The self-proclaimed Doomsday prophet Harold Camping had predicted a May 21, 2011 date to be the End of the World when 200 million people will Rapture and the earth will be struck with series of violent natural disasters. Believers abandoned their careers and sold all their earthly belongings in preparation.
According to Camping, the prediction of the date was calculated using references in the Bible, particularly Genesis Genesis 7:4 (“Seven days from now I will send rain on the earth”) and 2 Peter 3:8 (“With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day”).
According to Camping, “God’s wrath was supposed to begin in New Zealand and then race across the globe, leaving millions of bodies wherever the clock struck 6 p.m. But the hours ticked by, and New Zealand survived. Time zone by time zone, the apocalypse failed to materialize.”
It’s worth noting that Camping made a similar prediction in 1994, which received little publicity. This time, however, the story headlined across newspapers around the globe because we are witnessing unparalleled wars and rumors of wars. The Middle East is in meltdown, Western nations are collapsing due to massive debt crises and the entire globe is being pummeled in an unprecedented wave of natural disasters.
The idea of an “the end of the world” no longer seems so far fetched in light of what we see happening today, but we still have to look to the Bible for our answers. Matthew 25:13 states that we cannot know the exact day or hour of Christ’s return—only the Father knows that. However, this doesn’t mean we can ignore the sign of the times.
In Matthew 24:3, Christ’s disciples asked Him for signs of His coming and of the “end of the world”— or the end of the rule of man. The disciples understood this as Christ returning and establishing the Kingdom of God on this Earth, headquartered in Jerusalem. Of course they didn’t have all the details, so they asked for signs of His return.
And this is where many lose their bearings and make wacky predictions – because they refuse to believe what Christ said. In such a scenario, it’s easy to get caught up in emotional wording, and like sheep, follow a wrong message without specific understanding from the Bible.
Christ actually gave specific signs pointing to His return, warning about widespread religious deception first—people who would come preaching that Jesus is Christ and would deceive many with that message. Notice it:
“Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not,” He said in verse 23 of Matthew 24. The Bible warns against blindly accepting what confused men say about Christ or His return.
Some people today believe Christ has secretly returned . Others believe in a secret rapture, when true believers are whisked away secretly, while everyone else is left behind to suffer through the plagues of the Great Tribulation. Camping did, and many believed him. But Christ said to be aware of such deceivers. When He comes, as it says in Revelation 1:7, every eye shall see Him!
Matthew 24:27 adds to this, “For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be” (verse 27).
I can’t stress how clear these scriptures really are. We are told that we can know when all is near, if we are watching world events, but we will definitely not know the day or hour. The parable of the fig tree illustrates this beautifully (Mark 13:29).That should keep us on our knees before God, as we are admonished in verse 33:
“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: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping” (verses 35-36).
The admonition is NOT to be asleep at the wheel. Living a life of Christian principles is not enough. Christ’s disciples have to be awake and vigilant through a proper grasp of prophetic events. Isn’t this why Jesus Christ give so many different signs pointing to His return?
Now I know that many, in light of events such as those described above, scoff at Bible prophecy. This is even so for Christians. However, there is a clear chronology of end-time events if we allow the Bible interpret itself. Peter even says so in (2 Peter 1:19-21).
We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
None of this means that we start setting dates, because contrary to what Camping said, the Bible DOES NOT guarantee an exact time. In answer to the question, “What do you say to those who insist we cannot know the precise date of Judgment Day?, Camping replied: “For one to object to May 21st, 2011 one must have BIBLICAL AUTHORITY to do so. Objections cannot be based upon consensus, traditions or fear.”
So according to Camping, we should rely on Biblical authority, but only as he interprets it. The clear word of God is pridefully ignored by him, as it was with the Millerites, followed by Charles Taze Russell and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, who missed the mark again and again. In 1988, Edgar Whisenant predicted the Rapture, as he did in 1989. Not to be outdone by failure, he tried again in 1993, 1994, and each year through 1997. Jim Jones (Peoples Temple, 1978), David Koresh (Branch Davidian’s, 1993), and Marshall Applewhite (Heaven’s Gate, or Hale-Bopp UFO Cult, 1997) led or caused their followers to pay for following their leader’s crazed ideologies with their lives. All this because the ideas proposed were from men, not the Bible.
I guess the times have never been better for businesses in the business of Doomsday predictions. But three separate scriptures, all uttered by Jesus Himself, warn us against date-setting of this sort: Matthew 24:36, Mark 13:32, and Acts 1:7. However, prophetic events show us that the time of Christ’s return is rapidly approaching and we should be watchful. We know this because He told us so.