Does Bible prophecy tell us what will happen in 2018? Can Jesus come back finally this year? Or does a prophetic event have to happen first before end time prophecies can occur? Learn the comforting answer of plain Scripture from someone who has correctly helped others know what not to expect now eleven years straight. Plus what tells us we are safe until at least 2026 from the "beginning of sorrows" that Jesus said lead up to his return...
What's Prophesied For 2018?
It happens every January: a spike in visitors to my website. With New Year's Day fresh in mind, people think about the new year. Many of them "go to and fro" (= searching) on the Internet (Dan 12:4) for predictions, sometimes landing them on one of my articles. With all the prophecy in the Bible, Christians wonder if some of them are about to be fulfilled.
And 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 Shemitah. With the flop of such invented prophecy theories, the top prophecy focus returns to the mainstays: the Second Coming of Christ and the Rapture.
A large percentage of Christians continue to believe every year that "this could be the year that Christ returns..." or "...that the Rapture happens." That's not just my opinion as someone who has run 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."
- 46% of white evangelical Christians
- 34% of Protestants
- 17% of Catholics
- 10% of the non-religious
(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. Nevertheless, as the article will show below, it does not matter which one is referred to.)
What Surprised Me About the Poll Results
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. This reaction was due to two reasons:
- There have been so many years of failed expectations for Christ's coming. Pretty much every year since Christ left, people have been hoping or predicting he would return. Why would anyone expect it imminently anymore?
- Back in 2006 I assumed more Christians were aware of some basics of prophecy. For example, Paul wrote that Jesus cannot return to gather us to him until the "man of sin" (Antichrist) takes over "first" (2Th 2:2-4). Certainly, I thought, most Christians know that this "Great Tribulation" of the Antichrist they heard of must arrive before the Second Coming? Not so...
To be sure, the poll helped me to understand better how unfamiliar Christians are of the history of rapture predictions and NT prophecy about Christ's return. As a person who has studied prophecy and served others who were also interested or studying, I had things to learn about the greater Christian audience, those who never even heard a teaching 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.
My Response to the Poll?
After better understanding this Christian blind spot 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 miffed. For example:
- "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?"
- "You're a terrible person for saying this and dashing people's hopes." (People hate buzzkills!)
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 (Mt 7:6).
If that does not describe you because you want to know what most Christians are misunderstanding about end time prophecy, then read on...
My 11-Year Track Record of Proclaiming The Legal Requirements to the Second Coming.
Nothing prophetic happened in 2007 just as my article showed from Scripture. Of course, it was not much of a risk to state that Jesus would not come to earth that year. The numerous prerequisite events (listed below) could not have possibly been completed in such a short time. It was as safe as stating that the moon will not descend to earth. Just as it would take some major new force or event for the moon to descend, likewise Jesus is not descending here until certain unprecedented events happen. The requirements for both events were and are simply not present.
As history consistently shows, the truly risky proposition is stating when Jesus will come back 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 would not and 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:
2007... 2008... 2009... 2010... 2011... 2012... 2013... 2014... 2015... 20 16... 2017...
That's eleven years so far of going out on record that Jesus will not come back in the next year.
Why point this out? Am I just "tooting my own horn?"
No. I point to my track record because it is not at all typical of prophecy researchers.
The vast majority of prophecy experts either A) make predictions that always fail whether they are specific or vague ("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 church 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, a distinction like this is very helpful.
The Secret to My Track Record Helps You, Too
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 recognizing the 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.
Why are these prerequisite events not common knowledge? Because most 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 unscriptural, so is the imminency teaching used to justify it.
It's false because there is no plain verse saying that "Jesus can come back at any moment" or "without any prerequisite." Instead, this theory relies on verses saying other things that perhaps could be "because the Second Coming is imminent." For example, Jesus saying "always be ready" (Lk 12:40). Did he say that because he can come any second (again, not stated elsewhere in the Bible)...or because when you backslide you can become deceived with the "strong delusion" (2Th 2:11) and 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. Christians usually don't know their Bibles well enough to discern whether a doctrine they hear from other Christians is really taught by the Bible or not. Further, this doctrine is telling them exactly what they want to hear, so they are not looking to disprove it. 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 nearly 2000 years after Jesus left without his return. 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 over 1,987 years since he left in 30 AD, why has he not shown up?
The Bible Reveals a Full Roadmap of Future Events
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 preliminary 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. 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. Once you do, this literal approach unlocks a sequence of future events described in the key prophecies of Revelation, Daniel and Jesus (in Mt 24). 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. For example, having the Rapture in the wrong place (before the Great Tribulation) in the sequence of events will do this.
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. That means the Second Coming or the Rapture are not "next" or "imminent."
In other words, if Jesus' return to earth is "Event C," then that 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.
Event A → Event B → Event C / Jesus
Prerequisite Prophecy Event 1 → PPE 2 → ... → Second Coming
Potential vs. Impossible Years of Jesus' Return
Now, if hypothetical Event A has not happened, this means that the end has not even begun.
But does that mean we cannot have any clue at all as to when the end is or when the end is not? Thankfully, no.
Although the exact timing of Jesus' Second Coming has been unknown to the general public just as Jesus said in Matthew 24:36 "no man knows the day or hour" (read: exact time), that does not mean that the general public will never know the exact time even after nearly two millennia have passed. Nor does it preclude a few with the wisdom of God from knowing the timing before the general public does! Jesus never said "no man WILL EVER know."
Even before then, you can be sure that the end is "not yet" (Mt 24:6; Mk 13:7) without knowing absolutely when it will be yet. We can do this by working from the relatively few potential years of his return to rule out the many years when he cannot come. The potential years come from the many timing clues given in the end time prophecies.
For example, as long as the end times and Revelation roadmap have not begun, this fact itself continually rules out the next several years from Jesus' appearing. 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. Yet this has been proven to be false hope.
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 bio-chips) 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 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 2018—or even the rest of this decade!
List of Prerequisites to Jesus' Return
So, what are these prerequisite events? Here are several examples from my book starting with the first event to come:
- Psalm 83/Isaiah 17 War - Damascus Destroyed — Rather than the Rapture, the next event in prophecy is a swift war in the Middle East between Israel and many of her Arab/Islamic neighbors. You do not need a Bible to tell you this as many secular sources expect one, due to the tensions between Israel and the Arabs and Iran (not Arab, but Persian). The concern over Iran's nuclear program has only added to this. The outcome of this war will be the destruction of Damascus (Isa 17:1) and several other major Arab cities and regions, along with much devastation in Israel. Obviously, the attack has still not happened because Damascus remains a city to this day.
- The Sixth Seal/Wormwood — If you read Revelation 6:12-17 carefully you will see that it depicts the entire population panicking and running for cover in response to signs in the heavens and a tremendous global earthquake on earth moving every mountain and island out of place. It is obvious that nothing like this has happened since the first century when it was written and when knowledge of the Lamb of God (named by those panicking: Rev 6:16) has arrived. By the way, this event is the very "sign of the end" that Jesus told his followers to watch for (Mt 24:7-8=Lk 21:10-11=Joel 2:30-32=Rev 6:12-17). God's end time escape instructions shared by Jesus, Joel and Revelation would then play out for the faithful.
- Third Temple — Several passages describe a Third Temple on the Temple Mount with sacrifices going during the Great Tribulation (Rev 11:1-2; Mt 24:15; 2The 2:3-4). The Antichrist is even described as sitting in this end time temple as part of his declaration of himself as God (2Th 2:4). Obviously, there is as yet still no temple or even a construction project under way for one, nor sacrifices yet. Speaking of the construction, some say that everything is already being prepared for this temple and it can go up fast, in less than a year. Even if that's true, under the current political situation they still could not break ground on the Temple Mount without the Arabs approval or a strong belligerent response of opposition. The Arab control and power needs to be broken first, and that is not going to happen without a war, probably the future Psalm 83 war as above.
