Harold Camping and Family Radio International took the world and the Internet for a ride this weekend with the prediction that the Rapture would occur on Saturday, May 21 at 6:00 p.m. Unless you were hiding under a rock, you picked up on the prediction.
But obviously, Camping was wrong. We in fact, along with scholars from around the planet pointed that out ahead of the event: It’s Okay to Make Plans for Saturday Night.
It’s all right here:
But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.
~ Matthew 24:35-37
Sadly, Camping’s followers now realize that he was wrong. Some of them are wondering what to do next: The Sad Stories of Believers Disappointed by Non-Apocalypse
Consider Keith Bauer as reported by the Los Angeles Times: If it was his last week on Earth, he wanted to see parts of it he’d always heard about but missed, such as the Grand Canyon. With maxed-out credit cards and a growing mountain of bills, he said, the rapture would have been a relief.
Bauer, along with thousands of others maxed out their credit, spent their life savings and even paid people in advance to care for their pets. They were taken in by a charlatan, a pretender.
Sad really, that they couldn’t read the Scripture for themselves and realize that Camping was wrong.
For followers of Christ, it’s simple really. Jesus said “no one knows but the Father.”
Harold Camping is not the Father.
So leading up to yesterday and all day long, the Internet was abuzz with anticipation, but mostly with mocking. Some like those in our link above, gave rational explanations about why Camping’s “interpretation” of the Scriptures were wrong.
Most just wrote him off as a loon and a fraud. In the end, he merely provided entertainment.
I’ll admit to playing along. Some of the stories and the jokes were just too good to pass up.
But, what’s the fallout from all of this?
In a world where Christians are routinely mocked, particularly Evangelicals, this didn’t help.
The reality is that one day, Jesus Christ will indeed return.
The reality is that every man and woman must choose whether to believe or deny.
When a serious subject such as the end of time and eternal damnation, both of which are most certainly real, get caught up in hysteria such as that generated by Harold Camping and company, it dilutes the real message of the cross.
And that’s a shame.
Millions of people now will roll their eyes and sigh “those wacky Christians are at it again.”
I’ve never gotten caught up in the teaching of the end times anyway. I grew up in a tradition that was amillennial, meaning that there’s no belief in the “Rapture.” Rather, when Christ returns that’s when the world ends. There’s no one left behind. These days, I’m in a church where the tradition is premillennial.
But I look at it this way.
For centuries scholars much smarter than I have been trying to figure this out. It’s been debated. It’s been written about. I’m not going to be the one to figure it out. Those debates will continue until Christ actually returns.
I think there’s a different bottom line. In my view, it really doesn’t matter how it happens. What matters is that I’m ready for it to happen.
For the believer, no scenario is frightening. It’s all exciting. It’s the day we anticipate. The day we long for.
So, rather than try to figure it all out, I need to spend time making sure my heart is right. That my relationships are right.
Millions who mocked, laughed or just didn’t believe, missed that point yesterday. And Harold Camping helped them do it.
I hope that Camping’s followers can find some resolution and some peace with what has happened. It’s not easy to give away all of your life savings and then find out… “ooops.” And I hope Camping finds justice. He will one day. I just don’t know when that day will be.
You know, in some ways, that Camping was wrong was a disappointment. Followers of Jesus know that this place, while we may know and love it, is not our home.
The day is coming. Maybe sooner than we think.
And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
~ Horatio G. Spafford