Then End Is Nigh
It’s now less than a week until Judgement Day. Well, it is if you believe a chap called Harold Camping. Camping is the president and founder Christian Family Radio and asserts that Judgement Day is going to be this Saturday, May 21st. You may have seen the billboards or commercials around:
I hadn’t come across this group until Ι first visited San Diego when one of their leaflets was given to me Downtown by a street evangelist. Later that day, over an ice tea, I read the leaflet from cover-to-cover (I always try to read the stuff that guys like that give me). It didn’t contain anything about the end of the world, but did give me an introduction to the group’s rather “unique” way of interpreting Scriptural prophecy.
I remember that, through interpretation of some of the writings of the prophets, the leaflet asserted that the “Church Age” had now ended and that true believers should now leave their local congregations, study the Bible on their own and, as you might expect, listen to their radio station.
End Time Math(s)
Anyway, despite the Bible’s repeated assertions that only the Father knows the Day Of Judgement (Matthew 24:36-51, …), Camping believes that he has worked out when it’s going to be. Unfortunately, this appears to be the second time he’s been convinced that he’s worked it out. It must be a little embarrassing that in 1992 he said that the world was going to end in two years (it didn’t, by the way).
He appears to have several ways of arriving at the date May 21st. You can read a complete explanation, but here it is in a nutshell:
He asserts that the crucifixion happened on 1st April, 33 AD
1st April, 2011 AD is therefore 1,978 years after the crucifixion.
1,978 is then multiplied by the number of days in a solar year (365.2422) and this rounds down to 72,2449.
Now, there are 51 days between 1st April and 21st May. If this is added to the previous value, we arrive at 722,500.
He then asserts that every number carries a spiritual significance e.g. 5 = “atonement”, 10 = “completeness”, 17 = “heaven”.
Therefore (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven)² therefore becomes (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500
According to Camping: “Five times ten times seventeen is telling you a story – it’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved”
If you can follow that, I’m impressed…
En-“raptured” with making predictions..
In the past, many people have claimed to know when Judgement Day is going to be.
One example from history is known as “The Great Disappointment”. In North America in the mid-Nineteenth Century, William Miller and over a million of his followers were convinced that the world was going to end and they managed to whip up people into quite a frenzy.
The “Millerites” sold their property and prepared for the End. Apparently, one man even threw himself off his barn at midnight, convinced that the world would end before he hit the ground. The end did indeed come, but unfortunately, only for that particular gentleman…
After “The Great Disappointment” Miller’s followers fragmented into new groups such as the “Seventh Day Adventists” and the “Jehovah Witnesses”.
When the predictions of such groups fail to come true and Jesus inconveniently decides not to turn up, excuses are usually given e.g. “Jesus did return, but did so invisibly!”. I’m guessing that probably the same thing will happen with Christian Family Radio on May 22nd. However, I am a little afraid of exactly what the fallout from this particular prediction will be.
What can we take away from this?
As tempting as it may be to simply dismiss such groups, I nevertheless believe that there is something mainstream Christians can learn from people like this with such a focus on the immediacy of Christ’s return.
What if this group actually is right and they just happened to pick the right day? Would I be ready for the Second Coming?
Jesus may not return on May 21st, but I’m certain that a good number of people across the globe will shuffle off their respective mortal coils and go to meet their Maker, one way or another. Will they be ready?
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” – Matthew 24:42-44
If the Lord came tonight, would He find us sleeping? Do we procrastinate in following his commands? Do we put off going to Confession until next week? Do we delay in reconciling with one another under the misguided belief that we’ll “have time to do that later”? This is the lesson I think we can learn from such fringe groups:
Don’t think that you have all the time in the world – you don’t. Jesus is coming soon…
20-May-2011 UPDATED: I wanted to add a little bit of footage of Camping himself: