There is general agreement among premillennialists who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture as to the sequence of major events (some disagreement occurs over the timelapse between the end of one major event and the start of another). The sequence of these major events would be the rapture, followed by the 7-year tribulation ending with the Battle of Armageddon, then Christ's second advent to establish the millennial reign for a thousand years, which then ushers in eternity. Some premillennial teachers use “second coming” terminology to also refer to the rapture, but clarify that the second coming of Christ is in two phases (1. For his saints – the rapture. 2. With his saints – coming/advent to establish his millennial reign.)
As will be documented, over the years Ruckman made numerous attempts to publicly guess the approximate date of the rapture as well as related prophetic events. What makes this extra controversial are at least three Scripture passages (Mat. 24:36; Mat. 25:13; Mar. 13:32) that warn that no one knows "the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh." A key to understanding Ruckman’s state of mind regarding being focused on the rapture taking place within a limited timeframe would be his obsession with the number seven and the year 2000. Let’s begin with his views on the number seven regarding prophecy:
Whatever God does, He does by sevens. … God counts by seven when He counts. God does everything by seven. …
Now listen to me, if I wanted to figure out the Second Coming of Christ, that’s the angle I would work on. Do you know why? Because it always winds up on seven. … In the Bible, when a thing hits seven, it’s over!
We of course recognize that the number seven figures prominently in Scripture, especially in the book of Revelation. However, to affirm in an all-inclusive manner that “God does everything by seven” is an example of Ruckman’s exaggeration coming into play. The following is a further key as to how he applies the number seven to guess the date of the rapture and related prophetic events:
One, two, three, four, five, six, rest. Look, if one day is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day, then this old earth is going to be here for a period of six thousand years, in that last seven thousand year period is going to be a time of rest. It has to be. You say, "Now, preacher, I think you were trying to privately interpret that thing and read something in that isn't there." Really? Has He ever failed yet? Did He fail on the days? Did He fail on the weeks? Did He fail on the months? Did He fail on the years? Why would He fail here? He said, "One day, with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
Ruckman believed that the rapture would occur 6,000 years after creation, minus the 7-year tribulation period. The 1,000-year millennial reign to follow would then complete the 7,000 year cycle, allowing the number seven to figure prominently in his prophetic scheme, as Ruckman believed “God does everything by seven.”
So you count 6,000 years from the creation (4,000 from Adam to Christ, and 2,000 from Christ to the present), and in the 7,000th year, the Lord comes back and sets up His Millennial kingdom…
Ruckman also demonstrated an obsession with the year 2000 in his prophetic schemes. Starting with 2000 A.D. arbitrarily as the beginning of the millennial reign, Ruckman working backward subtracted 7 years for the tribulation, then 4 years for “differences in calendars,” and came up with 1989 as the date of the rapture (2000 – 7 – 4 = 1989). The following quote bears this out:
On the basis of this solid Bible theme I preached for 38 years that the Second Advent would be in the year 2000 A.D., if our calendar was right. Using this reckoning, I had to subtract four years for a "difference in calendars" (see any chronology for 4 B.C. being the birth of Christ) and got 1996 for the advent date: THE FEAST OF THE TABERNACLES in 1996. This gave me a maximum (I did not say "minimum") date for the rapture. I got a maximum date of 1989 for the rapture –if our calendar was right.
In the 1978 reprint of his commentary of the book of Matthew, he stated in certain words that it was not unscriptural to attempt to set a date for the Second Coming:
“Knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven.” The thing that is “unknown” (according to the statement) is the “day and hour” of the advent. This truth cannot be brought home with too much force to the Fundamentalist, as he has been taught from his youth that the Second Coming is “IMMINENT” (not found in the Scripture!) and that any attempts to set dates are Satanic and unscriptural. 1Thessalonians 5:1-6 contradicts this position, however, as does also the appearance of the Laodiciean church (Rev 3:22) immediately preceding the rapture – Revelation 4:1, 2.
In the above quote it can be seen that he mocked the Fundamentalist teaching that “the Second Coming is ‘IMMINENT.” Apparently to Ruckman, his dating schemes were superior to serving Christ with the awareness that His coming could take place at any moment. Two pages previous, he refers to those who “attempt to avoid the scandal of Judge Rutherford and Russell and the 7th Day Adventists” as “The no-rapture-signs school.”
