I believe that May 21, 2011 will prove to have been a watershed day for millions of people, regardless of the fact that Jesus didn’t come back to rapture His flock, and commence the judgment of the earth, as predicted by Harold Camping. Evidently the calculations of the self-confessed life long Bible student, and civil engineer didn’t quite add up.
I hope you don’t think I am being facetious about it, because there is nothing humorous in this at all. In fact, I have no doubt that though things didn’t work out as some anticipated, many lives will never be the same again because of the fallout from this spiritual fiasco. The impact for many will stretch into eternity.
Before I discuss that aspect of this situation, consider the fact that Camping did this before, in 1994, predicting that Jesus would return according to His calculations, in October of that year.
Camping’s 1994 prediction gained some publicity, but nowhere near as much as this one has. The May 21 prediction had adherents all over the world, Billboards and full-page advertisers in major newspapers appeared in cities around the globe.
Another magnifying factor is the internet, through which news and views both pro and con about Camping’s prediction have proliferated. Everybody knew about it, I would assume most people laughed it off, but it intrigued and hooked a good share of people, I have no doubt.
The other difference between 1994, when Camping first made this kind of false apocalyptic prediction, and now in 2011 , is that in the post 09/11, 2001 world, apocalyptic predictions resonate. People have lost their former sense of insularity, for they now sense that major unsettling events truly are in the works.
This has happened before in history. When a Bible teacher named Miller predicted the return of Christ in October of 1841, he sparked an eschatological fever throughout America and England . Thousands of people were selling farms, leaving families and jobs, and preaching in the streets.
By the predicted date , people were camping on mountain tops dressed in white robes eagerly awaiting the rapture.
The morning after the “great disappointment” as it came to be called, those same people faced hard decisions as they sheepishly headed back down the mountain tops to pick up the pieces of their shattered lives.
One option would have been the way of humility. The disappointed Millerites could have simply admitted that they were wrong, and gone back to God, bearing the shame and reproach, but going on with God, chastened yet forgiven.
Another possible option would be to become offended, cast off the faith that led to such painful embarrassment, and live as either an atheist or a practical atheist, never to allow any religion to so excite their passions again.
A third option would be to devise a religious rational to justify one’s false belief (that Jesus was going to come back in 1841. or 2011).
By elaborate contortions of scripture, One Millerite stated that Jesus really did return in 1841, but not to the earth, but to cleanse the outer court of the heavenly temple, thus seemingly excusing or ameliorating the shame brought upon those who believed Miller.
This third option would eventually lead directly to the founding or development of no less than five cults which have plagued the church to this day, all because people didn’t want to admit that they had been wrong.Seventh Day Adventists and Christadelphians being the chief examples of this fallout.
That is why I am sure that this May 21 will be of consequence, perhaps eternal consequence for many, even including many who never believed Camping.
May 21,2011 will be for many remembered as the day that some people:
* Abandoned any expression of Christianity whatsoever-Because their pride was hurt, and they were made fools of by believing that they were “in on” a special revelation, the date of Christ’s return! Now they look stupid, but won’t have the humility to admit that it was unscriptural to set a date which Christ himself said that no man could know.
* Unfortunately, others will give up on Eschatology entirely This too is a tragedy, because Jesus did say that the belief in his return is of great import. “But and if that evil servant will say in his heart ‘My Lord delayeth his coming’, he will then beat the menservants and the maid servants and eat and drink with the drunken … “(Matthew 24:48).
A good many christians have already given up on the belief in the immanent return of Jesus as a result of the Y2K folly which they had bought into, filling their basements with supplies of rice, drinking water and shotgun shells. A classic case of the boy who cried wolf!
* Many who do not believe the gospel at all and for whom this episode has been a rich source of comic relief, will want nothing to do now with evangelicals, whom they will lump together and regard as imbeciles.
Their own mocking of the fiasco becomes a sort of heart hardening process, for though they are mocking Camping’s false prediction, they end up mocking the church , Jesus, the rapture, the Bible and those who believe it, and the very concept of Divine judgment . You can see how Satan is using this to decieve many.
* I have no doubt, that as in 1841, there will be those who contrive elaborate,”scriptural” excuses, designed to justify the folly they have invested in. Such contortions of truth itself will only lead them further away from biblically orthodox, saving faith in Jesus Christ. One cannot truly twist scripture, one can only twist his own heart and conscience.
* God is testing the world as regards to truth –
…And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.( 2 Thess 2:10-12)
This whole episode is really about truth. Think about it, Why would anyone who knows the Bible, give the time of day to a preacher claiming to be able to set the date for the Parousia? Can such a one possibly Love the truth?
Furthermore what is it that people have been laughing and joking about openly, when they lampoon the rapture of the church, the second coming of our Lord and Saviour , the last judgment and the belief in Salvation?
What of those who believe in the second coming of Christ? Will they now back off of the Truth out of embarrassment? Will we maintain loyalty to truth in the face of ridicule?
The Truth of the gospel stands regardless of Harold Camping. Jesus is coming, there will be a “Harpazo” of the church,(see I Thess 4:17), the world is truly under a judgment, yet people laugh at Camping as though because he was proven so spectacularly wrong, they have dodged the bullet of Divine judgment.
My only hope is that in spite of the above, somehow or other, God in mercy can use even this for our good and His glory. Perhaps the Spirit can use these events to convict some of these realities and bring them to saving faith. “God is not willing that any perish, but that all come to repentance”.