What does Bible prophecy say will happen in 2016? Will Jesus come back? Is there anything missing before such end time prophecies can start? Learn the comforting answer of plain Scripture from someone who has helped others know what not to expect now nine years in a row.
By Tim McHyde
It happens every January: a spike in visitors to my website. The New Year tilts people forward-looking and many of them "go to and fro" (= searching) on the Internet (Dan 12:4) for predictions for the coming year.
This includes Christians. With all the prophecy in the Bible, Christians wonder if some are about to be fulfilled.
What is the biggest prophecy Christians wonder about? In the years since the Great Recession, economic disaster theories have been in vogue, such as with The Harbinger and the the Shemitah. With the flop of such theories, probably the top prophecy focus will return to the mainstays. That would be the Second Coming of Christ with the rapture no doubt being a close second.
A large percentage of Christians continue to believe every year that "this could be the year Christ returns..." or "the rapture happens." That's not just my opinion as someone who has produced a prophecy website since 1999. An Ipsos poll asking how likely certain events were to happen in the coming year confirmed this. According to the poll, here's what percentage of different subgroups of Christians thought it was at least "somewhat likely that Jesus Christ would return to earth in the next year."
(Note: The phrase "return to earth" used by the pollsters is an unfortunately vague term. It best fits the Second Coming, yet to those surveyed it could have been understood as the rapture. However, as the article will show below, it does not matter which one is referred to.)
When I heard the results of that poll in December 2006, it surprised me. I was not expecting so many Christians would think it was still possible for Jesus to come in the next twelve months for two reasons:
To be sure, the poll helped me to understand better how unfamiliar Christians are of the history and NT prophecy about Christ's return. As a person who studied prophecy and catered to others who were interested or studying, I had things to learn about the average Christian who never even heard a sermon on prophecy. Likewise, while I hear about every popular prophecy prediction each year, most Christians hear nothing of them except when they go up on billboards across America like Harold Camping did in 2011.
After learning about this Christian blindspot on end time prophecy, I of course wrote an article to help. It was the first version of this article called "Why Jesus Can't Come Back in 2007." I figured a title like that ought to get people to stop and pay attention.
In it, I explained why it was impossible for Jesus to come back in 2007 based on what Bible prophecy literally says. I covered the many missing prophetic events that have to come before not just the Second Coming, but also the rapture (see below for the list).
Most readers thanked me for shedding needed light on this confusing subject, but some were angry. "Aren't you claiming to know the day or hour that Jesus said we can't?" "How dare you claim to know such a thing, as if you're God?" or "You're a terrible person for saying this and dashing people's hopes."
I learned from all that, too. Not everyone wants the truth. Some want to be left in their comforting belief. If you burst their bubble, they may become very "unchristian-like" on you, just as Jesus warned about truth telling.
If that does not describe you because you want to know what most Christians are misunderstanding about end time prophecy, then read on...
Nothing prophetic happened in 2007 as my article proved would not from Scripture. Writing that Jesus would not come to earth that year was not a big risk. The numerous prerequisite events (listed below) could not have possibly been completed in such a short time. It was a very safe bet like stating, for example, that the moon will not descend to earth that year, either. Just as it would take some major new force or event for the moon to descend to earth, likewise Jesus is not coming back until certain unprecedented events happen. The requirements for both events were simply not present, making them both impossible.
As history consistently shows, the truly risky proposition is always stating when Jesus will come back (something Jesus did say "no man knows") or the year of the fulfillment of any other Biblical prophecy, for that matter.
So after that year passed, I updated this article and went on record again for the next year, 2008. I knew that Christians would again expect or predict the Second Coming for that year. I also knew that just as with 2007, the requirements were not present and it did not happen.
Every year since then I have updated this article to let people know that the requirements for Jesus to come back that year are simply not present:
That's eight years so far of going out on record that Jesus will not come back the next year.