In the same commentary on Matthew (in a portion covering chapter 24) he predicted that the generation that saw the establishment of Israel in 1948 would be the one that would live to see the advent (Christ’s second coming approximately seven years after the rapture):
The implication is thrilling. The unbelieving Jew who goes back to Palestine and sees the establishment of Israel as a nation (1948) will be in the generation that sees the Advent. The Believing Christian who lives to see it (1948) will be in the generation that is caught out before the Advent! …
The exact date cannot be fixed, since there is no way to ascertain the reliability of the calendar since Pope Gregory fooled with it.
At any rate, it is clear that the generation that sees the events described in verses 14-28 will undoubtably live to see the Advent of Jesus. This generation is described as the generation that is alive and sees the budding of the fig tree, the leaf-blossoming of national Israel. This date can be fixed with certainty – 1948 A.D.
Ruckman then continues in the same paragraph, lamenting that date setting had fallen into disrepute:
Date-setting” has fallen into such disrepute that not even pre-millennialists are bold enough to profess to know the “times and the seasons”
At least once Ruckman had spoken out expressing his disapproval of attempts to figure out the timeframe of the rapture. This stern warning, which he himself would not abide by, is from 1980:
No man knows the DAY or the HOUR of the Rapture, and inept students of prophecy with little “do it yourself” schemes of arithmetic are going to do nothing but bring dishonor and discredit on the words of God. If Paul didn’t know it don’t you think that some American could figure out what he couldn’t. If it is going to be revealed, it will not be a date that you have to adjust every year to meet the demands of your own stupidity.
However, since he apparently continued to believe that the generation that saw the restoration of the nation of Israel in 1948 would live to see the rapture, he set himself up to be increasingly more specific about the rapture timeframe as time went on.
In 1984 Ruckman published his pamphlet Seven Sevens. On page one he assures his readers that his standard for measuring the timing of the second coming will be infallible:
Now, first of all, let me say this. When I talk about the time of the Second coming of Christ, the thing that I’m going to use for a standard of measurement is going to be infallible. I’m not going to use some system taken out of the Bible, privately interpreted.
In this 1984 publication, Ruckman presented the timing of the rapture as follows:
Now, He's coming. People, when I say, "He's coming," I mean, I don't think anybody under thirty-years- old is going to ever see a funeral home unless you die an accidental death. Let me tell you something, you are living in the last generation out of I don't know how many – but well over four hundred generations. You are a chosen people. I believe that.
Now, you take this date right here, 1966 (this sermon was preached in 1966). Do you realize what this is up to this date (A.D. 2000), right here? Well, let's see, if you allow seven years for the Tribulation, that makes 1993. Subtract that from 1993; that’s 27 years. At a maximum. I said, “maximum.” The only other possibility would be allowing only three and one-half years for the Tribulation, in case three and one-half years of Daniel’s Seventieth Week have passed.
That would push the maximum date up to 1998 (if you make the birth of Christ A.D. 1). If you make the birth of Christ 4 B.C. the date would then be 1994, at a maximum.
Anyway you figure, if the calendar is right, you do not have ten years to go, and probably less than five.
It states within the pamphlet Seven Sevens that it was based on a 1966 sermon, but at least a portion of it cannot be an exact transcription. That it was subsequently edited is evident from the following statement on the same page after having placed the rapture within a date range: “Anyway you figure, if the calendar is right, you do not have ten years to go, and probably less than five.” The math in that last statement coincides with the timeframe of the 1984 publication, not the original 1966 sermon.
Around 1988 Ruckman began to be more specific about guessing the date of the rapture. More articles increasingly appeared in the Bible Believers’ Bulletin attempting to guess the date of the rapture; sometimes within a calendar year, at other times a very limited date range within a calendar year, and even a specific date, all presented as guesses. He would often include a “if our calendar is right” clause in order to excuse himself and cast blame if he were to be proven wrong.
Ruckman also published a pamphlet in 1988 by the title The Rapture. This was the name on the cover and the title page, but in large letters at the top of page one it is “The Date of the Rapture.”
Let us proceed to the dangerous job of “date-setting,” which from time immemorium has destroyed all of its practitioners. In proceeding, let us make ourselves clear to our reader; we DO NOT KNOW THE DATE OF THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH. We do not know it for certain within a year, let alone within a month or a week, but we can guess. There is not sin in “guessing,” and an “educated guess” yields some tremendous information which we think it is now time to pass on to the Bible-believing segment of America.
