After May 21st, either the world really will end or the public ministry of prophet Harold Camping will be over. He’s the guy that made the prediction that the world will end this Saturday. He and his followers believe that at 9 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 21, a massive earthquake will begin near New Zealand and make its way all around the world. Graves will open and the dead who are ‘saved’ will ascend to heaven. Alive or dead, two hundred million of the saved will float up. The doomed remainder will live on an unruly earth for five months before God annihilates it on Oct. 21.
Here’s a brief explanation of how he comes up with the date May 21. (I could give a longer version of how he came up with it but, trust me it doesn’t make any more sense than this)
Camping says certain numbers repeat themselves in the Bible: The number five means “atonement.” Ten means “completeness.” Seventeen is “heaven.” Multiply those numbers by each other and then square it and you get 722,500. “Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he says. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.” If you multiply that number by 365.2422 — the number of days in the solar calendar — it equals 722,449. And if you add 51 (the number of days between April 1 and May 21) to that number, it equals 722,500.
The sad thing is that Camping has been wrong about this before. Back in the 1990s he predicted Sept. 6, 1994 would be the end of the world. That passed and he revised his date to Dec. 31, 1994. When that passed he said that the Biblical calendar actually runs until March 31st so the year 1994 actually lasts until March 31, 1995. Still nothing. Fortunately the guy is over 80 so he only as few more of these before he will ‘come to knowledge.’
While we’re on the topic of literal interpretation of Scripture, here’s one that never seems to be taken literally: Matt 24: 36. ““But about that day [Judgement Day] or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son,but only the Father.” Why do we never take this one literally?
What is tragic is not just that people are mislead, but the way in which the Bible is being treated. It is not being treasured as the Word of God, a revelation of God’s character and the saving work of Jesus Christ. It is being treated like a code book in need of a secret decoder ring. This is not how we ought to read the Word. The Bible is not apprehended and the truth wrung out of it like moisture from a sponge. It should be regarded with respect and engaged prayerfully. The Holy Spirit, who inspired it’s writers testifies through it’s words. Our souls receive nourishment from the reading of the Word. We don’t get secret passwords, or demolition dates from it’s pages. When you read the Bible like this you take far too high an opinion of yourself and your own wisdom, and you take far too low an opinion of the Holy Spirit.
Tomorrow I’ll write a bit on my take on the doctrine of rapture. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure to post it before May 21st 🙂