I point this out because it's just not typical of prophecy researchers. Remember, the vast majority of prophecy experts either A) make specific predictions that always fail or make vague predictions that are meaningless ("something big will happen") or B) claim we don't have enough information to know if Jesus is coming in the next year or not. These views keep the body in alternatively fear and anxiety or confusion and ignorance.
In contrast, I have consistently gone on record that popular predictions won't happen and I have shown how we can at least rule out Jesus coming in certain years especially in the short term. For people trying to decide who is worth listening to on prophecy, noting a distinction like this is very helpful.
What's my secret? And how can it help you avoid being confused or troubled by the false predictions made every year about the Second Coming and other prophecies?
My secret is understanding there are many major events listed in prophecy that must come before Jesus "returns to earth." If you recognize these events in your own Bible, too, you'll be far ahead of most prophecy researchers. More importantly, you won't fall for their predictions anymore.
Most prophecy experts miss these prerequisite events because they believe in the "pretrib rapture" doctrine and the related doctrine of "imminency." This imminency teaching states that the "pretrib rapture" can come at any moment without any prerequisite event. Just as the pretrib rapture is false and unbiblical, so is the imminency teaching used to justify it.
Note that this imminency theory predominates not because it is found in the Bible. It's not. No verse says Jesus can come back at any moment without any prerequisite.
The theory instead relies on verses saying other things that perhaps could be because the Second Coming is imminent. For example, Jesus saying "always be ready." Is that because he can come any second (not taught in the Bible)...or because when you backslide you miss or misunderstand the signs of Jesus' coming (1Th 5:4-5) like the wicked Jews did before (clearly taught throughout Jesus' parables) ?
If imminency is not biblical, then how can it be so popular? Two reasons. Most Christians don't know their Bibles well enough to discern false doctrines most people believe. Also this doctrine is telling them exactly what they want to hear, so they are not looking at it too hard. As alluded to earlier, Christians naturally hope that Jesus will come back soon for many reasons. At the very least they are fed up with this evil world and look forward to him cleaning it up. A teaching that he can come at any moment or any year sounds wonderful.
Yet here we are in 2016 without Jesus. Isn't it time to move on from the dubious doctrine of imminency (along with the pretrib rapture)?
If Jesus' coming was really "imminent" for every single one of the nearly 1,986 years since he left in 30 AD, why has he not shown up?
The answer to why Jesus has not come back yet is not at all commonly understood.
Simply put, contrary to what most Christians believe and are taught, Jesus said that there are indeed prerequisites to his return and the start of his reign in the Millennium. Until these required events happen, he said that the "end is not yet/by and by" (Mt 24:6; Lk 21:9) and he will not be appearing any time soon. He cannot come until the end does and the end is not here yet.
Where do I get all this? Straight from the Bible as read plainly and literally (John 10:35). It is hard to read it that way until you put any preconceptions (and emotionally-charged hopes) aside. This literal approach unlocks a sequence of future events described in the key prophecies of Revelation, Daniel and Jesus (in Mt 24). When put together properly, these prophecies draw a roadmap revealing what we are to expect to happen as God's servants (Rev 1:1).
Unfortunately, it is not easy to do this. Many Bible prophecies are labeled difficult "mysteries" (Rev 10:7; 17:5, 7) or call for "understanding" and "wisdom" (Dan 12:10; Mt 24:15; Rev 13:18). As such, it is like putting together a large jigsaw puzzle—a puzzle where you have to scavenge for and identify the pieces first, if you will. The pieces to this puzzle are not all conveniently in one place and in order, but are scattered throughout several books of both the Old and New Testament somewhat haphazardly.
Similar to working with a real jigsaw puzzle, if you have one piece out of place, it can stop you from completing the puzzle and seeing the picture that it was intended to reveal. The more sure you are about that out-of-place piece being correctly placed, the more blocked you will be (think: rapture in the pretrib position).