As just demonstrated, in this pamphlet he justifies publicly setting the date of the rapture, as long as you state you are not absolutely for sure and you call it a guess. This may make it sound innocent, but his ministry was selling what he himself later called “Our own ‘date-setting’ booklet” (apparently The Rapture pamphlet), Seven Sevens, Millions Disappear, the What to do in case you miss the rapture! tract, as well as selling his Bulletin and sermon tapes and videos.
Inspired by the charts in Larkin’s Dispensational Truth, Ruckman explained that “This set-up showed plainly that the earth would be here 6000 years and the 7000th year would be a 1000 year ‘sabbath of rest.’” He then proceeded to justify the year 1989 as the maximum date for a rapture:
…for more than 35 years I have been preaching in public (and teaching in private) that the second advent date is Yom Kippur of the year 2000, if our calendar is right. By this figuring, I have told audiences all over America for 38 years that seven years must be deducted for the tribulation (giving us a figure of 1993), and then four years must be subtracted to make up for the differences in calendars. (Note: Christ is said to have been born in 4 B.C. by this adjustment of calendar systems.) This would give a maximum (I didn’t say, “exact”) date of 1989 for a rapture.
The Rapture pamphlet was full of charts filled with his dating schemes. The first part closed with another estimated timeframe for the rapture as well as the date of the second advent, otherwise known as the second coming up Christ to establish his millennial reign:
We close with a guess. We GUESS (and it is no more than that) that the rapture of the church will probably take place in the late spring of 1989, fifty days after the Jewish Passover – the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The Second Advent date is much more certain, although not absolute. We would get somewhere between 23rd of September and the 1st of October, in the year 1996 A.D. Either date could be wrong, but both events are certain.
This same The Rapture pamphlet from 1988 contained a “part two” section curiously titled “What to do in case you miss the rapture.” There are many instances therein in which Ruckman promotes a works salvation, as can be observed in this quote:
#2 Start working your way to heaven. You always thought you could, anyway. After the Lord comes and you’re left behind, then start working like a madman to get to heaven. Just work your fool head off, because you’re going to have to. …
…if you are stuck here in the tribulation, there is no grace for you like you’ve got right now. Listen, right now you can be saved by grace through faith plus nothing, but one minute after that thing takes place you’d better get out you Ten Commandments and the Golden Rule and start learning them, Bud, because you’re going to need them.
In the September 1988 issue of the Bulletin, Ruckman warned that the rapture was just around the corner:
As I write these lines I am quite conscious of the fact that the Rapture at this time is just around the corner; it may be a matter of only a few weeks or months. There is little or no time left to do anything for the Lord…
Ruckman's typical arrogance was not lacking in his writings on the topic as he promoted one of his latest books as the last thing that would ever need to be said about the KJV before the rapture:
This is the last thing that will be said about the King James Authorized Version before the rapture. There will never be any further need to say anything more. This “wraps it up,” as they say on the ten o’clock newscast.
In October of 1988, Ruckman once again guesses the year 1989 as the latest possible date for the rapture, with a subtle jab at those who would dare disagree:
Any man with any sense would have guessed 1989 as the latest possible date for a rapture if our calendar is right.
During the years 1988-1989 other men were also on the scene attempting to guess the date of the rapture. Ruckman’s primary nemesis was a certain Edgar Whisenant, who in 1988 published a booklet of which the title was continually being adjusted. It is likely the first edition was The Rapture Rosh Hash Ana 1988 and 88 Reasons Why, followed by 88 Reasons why the Rapture could be in 1988, then 88 Reasons why the Rapture is in 1988, and finally 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988, all with a 1988 copyright date. Whisenant’s 1988 most specific prediction was that the rapture would take place between Sep. 11-13, 1988.
Whisenant came across as more certain of his dates than Ruckman (he did not seem to use the term “guess” for his rapture date predictions as Ruckman often did) and seemed more confident of his attempt to reconcile calendar differences. Whisenant made some even nuttier statements than Ruckman in the process, as in, “From Isaiah 17, it appears that Antichrist was born 5 February 1962 at 7 A.M. sunrise in Damascus, Syria,” and “World War III starts 4 October 1988.”
As for similarities between Whisenant and Ruckman’s method for dating the rapture, they are numerous. This is in spite of Ruckman having affirmed, “… I rejected Whisenant's system ‘en toto’” [Latin for “in all”] …” The most obvious similarities between their approaches to dating the rapture are reproduced below:
…this wicked generation (1948-1988) will certainly not pass until all these things have happened. … This last generation spoken of above started on 14 May 1948, the day Israel became a nation. Israel is the time clock of God throughout history. Israel is the blooming fig tree, and the last generation will end 40 wicked gentiles years later on 14 May 1988.
