By now most folks have heard of the judgement day predictions by Family Radio Network owner Harold Camping. Mr. Camping believes, and has spent much of his personal fortune proclaiming that belief, that Jesus will return and the world will end May 21, 2011. He isn’t the first man to make such a prediction, and I doubt he will be the last. But among the comments of Christians and non-Christians regarding his prophetic proclamation, I’ve noticed a similarity which causes me pause; a similarity which we as Christians need to avoid.
Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries reported that a group of “American Atheists have announced that they are planning ‘rapture parties’ in Oakland, Houston, and Fort Lauderdale on May 21-22” to “celebrate another rapture that wasn’t.” While knowing that athiests will be celebrating and mocking Christ irritates me greatly, I can’t blame them for taking advantage of the opportunity. When King David of Israel had an illicit affair with Bathsheba and killed her husband to cover it up, the prophet Nathan told him the consequence would be the death of his child because David had “given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme.” By failing to heed the comments and warnings of Christ, Mr. Camping has done the same thing. His actions have given possible “credibility” to the message of the atheists that there is no God, there is no rapture. The word of God can stand against any attack Satan chooses to throw at it. When we refuse to obey His word, we misrepresent Him and His truth to the world.
Russ Jones of OneNewsNow.com reported that members of a certain Bible church are “concerned that Camping’s devotees may become depressed” and “do something rash when May 21 comes and goes.” I commend that church for caring about the mental welfare of those taken in by Mr. Camping, but are we so sure that the rapture won’t happen on May 21? Perhaps I’m only worrying about semantics here, but it appears we are making the same mistake as the atheists. We claim that Jesus can return at any moment. Yet, when someone makes a specific prediction of that time, we act as though the rapture isn’t imminent because a prediction was made. We become as bad as unbelievers, claiming that there are certain times when Jesus cannot return. Is God prohibited from returning on May 21 because Camping predicted it? To believe that would be as foolish as the prediction.
Jesus said He is coming soon so we can be with Him forever. He will return when the Father decides, whether someone guesses the moment or not. Don’t allow unbelievers or misguided Christians to cause you to lose faith in our blessed hope.