If you get past those obstacles to assembling the end time prophecy puzzle pieces, the picture emerges that there is much more than just the Great Tribulation, Rapture and Second Coming ahead that makes up the eschatology of most Christians. There are more events ahead than Christians have imagined. Importantly, most of these unknown prophetic events precede the Second Coming.
In other words, if Jesus' return to earth is "Event C," then it cannot come until "Event B" has already happened. Likewise, "Event B" will not be seen unless "Event A" has already been fulfilled. It's really that simple.
Now, if Event A has not happened, then this means the end has not even begun. In that case, the exact timing of when Jesus is coming is still unknowable just as Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 that "no man knows the day or hour" (read: exact time). Further, you can be sure that the end is "not yet" (Mt 24:6; Mk 13:7) even if you don't know absolutely when it will be. Anyone who says they know the exact year is mistaken and should not be believed (at least not until we get very close). All we can know now is many potential years of his return.
Nevertheless, there are periods when Jesus cannot come which are indeed knowable. For example, as long as the end times and Revelation roadmap have not begun, it continually rules out the next several years for Jesus to appear. Jesus' return is impossible in that timeframe. This is because the missing prerequisite events take substantial time to play out. Several years, in fact. This describes exactly the situation we have been in ever since the New Testament was written, in a holding pattern waiting for the first end time event. Unmistakably, the end is "not yet." (Note that other, non-final-seven-years prophecies have been fulfilled like the resurgence of Israel in 1948 per Isaiah 11:10-12.)
If the body of Christ had understood Jesus' words on the preconditions of his coming, they would not be pronouncing or expecting the rapture or imminent return of Jesus every year. Because few believers have understood these overlooked prerequisites, each generation has naturally maintained hope that perhaps they were already in the end times and that Jesus could come back at any moment.
Then what typically happens is that we justify this belief through other misread prophecies. For example, some might see a world figure who seems to fit the Antichrist (like Emperor Nero) or a technological development that seems to fulfill the mark of the beast (like bar codes or biochips) and conclude that it is a sign that the time must be near or in their lifetime. That kind of reasoning has been used innumerable times and ways but always resulted in disappointment.
It is important to put aside these pseudo-signs and look only to the real milestones listed in the Bible if you want to correctly know when there really is something prophetic coming to worry about. Given the fact that none of the prerequisite end time events have transpired, it is safe to say that it is impossible for Jesus to come in 2016—or even the rest of this decade!
So, what are these prerequisite events? Here are several examples starting with the first event to come:
These are only some of the events from the full end time roadmap as covered in my book:
However, the above list does include the "Event A" from my earlier explanation: the Psalm 83 War. Until we see that event, the end time roadmap/final seven years has not begun. This means we could still have years or even a decade (or two?) before the end times events start and finish with Jesus' return. For sure, as long as it is unfulfilled, we have a good minimum of seven years before Jesus can come back, which is the length of the 70th Week of Daniel time frame in which all but one of the events above must take place.
To suggest that Jesus is not coming for sure this year let alone the rest of the decade may sound wrong or crazy to many. Here's a few objections:
"The World Is Too Evil To Last Longer"
People often point to the multiplying and worsening problems in the world as proof that "the end is nigh"...(for sure this time!). However, social or economic problems are not one of the events on the end time roadmap. At best they are just reasonable-sounding speculations. And if you study history, every generation has been able to point to something getting worse as proof they were the last generation. Relative and subjective arguments don't compare to the absolute specific description Jesus gave of the end time sign.
"Jesus A Thief in the Night?"
What about the verses implying Jesus will come suddenly and unexpectedly like a "thief in the night" (1Th 5:2; 2Pe 3:10)? If you check out the passages in context you will find that this thief-like surprise is only applicable to the world and not to the "sons of light and sons of the day" (1Th 5:4). God's children have revelation about the circumstances of the coming of Jesus just as this article has covered. If they keep them in mind, they will not find Jesus' coming surprises them like the world (1Th 5:4).