Whisenant’s teaching that the generation that witnessed the modern rebirth of Israel will take part in prophetic events including the rapture is virtually identical to Ruckman’s view quoted earlier. This date of May 14, 1988 (to which Whisenant adds 120 days for the commencing of Rosh-Hash-Ana for his rapture date) matches the most exact of Ruckman’s rapture guesses (May 14), except for a one year difference!
At one point in an early edition of his 1988 booklet, Whisenant refers to a more general date range for the rapture based on an obsession with the number 40 in his prophetical schemes:
…the Rapture must occur after Israel’s 40th birthday (14 May 1988) and before Israel’s 41st birthday (14 May 1989)…
How is this relevant? His latest possible date for the rapture matches Ruckman’s most exact rapture guess, down to the day and year! Under a point attributed to Joe Civelli, Whisenant’s booklet expressed another view that coincides with Ruckman:
Bible history and genealogical tables show that from Adam to Jesus was 4000 years. Since the last 1000 years of the 7000 represents the Millennial rest, Jesus should return 6000 years from the birth of Adam.
When Whisenant predictably failed in his guess that the rapture would take place between Sep. 11-13, 1988, Ruckman was quick to mock him in the following month’s Bible Believers' Bulletin:
No Christian with any sense wasted five minutes with "88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988." TEN TIMES IN THE PAMPHLET THE AUTHOR SAYS THAT THE RAPTURE IS ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN BETWEEN SEPTEMBER 11th and 13th. Cockeyed nonsense. Irresponsible, Charismatic nuttiness. Nutty as a pecan pie.
In one of his pamphlets, Ruckman further criticized Whisenant and his booklet, stating “This work did untold damage because it destroyed the faith of thousands of Christians in the Rapture. Although Whisenant was very wrong to have attempted to publicly guess the date of the rapture, initially he was more guarded about his 1988 rapture prediction. Whisenant published multiple editions of the same booklet in the same year especially notably, 88 Reasons Why the Rapture could be in 1988 followed by 88 Reasons Why the Rapture will be in 1988 (underlining not in original). By comparing the text of both of his 88 Reasons booklets copyrighted in 1988, there is internal evidence that the one with the more cautious title was an earlier edition. Whisenant likely grew more confident regarding his 1988 rapture date due to confirmation bias after receiving feedback from others who shared his enthusiasm for the 1988 date.
Once 1988 came and went without a rapture, Whisenant issued yet another booklet predicting a rapture date, this one titled The Final Shout, Rapture 1989 Report. Within it, he apologized for getting the rapture date wrong the previous year. However, the apology seemed hollow, as he shamelessly proceeded to predict a new rapture date range for 1989 and continued peddling his publications.
Once the year 1989 was on the scene, Ruckman began to be more specific than ever with his guesses. In January he offered the following guess:
It is now 1989. Personally, I think the Lord is coming in the late spring. I would guess somewhere between the 14th of May and the 20th of June. That, of course, is only a guess.
The following month, in the very next issue of his Bulletin, he narrowed his guess down, not to a range of possible dates, but rather a specific date:
It is interesting to note that Ruckman's third marriage took place on April 30, 1989, a mere two weeks before the projected earliest date that he had guessed!
When May 14 (as well as June 20th, based on a previous date range guess) came and went in 1989 with no rapture, Ruckman was forced to address it. He referred to it with only one relevant paragraph in the July issue of the Bulletin:
The apostate Alexandrians at BBC, BJU, PCS, etc., had a little fun last spring when my guess —and that is all it ever was for thirty-nine years— about the Rapture didn't "jell." They rejoiced that HE did not come back. (Typical.) After being told on five hundred occasions, in more than four hundred churches, that “If our calendar is right,” the maximum date would not be later than 1989,” the faculty (check the Bible Baptist Tribune out of Springfield) pretended that the clause had not been inserted and pretended that Ruckman was a “date setter.”
As could be observed in the paragraph we just quoted, there was no remorse, no apology and no expression of humility regarding the failure of his rapture guesses. He simply blamed the calendar for being wrong. He also took the opportunity to defiantly taunt those who objected to the practice of public rapture date-guessing.
