronology six thousand years from man’s creation will end in 1975, and the seventh period of a thousand years of human history will begin in the fall of 1975 C.E. Six thousand years of man’s existence on earth will soon be up, yea within this generation. (Life Everlasting in Freedom of the Sons of God, 1966, p. 29-30)7

1968 – Eight years from the Autumn of 1967 would bring us to the Autumn of 1975, fully 6,000 years into God’s seventh day, his rest day. (Watchtower, May 1, 1968 p. 271)7


Herbert W. Armstrong


Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, was born into a Quaker family and attended Sunday school at the First Friends Church in Des Moines, Iowa. He married Loma Dillon in 1917. She became friends with a couple who were lay pastors of a Seventh Day Adventist church that did not submit to the authority of the Seventh Day Adventist Church established by Ellen G. White. In 1931, he became an ordained minister of the Oregon Conference of the Church of God (Seventh Day). He eventually broke with the denomination. He was convinced that God was calling him to lead a revival and restore the true Church. In 1933, he began his radio ministry, which continued after his death in 1986. He also founded Ambassador College in Pasadena, California, in 1947.

Armstrong told members of his Worldwide Church of God that the Rapture would take place in 1936, saying that only members of his church would be saved. After the prophecy failed, he changed the date three more times. His next dates were 1943 and 1972, and his fourth prediction for the end of the world was 1975 (Shaw, Eva, Eve of Destruction, p. 99).

He believed that Mussolini was the Antichrist and made a prophecy concerning him in 1939, in his monthly magazine:

“Undoubtedly, then, the “Beast” who will capture half the city of Jerusalem, fighting at Armageddon against Christ at his Second Coming, is MUSSOLINI, with ten European Dictators, and their armies! It is coming in This Generation!” (The Plain Truth, January 1939, p. 4)

Four years later he decided that Hitler was the Antichrist:

“And I saw the beast and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against - against whom? Not Britain and America! Not Israel - against Him that sat on the horse and His army (Rev. 19:19.) It is Christ and the Angels that Hitler will fight.” (The Plain Truth, March/ April 1943, p. 6)

In 1956 Armstrong prophesied what would happen to the United States in 1975:

But all these things, as Jesus explained, are to be only the BEGINNING of our time of national trouble.

Once we are weakened by starvation, disease and the resulting calamitous economic depression, the Ten-Nation European Colossus will suddenly STRIKE with hydrogen bombs that shall DESTROY OUR CITIES and our centers of industrial and military production! (1975 in Prophecy, p. 13)

If the European Union does not attack the United States with nuclear weapons before Christ returns it will mean that all of Armstrong’s predictions were wrong.

In the February 1968 issue of the Plain Truth magazine he predicted on page 47, “The ‘Day of the Eternal’” will “strike between five and ten years from now!” He went on to say, I am not writing foolishly, but very soberly, on the authority of the living Christ.” (Abanes, Richard, End-Time Visions, p. 340)

In the June 1968 issue of his Plain truth magazine, he declared that universal peace would be “coming in our Time – and not later than the decade of the 1970s.” He went on to say, “To save human life from annihilation Jesus Christ will come again, this time to set up the very kingdom of God on earth, and to establish the wonderful world of Utopia tomorrow” (p. 23).

He died a false prophet just as everyone has who based their predictions on the work of William Miller.


Jim Jones


James Warren Jones, founder of the Peoples Temple, enticed over 900 members of his cult to commit suicide on November 18, 1978, in Jonestown, Guyana. He convinced them they had to die after his security guards murdered nine people at a nearby airstrip, including reporters, cameramen and Congressman Leo Ryan. Jones was later killed by his security guards. He had visions at a young age that a nuclear holocaust would take place in 1967 (Weber, Eugene, Apocalypses, p. 214).



David Koresh



Vernon Wayne Howell (a.k.a. David Koresh) was disfellowshipped (excommunicated) from the Seventh Day Adventist church in Tyler, Texas, for moral reasons. Shortly afterward he claimed he had a new message for the church, but it was rejected by the church. He remained in Tyler trying to get followers. He gained the trust of Lois Roden, of the Branch Davidian Seventh-Day Adventist Association, by fixing cars and other mechanical problems members of the church had. She allowed him to teach in the Mt. Carmel Center, and in 1984 he gained a small following. George Roden, son of Lois, forced Koresh and his followers out and they moved to Palestine, Texas. In 1987, after Lois Roden had passed away, Koresh and 7 of his heavily armed followers made an assault on the Mt. Carmel Center. They were arrested for he attempted murder of George Roden, but were acquitted.

In 1989 Roden murdered Wayman Dale Adair with an axe blow to the skull after Adair stated his belief that he (Adair) was the true Messiah. Roden was convicted of murder, and imprisoned in a mental hospital at Vernon, Texas. Roden owed thousands of dollars in unpaid taxes for the Mount Carmel property. Koresh and his followers raised the money and purchased the property, which he subsequently renamed “Ranch Apocalypse.”

