by Hadley RobinsonSetting a date for the end of the world jumped to the front of the news when Harold Camping of Family Radio incorrectly predicted that May 21, 2011 would be the time of the Lord's return. He later changed it to October 21, 2011. Both dates came and went with nothing observable but the expected ridicule and smear dished out by the heathen on Christians for making such predictions.
a.) Misinterpretation concerning the sealed book of Dan 12:4.2. Does this represent the thinking of most Christians? Thankfully, no. But those who predict the time of the LORD’s return will always be around distracting people with their nonsense. These people have been giving false hope to Christians and wasting the Church's time from the earliest periods.
b.) Non-application of Jesus’ words in Matt. 24:42 & Acts 1:7. (They only apply to the Church age which, according to Camping, is now over.) c.) Humpty-Dumpty theology – Camping made a tortuous journey through the Bible characterized by a this-is-that sort of interpretation. In particular, those who attend “church” are those people mentioned in 1 Thess. 5:3 – the people who are living in darkness. The “true believers” know when Jesus will come because Harold Camping told them.
a.) A Time of Evil: Generally, it will be a time of great evil and faithlessness (Dan. 12:1; Matt 24:12, 21; 2 Thess. 2:3,4; Rev. 13:1-10.) That is, the history of man is not going from primitive/bad to sophisticated/better but from bad to worse: Mankind is incapable of improving his lot overall, despite the wonderful blessings God has given him.4. Is this type of prediction very common in the past? Yes. 2 Thess. 2 indicates that some Christians were obsessed with it during the earliest times of the Church. Like Camping, they made wild and inaccurate predictions and declarations.
b.) No One Knows When: It will come unexpectedly. Matt. 24:37-39. 1 Thess. 4:1-11 and Matt. 25 are three of many passages in Scripture which exhort God’s people in how to live – holy and quiet lives, minding our own business, taking care of ourselves, and doing good, NOT being obsessed with dates and times concerning the LORD’s return. That is how we are to be watchful and waiting. 1 Thess. 5 and 2 Thess. 3 strongly warn against idleness – believers sitting around waiting for the world to end, as Camping and his followers did. It is no accident that immediately following the Spirit’s teaching on the Second Coming we have these warnings against idleness. c.) Jesus is LORD of the end times – and LORD of history. All history points to Him and He will judge it all. This is the particular message of Gen. 3:15; Daniel; Revelation; and many other passages in Scripture.
a.) Rom. 1:20 declares that all men know of God’s glory and power but deny it. So we see throughout history endless violence instituted to purportedly bring in the “perfect world” of peace and prosperity – Marxism, communism, humanism, the current US government, etc. It is not just Christian people who do it. The desire for Heaven is stamped by the Creator into the soul of every man.6. How should more mainstream Christians respond to this? We cannot be sure what “mainstream” is any more but orthodox Christians should firmly rebuke those who spread such tales concerning exact dates and times .
b.) Christians wish an end to the evil and death they daily see in the world. It’s not wrong to want the LORD to come. It is just wrong to set a date. Suffering and evil are part of God’s plan for His people and for their good, whether they like it or not. Rom. 8:17ff.; Jas. 5:7-11; 1 Pet. 3-4; Rev. 3:10 teach about this. “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.” Rom. 12:12
c.) We desire the completion of our salvation: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day–and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing.” 2 Tim. 4:8.