"You're Claiming to Know the Day or Hour!"
Some might argue that Jesus cannot come back over the next few years as contradicting, "no man knows the day or the hour" (Mt 24:36). This seems valid at first until you think it through. You see, a prohibition on knowing when something will happen does not mean you cannot know many other points in time when it cannot possibly happen.
For example, if a friend tells you he will drop by on one of his days off but he does not tell you which one, you don't know the "day or hour" (which means "time") of his coming. Yet say his day off is Saturday. So would you sit there on Sunday or Monday hoping or believing he might just come "today?" Or would you know he can't be coming that day? It is the same with Jesus' coming. We do not know the absolute timing of his coming; we only know many years when he cannot come according to his own words. Jesus' coming has conditions and circumstances to it that mean he cannot come just any time even if we don't know the one and only time he will.
"Telling Christians This Will Hurt Them"
Others complain that to say "Jesus is not coming this year" translates to saying people don't have to be alert, pray and stay close to God (Lk 21:36). However, knowing Jesus cannot come back soon does not change anything about needing to "always be ready" and not backslide into sin. The reason is that we all are mortal and can lose our life tomorrow through "time and chance" that the Bible says happens to us all (Ecc 9:11-12). Because we can "meet our maker" at any moment we always need to be ready as Jesus taught (Mt 24:44; Lk 12:40). Finally, Jesus himself is the origin of this message that "the end is not yet"; or "the end is not by and by" (Mk 13:7; Lk 21:9) until you see certain milestone events. He did not teach "imminency" or to expect his coming every day. He taught instead constant vigilance to not allow yourself to backslide (Lk 12:45).
Rather than this knowledge having disadvantages like that, there is a clear advantage to it compared to the popular "the end is nigh" thinking which focuses people on something that is not going to happen. The continual predictions about the end coming around every corner every year keeps many people in fear. That anxiety can lead people to live under costly short-term thinking and make very poor decisions for themselves and their family. I've seen too many sad cases of this to count (including my own experience for a time when I still had not discovered what this article shares). It truly is better to know the truth and act off of that—prayerfully and righteously—rather than a misunderstanding that opens you up to constant false alarms or paranoia or influences you to make bad choices or live in dread.
The popular hope and expectation that Jesus is coming in the next year is persistent among Christians despite a "no show" every year so far. Not surprisingly, it turns out that this belief is based more on fantasy than fact. The doctrine that the pretrib rapture is the next event in prophecy is mainly to blame for sustaining this fantasy and obscuring the facts. That the Second Coming can happen imminently or without warning breaks Scripture (John 10:35) and should be rejected.
Scripture teaches that there are prerequisites or events that must come first. If we are going to put aside speculation and consult the Bible's prophetic roadmap, we can find assurance that Jesus won't be returning in
2015 2016 or several years after that for sure...nor can the dreadful Great Tribulation come that soon either. There is simply not enough time in a year for all the events to happen.
I appreciate that it is disappointing to hear that Jesus is not coming in 2016 or any time soon after that. The good part of this is that by the same principle, many bad things like Wormwood and the Great Tribulation are also certain to not come next year either! It means you can stop worrying about the end coming suddenly and unexpectedly as long as the situation of the past 2000 years of no prerequisite events continues.
If you are interested in learning all the things you do not have to worry about in 2016 without it taking years of personal study, check out the book Know the Future offered on this site.
If you liked this article, you will LOVE my book, Know the Future, a comprehensive, literal explanation of end time prophecy read by over 21,000 people since 2005.
It explains more on prophecy than all this site's articles combined and is up-to-date in its 8th edition, in both softcover and ebook. Note: By buying my book you not only bless us both (yourself with understanding and me with support), but you also bless others with the new articles you enable me to write.
Tim McHyde is the founder of EscapeAllTheseThings .com and a blogger on Bible prophecy since 1999. To read more from Tim and not miss a single new article, please sign up for his free newsletter below.
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