May 21—Are You Ready? What Harold Camping Gets Wrong AND Right!

Posted: May 18, 2011 in Uncategorized

Harold Camping has announced to the world that the end is coming on May 21.  Around 6pm the end should begin to unfold.  His group has purchased billboards, been interviewed by major news agencies, and promoted the end on their website. They are busying themselves preparing all who will listen for the second coming of the Lord Jesus. 

How does Harold Camping know that the end is coming?  He has been blessed to have the mysteries of the Bible opened up to him.  He cites Ecclesiastes 8:5 as a proof text.

 “Whoso keepeth the commandment shall feel no evil thing:  and a wise man’s heart discerneth (better translation:  will know) both time and judgment.”

How Camping uses this verse to support his claim to have been illuminated to the time of the end is odd (and confusing).  He states the verse and then talks about wise believers and how “the timeline of history as it is revealed in the Bible was never revealed to the hearts of the true believers.”  But this all changed about 35 years ago according to Camping.  The “knowledge of the entire timeline of history was revealed to true believers by God from the Bible.” I am not sure where he gets this and he offers no explanation as far as I can tell.

Besides all that, the context of Ecclesiastes 8:5 doesn’t allude to the mysterious nature of the Bible.  Chapter 8 comes on the heels of chapter 7 talking about the contrast between wisdom and folly.  Chapter 8 depicts wisdom as keeping “the king’s command.”  The issue in this passage deals with citizens listening to, and obeying, their rulers thus knowing “no evil thing.”  The “wise” will “know the proper time and the just way.”  Again, there is much to be said about this text and how a person is to respect the governing authorities (cf. Romans 12, 1 Peter 2:13-17).  Much theological reflection needs to happen concerning this issue.  It is clear, however, this text does not lead us to think of a future unveiling of some mysterious “timeline” of the worlds end.

Camping goes on to unfold passages in Daniel (completely ignoring context) and Revelation to create a complex argument.  It isn’t so much complex theologically as it is just plain hard to follow.  He references verses, states numbers, and makes unverifiable assertions (such as the following:  “Several years ago we had learned that the silence in Heaven for about half an hour referred to the 2,300 days that were the first part of the 23-year (exactly 8,400 days) Great Tribulation period”).  After adding everything up and putting together all this revelation he, and I guess his supporters, have been blessed with, they get May 21, 2011 as the day Jesus comes back…Judgment Day!

The idea that they know when Jesus will return is something that disregards clear biblical teaching.  Jesus tells His disciples that “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:7).  Jesus, who is both fully God and fully man states that “concerning that day and hour noone knows, not  even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (Matthew 24:36).  The Bible is clear that this day will come like a thief (1 Thessalonians 5:2, 2 Peter 3:10, Revelation 16:15).  And unless thieves announce the time they plan to break into your house, I think this is more evidence that says we cannot know when the return will happen.  Signs may alert us to the fact that it is near but they do not give us the hour.

Harold Camping is right on at least one count.  Jesus is coming again.  As Dr. Albert Mohler has rightly noted, “Christians are indeed to be looking for Christ to return and seeking to be found faithful when Christ comes.”  Jesus takes time to call His disciples to be ready for that day (Matthew 25:14-46).  The apostle Paul commends the Corinthian church, in light of the coming of Jesus, to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).  Paul encourages the Thessalonians to “encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing” in light of the return of Jesus (1 Thess. 5:1-11).  Until the day of Jesus, we are to “make our calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10).  We want to stand ready when our Redeemer-King appears!

Camping is right to call us to be ready.  He is wrong to assert when our readiness will need to cease.  He is right to remind the world that Jesus has promised He will return in power and glory to usher in His kingdom fully and finally.  He is wrong to tell the world when Jesus plans to do this.  He is right to remind us that God is gracious and will save all who call upon the name of Jesus (Romans 10:13).  He is wrong to tell people they only have till Saturday to make this decision.  They may not have that long.  Their life may end in the next minute.  Or, Jesus may come storming back Friday.

Harold Camping has done this before (1994 to be specific).  He is not alone.  Christians have been trying to predict the year, month, day, and hour of the Parousia for centuries.  Every prediction has proven false.  Every man who has claimed to have discovered a secret timeline in the Bible had to go back to the drawing board.  But in the midst of them making a fool of themselves, and the church, they remind us of the need to study our Bibles faithfully.  Not so we can figure out when Jesus will return but so we cand discern His will for our lives, live faithfully in this age,  and be ready when Jesus does return.  Till then, we heed the words of two men in white robes. 

“Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven?  This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw Him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:11

Thus, we stop gazing into the sky and go the nations with the gospel of Jesus Christ to the glory of God the Father.  And when He returns, we rejoice and enter into the joy of our Master.

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