Most everyone is familiar with the story about the boy who cried, "wolf!" The mischievous shepherd boy repeatedly sent the herdsmen running with his false alarms. When a real wolf finally did come prowling, no one responded to the boy's cries for help.
In the past, I've noticed a good deal of false cries of the prophetic kind. We're in the midst of a sharp increase in the number of false predictions concerning Jesus Christ's second coming. I believe this trend indicates that Satan is attempting to suppress prophetic awareness.
One of the main reasons that the devil is promoting date setting is that Bible prophecy describes Satan's final plans, and the devil knows he needs to discredit the Bible before he can fully set up his demonic kingdom.
I've always taken note of any new predictions by some individual or group claiming to know the exact time of Jesus Christ's return. Despite the fact that our Lord said, "Watch therefore for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come" (Mat 24:42), people are still trying to figure out the magic date.
Since every one of these predictions ends up being wrong, it's quite clear the devil is the one who originates them. False predictions certainly could not come from God's guidance. The Bible requires 100 percent accuracy as the test of whether something is divinely inspired:
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...
In the past, after date setters have been proven wrong in their forecasts of Christ's return, there have followed periods of prophetic inactivity. People have naturally become disillusioned after the uneventful passing of the predicted dates. However, today, as soon as one prognosticator fails, another takes his place.
Back in the 1800s, a major second coming prediction appeared every 30 to 40 years. In the 1970s and 1980s, prognosticators were claiming to know when Jesus Christ was coming about every four years. In the 1990s, I saw the trend reach the point where major second-coming predictions were being made every year. After the year 2000 pasted uneventfully, I noticed a sharp reduction in the number predictions.
I cannot think of any other time period that has included more signs pointing to Jesus' second coming. Yet strangely, at the same time, end-time fatigue is also at very high levels. Even the way new dates are proclaimed shows the strain. Prognosticators at one time would openly set dates. Now because of the growing history of failed predictions, they just "suggest" dates.
Erroneous date setting has a profoundly negative effect on nonbelievers. The failures of Christians have always been favorite excuses of the lost for their unsaved and unprepared condition. If you ask them, "Why don't you believe?" they'll point to crooked TV preachers. If you ask them, "Are you ready for Jesus' soon return?" they will say, "Oh, people have always been saying Jesus is coming soon."
As with everyone who practices treachery, the devil has one huge problem. If people become aware of his true intentions, instead of working to deceive us, the devil's every act only works to warn us. Paul the Apostle said that believers would not be in darkness (1 Thes. 5:4).
As we draw closer to the end of the age, I believe Satan will continue to trick people into crying, "wolf!" As the cries grow louder, and folks in general become more desensitized towards the return of our Lord, we who are watchful for Jesus' return should be watchful all the more:
"Therefore be ye ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Mat. 24:44).