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The End of the World is Coming, Again

The End of the World is Coming, Again: Photo illustration by Playboy / images: Corbis; The British Library

Photo illustration by Playboy / images: Corbis; The British Library

Let this be a warning to you! The Armageddon is coming. We only have a little bit of time left before we’re all doomed. Repent! Repent!

Just kidding! Did I get you? If you’re one of Jonathan Cahn’s followers, I probably did. The Christian minister and author of Mystery of the Shemitah has tirelessly researched history and the Bible and found that we’ve been living in seven-year cycles. At the end of every cycle (each one is called a Shemitah), something big and tragic happens because, according to Deuteronomy 15:1-2, we don’t allow for a year of Sabbath observance once every seven years.

Well the most recent cycle comes to a close on September 13, and the Heavenly bodies are pissed. Cahn says we’re in for complete economic collapse. Or world war. Or a global disaster.

Sorry to break it to you, Cahn, but you aren’t the first (and definitely won’t be the last) doomsayer to predict the end times. Predictions have popped up nearly every decade since the birth of Christianity. And I’ll let you in on a little secret: They’re never right. We doubt your prediction will be any different, so as a courtesy, we’ve tacked you onto the end of this long list of failed apocalyptic predictions.


courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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66-70 AD

Cliffhanger

When the Jewish Essene sect revolted from 66-70 against the Romans, revolutionary leader Simon bar Giora predicted the battle was the end times. It wasn’t. Jerusalem fell, and Simon met his own end times when he was thrown off a cliff.

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365 AD

Defriending

Bishop Hilary of Poitiers, who had recently been banished to Turkey by Emperor Constantius II, believed the emperor was the antichrist and would cause the end of the world. Hilary’s student, Martin of Tours, shared the same prejudice towards Constantius but gave him until 400 to take down Earth.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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500 AD

Jesus Returns

One hundred years after the supposed Constantius antichrist fiasco, three similar predictions of Jesus’s return came from Hippolytus of Rome, Sextus Julius Africanus, and Irenaeus. As far as we know, Jesus did not return.

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848 AD

The Faker

Thiota was a heretical Christian prophetess from Alemannia. She predicted that the world would end in 848. After gaining a large number of followers who showered her with gifts, she confessed to fabricating her prediction. No word on whether she had to return the gifts.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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Jan. 1, 1000

Y1K

Historians are not quite sure if panic actually did ensue leading up to the Millennium Apocalypse, but they do know Pope Sylvester II predicted the end of the world on this date, sparking riots throughout Europe. When Y1K didn’t finish everyone off, the doomsdate was revised to 1033, one thousand years after Jesus died.

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1284

After Islam

Pope Innocent III predicted the world would end this year, which is 666 years after the rise of Islam—the number of the devil. He died believing he was correct in 1216.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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1346-1351

The Plague

The familiar boils, ashen complexion and quick passing of Black Death patients led many to believe that the rise of bubonic plague coincided with the end of the world.

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Feb. 1, 1524

Evacuation

Back in 1523, a group of London astrologers calculated star movements and declared the world would end in a great flood on this date. More than 20,000 Londoners abandoned ship to higher ground, where they watched February 1 come and go without so much as a rainstorm. Johannes Stoeffler predicted another flood for February 20 and even printed pamphlets about it. Again, no flood.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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1528

Stoeffler’s Flood—Again

Remember back in 1524, when Johannes Stoeffler predicted a flood on February 20? Well, it didn’t happen, so he rescheduled it to 1528.

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1533

A Ride in the Clouds

Not everyone gets to ride into Strasburg alongside Christ on a fluffy cloud—but Melchior Hofmann believed he would at some point in 1533 in order to establish New Jerusalem. He also predicted only 144,000 would survive and everyone else would be destroyed by flames.

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Oct. 19, 1533

Mystical Math

Pastor and mathematician Michael Stifel studied the Bible and applied its words to calculus, determining that the world would end at exactly 8 a.m. on October 19. No one really believed him, though, and he was arrested (after being told not to spread the crazy) when he warned his congregation.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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April 5, 1534

Easter’s End

When Melchior Hofmann’s Strasburg did not turn out to be the New Jerusalem, Jan Matthys, a Hofmann follower, shifted the holy land to Munster. He predicted the apocalypse would come and destroy every other place on Earth and then he and Christ would found the new New Jerusalem.

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1588

Wonder Years

This year was predicted to be a “wonder year,” a time of great change in the world. In response, German astronomer Regiomontanus started a rumor that Earth would be destroyed. Astrologers of the time latched on to the fake prediction, citing a trifecta of aligned fire signs (Aries, Leo, and Sagittarius) in space that clearly meant fiery hell on the planet.

