Today is the end of the world and this is my last column. Unless today isn’t the end of the world, in which case, we’ll see you Monday, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.
Family Radio President Harold Camping predicted that the end of the world will begin on May 21st at precisely six pm in each time zone.
“A great earthquake will occur the Bible describes it as ‘such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great.’ This earthquake will be so powerful it will throw open all graves. The remains of the all the believers who have ever lived will be instantly transformed into glorified spiritual bodies to be forever with God.”
That was Camping’s prediction. But if he is right, it means that the world has already ended on the other side of the world where May 21 has come and gone without any ill effects for our friends Down Under.
I have in my library a rare copy of one of Harold Camping’s early books, entitled “1994.” One of the reasons that it is rare is because, as the title suggests, the book was all about how the Rapture would occur in 1994. (Talk about a book with a limited shelf-life!)
So how does a guy who was so spectacularly wrong last time gain so much credibility this time? It isn’t as if he is just another nut out there.
Camping’s supporters have shelled out millions of dollars to advertise the Rapture, including financing some twenty-two HUNDRED billboards proclaiming the Rapture on May 21st.
The New York Times ran a heart-breaking story about the Hadad family, followers of Harold Camping who are at this moment making their last preparations for the Rapture at six pm this evening.
Abby Hadad quit her job two years ago to spread the word about the May 21 Judgment Day, going out on mission trips and handing out “The End of the World Is Near” tracts to anyone that would take them. The Hadad’s also stopped renovating their house and saving for college.
Last week they pulled their kids out of school and took them to New York City where they could spend their last days passing out tracts. The three teenaged Hadad kids, not surprisingly, think their parents are nuts.
“My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven,” Grace Haddad, 16, said. “At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes. . . .
People look at my family and think I’m like that,” said Joseph, their 14-year-old, as his parents walked through the street fair on Ninth Avenue, giving out Bibles. “I keep my friends as far away from them as possible.”
“I don’t really have any motivation to try to figure out what I want to do anymore,” he said, “because my main support line, my parents, don’t care.”
His mother said she accepted that believers “lose friends and you lose family members in the process.”
“I have mixed feelings,” Ms. Haddad Carson said. “I’m very excited about the Lord’s return, but I’m fearful that my children might get left behind. But you have to accept God’s will.”
Camping’s followers around the world spent the past few days saying goodbye to friends and relatives.
Thousands of other American families are in the same situation as the Hadad’s with Harold Camping’s prophecy splitting families into opposing camps of believers and unbelievers in his Judgment Day prophecy. Thousands of believers in the Camping prophecy have taken to streets of New York with many “sounding the trumpet” in Time Square in the last few days, dressed in doomsday T-shirts, with placards and leaflets, some taking the last few days off to say bye-bye to friends and relatives before they are caught up into the heaven in Rapture.
What are they going to do tomorrow?
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32)
When the Lord repeats Himself, it is because He wants us to get it right. Jesus said that even He didn’t know the day and hour of the Rapture.
Jesus isn’t referring to the 2nd Coming – the date of His second coming is easily calculable.
The Bible tells us that there will be exactly two thousand, five hundred and twenty days between the revelation of the Antichrist and the 2ndcoming of Christ. The revelation of antichrist takes place when he confirms the covenant for seven years.
But if that isn’t a precise enough marker, Daniel also says that the antichrist will at first permit Temple worship and later, he will “cause the sacrifice and oblation to cease.”
That event begins what the Bible calls the “Great Tribulation” in that it is at this point that God turns His attention toward the national redemption of Israel. Since the resumption of Temple worship will be a big deal, its subsequent interruption will be a big enough deal to merit global attention.
The Jews will mark the date that their Temple was taken from them a third time, as they did the first and second time.
“And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.” (Daniel 12:11)
Calculating the date of Christ’s 2nd coming will be no more complicated an exercise than simply marking the date the antichrist closes the Temple and counting forward 1,290 days.
What is impossible to calculate, the Lord says, is the day and hour of the Rapture. Why? The Bible gives us a pretty clear and concise chronology to work with.
It is incalculable because there are no signs preceding the Rapture and so there is no set point to count from. The Rapture signals the end of the Church Age, but not necessarily the start of the Tribulation.