- Abomination of Desolation — The Great Tribulation starts 30 days (as in the 1290 - 1260 days) after the Abomination of Desolation is stood up on the Temple Mount (Mk 13:14). The abomination refers to the Image of the Beast statue being erected for worship (Rev 13:14). At the same time the Third Temple sacrifices are halted by the Antichrist. This is another unfulfilled prophecy as only the Antichrist can accomplish this and he is not here yet.
- Great Tribulation — This is the most obvious and well-known preliminary end time event. According to Daniel 9:27 = Matthew 24:21, Jesus must return after a period of "Great Tribulation." During this Great Tribulation, the Antichrist will rule over the world for 42 months (Rev 13). He will force all the unsaved (Rev 13:8) to take a mark in their right hand or forehead during that time. Plainly, we are not in the Great Tribulation and no mark of the beast has been issued yet.
- The Rapture — Finally, the Rapture comes after the Great Tribulation, or post-trib. Yet not to save anyone from any threat on earth as Christians suppose. The Rapture arrives right on time for the faithful to be "rewarded" (Rev 11:18) with glorified eternal bodies (1Co 15:52) so they can then rule for the entire 1000 year Millennium along with those in the first resurrection (Rev 20:4-5). (But you have to qualify for the Rapture by listening to what Jesus said to do.)
- The Wrath of God/7 Bowls — The seven bowls of God's wrath immediately fall when the faithful leave temporarily to heaven (Rev 15:5-8) (for the marriage supper of the lamb), just as Jesus described in saying it would be just like as in the days of Noah and Lot when one are taken (the righteous) and one are left (the wicked).
- The Second Coming — Finally, Jesus "returns to earth" on Yom Kippur/The Day of the LORD to fight the Battle of Armageddon (Rev 19:11-21). He brings back with him the raptured and resurrected saints from the marriage supper of the lamb (Rev 19:9) in Heaven (Rev 15:5-8). Then they reign for the Millennium.
These are only some of the events from the full end time roadmap as covered in my comprehensive 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.
The Prophetic "Sabbath Years" Narrow It Down Even Further
Usually, you can rule out Jesus' coming even more than seven years in advance.
How? Through the special insight that Jesus can only return in one out of every seven years: a Sabbath year. The Sabbath year commanded to ancient Israel not only gave them a blessing of a year of rest from planting their fields with the associated promise of bounty in the sixth year before that. It also was prophetic like all the Torah (Mt 5:17-18). That means it had a end time meaning and fulfillment.
The fulfillment of the Sabbath year is that it pictures the Millennium peace and rest, the 1000 period that begins with Jesus' return. Just as the ancient Israelites rested their fields and experienced God's blessing, provision and peace in that year, so will we in the Millennium.
Putting this together, it means that the final seven years or 70th week of Daniel (Dn 9:27) is aligned on a Sabbath year cycle or a "week of years" (Dan 9:26). This cycle consists of six regular years followed by a special Sabbath year. Jesus returns in that final Sabbath year of the 70th Week, whenever it is. It's impossible for him to return in one of the six non-Sabbath years. This rules out six out of seven years on the calendar, right off the bat.
For example, here in 2018, we are just into a new Sabbath year cycle (2017-2023). Because of the missing events listed above, it's impossible for this cycle to be the one Jesus returns in. That rules out the entire period from 2017-2023 and makes the next period the first possible after that (2024-2030). This means Jesus cannot return from 2018-2029. 2030 is the next possible Sabbath year.
2026 - Why I'm Convinced It's the Year the End Starts
If 2030 is the year Jesus returns, then the 70th week spans 2024-2030, ending 6 months before the Sabbath year completes in spring, 2031 because "he cuts short the time" (Mt 24:22). But that does not mean the bad stuff or "beginning of sorrows" starts in 2024. It actually would begin in 2026.
2026 is not too far off which is why I'm sad to report that the closer we get to it, the more confirmation keeps falling into my lap about it, despite me not wanting it to be true.
For example, I already have had several dreams and developments in my own life that led me to share publicly why I am convinced the end begins in 2026.
Then in 2017, when Trump announced the decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital and move the US Embassy Jerusalem, God gave me a dream. I never asked for confirmation about 2026 for obvious reasons, but it came anyway in remarkable fashion: a dream in three separate, interrupted sleep segments. That morning I released my article on how God had confirmed through the dream that Trump's provocative announcement was prophetic and leading to the nuclear Middle East war.
Many others have written me since then to say they also heard from God that Trump's announcement was a move towards end time prophecy.
To sum up, while I'm happy to say that the end can't come this year, this decade or even seven years from now, sadly developments keep convincing me that 2026 can be it :-(.
Common Objections To Hearing Jesus Can't Come Back
To state that Jesus is not coming this year (even without ruling out the rest of the decade, too) may sound wrong or crazy to many. Most don't realize Jesus himself said "the end is not yet" and gave the conditions for discerning that ourselves (Mt 24:6; Lk 21:9). Here's a few of the common objections:
Objection #1: "The world is too evil to last much 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 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 that they were the "last generation." Relative and subjective arguments like that don't compare to the absolute specific description Jesus gave of the end time sign.
Objection #2: "Jesus comes as a thief in the night, by surprise, so you won't have any clue as to years..."
There are verses implying that Jesus will come suddenly and unexpectedly like a "thief in the night" (1Th 5:2; 2Pe 3:10)? However, if you check out the passages in context you will find that this thief-like surprise applies 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, a few of which this article has shared. If Christians keep them in mind, they will not find Jesus' coming surprises them like the world (1Th 5:4).
Objection #3: "You're claiming to know the day or hour!"
Some might argue that my proclamation about 2018 contradicts "no man knows the day or the hour" (Mt 24:36). This seems valid at first until you understand what was covered already above about Jesus' statement not meaning we were forever prohibited from knowing. The public will know when the end is close. Also, a prohibition on knowing when something will happen does not mean you don't have enough clues to know certain times when it cannot possibly happen.
For example, if a friend tells you he will drop by on one of his days off to catch up, but he does not tell you which one. You don't know the "day or hour" (which means "time") of his coming. Yet say you know his day off from work is Saturday. 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 for a major visit like he promised?
It is the same with Jesus' Second Coming. Although the absolute timing of his coming is not publicly known we still 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 random time even if we don't know the one and only time he will.
Objection #4: "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.
We all are still mortal. We 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).
Ultimately, let's not forget that 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 certain (unmistakable) global conditions appear. Jesus did not teach "imminency" or to expect his coming any and every day. He taught instead constant vigilance to not allow yourself to backslide because you don't know when you will die or when he will come (Lk 12:45).
So, rather than this end time wisdom having disadvantages or a curse, 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 yet. The continual predictions about the end coming around every corner every year keeps many people in fear. That needless anxiety (Php 4:6; Mt 6:25) can lead people to live under costly short-term thinking and make very poor decisions for themselves and their family. I've seen many sad cases of this (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 off a misunderstanding which 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 "this year" persists 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 lead-up events breaks Scripture (John 10:35) and is to be rejected by Bereans who test religious doctrine against God's revelation (Acts 17:11).
Scripture teaches that there are prerequisites or events that must come first. If we put aside popular Christian speculation and prophecy invention and consult the Bible's prophetic roadmap directly, we can find assurance that Jesus won't be returning in
2017 2018. Even better he won't return for several years after that for sure because of Sabbath year cycles
...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 agree that it is disappointing to hear that Jesus is not coming in 2018 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 2018 without it taking years of personal study and/or in supporting this ministry and "help get the word out," check out the book Know the Future offered on this site. Orders directly support my writing of free articles.
If you want to understand why I finally wrote an article to answer the question that people always email me on "When do you think the end is?," see my in-depth study on 2026 in prophecy.
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Tim is the author of this site (since 1999) and the book Know the Future that explains Revelation literally at last--including the key event of Wormwood (Rev 6-8). To read more from Tim and not miss a single new article, sign up for his free newsletter above.