I came across a thoroughly useful piece on end time prophecy at Richard Mouw's blog (Mouw is president of Fuller Seminary).
The upshot of the article is that Mouw sang in the choir of a crusade evangelist in the 1950's, who predicted that Christ would return by 1960. Needless to say the predicted parousia hasn't happened. Mouw goes on to point out that, before we are quick to criticise, other Christians have made predictions about the future - he cites those who believed the twentieth century would be the Christian century - which have proved wrong. He also argues that the prospect of Christ returning by 1960 kept Christians on their toes in the fifties!
I have some sympathy with Mouw. There was a lot of end time teaching and predicting when I was growing up which subsequently proved empty. The EEC, as it then was, seemed an ideal candidate for Antichrist's ten horned kingdom (Revelation 13.1) until what had become the EU had a membership larger than ten states!
Whilst some of the predictions and, in my view, some of the principles of interpretation used to formulate such views, appear misguided, the intention was serious. Those preachers really did believe in the return of Christ. They really did believe that the Bible had something to say about life today and the future. And it certainly kept us on our toes.
Mouw's post is a good reminder that even if some people make wild claims about the end times, the reality behind all of the speculation is that Jesus is coming back. And it might just be sooner than you think! You can read the original post here