I recently watched two of the latest Jack Van Impe’s TV programs. I probably had not watched his program in almost a decade for a number of reasons. Van Impe fell out of favor with me when he started quoting mystics and pagans to support his end time speculations about how soon the Lord would return. Of course, Jack would always say that he is not setting dates, but then he would go ahead and set an outermost date for the fulfillment of the Rapture. Over the years, Jack Van Impe has proven that he can be wrong on his date speculations. However, my main criticism of him was the use of extra-biblical sources to support his date speculations.
Tom Horn and other nationally known prophecy teachers also quote mystics and pagan prophecy. However, I do not know of any major Bible prophecy teacher, other than Jack Van Impe, that believes these extra-biblical prophecies actually originate from God. These other Bible prophecy teachers would say the information comes from Satan. My beef with them is that Satan and his minions do not determine or control the future.
Knowing everything including the future is one of the major proofs that God is actually God. He is not bound by the limitations set in His creation, but every created being in His creation is bound by the physical laws within His universe and what God determines.
For thousands of years Satan has tried to take full dominion over the earth through human world leaders, but God’s angels and God’s people limit him from actually doing so. Satan does not know God’s timing. He really only knows that he has a short time left to accomplish his agenda after he and his angels are cast out of the heavens unto the earth (Rev 12:12). And at that time, Satan can only accomplish dominion on earth because what restrains him has been removed (2Th 2:7).
The first of the two Jack Van Impe programs that I watched appeared to be biblical, so I thought maybe Jack learned to stay on more solid ground. However, the second program dispelled that thought.
Jack Van Impe talked about the supposed prophecy of Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel who died in 1217 AD. Van Impe did not quote his sources for how he even found that “prophecy” but one would think that the sources would be very reliable if he is going to broadcast to the world from what he read in that “prophecy”. Van Impe surmises that the Rabbi was saying the start of the tribulation (the 70th week of Daniel) would occur in 2017.
To support that concept Van Impe put all his eggs in one defective basket, Van Impe said a number or times on that program, that at most we have 4.5 years left before the Rapture, so you better get ready (Van Impe is a pretribulation Rapture teacher).
In truth, the Rapture can happen at anytime, but I did not fall off the back of a turnip truck. I am not going to buy into something unless it makes biblical sense. This supposed prophecy by Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel of before 1217 A.D. made my discernment litmus tester turn red, indicating to me that Van Impe was once again blowing wind across the slightly acidic airwaves where turnips tend to flourish.
Since Van Impe did not give his source for this “prophecy”, I had to research it myself. I found dozens of articles that were quoting this prophecy but I only found two sources on the Internet that were not just copied verbatim from the original source where the rest came from. One was from Joseph Farah of WND. His article was written in 2012 and it is titled Just 5 years till end times commence? , the main point of the Farah’s article came from an article in Israel Today. The other article was by Pastor F.M. Riley written on 3/9/10, he apparently also got his info from the Israel Today article. Therefore, there really is only one original source of this “prophecy” attributed to Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel on the Internet that I could find. That article is in the March 2008 issue – page 18 of Israel Today magazine, that article was written by Ludwig Schneider.
There is nothing else that I could find to verify that such a prophecy from before 1217 AD even existed. It does not surprise me that people on the Internet just copy articles and do not give credit to the source, because some copy entire articles of mine without linking back to this site. What was really surprising, is that in the dozens of articles that I had read, I could only find one article that was critical of the claim.
Since Jack Van Impe has broadcast this “prophecy”, and has also put his own ending on the “prophecy” for all the world to believe, I thought a little more balance was needed on the Internet about this “prophecy”. Otherwise, the next crop of turnips may just sell the farm and rot on a hilltop waiting for the Rapture.
I am not going to just repeat everything said in the “prophecy” like everyone else. Read the Israel Today article that I linked to if you want to read the original source. Basically, the “prophecy” is based on Jubilees and the land of Israel. The claim of those referring to this “prophecy” is that two prophecies were already fulfilled as written, so the third prophecy falling on 2017 AD would also take place.
