My sympathy is extended to both leader and followers. While I certainly feel that the prediction was unwise and do not agree with other parts of the group's theology/eschatology, I believe they need our compassion and forbearance, not our ridicule.
It is no light thing they have embraced. Indeed, all of us who read His Word should have the hope deep within us that He is coming again.
What is important to understand, however, is that the return of Jesus is not a mere doomsday cliche; it is the fulfillment of His promise, a very important event in His relationship with us, the church. The sequence of future events should be viewed in the context of the sacred romance of Christ and His bride.
He betrothed us unto Himself and signified it with the cup of wine at the Last Supper with His disciples. Then He paid the bride price (necessary in every Jewish marriage) with His own blood on the cross. He told us in John 14 that He was going to prepare a place for us (all Hebrew grooms went back to their father's house to prepare a chamber for the bride). He promised that when His Father gave the word, He would return to take us to be forever with Him (only the groom's father could give the word for the groom to get his bride). He told us to be ready at any time for His return (Hebrew grooms often came at night, with a shofar blast and an announcement by his friends, to joyfully steal the bride away). He promised us His unimagineable love and a home with Him for eternity.
While those who do not love Him will be surpised by His sudden appearance one day, those who are part of the Bride will be delighted when He comes. What bride is not excited on her wedding day? Has she not been expecting and longing for that day to arrive? Has she not yearned to see her beloved's face? For us, it will not be a day of fear and dread, but an hour of unrivaled joy.
The recent prediction gave an opportunity for the scoffers to whoop with derision. But just as false labor only means the birth is looming closer, so the day of the Lord gets ever nearer. (Mark 13:8) And though no man knows that time, the Father does.
(Isn't it interesting that God uses two metaphors for Christ's return which symbolize the greatest joys in a woman's life - weddings and births.)
God keeps His word; He waits so that more may become part of the Bride. While they scorn, He invites them. (1 Peter 3:3-14) He doesn't want anyone to be excluded.
God has written a great romance story. Christ's return is the next big event in our holy relationship with Him. No matter who predicts or scoffs, that day WILL come. And blessed are those who are found on that day dressed in the robe of His righteousness with a heart fully devoted to the bridegroom!
Wedding Day (Listen here)
- words and music by Brent Lamb
Lately I've been thinking as I look all around me
I see by the signs that we're soon going to be leaving
The Bridegroom is coming to take us all away
May be tomorrow, but I pray that it's today
And we will fly away in the twinkling of an eye
Leaving all our heartaches and telling them all goodbye
Yes we will fly away when He hears His Father say,
"Jesus, go and get your bride, today's Your wedding day"
Now when we see the Bridegroom in the clouds in the sky
Will He be telling you hello or telling you goodbye?
Oh, be sure and be ready to meet Him face to face
We've got to fight the good fight, we've got to keep our faith
"Let us rejoice and be glad and give him the glory. For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready." Revelation 19:7
For more on the sacred romance of Christ and the Church, see the study Redeeming Romance.