In the October 1989 Bulletin issue, Ruckman answered criticism that he had set a limit for a prophetic event. He had begun an article in the May 1989 issue with the introductory statement, “As the last few months of the Church age close out (a few months at the most) …” To this Ruckman responded as follows:
The expression "A FEW MONTHS" was given by Gary as a TIME LIMIT [this is the accusation to which Ruckman was responding]. In view of the fact that 23,400 months have passed in the Church age, only a blank fool would think that there were more than “a few months” left. Ten more years would be a “few months” by comparison; but that isn’t the issue. For forty years I have prefaced every statement on Rapture dates or Advent dates with “IF OUR CALENDAR IS RIGHT…” Over a hundred thousand people have hears [sic] me say this at a minimum, because The Seven Sevens has been on thirty-two television stations in the last five years.
There is evidence that Ruckman’s rapture guesses were taken quite seriously at the time by some. One example comes from Ruckman’s Bulletin in November of 1989 of a fellow who took his rapture predictions and views on works salvation after the rapture so serious, that he did the following with multiple copies of Ruckman’s pamphlet Millions Disappear:
In fact, it has so much truth in it about how to be saved after the Rapture, I have gone through my entire home and taped a copy to each item— such as the TV, stereo, furniture, guns— that I know will be stolen after I am gone, in prayer that those who break in and clean my home out will find these, and that the word will still work in their lives. I even have one in my car and lock box, so that whoever gets those will know why they are left behind and what they can do about it.
Another example of Ruckman’s May, 1989 rapture date guess being taken serious was an apparently large donation from a Christian businessman to enable free distribution of Ruckman’s Millions Disappear pamphlet. The notice in the May 1989 issue of the Bulletin pointed out that they were to be provided free on the condition that they be distributed “to lost people within thirty (30) days”. Keep in mind that Ruckman’s most specific rapture date guess was for May 14, 1989, but also an alternative rapture date was offered for June 20, 1989. Ruckman’s rapture date guesses for 1989 were right in the timeframe that the Christian businessman required the rapture pamphlets to be distributed!
Our modern reprint of the Millions Disappear pamphlet did not have a specific rapture date guess, but it stated that the generation born in 1949 would be the last generation before the following prophetic event (that would be preceded by the rapture):
The generation was [sic] born in 1949 (when the UN recognized the existence of the nation of Israel), this is the last generation before “the kingdom of God” appears at the Second Coming of Christ…
This same modern Millions Disappear pamphlet reprint in our possession (possibly edited since 1989) includes a prophetic chart that has the Millennium commencing at 2000 A.D.
In 1990, in spite of his 1989 fiasco, Ruckman was back at making public guesses of the timing of prophetic events. In January of 1990 he affirmed the following in his Bulletin:
Exodus 19:11 — The date of the Second Advent is given here. It will be "on the third day" (2000 A.D.). If our calendar is right, the date of the Second Advent will be September 23, 2000 A.D.
Although Ruckman did not technically date the rapture in the above quote, for all intents and purposes he did, as pre-tribulation premillennialists understand the rapture to take place shortly before the beginning of the seven-year tribulation, which will end with the second advent of Christ to establish the millennial kingdom. This would imply the rapture taking place in 1993, depending on calendar adjustments.
In February of 1990, Ruckman once again cannot resist bringing up the topic of the dating of prophetic events. After one of his unnamed students made some corrections to his theory, Ruckman placed a maximum date for the rapture in 1990, if his calendar was right, and strongly suggested the month of May:
We now enter the last tenth of the last century of the world's history before the Second Advent of Jesus Christ. If the calendar is right (and that qualifying clause always has to be included when guessing), the year 2000 is the limit for the Advent. Some subtract four years for a birth of 4 B.C., but as one my students pointed out to me, a 4 B.C. birth in September would be only a three and three months birth B.C. by our January to January calendar. This would give an Advent date of 1997 instead of 1996 (which subtracted four), and it would put a maximum date for the rapture in 1990 instead of 1989. However, the calendar can be completely off; one fellow wrote me and proved that Christ was born in 2 B.C., in which case. …
At any rate, here it is 1990; ten years left in the sixth millennium. Anyone knows the seventh millennium has to be a "Sabbath" of rest. …
Frankly, I will be looking straight up in May of 1990 and hoping that the 4 B.C. date is right and not the 2 B.C. or (horrors!) the 1 B.C.
In the July 1990 issue of his Bulletin, Ruckman comes across as if the date of prophetic events were easy to find in the Bible, and then mocks his critics:
All heathen know about the first and second advents, the Body of Christ and the date of the advents (v. 4, [Ps. 19] TABERNACLES). Don't look for the information in the writings of any self-righteous coward who went to the "verbally inspired original autographs" for revelation: he never found it.
