One of my colleagues was wondering on Facebook about whether he should complete his preparations for preaching this Sunday if the world was going to end on Saturday, May 21. (Hi John!)
Harold Camping’s declaration that the rapture will occur this Saturday is getting a lot of press. Remember this is not the pronouncement of a Pope, a denominational council or even a rogue bishop. Just one man who owns a large network of Christian radio stations. But the media have a 24 hour news cycle to fill, so in the same way they’ll give world wide coverage to one leader of a small non-aligned church burning a Koran or another church which is basically one family which pickets the funerals of dead soldiers, here’s Harold Camping.
Who is Harold Camping?
He has a reformed background.
Here’s a five-part backgrounder from Westminster Southern California’s blog Valiant For Truth.
- The End of the World According to Harold Camping: Part 1
- The End of the World According to Harold Camping: Part 2
- The End of the World According to Harold Camping: Part 3
- The End of the World According to Harold Camping: Part 4
- The End of the World According to Harold Camping: Part 5
John Armstrong listens to Camping (who he describes in the following terms as “an 89-year old Christian radio broadcaster and the president of Family Radio, a [150 station] religious broadcasting network based in Oakland, California, is one of the more arrogant and misled teachers on radio.”)
I heard Camping recently, for five minutes or so, on my car radio. He was going on and on about the fact that all of the remaining churches are apostate and all those who remain in them will be damned! Camping believes that we are already in the Great Tribulation and that when the few believers that remain are taken away this week then God will begin to completely destroy the Earth and the universe ending five months later on October 21. Nearly seven billion people will be destroyed in a series of “natural” disasters. He bases all of this upon calculations he has made with numbers and dates, ostensibly from the Bible. (It must be remembered that countless teachers have done the same for centuries, opposing the very teaching of Jesus about the end of this age not being known to anyone but the Father alone!) You would think Harold Camping would have learned something from his past mistakes about Christ’s return but such is not the case. He previously predicted that the Rapture would occur in September 1994 but now says he miscalculated the numbers. This time he will be right.
Several questions occur to me?
1. What will happen to Family Radio after May 21? (I hope it shuts down!)
2. What will these people who follow Camping so devotedly do after this Saturday? (I hope they wake up and confess their sinful foolishness, which is morally dangerous, disown the man as a false teacher and get involved in a confessional church.)
3. When will people stop this craziness? (You know the answer to this one already.)
4. How much damage will this teaching do to the missional witness of Christ? (Probably, very little.)
5. Who will be the next Harold Camping? (I have no idea but there will be others.)
6. What should true believers do this week? (Live for the glory of God and be faithful to Christ. Forget this unless you know someone caught in this deception to whom you can show mercy and grace after this Saturday.)
I plan to be doing my work all week. I doubt that I will think twice about Camping come Saturday, May 21st. I hope, honestly, that once and for all he goes away and is totally discredited once and for all.
Albert Mohler concludes his commentary on Camping’s claims with this counsel:
First, Christ specifically admonished his disciples not to claim such knowledge. In Acts 1:7, Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” In Matthew 24:36, Christ taught similarly: “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”
To state the case plainly, these two verses explicitly forbid Christians to claim the knowledge of such dates and times. Jesus clearly taught that the Father has not revealed such dates and timing, but has reserved that knowledge for himself. It is an act of incredible presumptuousness to claim that a human knows such a date, or has determined God’s timing by any means.
Second, the Bible does not contain hidden codes that we are to find and decipher. The Bible has been given to us in order that we might know the truth, and the truth is clearly revealed in its pages. We are not to look for hidden patterns of words, numbers, dates, or anything else. The Bible’s message is plain and requires no mathematical computation for its understanding. The claim that one has found a hidden code or system in the Bible is an insult to the Bible as the Word of God.
Bonus video that explains everything for those who don’t like reading.
Third, Christians are indeed to be looking for Christ to return and seeking to be found faithful when Christ comes. We are not to draw a line in history and set a date, but we are to be about the Father’s business, sharing the Gospel and living faithful Christian lives. We are not to sit on rooftops like the Millerites, waiting for Christ’s return. We are to be busy doing what Christ has commanded us to do.
In Hebrews 9:28, we are taught that Christ will come a second time “to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” That is the faithful Christian response to the New Testament teachings about Christ’s coming. The church is not to be arrogantly setting dates, but instead to be eagerly waiting for him. Of that we can be truly certain.