So here we are. It’s 6 PM on May 21st, 2011, at the International Date Line. According to Harold Camping’s “prophetic” utterances, Jesus should be in the process of snatching away all of His followers in what’s known among certain Christians — and among many bizarre cults — as The Rapture.
According to Mr. Camping we should be feeling an earthquake of unprecedented intensity right about now, and a wave of mysterious human vanishings should be traveling westward from the mid-Pacific like some kind of rolling blackout.
Hmmm. I don’t feel, see, or hear anything. Do you? Maybe my clocks are all fast.
This isn’t the first time that a doomsday-preaching “man of faith” has claimed to have secret knowledge from God about the exact timing of the rapture. Do a quick search and you’ll find references from the nonviolent but briefly popular Millerites in the mid-1800s, to the truly twisted and violent Branch Davidians in 1993. There’s the infamous Aum Shinrikyo cult — now known as “Aleph” — which perpetrated Sarin gas attacks in Tokyo in 1995, as well as the tragically deluded Heaven’s Gate suicide cult in 1997.
Today, Harold Camping’s well-meaning and sincere followers stand ready with fervent faith to meet whichever messiah their leader claims to represent:
The Haddad children of Middletown, Md., have a lot on their minds: school projects, SATs, weekend parties. And parents who believe the earth will begin to self-destruct on Saturday.
The three teenagers have been struggling to make sense of their shifting world, which started changing nearly two years ago when their mother, Abby Haddad Carson, left her job as a nurse to “sound the trumpet” on mission trips with her husband, Robert, handing out tracts. They stopped working on their house and saving for college.
Last weekend, the family traveled to New York, the parents dragging their reluctant children through a Manhattan street fair in a final effort to spread the word.
“My mom has told me directly that I’m not going to get into heaven,” Grace Haddad, 16, said. “At first it was really upsetting, but it’s what she honestly believes.”
So far Camping’s followers seem more like the relatively harmless Millerites than any destructive or suicidal cult. At a minimum they’re in for disappointment and disillusionment. These people treat the purported end of the world frivolously and without an investor’s attitude of due diligence. You see, this isn’t the first time Mr. Camping has invited us all to play the Rapture Lotto.
Camping’s apparently a decent salesman. He’s managed to raise over $100 million from donations to buy billboard space in many major cities and on RVs rolling coast to coast. It’s unclear whether the billboards generated the income or vice versa … or maybe it’s both.
While this is all quite funny to most people, to Camping’s followers it will be a crushing let-down, one that will likely discourage them from faith in anything again. To Christians this is doubly bad because Camping’s foolishness will not only drive his followers away from trust in God, but his claim to be a Christian teacher of great authority will bring disrepute and ridicule upon the entire Christian faith in the eyes of the rest of the world. Non-Christians will look at Harold “I’m-A-Great-Christian-Leader” Camping and his pitiful cult of suckers, and they’ll assume that any Christians who aren’t deluded fools must be con artists.
Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles, predicted that wolves like Harold Camping would sneak into the flock. We Christians are warned in the Bible again and again to be skeptical, to take what anyone preaches and compare it with Scripture, even if it comes from the an Apostle, a “spirit”, an angel … no matter who makes a claim to authority. We are not to be gullible in matters of faith. God plays for keeps, and so should we.
Harold Camping is a fraud, a deceiver, a huckster, a fool, a false prophet, and a liar. His spectacularly awful excuse for “Christianity” should discourage nobody from examining the truth. God has a record of dealing harshly with false prophets, and that’s not going to change.
Here’s the straight scoop from Jesus on the subject of hucksters like Harold Camping.
All of the text below comes from the New American Standard Bible, but the boldface highlighting is mine.
The Gospel of Luke, Chapter 21
And He looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the treasury. And He saw a poor widow putting in two small copper coins. And He said, “Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all of them; for they all out of their surplus put into the offering; but she out of her poverty put in all that she had to live on.”
And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, “As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.”
They questioned Him, saying, “Teacher, when therefore will these things happen? And what will be the sign when these things are about to take place?” And He said, “See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time is near.’ Do not go after them. “When you hear of wars and disturbances, do not be terrified; for these things must take place first, but the end does not follow immediately.”
Then He continued by saying to them, “Nation will rise against nation and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be great earthquakes, and in various places plagues and famines; and there will be terrors and great signs from heaven.
“But before all these things, they will lay their hands on you and will persecute you, delivering you to the synagogues and prisons, bringing you before kings and governors for My name’s sake. “It will lead to an opportunity for your testimony. “So make up your minds not to prepare beforehand to defend yourselves; for I will give you utterance and wisdom which none of your opponents will be able to resist or refute. “But you will be betrayed even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My name. “Yet not a hair of your head will perish. “By your endurance you will gain your lives.