After the July 1990 statement and the subsequent end of 1990 without a rapture, Ruckman was quiet about dating prophetic events in his Bulletin for about two years. Apparently, since he had warned in the past that the calendar could be wrong, and he was only guessing, he felt that no apology, explanation or clarification was in order.
In the September 1991 issue of the Bulletin, it is pointed out that 3.3 million copies of Ruckman’s Millions Disappear pamphlet had been distributed for free. It does not mention the timeframe of their distribution, or how many were distributed within 30 days of the first notice from May of 1989 based on a donation. Tragically, these millions of pamphlets that were distributed taught a false gospel of works salvation after the Rapture.
In August of 1992 Ruckman got the courage to guess the date of the rapture once again.
The Feast of Tabernacles, in the Bible, is the date of the Second Advent. Nothing could be clearer than that. However, if Christ was born when He was born, you'll have to wait till 1993, IF our calendar is correct.
In January of 1997 Ruckman addresses the issue of dating of the rapture again. He blamed others for rapture dating failures for 1989 and 1990, including one of his former students. He even admitted that “Bible-believing Christians all over the country began to ‘wax faint;’" however, Ruckman took no responsibility and admitted no fault of his own whatsoever:
But as the deadly date of 1989 passed (three nines, occurring eleven years before the "end —AD. 2000 (2 Pet. 3:8), some adjustments had to be made. 1989 would allow seven years for Daniel's seventieth week (A.D. 2000 minus seven years equals 1993) and four years for Christ's birth if it was 4 B.C. (1993 minus four equaling 1989). But no rapture took place in 1989. One Charismatic writer swore the rapture would take place in 1990, and it didn't. One of our students (who dropped out of school), swore it would be in 1989, which it wasn't, and another student (who we had to ship) put it out all over the country that we were teaching an absolute definite rapture in September of 1995, which we weren't.
Now, as Bible-believing Christians all over the country began to "wax faint" (Luke 18:8), they began to look around for explanations. When they did this, they quit looking for the Lord to come (Phil. 3:20), although this is what Paul commanded them to do (Tit. 2:13).
After taking a break from rapture dating, Ruckman resumed the practice by making yet another prediction in the February 1997 issue of the Bulletin. This guess was for May of 1997:
I think (and I could be wrong) that the best possible date for a Rapture now (after this much time has elapsed) would be Pentecost (the Jewish Pentecost) of May, in 1997.
In one of his Bible commentaries published in 2002, Ruckman admitted defeat regarding hazarding guesses for the date of the rapture, because “our calendar is not right,” and said he had no more guesses to make. This was destined to not be the case. His impulsiveness toward predicting the date of the rapture would not allow him to let the matter rest.
The “dearly beloved brethren” make fun of us here and call us a “cult” and “datesetters” because I have hazarded a few guesses on the date of the Rapture. Of course, that is all they have ever been is guesses; I have never laid down a firm date for the Rapture a day in my life. I have always been very careful to preface it with “if our calendar is right.” By now (2002), it seems pretty evident that our calendar is not right. Quite frankly, right now, I have no more guesses to make.
In a 2002 reprint of the second volume of his commentary on Psalms, it inadvertently continued with the prediction apparently made in the 1993 first edition, that the tribulation would have ended by the year 2000:
The end of the Tribulation…the date is given in Hosea 6:2. It is A.D. 2000, if our calendar is correct.
In 2005, one of Ruckman’s new commentaries assures his readers confidently that “You are living in the last generation before the Rapture.”
Ever the optimist of one of his many prophetic predictions falling on target, Ruckman in his first edition (2009) of his Ruckman Reference Bible listed as many potential dates as he could come up with to cover the next few years:
Possible dates for a pre-Tribulation Rapture of the Church would be either three days after Passover or on Pentecost (on a Jewish calendar).
Year Passover Pentecost
2010 March 29 May 18
2011 April 19 June 8
2012 April 7 May 27
2013 March 26 May 15
2014 April 15 June 4
2015 April 4 May 24
2016 April 23 June 12
As can be compared with the last line of the chart from his Reference Bible, Ruckman died April 21, 2016, within the week of one of his last “possible rapture dates” (although to account for three days after the Passover, it would place it in the following week).
In 2011 Ruckman published one of his last commentaries before his death. He acknowledged that the year 2000 A.D. had come and gone without any of his prophetic predictions coming to pass by that key year in his scheme. There were no apologies or regrets, and he even “dug in” and defiantly declared “I stick to my guns on the subject.”