Koresh believed the place of his martyrdom might be in Israel, but by 1991 he was convinced that his martyrdom would be in the United States. He said the prophecies of Daniel would be fulfilled in Waco and that the Mount Carmel center was the Davidic kingdom.

Koresh predicted the world would end in 1995. In 1993 the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms raided the Mt. Carmel Center in an attempt to arrest Koresh for child endangerment. It resulted in a 51 day standoff. Instead the standoff ended when the FBI rammed the center with tanks. It caught fire killing Koresh and about 80 of his followers. (Stuart O’Brien, “Armageddon… Again,” News Online, BBC News, 7.29.1999)



Marshall Applewhite



Marshall Applewhite (1931–1997) founded the Human Individual Metamorphosis cult (Heaven’s Gate) with Bonnie Nettles (1928-1985). According to Jacques Vallée, the group began in the early 1970s when Marshall Applewhite was recovering from a heart attack during which he claimed to have had a near-death experience. He came to believe that he and his nurse, Bonnie Nettles, were “the Two,” (the two witnesses spoken of in Book of Revelation 11:3). Vallee cited an announcement by H.I.M. in 1977 that said:


In a period of months these two people, through some circumstance that they do not even know, will come to be killed. Three and a half days later, after having been officially declared dead by those who want to verify the fact, their bodies will then come back to life again to show you and I that when you have gone through this process you have actually overcome death. (Vallee, Jacques, Messengers of Deception, pp. 74-75, emphasis Vallee)

Two years later in 1979, when Vallee published his book, “the Two” had not died, been resurrected and taken away by a UFO. Nettles died of liver cancer in 1985 in Dallas, Texas. Applewhite continued to preach his gospel of salvation through death. He renamed his cult Heaven’s Gate, and moved to Rancho Santa Fe, California.

On March 19, 1997, Applewhite taped himself speaking of mass suicide and asserted “it was the only way to evacuate this Earth.” He claimed that Earth was about to be recycled (wiped clean, renewed, refurbished and rejuvenated), and that the only chance to survive was to leave it immediately. The Heaven’s Gate group was against suicide, but they believed they had to leave Earth as quickly as possible. He convinced 38 followers to commit suicide so that their souls could board a UFO that was following the Hale-Bopp comet. Applewhite believed that after their deaths, a UFO would take their souls to another “level of existence above human,” which he described as being both physical and spiritual.

Thirty-eight members of Heaven’s Gate, including Applewhite, were found dead in their rented mansion on March 26, 1997. Autopsies of the bodies revealed that they had poisoned themselves with cyanide and arsenic.


Sun Myung Moon

Sun Myung Moon is the Korean founder and leader of the Unification Church, which operates or subsidizes many organizations and projects involved in political, cultural, mass-media, educational, and other activities. His largest newspaper is the Washington Times. He is also well-known for holding large blessing ceremonies (mass weddings). He predicted that 1967 would be the year that the Kingdom of Heaven would be established on Earth. He later chose 1981 (Kyle, Richard, The Last Days are Here Again, p. 148).


Elizabeth Claire Prophet

Elizabeth Clare Prophet came out of the Christian Science cult that was founded by Mary Baker Eddy. She was the head of the Summit Lighthouse organization, which controls the Church Universal and Triumphant, Summit University, Summit University Press and Montessori International. She became head of Summit after her husband, Mark L. Prophet, died in 1973, and stepped down from her leadership position due to Alzheimer’s disease in 1999.

Prophet taught that ascended masters, such as St. Germain, could speak through select people. (This idea could have been adopted from the teachings of H.P. Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical society. Prophet publicly identified with the society.) Prophet “foresaw” nuclear devastation, and claimed that the end of most of the human race would take place on April 23, 1990. She convinced her followers to sell their property and move with her to a ranch in Montana. She also predicted the end would come in 2002, following a 12-year period of devastation and nuclear war. (The Last Days are Here Again, p. 156, and Grosso, Michael,  Millennium Myth: Love and Death at the End of Time, p. 7).


David Icke

Self-professed Son of God, former television sports announcer and conspiracy theorist David Icke predicted the world would end in 1997, following the usual earthquakes and floods. (“Armageddon… Again” News Online, Stuart O’Brien, BBC News, 7.29.1999)


What God says concerning false prophets

When a prophet speaketh in the name of Jehovah, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which Jehovah hath not spoken: the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously, thou shalt not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18.22)



People who believe Christ can return at any moment are the only ones who make false predictions. Those who understand that specific signs must be fulfilled before the Rapture never make predictions. They “wait” and “watch” for those prophecies to be fulfilled, just as Jesus commanded His disciples to do (Matthew 24.42).

All Christians who are obedient to Jesus Christ study the Scriptures daily to know the What (the warning signs of the return of Christ). They also diligently “watch” for those prophecies of the Rapture/Tribulation to be fulfilled so they can know how close the When (time of the Rapture) is.


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