Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, has predicted that the rapture will occur on May 21, 2011. We believe his ministry is full of people who love the Lord and look forward to the return of Jesus. But can these sincere believers still be sincerely wrong?
Why We’ll Still Be Here on May 22, 2011
Setting dates for the return of Christ is a big temptation for many students of apocalyptic Scripture. It is tantalizing to study prophecies and numbers and symbols in Daniel and Revelation with a calculator in one hand. Some feel compelled to roll up their sleeves, punch out prophetic figures, and do number crunching. Surely there is a hidden answer in Scripture predicting when Christ will come!
But if we are true to the Bible, if we seek the message of Christ’s words in Matthew 24 and 25 with an open heart, we will close our holy calculators. Preparation for Jesus’ return has less to do with figuring out a date and more to do with how we are to live in the present.
Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio, has used mathematical predictions to predict that the end of the world will happen on May 21, 2011 at exactly 6:00 p.m. He is convinced that a rapture of God’s people will take place. Then, five months later, God will destroy the Earth and the universe.
Some people laugh at Camping. Others wonder, “Could this be true?” The answer is not to be found in blogs, posts, or interesting articles. The answer is found by studying the Word of God for yourself.
What does the Bible say about the timing of Christ’s coming? Here are seven passages from Scripture that guide us in understanding whether Camping’s prediction is true.
1. Matthew 24:36 says, “Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
The Bible tells us every effort we make to nail down the time for Christ’s return will fail. Camping directly contradicts Christ’s words.
2. Luke 21:9 says, “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them” (Luke 21:8).
The Bible warns us there are false prophets who attempt to predict the timing of Jesus’ coming. Camping demonstrates that he is a false prophet by trying to set a date for Jesus’ return.
3. Matthew 24:32, 33 says, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!”
While the Bible shows us we cannot know the precise time of Christ’s second coming, it helps us know from signs that it is near.
4. Matthew 24:44 says, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
A repeated emphasis in the Scriptures is to watch and be ready always because we do not know exactly when Christ will return (Luke 12:35-40, Matthew 24:50, 1 Thessalonians 5:6).
5. Acts 1:6, 7 says, “Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom of Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.”
God has not revealed when Jesus will come again. Our focus is not to be on time-setting, but mission.
6. Luke 12:37 says, “Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching.”
The passage teaches that no matter when the master returns, the servant is blessed because he is always ready. The servant is not fixed on a time for the master’s return.
7. Luke 12:45 says, “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming.’”
Here is a warning that putting off preparation for Christ’s coming will catch people off guard. We must not smugly point out false predictions and neglect our own preparation for Jesus’ return or we will not be ready.
Camping also predicts that the saints will be “raptured” while the wicked are left on this earth for five months and then destroyed. The Bible tells us that at the second coming of Christ the wicked will be destroyed, not left behind (see Revelation 6:16, 17; 2 Thessalonians 2:8; and Revelation 19:20, 21). The Bible teaches that the wicked and righteous (tares and wheat) grow together until the harvest (Matthew 13:30). Then God’s people are saved and the unrighteous are lost. In the parable of the unfaithful servant (Matthew 24:44-51), there is no second chance. So also the parable of the sheep and goats teaches that when Christ comes, people are either saved or lost (Matthew 25:31-46).
The parables of Matthew 24 and 25 teach us that because Jesus is coming soon, but at a time we do not exactly know, we should always be ready. It is not a test of our Christianity to know the specific time of Christ’s return. The judgment question of Matthew 25:45 says nothing about calculating a date. It teaches that how we treat those less fortunate than ourselves is what shows we are ready for the Lord’s return.
Is Jesus’ coming soon? The Bible is certain that Christ will come again. The Scriptures point to signs in the natural world, in the religious world, and in the increase of wickedness on our planet. Jesus predicted, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matthew 24:14). Has this sign been completely fulfilled? You can learn more about these signs at one of our prophecy seminars.
God calls us to be ready at all times. We should put away our end-time calculators and fall on our knees asking Jesus to change our hearts so that we will be ready when He comes. Are you ready?
Watch Fox News interview with Pastor Doug Batchelor about this.