All of this gets into calendars and dates, and it is obvious that Christ did not return in the year 2000. Nevertheless, I stick to my guns on the subject because I know the Lord has a way of counting (or not counting) years that we don’t have (see Job 3:6 and Matt. 1, for example). When the Lord starts the clock ticking again at the Rapture, it will be 2001 on His calendar, no matter what ours reads.
In the November, 1995 edition of Bible Believers' Bulletin, Ruckman admits that no less than three of his students had attempted to guess the date of the rapture. One in the 1970's, and one in the 1980's (for those two no names are provided nor their missed date of rapture). For the third, more details are given in the article. This was Mel Turner, who was supposed to have guessed Sep. 24, 1995 firmly as the date of the rapture. He is further accused by Ruckman of "deceiving" around a dozen first-year students.
Starting on p. 3 of his book 88 Reasons Why the Rapture could be in 1988, Whisenant begins quoting approvingly from a “Joe Civelli of Pensacola, Florida.” In this same booklet, an order form lists The Messiah’s Return by J.R. Civelli for sale. In the following statement, Ruckman admits that Civelli "was raised on my material." It was not clear if that meant he had been a student at PBI. Here is the full quote:
The latest attempt was originated by a man named Civelli in Pensacola, Florida, who was raised on my material. He got the attention of one of our students some years ago named Mark Trout and convinced him the Rapture would be at the Feast of Trumpets (roughly September 11, 12, 13) in 1988.
Ruckman was critical of Civelli, but a perusal of his 1988 booklet indicated numerous similarities with Ruckman’s guesses on the rapture, including the role of the rebirth of Israel, the culmination of 6,000 years on the earth leading to the rapture, not being absolute with his rapture dates, and the expressing of the uncertainty of the accuracy of calendars in dating prophetic events. The following excerpt from Civelli’s rapture dating booklet is an example:
THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH should occur on September 12th or September 13th, 1988 (Tishri 1st or 2nd), on the Feast of Trumpets (Rosh Hashana). … In conclusion, it should be indicated that the recorded calendar years up to the present time could be out of phase with the actual yearly number. In that case, the Rapture of the Church will not occur in 1988 as expected. Assuming the time frame itself, as discussed above, to be unchanged, then the dates to look for concerning the Rapture of the Church, and the Second Coming of Jesus, and the beginning of the Millennial reign, would be (according to The Comprehensive Hebrew Calendar, by Arthur Spier), as follows: Rapture Oct. 1, 1989 … Sept. 21, 1990 … Sept. 10, 1991 …
Although our Gregorian calendar may be off, and the expected dates may be delayed as indicated above… (Civelli, Joseph R. The Messiah’s Return. Pensacola, 1988, pp. 44-45)
That a small Bible institute would produce three students in a 25-year period that tried (publicly, apparently) to predict the date of the rapture, and convinced other students (a dozen in one case) is very revealing. This cannot be a coincidence. However, Ruckman does not accept any responsibility whatsoever for this unusual turn of events in an institution in which he is highly influential and had his turn guessing the approximate date of the rapture. Whose example were these students following?
In spite of flip-flopping on whether it was right to guess the date of the rapture, Ruckman denies having changed his position on the matter. He denies that he messed up, it was just his calendar, or the date of Christ’s birth:
I have never said a single time that the rapture would be at such-and-such a time, although I have said many times, that if Christ was born in 4 B.C., AND our calendar was right, it would be in 1989. Obviously, something is screwed up and it’s not me and it’s not my theology.
The author of this article believes in the eminence of the return of Christ, but dating schemes (especially when financial interests are involved, selling books, pamphlets, newsletter subscriptions and recordings) –regardless of whether they are called guesses or labeled as not absolutely certain– are dishonorable to Christ, who himself declared, "that day and hour knoweth no man." Dating schemes are a distraction to the commandment "occupy till I come," and has resulted in the mockery of unbelievers and those who do not believe in the eminence of the return of Christ.
Ruckman should have headed the advice he gave others in 1980, when he stated that date-setting schemes would “do nothing but bring dishonor and discredit on the words of God.” He may feel excused by his “if our calendar is right” disclaimer, but nonetheless the damage he ironically predicted in 1980 came to pass. Several websites exist that make a mockery of Christianity based on failed rapture date setters, with some including Peter Ruckman in their listings. At least one book was located that mentioned Ruckman while attempting to make a mockery of Christianity based on failed rapture date setters or guessers (The End of Days: Armageddon and Prophecies of the Return by Zecharia Sitchin, Harper, 2008, p. 166).
