Remember Edgar Whisenant’s 88 reasons Why The Rapture Will Be in 1988? Whenever a Christian starts talking about signs and evidence for the nearness of the rapture you can be sure there is someone just aching to bring up this book as the be-all and end-all of the conversation. “People have always tried to predict when Jesus will come back and every time they were wrong.” They have a good point and it would be foolish not to address it. You would think that if Whisenant found 88 reasons for the rapture to occur in September 1988, and his prediction failed, then for anyone in any subsequent year to attempt to do the same would be utter foolishness. Predictions for Y2K, 2012, and the Shemitah were coupled with far fewer than 88 reasons.
I finally decided to read Whisenant’s book for myself, rather than rush to judgment and what I found was different than I expected. What I would like to see in the Christian community, especially in the watching community, is far less rushing to judgment and more actual Bible study, research, and reliance on one another to learn what God is trying to communicate.
The first thing I noticed with Whisenant’s list is that many of the 88 reasons were not even specifically tied to the year 1988. For example, Reason 1 was that Jesus saying “no one knows the day or hour” did not necessarily prevent someone from identifying the year, month, or even week of the rapture or second coming. At least here I think Whisenant makes a good point. People have an emotional reaction against predictions because they feel like they’re bound to fail or they feel like Jesus was trying to say you can never figure it out. What does the text itself actually say? It says “no one knows the day or hour.” Saying that no one knows the week, month, or year is adding to the text.
Continuing on through his book…
Reasons 2-6 are the same story – general evidence that the rapture could be near and we might be able to figure it out, but nothing specifically about 1988.
Reason 7 was the first actual evidence Whisenant presents for a rapture in 1988: the final generation will be 40 years long, he says, because of the 40-year desert wandering and the 40 years between Jesus’ supposed crucifixion in 30 AD and the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. The rebirth of Israel was in 1948, which was the budding of the fig tree and 1948 + 40 = 1988. We’ll call this Actual Reason 1. I think his logic here has very obvious holes in it. For starters, there is near-unanimous scholarly consensus that Jesus died in 31 AD or later. His whole theory falls apart if Jesus died in any year but 30 AD. Also, the only time the length of a generation is explicitly defined is in Psalm 90:10 – 70 to 80 years. (Click to Site)