Well, you have to at least give the guy credit for (finally) owning up to his mistakes. I really thought he was going to hold fast to his false convictions until the end…
If there’s one thing I’ve noticed when studying prophecy, it’s that coming to any certain conclusions is tough. I guess that’s how God constructed it so that while watchful believers would see prophecies come true and believe more firmly, the rest of world would not deliberately try to thwart His plans. Believers should also continue to live dutifully in this world (see 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12) and not sit around counting down or anything…as tempting as that can be. As long as God is our primary purpose in life, we aren’t called to stand on rooftops holding up signs reading: “Come take us away, Jesus!”
We are to study these things and prepare spiritually (and perhaps take some practical measures as well), but we are not to date-set or tell people precisely how things will come to pass. For instance, we may know that there will soon be one world currency, utilized through the “mark of the beast,” but we shouldn’t boldly proclaim the nitty-gritty details. We don’t know if it will be a “666” blazoned across people’s foreheads (most assuredly not) or some microchip implanted in people’s hands. It could be something else that we don’t know of yet. Speculating is fine as long as we don’t push one possible way as the only way.
The ultimate example of prophetic difficulties, of course, is Jesus Christ himself. He was prophesied numerous times in the Old Testament, and the Jewish people thought they had a firm grasp of what to expect. For instance, the Jews were sure that the Son of Man coming on the clouds to reign in Daniel 7:13-14 showed their Messiah as an all-powerful ruler on earth. The 12 disciples themselves thought they were following this very man who would rise to the very top and stay there forever.
They were right…more or less. Jesus is certainly that “Son of Man” in Daniel 7. However, there was a wrinkle that no one really expected. They didn’t expect that Jesus would first be the suffering servant depicted in the Old Testament—see, for example, Isaiah 53 (they used to think that servant was symbolic for Israel, which actually doesn’t make a lot of sense if you read it with our present knowledge). So when Jesus was crucified and killed, the disciples were shocked and in disarray. They were so sure that Jesus would be a conquering hero, not a slain lamb. Only after seeing Jesus risen, post-crucifixion, did the disciples finally get it: Jesus would return as ruler of the world at his SECOND coming, after Daniel’s 70th prophetic week (see Daniel 9:24-27). Some of Jesus’ teachings, such as Matthew 24, only came into focus after the disciple’s shifted their expectations and were able to mold their ideas to the truth. Atheists, on the other hand, seem to fix their truths firm, and if something doesn’t conform to their thinking (or immediately “make sense”), they throw it out…but I digress.
I think a lot of present-day prophecy is like this. We come to conclusions, only to realize after the fact that there is something we didn’t take into consideration: an extra wrinkle or layer beyond the surface…
Don’t get me wrong, some signs are pretty blatant. While we need to be careful to avoid jumping to hasty conclusions—which I have admittedly done in the past somewhat—that doesn’t mean we should stop being watchful. Please don’t take the opposite extreme of living your life as the world does, thinking that nothing can be known or expected (see 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6). Take in what you hear with a grain of salt. Use discernment and prayerfully consider things. Sometimes our best efforts may not be good enough, but hopefully we’ll at least come close.
In a hilariously clever (possibly opportunistic?) development, an organization called A Bible Answer is offering to pay a measly $1 million dollars now to claim ownership over Family Radio’s entire network of 66 radio stations. The kicker is this: A Bible Answer will gladly take ownership on October 22, which is one day after the supposed destruction of the world (October 21).
So, if Harold Camping really believes what he’s preaching, he should have no problems with agreeing to this deal. His radio “ministry” will have an extra $1 million to work with now, and they will hand over the reins to their mini-empire at a time when it shouldn’t matter anyway.
This will be a fun story to follow. I can see Mr. Camping’s excuse now: “Well, in good conscience, I couldn’t sell them something that will be destroyed anyway.” Oh geez…
On a side note, I’m definitely of the opinion that Mr. Camping is a heretic, plain and simple. In an effort to justify is May 21 prediction, he’s now saying that a “spiritual Rapture” DID take place. And therefore, it is no longer possible for unsaved people to receive salvation before the end of the world. He’s not only trying to cover his behind, but he’s now trying to kill evangelism. Incredible.
May 21 came and went, and now some loyal followers of Harold Camping have to pick up the pieces of their lives and regroup. Hopefully, not too many gave up all their possessions and assets, but I know some did.
To be fair, it seems like these people were genuinely convinced Rapture was going to happen. From all appearances, it seems like it wasn’t just a scam to get people’s money. But really, when you’re trying to make these kinds of predictions that fly in the face of the Bible, I don’t know what you can expect to happen as a believer. It just goes to confirm my belief that we shouldn’t try to read between the lines unnecessarily or add things in loosely to fit our whims.
Hopefully, they will move on with their lives and anchor their faith on solid ground…not high-flying conspiracy theories or the claims of a flawed human man.
For more reading:
– http://communities.washingtontimes.com/neighborhood/feed-mind-nourish-soul/2011/may/24/harold-campings-spiritual-rapture/ (pretty much sums up what I feel)
Some Christians are obsessed with Rapture. They focus on the end of the world rather than the present day, as if learning about God and his word weren’t engrossing enough. One such group, led by Harold Camping, believes that Rapture is coming tomorrow: May 21, 2011. That’s right, in one day, millions of genuine believers will be whisked away into Heaven, leaving behind billions who will wonder what happened to their neighbors.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I can’t fully mock their beliefs. I can’t be sure that it won’t happen tomorrow, any more than someone could know for sure whether they’ll get into a car accident. It could happen tomorrow, but then again, it could happen in decades. Who knows?
What strikes me as odd is that this fringe group of Christians is sure it’s happening tomorrow, based on some calculations and the revelation of the Holy Spirit. I find this claim odd in light of the fact that the Bible mentions on multiple occasions that no man will know the hour of Jesus’ return, and that he will come like a thief in the night (unexpected). Do Mr. Camping and followers like Mr. Hernandez really think they would be told when Rapture is coming, then allowed to freely share it with the world so that the information is available through many major media outlets? Doesn’t sound like a “thief in the night” scenario to me.
I mean, I get it. I understand that conspiracy theories are exciting and charge the individuals “in the know” with a sense of power and privilege. But some of us have seen it a million times before, and excuse us if we’re jaded and cynical. I might sound like an atheist right now, but I’m the kind of person who likes proof, not wild claims and exciting leaps of logic. The Bible has proved to me innumerable times in the past that it can be trusted as the greatest source of truth. Science and philosophy in the world are also, for the most part, trustworthy…or at least we can sort through the chaff with clear-headed thinking.
Conspiracy websites and many YouTube clips do not qualify as reliable, nor do the highly publicized claims of a man or group seeking followers to their cause. I don’t know you, Mr. Camping and Mr. Hernandez, but I know that the Bible seems to contradict your confidence in the prediction for tomorrow.
I could be wrong, and if I am, I will simply hope that those remaining here resist the mainstream pressures with their full strength. (Those who succumb and wear the mark of the beast will probably be subject to far worse judgment than all other nonbelievers.) But yea, we’ve heard this tune before. “The end of the world is nigh!”
The boy who cried wolf is losing his voice.
(Check out some theologians’ responses to Mr. Camping’s prediction here: http://www.christianpost.com/news/theologian-harold-camping-lost-the-gospel-christ-50348/.)