1600

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1600

Luther’s Prediction

Martin Luther himself hopped on the apocalypse bandwagon in the 1500s when he wrote, “We have reached the time of the white horse of the Apocalypse. This world will not last any longer … than another hundred years.”

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Feb. 1, 1624

London Strikes Again

That group of London astrologers who predicted a flood in 1524? They claimed their calculations were off and rescheduled to this date, 100 years later.

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1656

The New World

Christopher Columbus slipped up quite a bit during his search for the new world, including with a prediction that the world would end in 1656. He seemed to think his explorations were a prophecy that would end with him leading a giant Christian army to a final crusade that converted everyone to Christianity. And then, POOF! There goes the world. He had a backup date, too: 1658, the world’s 7,000th birthday according to his calculations.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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1666

The Devil Comes a-Calling

Christian nonconformist group the Fifth Monarchists predicted the apocalypse for this year, not just because more than 100,000 people had died in the plague and London had been ravaged by a fire, but also because 666, the Devil’s number, was in the date.

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1694

Another Revelation

After a separate review of the Book of Revelations, Johann Jacob Zimmerman predicted the apocalypse in the fall of 1694. He formed a group of 40 followers called The Chapter of Perfection. They decided to settle in Pennsylvania in 1694, and then Zimmerman died. Christ never showed for the Second Coming, and the chapter dispersed.

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1697

Witchcraft

No doubt influenced by what he believed to be the Devil on Earth in Salem, Massachusetts, Puritan preacher Cotton Mather predicted the apocalypse would happen five years after the witch trials. No one knows for sure the exact method he used to come to this date, but he did reschedule two more times when his predictions didn’t come true.

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1705-1708

Just a Guess

The Camisards, a group of protestant zealots in France, made a number of uneducated guesses about the end of the world, suggesting an apocalyptic event for each of these four years.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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April 5, 1719

Comet Smash

In the Old World, seeing a comet was something serious—an omen, a predictor, a warning. Jacob Bernoulli was no exception and believed a comet he saw in 1680 would come back on this day and destroy the world. That comet was never seen or heard from again.

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October 16, 1736

Comet Crash

Theologian William Whiston followed in Bernoulli’s footsteps predicting apocalypse by comet. But Whiston wasn’t against just one comet—he despised all of them, suggesting every time they passed, they brought destruction, like Noah’s flood.

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May 19, 1780

New England’s Dark Day

At about 10:30 a.m., the sky above New England darkened, shrouding the region in a night-like haze. The Governor’s Council panicked, assuming Judgment Day was at hand. Darkness continued throughout the day with ash collecting on the ground and in rivers. Later, scientists found evidence on trees of the forest fire that actually caused the blackout.

courtesy of the british library

courtesy of the british library

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1806

Scrambled Eggs

Mary Bateman gets extra creativity points for this one. In 1806, her hen began to lay eggs that said “Christ is coming” on them. It was eventually found as a hoax—Bateman actually took eggs the hen already laid, etched the phrase into them with corrosive ink, and then re-inserted the eggs into the hen. That poor hen.

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Oct. 22, 1844

The Great Disappointment

William Miller informed his followers, the Millerites, that Christ would return on October 22. Alas, Christ stayed home, and the Millerites fell into a collective depression. One of them, Henry Emmons, even wrote, “I waited all Tuesday [October 22] and dear Jesus did not come; I waited all the forenoon of Wednesday, and was well in body as I ever was, but after 12 o’clock I began to feel faint, and before dark I needed someone to help me up to my chamber, as my natural strength was leaving me very fast, and I lay prostrate for 2 days without any pain– sick with disappointment.”

Courtesy of Library Of Congress

Courtesy of Library Of Congress

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May 19, 1910

Get the Gas Masks!

As reported by The New York Times in 1910, Halley’s comet was getting ready to do its earthly flyby and one author feared it would be the end of life as we knew it. Camille Flammarion predicted that the comet would shroud the earth in cyanogen gas and destroy all life forms. Gas masks ran out of stock, and an enterprising few sold anti-comet pills (later discovered to be sugar pills).

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Feb. 13, 1925

Hallucinations

Poor young Margaret Rowan. The California girl claimed to have visions, specifically of the angel Gabriel coming to inform her that the world would end at midnight on February 13. Housepainter Robert Reidt believed her, bought a billboard to promote the time and place, then joined a group of people to await the end. It didn’t come at midnight—so Reidt suggested it was a time zone problem and they needed to wait until midnight Pacific Time. The eventual disappointment was blamed on “satanic” camera flashes from reporters on the scene.

