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STILL WAITING FOR THE RAPTURE . . .
As many Americans no doubt have heard, the rapture of the Church was to happen on this day at 6PM, Eastern Standard Time, according to Harold Egbert Camping, president of Family Radio — a prediction that he made as well in 1992 for the year 1994 (link). In the Thursday edition of USA Today (Life, Section D), a full-page ad was taken out, with Camping’s message as the following: “Judgment Day begins with a worldwide earthquake on May 21, 2011. Today is the day of salvation. Cry mightily unto God for mercy” (6D). According to Camping on this prediction, there is “no possibility that it will not happen.” There is no possibility that it will not happen — not even the slightest possibility? He should have at least left himself enough room to cower under his “my calculations were off” motif!
When asked to explain why Scripture insists that no one can know the day or hour of Christ’s return, he responds by suggesting that “no one” refers to unregenerate people (unbelievers). He then quotes the apostle Paul: “Those who are unspiritual [those without the Holy Spirit, unregenerate, natural] do not receive the gifts of God’s Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14 NRSV). He is convinced that “true believers” can discern the time of Christ’s appearance.
He claims, in USA Today, “A multitude of faithful Bible students, that no man can number, agree: The end of this world, beginning on May 21, 2011, is established by God’s Word The Holy Bible and God will shortly bring it to pass” (6D). Who are those among this alleged “multitude of faithful Bible students,” agreeing to Camping’s nonsense? They are not named, only assumed. Moreover, to suggest that there are so many “faithful Bible students” who agree with him that “no man can number” them is an overt lie.
I do not think that the Christian community owes Camping a free pass on his debacle. He is another embarrassment and blemish on orthodox Christianity, in a similar manner (but perhaps to a lesser degree) to Fred Phelps and his hate-filled, cultic mongrels. Such misguided and delusional professors to the Christian faith need to be spoken out against by the majority who disagree with their silly-bordering-on-demonic-inspired antics. Remember how the apostle Paul treated Hymanaeus and Philetus, who “swerved from the truth by claiming that the resurrection has already taken place” (2 Tim. 2:17-18 NRSV). Those two were upsetting the faith of many persons.
Date-setters for “the end of the world” have appeared in history and have all been wrong. What perplexes me most, however, is how many people have died before the alleged date of the end of the world, and no one takes that fact to heart. What matters most is not some alleged date in the future when “the world will end,” or when “the judgment of God will fall.” The “world ends” and “the judgment of God” falls upon people the world over every single day. For Scripture insists that “it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment” (Heb. 9:27 NRSV). The Psalmist declares, “Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed” (Ps. 139:16 NRSV). No mortal in this life lives in their flesh forever. Everyone dies.
Regardless of the sincere-but-failed end-times prophecies of numerous people we must always keep in mind that Christ Jesus is still going to return. There will still be a rapture (no matter where on one’s eschatological timeline such is placed). When Christ descends to the earth, the dead saints will be resurrected with new bodies, and we who remain will be caught up (raptured) with them in the air to meet the Lord (1 Thess. 4:13-17). Before this event, many people will live their lives and then die. No one is guaranteed his or her next breath. Today truly is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2). Hence, all people are solemnly implored to trust in Christ Jesus’ accomplished work on the cross and His subsequent resurrection without delay! You, reader, may not live to see the true return of Jesus.
One unfortunate repercussion of Camping’s (yet again) failed attempt at predicting the return of Christ (as well as all predictions of this unpredictable event) is that some people will use these failed “prophecies” against the viability of the Christian faith. There is a sense in which such false prophecies serve the kingdom of God’s enemy, Satan. The apostle Peter, with one hundred percent accuracy, predicted two thousand years ago that “in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’” (2 Pet. 3:3-4 NRSV)
How utterly tragic that such scoffing should come as a result of some professing Christians falsely proclaiming the timing of Christ’s return. Peter then continues, “But the day of the Lord will come . . .” (2 Pet. 3:10). We do not need to know the exact day of His return; that day will come as a thief lurks in the night (2 Pet. 3:10): unexpectedly. This state of unexpectedness is why all predictions of His return fail. Should everyone be looking for His return, they would be expecting it. But like the flood of Noah’s time, when the people had no idea that judgment was upon them, that is how Christ will return — i.e., when no one is expecting it (cf. Matt. 24:36-44).
I am very hopeful for the Lord’s return in my lifetime. If His return is delayed for another hundred years — or a thousand years — I can with one hundred percent accuracy predict on which day He will not return: anyone who predicts a specific day of His return, that day is a day on which He will not return.
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