Even though Ruckman often included a "possible calendar error" clause and would say he was only guessing, it still had a highly misleading element to it. He proclaimed many details surrounding his rapture or second advent date theories with an air of authority, and only seemed forced to state they were guesses because of not being able to escape the Biblical warning, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Mat. 24:36). By his own admission, Ruckman preached his “Seven Sevens” sermon (which he acknowledges deals with “the date of the Rapture and the Second Advent”) in pulpits all across America (600 churches over 39 years), and surely fooled and confused many impressionable people. The sacred desk should not be used to propagate pet theories!
It is apparent that the personal conclusions Ruckman reached in attempting to date prophetic events were based on flawed hermeneutics, number gymnastics, inferences, overdependence on typology, and fallacious reasoning. For teaching a works salvation after the rapture, by proving himself wrong repeatedly in rapture predictions, and for having challenged the Biblical warning, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man” (Mat. 24:36), he deserves to be designated as a false teacher.
 Ruckman, Peter. Seven Sevens. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore. 1984, pp. 6-7.
 Ruckman, Peter. Seven Sevens. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore. 1984, p. 12.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Luke. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2013, p. 321. Instead of “in the 7,000th year,” Ruckman likely meant “at the start of the 7,000 year period.”
 Ruckman, Peter. The Rapture. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 14.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Matthew. 1970, 1978, pp. 554-555.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Matthew. 1970, 1978, pp. 551-552.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Matthew. 1970, 1978, p. 552.
 Ruckman, Peter. “Setting Date of Rapture.” Bible Believers' Bulletin. March 1980, p. 5.
 Ruckman, Peter. Seven Sevens. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore. 1984, p. 1.
 Ruckman, Peter. Seven Sevens. Pensacola, FL: BB Bookstore, 1984, pp. 33-34.
 Ruckman, Peter. Seven Sevens. Pensacola, FL: BB Bookstore, 1984, pp. 33-34.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Rapture. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 13.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. Feb. 1989, p. 6.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Rapture. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 13
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Feb. 1988, p. 1.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Rapture. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 22.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Rapture. Pensacola: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 1988, p. 27.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. Sep. 1988, p. 3.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Sep. 1988, p. 9.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Oct. 1988, p. 10.
 Whisenant, Edgar. 88 Reasons why the Rapture could be in 1988. Nashville: World Bible Society, 1988, p. 39.
 Whisenant, Edgar. 88 Reasons why the Rapture could be in 1988. Nashville: World Bible Society, 1988, p. 11.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Feb. 1989, p. 6.
 Whisenant, Edgar. 88 Reasons why the Rapture could be in 1988. Nashville: World Bible Society, 1988, p. 10.
 Whisenant, Edgar. 88 Reasons why the Rapture could be in 1988. Nashville: World Bible Society, 1988, p. 14.
 Whisenant, Edgar. 88 Reasons why the Rapture will be in 1988. Nashville: World Bible Society, p. 44.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. Oct. 1988, p. 10.
 Ruckman, Peter. Millions Disappear. 1989, p. 16.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin January 1989, p. 5.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. July 1989, p. 6.
 Bible Believers' Bulletin. Oct. 1989, p. 4.
 Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Nov. 1989, p. 16.
 Bible Believers’ Bulletin. May 1989, p. 3.
 Ruckman, Peter. Millions Disappear. 1989, p. 5.
 Bible Believers' Bulletin. Jan. 1990, p. 7.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. Feb. 1990, p. 2, 11.
 Bible Believer's Bulletin. July, 1990, p. 3.
 Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Aug. 1992, p. 9.
 Bible Believers' Bulletin. Jan. 1997, p. 3.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Fifth Theory on the Rapture. Bible Believers' Bulletin Feb. 1997, pp. 3, 17.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Books of First and Second Corinthians. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2002, p. 349.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Book of Psalms. Vol. 2. 2002 reprint, p. 813.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians and Philemon. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2005, p. 93.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Ruckman Reference Bible. 2009 (first edition) pp. 1764-1765.
 Ruckman, Peter. The Minor Prophets Vol. II. Pensacola, FL: Bible Baptist Bookstore, 2011, p. 486.
 Ruckman, Peter. Bible Believers' Bulletin. Feb. 1989, p. 6.
 Ruckman, Peter. Rapture: October 28, 1992 Bible Believers' Bulletin. Aug. 1992, p. 9.
 Bible Believers’ Bulletin. Oct. 1989, p. 4.