America has no monopoly on religious charlatans and nut cases. Pyotr Kuznetsov is the leader of a Russian doomsday sect called the True Orthodox Church. Kuznetsov and his followers reject such things as processed food and regard bar codes as Satanic symbols. We used to hear more of this kind of nonsense over here but it seems to have died down everywhere except among a few deranged individuals. Pyotr Kuznetsov went much farther than holding a few nutty notions. He set up as a prophet of the Lord and prophesied that the world would end in May, 2008. He and his followers made their preparations for the end. During November, 2007, thirty-five of his followers barricaded themselves in a cave near a village some 435 miles southeast of Moscow. They threatened to blow up gas cylinders if officials tried to force them to leave. When spring floods caused part of the cave to collapse, twenty-four of the cult members left but only a few adults remained to await the end.
As you will have guessed by now, the world did not end in May 2008. That brought deep and terrible depression to Pyotr Kuznetsov and according to news reports he was so downcast by the failure of his prophecies that he tried to commit suicide by hitting himself on the head with a log.
Cases such as this are so bizarre that we may be tempted to smile. But they are not funny. Kuznetsov has done himself great harm and he has ruined the lives of his followers. Worse, still he has brought the cause of Christ into disrepute and has held the serious truths of Bible prophecy up to public ridicule. This is always the result when men take it on them to do what the Bible says cannot be done and set the date of the ends of the world. A few years ago, Harold Camping stood in an influential position as the head of Family Radio and brought great shame to the cause of Christ when he set the date of the Lord's return-and obviously was altogether wrong. Amazingly, many people seem to like being deceived. Camping went quiet for a while and then launched another zany theory to try to get people out of all churches and into fellowships ruled not according to what the apostles set down for New Testament churches but according to his own ideas-and he based all this on a system of interpretation so bizarre that one wonders how on earth he ever came up with it and, even more, how anybody could ever fall for it.
Everyone who has ever set a date for Christ's return has been proved wrong. Every so-called "prophet" who has brought an alleged message from God specifying a date has been proved wrong. The Seventh Day Adventists came into being on the back of a failed attempt to date Christ's return. So did the Jehovah's Witness cult (who are emphatically not witnesses of Jehovah).Pyotr Kuznetsov ended up banging his head with a log. We can do better than that and fill our heads and hearts with the "more sure word of prophecy." Christ is coming; the age will come to an end. This much we know. And we know what we are supposed to do with this knowledge, namely, to purify ourselves, to watch, wait patiently and evangelize the world with the gospel of sovereign, saving grace. Let's leave the lunatic fringe to itself and get on with the job our Saviour left us to do.