“But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then recognize that her desolation is near. “Then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains, and those who are in the midst of the city must leave, and those who are in the country must not enter the city; because these are days of vengeance, so that all things which are written will be fulfilled. “Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days; for there will be great distress upon the land and wrath to this people; and they will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled under foot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
“There will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth dismay among nations, in perplexity at the roaring of the sea and the waves, men fainting from fear and the expectation of the things which are coming upon the world; for the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN A CLOUD with power and great glory. “But when these things begin to take place, straighten up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
Then He told them a parable: “Behold the fig tree and all the trees; as soon as they put forth leaves, you see it and know for yourselves that summer is now near. “So you also, when you see these things happening, recognize that the kingdom of God is near. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all things take place. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
“Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation and drunkenness and the worries of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap; for it will come upon all those who dwell on the face of all the earth. “But keep on the alert at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are about to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”
Now during the day He was teaching in the temple, but at evening He would go out and spend the night on the mount that is called Olivet. And all the people would get up early in the morning to come to Him in the temple to listen to Him.
The Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 24
Jesus came out from the temple and was going away when His disciples came up to point out the temple buildings to Him. And He said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Truly I say to you, not one stone here will be left upon another, which will not be torn down.”
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things happen, and what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many. “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes. “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
“Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
“Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. “Whoever is on the housetop must not go down to get the things out that are in his house. “Whoever is in the field must not turn back to get his cloak. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! “But pray that your flight will not be in the winter, or on a Sabbath. “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. “Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ,’ or ‘There He is,’ do not believe him. “For false Christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect. “Behold, I have told you in advance. “So if they say to you, ‘Behold, He is in the wilderness,’ do not go out, or, ‘Behold, He is in the inner rooms,’ do not believe them. “For just as the lightning comes from the east and flashes even to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. “Wherever the corpse is, there the vultures will gather.
“But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. “And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory. “And He will send forth His angels with A GREAT TRUMPET and THEY WILL GATHER TOGETHER His elect from the four winds, from one end of the sky to the other.
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near; so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.
“But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. “For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. “For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be. “Then there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one will be left.
“Therefore be on the alert, for you do not know which day your Lord is coming. “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what time of the night the thief was coming, he would have been on the alert and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. “For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will.
“Who then is the faithful and sensible slave whom his master put in charge of his household to give them their food at the proper time? “Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. “Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. “But if that evil slave says in his heart, ‘My master is not coming for a long time,’ and begins to beat his fellow slaves and eat and drink with drunkards; the master of that slave will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour which he does not know, and will cut him in pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
The Gospel of Mark, Chapter 13
As He was going out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, behold what wonderful stones and what wonderful buildings!” And Jesus said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone will be left upon another which will not be torn down.”
As He was sitting on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew were questioning Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are going to be fulfilled?” And Jesus began to say to them, “See to it that no one misleads you. “Many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He!’ and will mislead many. “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be frightened; those things must take place; but that is not yet the end. “For nation will rise up against nation, and kingdom against kingdom; there will be earthquakes in various places; there will also be famines. These things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
“But be on your guard; for they will deliver you to the courts, and you will be flogged in the synagogues, and you will stand before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them. “The gospel must first be preached to all the nations. “When they arrest you and hand you over, do not worry beforehand about what you are to say, but say whatever is given you in that hour; for it is not you who speak, but it is the Holy Spirit. “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and have them put to death. “You will be hated by all because of My name, but the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
“But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains. “The one who is on the housetop must not go down, or go in to get anything out of his house; and the one who is in the field must not turn back to get his coat. “But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! “But pray that it may not happen in the winter. “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will. “Unless the Lord had shortened those days, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect, whom He chose, He shortened the days. “And then if anyone says to you, ‘Behold, here is the Christ’; or, ‘Behold, He is there’; do not believe him; for false Christs and false prophets will arise, and will show signs and wonders, in order to lead astray, if possible, the elect. “But take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance.
“But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. “Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory. “And then He will send forth the angels, and will gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest end of the earth to the farthest end of heaven.
“Now learn the parable from the fig tree: when its branch has already become tender and puts forth its leaves, you know that summer is near. “Even so, you too, when you see these things happening, recognize that He is near, right at the door. “Truly I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away. “But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone.
“Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come. “It is like a man away on a journey, who upon leaving his house and putting his slaves in charge, assigning to each one his task, also commanded the doorkeeper to stay on the alert. “Therefore, be on the alert–for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning– in case he should come suddenly and find you asleep. “What I say to you I say to all, ‘Be on the alert!'”
This isn’t the Great Pumpkin we’re waiting for. Sincerity isn’t enough.
Read your Bible. Use your brain. Evaluate what you hear and see. Don’t be spiritually weird. When the end comes, it’ll be unmistakeable.