His name is Harold Camping. He is an 89-year-old “minister” who runs a radio station and writes “biblical” articles. His Oakland, Calif. based “ministry” called Family Radio Worldwide has been sharing the May 21, 2011 prediction for years, has gained followers all over the U.S. and had garnered enough money to place billboards throughout the landscape of drive-time America. I have seen at least three in the Lawrenceville – Monroe area over the last few months.
I am going to make a brash and energetic prediction. The world will not end on May 21st 2011!
Maybe that wasn’t so brash, but it is energetic. There are four perfectly good reasons that the world will not end on May 21st.
One – Jesus’ words in the Bible make it clear that no one can know the date or time of the end of the world. No one needs an advanced degree in biblical studies to interpret these verses.
In Matthew 25:13 Jesus said, “For you do not know the day or hour of my return.”
In Mark 13:32 Jesus said, “However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows.” (NLT)
In Matthew 24:3 Jesus’ disciples came to him and asked about the end times. He begins a lengthy answer with “Don’t let anyone mislead you.” (NLT)
Two – Harold Camping does not make a whole lot of sense. You can visit his website for yourself. The site includes several articles that attempt to explain his position. One of the articles, “Judgment Day: May 21” uses 20 different scripture references, but never references any of the three I’ve listed above.
The most revealing article on the site might be “No Man Knows?” First of all, if no man knows then a woman must know. Right? O.K., back to the subject. In the article Harold accepts the idea that no one can really know the end times date, but then goes on to tell us why he can know. Somehow, Harold knows that there will be a major world shifting earthquake on Saturday. He bases his special ability to interpret scripture in part, on Ecclesiastes 8:5.
Harold uses the King James Version of the bible which says, “ Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing: and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment.” Then he makes two huge intellectual leaps. One, he assumes that he is a wise man. Two, he assumes that the word “judgment” in this passage is “judgment” with a capital “J” just like end times “Judgment.”
The New Living Translation gives a much clearer picture of the intent of Ecclesiastes 8:5. “Those who obey him will not be punished. Those who are wise will find a time and a way to do what is right…" This passage is clearly more about individual moral decisions than about understanding cryptic prophecies, biblical timelines, and the actual date of the end times.
Three – Biblical Prophecy is very easy to misinterpret. The reason biblical prophecy writings are so hard to interpret is because they were written in very specific spiritual, political, social, economic, and moral environments. Very few prophecies are absolute, in the sense that they were written for all people in all places for all times. The biggest mistake when trying to make sense of them is to try to apply them directly to the year or decade that we currently live in without first applying them to the year or decade that they were first written in. Its biblical interpretation 101 and I don’t read a hint of it on Harold Camping’s website. Simple questions about historical context are never answered before huge intellectual leaps are taken by Mr. Camping.
Four – Doomsday predictions are not new. All of them have failed so far. LiveScience.com lists 10 of them dating back to 1806.
The Prophet Hen of Leeds, 1806
The Millerites, April 23, 1843
Mormon Armageddon, 1891 or earlier
Halley's Comet, 1910
Pat Robertson, 1982
Heaven's Gate, 1997
Nostradamus, August 1999
Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000
Richard Noone, May 5, 2000
God's Church Ministry, Fall 2008
I’ll go ahead and add number eleven. Harold Camping, 2011.
But there is a redemptive message in this discussion. The Bible does speak of Jesus return and it does speak of an eternity with Jesus for those who will place their trust in him. This passage gives me comfort and way more food for thought than anything Harold Camping has ever written.
Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.
But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clearheaded. Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. But let us who live in the light be clearheaded, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing. - 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NLT)