Courtesy of The Infomercantile

Courtesy of The Infomercantile

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September 1935

The Fifth Time’s the Charm?

Evangelist Wilbur Glenn Voliva, who believed the world was flat, predicted the apocalypse five times from 1923 to 1935. He also predicted he would live to be 120. He died at 72.

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Dec. 21, 1954

Waterworld

Chicago housewife Dorothy Martin, leader of the Brotherhood of the Seven Rays UFO cult, predicted massive floods would destroy the world. Apparently she received the message from the planet Clarion, where the UFO coming to save cult members would take them before the flooding.

1959

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April 22, 1959

Transference

Followers of the Branch Davidians faith sold their possessions and gathered on this day for their death, resurrection and transference to Heaven, as predicted by leader Florence Houteff. Following this failed apocalypse, the Davidians divided into sub-sects.

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August 20, 1967

Alien Predictions

According to ufologist George Van Tassel, an alien named Ashtar told him of an impending nuclear apocalypse, starting in the American Southeast, spearheaded by the Soviets.

July 15, 1967

Pre-Jonestown Massacre

Prior to the actual formation of Jonestown, Jim Jones spoke to his congregation of visions of nuclear holocaust that would happen on this day, destroying the world and replacing it with New Eden. Jones continued to change the date, rallying members’ hopes around an eventual rebirth that led them to their ultimate deaths.

1969

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1969

Helter Skelter

Charles Manson predicted mankind would destroy itself in an apocalyptic race war called Helter Skelter. The war would begin once Manson’s “family” committed the Tate-LaBianca murders. The apocalypse never came, and Manson sits in prison to this day.

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Jan. 11-21, 1973

The Comet of the Century

Comet Kohoutek had a lot to live up to. Followers of David Berg, leader of the Children of God cult, believed the comet heralded a doomsday event that would destroy the earth. They fled into communes across the world for safety.

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1977

Year of the Armageddon and the Rapture

After getting publicly circumcised in 1823, founder of the Christian Israelite Church John Wroe declared that Armageddon would arrive this year. William Branham, a fundamentalist cult leader, shared Wroe’s prediction (and included the Rapture)—but also believed that leading up to the Rapture, Christianity would become unified across the world, the Vatican would become an all-powerful dictator, and Los Angeles would detach from the US and fall into the sea. (This story was edited in LA. Still here.)

1980

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April 29, 1980

Nuclear War

Early this morning, Leland Jensen and his small group of followers of a Baha’i sect in Montana made their way to fallout shelters to wait out the end of the world. Jensen predicted that day would see a nuclear holocaust that destroyed a third of the population, and troubles over the next twenty years would slowly pick off the rest.

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1981

Put it in Print

Chuck Smith, founder of the Calvary Chapel, published a book that, among other things, predicted the apocalypse in 1981. Of course, he also said he could be wrong, trying to stomp out his own foolishness in advance.

Youtube

Youtube

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1982

Don’t Believe Everything on TV

Pat Robertson, one of the hosts of The 700 Club, predicted on-air a major war would occur in 1982, fought in Israel, that would result in catastrophe. He claimed the Bible said it would happen. And yes, thanks to the power of YouTube, we have this on video.

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Spring 1982

Holy Advertising

Newspaper subscribers across the world were subject to a series of advertisements by Benjamin Creme this spring. He believed Christ was already back on earth, was a full-grown man, and would reveal himself sometime that season.

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March 10, 1982

Planetary Alignment

In the bestselling book The Jupiter Effect, authors John Gribbin and Stephen Plagemann predicted the expected planetary alignment would cause major destruction due to gravitational force on Earth from other celestial bodies.

1985

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1985

Who Will Survive in 85?

Another book predicted impending Armageddon as well, this one by Pentecostal preacher Lester Sumrall. I Predict 1985, well, predicted 1985. When the year passed with no destruction, he wrote another book—cleverly titled I Predict 2000 A.D. Check out the hilarious Amazon review.

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April 29, 1987

Return from the Fallout Shelters

Leland Jensen, the guy who took his followers into fallout shelters, by now knew that his apocalyptic predictions weren’t accurate. So instead, he changed his story and said that Halley’s comet was on a collision course with Earth.

© Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS

© Roger Ressmeyer/CORBIS

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August 17, 1987

The Harmonic Moronic Convergence

When an art historian has a vision while driving, you know it has to be creative. Jose Arguelles had one in 1983, showing him that if 144,000 people gathered together at sacred spots across the world and resonated harmony, alien Mayans and the universe would prevent global catastrophe. He called it The Harmonic Convergence, but when thousands gathered and nothing happened, the papers began to call it The Moronic Convergence.

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1988

The First Clickbait Story?

When you see what happens in 1988, it will blow your mind! Edgar Whisenant predicted the Rapture would happen in September this year and even wrote a book about it: 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988. His first September prediction failed, and so did his second, and so did his October prediction.

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1990

A Prophecy by Prophet

Elizabeth Clare Prophet, leader of the Church Universal and Triumphant, predicted a nuclear war with the Soviet Union this year. She and her followers moved to a Montana ranch, built underground bomb shelters, and stockpiled supplies and weapons. The Armageddon never happened and shortly afterwards, Prophet was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

© Joseph Sohm; Visions of America/CORBIS

© Joseph Sohm; Visions of America/CORBIS

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Dec. 17, 1996

Psychic Aliens

On this day, 16 million spaceships from Sirius came to Earth, bringing angels with them … or so predicted Sheldan Nidle, cult leader of the Galactic Federation of Light, who said he gets psychic messages from aliens every week.

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March 26, 1997

Heaven’s Gate

This day ended with the mass suicide of 39 members of the Heaven’s Gate cult. Their leader, Marshall Applewhite, convinced them all that a spaceship was trailing behind the Hale-Bopp comet and would take them away to another plane of existence—but only if they killed themselves.

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March 31, 1998

God’s Television Set

At 10 a.m. on this day, God was expected to come to Earth in a spaceship and appear to Hon-Ming Chen, leader of the Chen Tao cult. And then it would get interesting: God was expected to do a live broadcast on Channel 18, on every television set in the United States.

© Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto/Corbis

© Oleksandr Rupeta/NurPhoto/Corbis

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1999

Mass Predictions

From nuclear holocaust to gravitational pole shifts, more than six people predicted the world would end sometime this year: The Amazing Criswell, Charles Berlitz, Hon-Ming Chen, James Gordon Lindsay, Timothy Dwight IV, Nazim Al-Haqqani, and the two men below.

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July 1999

The King of the Mongols

Way back in the day, Nostradamus predicted that the “King of Terror” would come back to Earth this month, heralding not only Armageddon, but the return of Genghis Khan.

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Sept. 11, 1999

Great Balls of Fire

Philip Berg from the Kabbalah Learning Center foresaw this as the end of days, and expected a massive fireball to completely destroy all life on the planet, both flora and fauna. But he also said that if he gained enough followers, disaster would be averted.

© Reuters/CORBIS

© Reuters/CORBIS

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2000

In the Year 2000

This was all around a bad year for humanity. Including the predictions below, eight different psychics, theologians, preachers, and church leaders predicted either Christ or the Antichrist would show up and take care of business.

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Jan. 1, 2000

Y2K

Due to a date-based computer bug, electronic systems the world over were predicted to go completely haywire, leading to mass catastrophe and the end of civilization as we know it. Christian authors Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins suggested the Antichrist would use this chaos to rise to power. Meanwhile in Uganda, 778 cult followers died in either a suicide or murder after the leader’s Apocalypse predictions failed.

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May 2003

Nibiru Versus Earth

This month, the planet Nibiru was on its way to either crash into Earth or gravitationally reverse our poles, resulting in mankind’s destruction. We know because Nancy Lieder, founder of ZetaTalk, heard it from aliens via a brain implant.

2012

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June 30, 2012

Becoming Superman

After José Luis de Jesús was basically possessed by Jesus in 1973, he became a religious leader and predicted anarchy and economic destruction on this day. Of course, he also said that after the fall of man, he would emerge as a superhero with the ability to walk through walls and fly.

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Dec. 21, 2012

Mayan Apocalypse

People who didn’t completely understand the Mayan long count calendar saw that it “ended” on this day, which led to mass predictions of apocalypse. Nibiru was expected to make an appearance, as were other interstellar destructors like aliens and a supernova.

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August 23, 2013

KGB Secrets

In 2013 a political scientist discovered top-secret documents in the KGB archives containing end-times predictions by Grigori Rasputin, or the Mad Monk. Among them was the prophecy that a fiery storm would destroy all life on Earth on this day.

2015

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Sept. 13, 2015

CAAAAHN!

Author and minister Jonathan Cahn predicts economic collapse at the hands of the Shemitah, a seven-year biblical cycle.

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