Introduction: This past week we had graduation ceremonies at
Regent University School of Law. One of the things I love
about working with young people is the hope they have about
the future. The future also creates uncertainty. What if
things go wrong? They face the challenges of passing the bar
exam and obtaining a job that fits their goals. As
Christians, our ultimate hope is in the Second Coming of
Jesus. What would you say about a group of Christians who
were serious students of the Bible, and who interpreted
prophecy to indicate that Jesus was coming again at a
certain time? They had hope, but Jesus did not come. Where
does misplaced hope fit into the controversy between good
and evil? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible to
discover what lessons God has for us!

I. The Promise of Return

A. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13. What is the “hope”
issue for the readers of this text? (Hope of life
after death. Death is not the end for Christians.
We need not grieve over the death of friends and
family because we have hope.)

B. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:14-15. What question is
implied in this answer? (The readers believe that
Jesus will come within their lifetime, and they
question whether they must be alive to be taken up
to heaven when Jesus returns.)

1. What is the answer to that question? (Those
who are alive will not arrive in heaven before
those Christians who have died.)

2. Would a person ask this question if the
righteous go to heaven at death?

C. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17. What happens at the
Second Coming of Jesus? (The dead in Christ rise
first from the ground, and then those alive will
join them “in the clouds” to meet Jesus. We will
forever live with Jesus.)

1. Describe what those alive when Jesus comes
will see? (They will see formerly dead people
coming out of the ground! Wow!)

D. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18. What should be our
attitude about this? (This gives us hope!)

1. When will this hope be realized?

II. The Timing of the Return

A. Look again at 1 Thessalonians 4:17. Why does Paul,
the writer of this letter to the Thessalonians,
write “we,” as apposed to “those,” “who are alive
… will be caught up?” (Paul believes that he
will be alive when Jesus comes.)

1. How common is this – that Christians believe
that they will be alive when Jesus returns?
(My observation is that it is very common.)

B. Are you familiar with the dream of Daniel 2? If
not, take a few minutes to read it. God gave King
Nebuchadnezzar a dream which Daniel interpreted.
This vision correctly predicted the future of
world right through to the time of Jesus’ Second
Coming. What does that suggest about the other
interpreted prophecies in the book of Daniel?

C. Read Daniel 8:13-14. In David Guzik’s commentary
on this prophecy he notes that William Miller
inspired a large number of Christians to believe
that Jesus would return in 1844. Miller arrived at
that date because it was 2,300 years after “Cyrus
issued the decree to rebuild the temple.” How
could Miller believe that this prophecy extended
to modern times since it refers to days (“evenings
and mornings)? (Miller believed something that
Guzik rejects, that the days were symbolic of

D. Read Daniel 8:27. We have skipped over most of the
vision given to Daniel. Did he understand it? (No.
He was sick that he did not understand.)

E. Read Daniel 9:21-23. How does Daniel’s situation
change? (Gabriel comes from heaven to explain the
prophetic vision to him.)

F. Read Daniel 9:24-27. We are not going to do a deep
dive into Gabriel’s explanation. Instead, I will
tell you that there was widespread agreement among
Christian scholars two hundred years ago (and even
now) that this time line (using the day = year
principle) accurately predicted the time of Jesus’
first coming (“the coming of the anointed one”),
the time of His crucifixion (“anointed one shall
be cut off”) and the destruction of the second
temple in 70 AD (“destroy the city and the

1. What does this teach us about those (like
Guzik) who reject the day = year principle for
prophetic interpretation? (Since that
principle accurately predicted Jesus’ first
coming, rejecting it creates a serious logical
problem for those who accept Jesus as the

G. Re-read Daniel 8:14 and 2 Peter 3:5-7. In the ESV
the sanctuary of Daniel 8:14 is “restored to its
rightful state” and in the KJV (and others) it is
“cleansed.” The general idea among the various
translations is that the sanctuary will be
purified. What does Peter say will happen to the
earth in the final judgment? (The wicked will be
destroyed by fire. The earth will be cleaned of

H. Let’s discuss this. Christians still understand
the prophecies of Daniel 8 and 9 to be accurate
with regard to the history of the world, the
coming of Jesus, His tenure on earth, and the
destruction of Jerusalem. Many did not accept
William Miller’s continuation of the 2,300 day
prophecy to end in 1844. Of course, we now know
that Miller was wrong. I’ve studied Miller’s
interpretation and were I alive during his time I
would agree with him – except for his prediction
of an exact time. See Matthew 24:36. How should
we look at this failed interpretation?

1. Should we believe the prophecy given to Daniel
is wrong or the Bible unreliable?

2. If we accept the prophecy as accurate and the
Bible reliable, what should we conclude?
(Human error is responsible.)

I. Read Matthew 24:30 and Matthew 24:32-35. If you
were listening to Jesus, when would you think He
would return? (During “this generation,” meaning
during my lifetime.)

1. Notice the certificate of accuracy that Jesus
places on His words in verse 35. What should
we conclude about that? (The only reasonable
conclusion for a Christian who believes in the
Bible is that we need to be very careful about
understanding prophecy.

III. The Great Controversy and Misunderstood Prophecy.

A. Who wins when followers of Jesus misunderstand

1. Is there any upside to an interpretation of
prophecy that ultimately fails? (I think there
is. First, you interest people in the Bible
who might otherwise ignore it. Second, one
reasonable reaction to a misunderstanding is
that you would study the Bible even more
diligently to try to get it right the second

2. You may recall that I recently bitterly
complained about Christians who attack fellow
Christians. The attack arises because they
believe fellow Christians will at some future
point limit their religious liberty. What
should the Jewish failure to understand the
prophecies predicting Jesus’ first coming and
Miller’s failure to understand the prophecy
about Jesus’ second coming teach us? (A little

B. Read Luke 12:35-37. What is this parable about?
(Being ready for Jesus’ return.)

C. Read Luke 12:38-40. Does it seem to you that Jesus
thought His followers would have a prophetic time
line predicting when He would return? (Just the
opposite! Jesus says (and this is a prophecy)
that He will come at a time we do not expect. Be
ready at all times.)

1. Does that mean it is “fool’s errand” to try to
puzzle out end-time prophecies?

2. If you answered, “yes,” why did God give the
prophecies to us? (I see a tension in this.
Fulfilled prophecy gives us confidence in the
Bible and the power of God. Understanding
unfulfilled prophecy requires true humility.)

D. Friend we have hope! Jesus promises us life after
death. He will return and take His faithful
followers back to heaven to be with Him forever!
Are you ready? Will you accept Jesus right now so
that you will live forever with Him?

IV. Next week: Light From the Sanctuary.

Copr. 2024, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are
from the ESV Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard
Version ), copyright 2001 by Crossway, a publishing
ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All
rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within
parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail,
but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this
link: Pray for the guidance of the
Holy Spirit as you study.