The last Jubilee fulfilled is said to be 1967 and the next Jubilee in the prophecy would take place in 2017. We know what happened in 1967, it is when Jerusalem was returned to the Jews. Ludwig Schneider, actually only said in his article, that it is possible that 2017 or 2018 could be a decisive year for Israel. Joseph Farah said he would leave what would happen in 2017 to our imagination. F. M. Riley thought it meant that Jesus would return in 2017 and the tribulation would start in 2010 (apparently we are missing it). Jack Van Impe thinks it means the 70th week of Daniel and tribulation start in 2017. However, no where in the Israel Today article is the speculation of Riley or Van Impe even suggested.
I have come up with six criticisms of the prophecy and what Van Impe suggests. (I think the criticisms made in the article that I linked to above are better researched and are better than the criticisms that I list, so you might read that article.)
1. Other than what Schneider wrote, I have no reason to believe that Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel ever even gave such a prophecy. Should I just believe that this Pentecostal pastor even saw and could even translate such a document from the 13th century? Where is the document and any peer review of such a significant fulfilled prophecy?
I would not even be able to translate English properly from 800 years ago, so how does this pastor translate whatever language this was written into modern English with any accuracy? There are over 5000 ancient manuscripts of the Bible, most dating from near the same era and they do not totally agree with each other, but I should just believe that one document from one Rabbi of the 13th century was recorded and has been translated without error?
Why do I have the sneaky feeling that pastor Riley constructed his thesis in hindsight to make whatever it is that he may have read to come out the way he thought it should be? This Pentecostal pastor may have just thought that he had divine help that makes his translation and backdating inerrant. We can’t be sure what was said by Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel, without the documentation, and pastor Riley offers none in his article. I am surprised that Israel Today even published something that could not be documented.
2. We really do not even know that a Jubilee is 50 years. Many scholars believe the Jubilee cycle is 49 years because they believe the 50th year is also the first year of the next Jubilee cycle. If a Jubilee cycle is 49 years all the claims of fulfillment would be false.
3. Why would God reveal to someone who rejects Jesus as the Messiah the prophetic timing of the end? For what purpose? What good will this 13th century “prophecy” do for the Jews living in the past or for the Jews existing just prior to the last seven years? If the “prophecy is for the Church to know the timing of the end, than why use an unbeliever to give revelation to the Church? It simply is not logical that God would reveal the future to an unbeliever blinded by Satan. And as I implied before, Satan does not know the timings set by God.
4. In one of my searches, I read that Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel claimed to have talked directly with Elijah and he claimed to have received his information from Elijah. I do not know if that is actually documented somewhere or not as coming from Rabbi Ben Samuel, but if Ben Samuel talked to Elijah you would think that this Rabbi would have converted to Christianity. Instead, there is a claim that this Rabbi afterward prevented a child from being baptized into Christianity and that this has been documented by the Roman Catholic Church.
5. The “prophecy” says that 2017 is a Jubilee. Jack Van Impe says he believes this Jubilee year will start the tribulation. It seems to me that the second coming and the thousand-year reign starts with a Jubilee. Therefore, there cannot be a 2017 Jubilee and just seven years later a 2024 Jubilee as well. The concept of a God determined Jubilee starting the tribulation does not even make sense. Some Jubilee!
6. If Jesus announced a Jubilee year around 26 to 30 AD, with the start of His ministry when he announced the acceptable year of the Lord in the Temple (Lk 4 19-21), how can the dates mentioned in this “prophecy” be Jubilee years? For example, forty Jubilees that are fifty years each from about 26 to 30 AD would be fulfilled about 2026 to 2030 AD, not 2017. Likewise, the prior dates in this “prophecy” also would not fit.
I suppose it is within the realm of possibilities that the tribulation could start by 2017. However, without a lot of supernatural nation building and technological intervention it is difficult for me to see how all the world players and world conditions can fulfill the prophetic scriptures by 2024. More likely this date is still a decade too soon. I do not think it would be wise to buy into the Rabbi Judah Ben Samuel prophecy claims or Jack Van Impe’s new spiel that strongly implies that 2017 is the start of the last seven-year tribulation.
If anyone wants to research this further, and can come up with another person that translated this claimed prophecy of Rabbi Ben Samuel who lived before 1217 AD, or has other information that supports the claim that this Rabbi did accurately foretell the future, I am sure that we would all like to see it.
Don Koenig is the founder of ThePropheticYears website. He has been publishing articles on the Internet on Bible prophecy, biblical discernment and Christian worldviews since 1999. You can find well over a thousand articles and thousands of comments written by Don from the homepage of this website.