The Church Age could end tomorrow (or anytime except today at six pm) and the Tribulation could still be years into the future. The Tribulation begins with the revealing of the antichrist, the rider on the white horse – NOT the Rapture of the Church.
The Church Age has a discernible beginning at Pentecost — and a discernible conclusion with the Rapture.
The Tribulation doesn’t start with the disappearance of Christians. And the Church Age doesn’t end with the revelation of the antichrist.
The Church Age ends at the Rapture. The Tribulation begins with the appearance of the antichrist. There is no knowing whether there is an intervening period or how long it might be — the Bible does not say.
The judgment against a Christ-rejecting world begins with the revelation of antichrist as the rider on the white horse. The antichrist comes first as ruler of the Gentile world and offers as his credentials a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.
At some point thereafter he reestablishes Temple worship. Three and a half years later, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble begins with the revocation of Temple worship and concludes with the Second Coming.
Harold Camping, (a civil engineer and self-taught Biblical authority), cannot therefore have calculated the date of the Rapture because, on the authority of the Word of God, nobody can.
Not now, not later, not even when it is ‘near, even at the doors’ – because there is no point from which to begin.
That is deliberate. It is by design. God did not intend for the Church to know and He said so in no uncertain terms. There are those who want to parse words with God . . . (He said we wouldn’t know the day and hour – it doesn’t mean the date) – but parsing words with God is false prophecy by any name.
Harold Camping is wrong this time, like he was wrong the last two times. He is wrong like Edgar Whisenant was when he wrote “88 Reasons Why Christ Will Return in 1988” and he is wrong like William Miller was in 1841 and 1844.
Jesus went to a lot of trouble to make the point that nobody could know when the Rapture will take place.
“Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. . . Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 24:42,44)
“Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. . . Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning:” (Mark 13:33,35)
“Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.” (Luke 12:40)
This is not difficult to understand. The Lord has drawn a curtain around the Rapture for a reason – and He warns the Church in no uncertain terms not to try and peek behind it. Why?
According to the website, “What’s the Harm?” apocalyptic expectations and the subsequent disappointment when it fails to materialize on schedule has, throughout history, killed 368,379 people and injured another 306,096 more and caused nearly three billion dollars in economic damage.
I don’t know if ALL those numbers are accurate, but it does list 1,810 verifiable people who were either killed or committed suicide as a consequence of apocalyptic fear.
There is plenty of harm to be found in stepping outside of the Bible for doctrine, which is what date-setting is. The Bible says it can’t be calculated so guys like Harold Camping look elsewhere for data.
Then people like the Hadad’s stop living normal lives, stop saving, stop working, stop raising their kids and stop caring about their future. THAT is why the Lord drew a curtain around the date of His return. He even explained His logic so that we’d “get” it.
“But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up.” (Matthew 24:43)
If I knew the Lord was coming back on a date-certain schedule, then I wouldn’t feel any pressing need to prepare until the last minute. If you knew the Lord was coming back tomorrow, would you still go to work today? Mow your lawn? Make this week’s RRSP deposit?
How hard is this to figure out?
We cannot know the hour. But we also cannot know the day. We can know when it is near, even at the doors, but that is about it. And for obvious reasons.
The Rapture is very, very close. But very, very close doesn’t mean tomorrow. Or today. Or October 7, 2011. It means, “near, even at the doors.”
If somebody tells you, here is Christ (coming) or there he is, he is lying, or he is deceived, but in either case, he doesn’t know.
The damage caused by Harold Camping is incalculable, but it is easily seen. Just read through the news reports about the nutbars that believe that Jesus will one day return for His Church and leave everybody else behind.
Thanks to Harold Camping and guys like him, you are painted with that same nutbar brush. Every person that you will witness to going forward is going to hear “Harold Camping” the second you mention the Rapture.
Many of those that put their faith in Harold Camping instead of Jesus Christ will turn away, embittered by the experience, believing that it was Christ, not Harold Camping, that let them down.
Naming a date certain for the Rapture is not an interesting pastime – it is a deadly serious violation of Christian doctrine.
The damage done to one’s own walk, faith and reputation is nothing compared to the damage done to the lives of those that misplaced their faith and are too badly hurt to take that risk again.
We cannot know the date of the Rapture. The reason why is obvious enough, but it doesn’t stop guys like Harold Camping from trying to outsmart God.
“But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but My Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)
It just doesn’t get any clearer than that.