It has now been well over a week since Harold Camping’s failed prediction of the rapture of 200 million believers on May 21 and the onset of five months of tribulation for those “left behind” on Earth.  As expected, Camping attributed this eschatological non-event to yet another miscalculation on his part (failed to carry a 1 to the next column or something, I’m sure).  He cleverly “called an audible” and claimed that a “spiritual” judgment (i.e., unseen and completely unverifiable) did take place on May 21, and then pitched a new date of October 21 for the end of the world as we know it.

I know that this subject is already old news and seems like ancient history in our attention-challenged culture, which has since gone through several complete revolutions of the news cycle.  Numerous bloggers that I regularly follow offered astute and timely observations in the days immediately before and after May 21.  Still, I wanted to share a few observations before the story completely leaves our collective consciousness; that is, at least until mid-October when it will likely light up the internet and the blogosphere again. 

I share the same regrets about Camping’s prophetic hoax that have been expressed by others.  Once again, reasonable and rationale followers of Christ have been held up to ridicule because of the antics of those who dwell on the theological and hermeneutical fringes of the Christian faith.  Camping’s billboards proclaimed, “The Bible guarantees it!”  As a result, some will mistakenly impugn Scripture rather than Camping.  It provides another verse to be sung by the choir of skeptics who mockingly ask, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?  Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation” (II Peter 3:3-4).  I hurt for those who were sincerely searching for truth and found Camping instead; I pray that they can spiritually and emotionally recover from the deception that they suffered. 

Still, there are several things for which to be grateful as a result of Harold Camping’s prediction.  Innumerable people were caused to reflect on the possibility of Christ’s return on May 21 and were prompted to consider their spiritual “preparedness” for that event.  Through personal study, conversations, blogs, articles, and even sermons, the truth of Biblical revelation concerning the Lord’s return was searched out and reaffirmed.  Those looking for Biblical information about the popular notion of the “rapture of the saints” discovered that there is no Scriptural basis for the concept of a “beaming up” of believers at some remote point of time prior to the final judgment and the consummation of all things.  

Camping has solidified his status as a false prophet (see Deuteronomy 18:20-22), scoring a dishonorable trifecta with failed predictions in 1988, 1994, and now 2011.  I am tempted to admire his tenacity, but pity is more appropriate.

I would like to offer a mild correction to a statement that I heard several well-intentioned believers make in the days leading up to May 21.  It went something like, “Well, we can know for sure that Jesus isn’t coming back on May 21, because He said that no man knows the day or the hour!”  The day of the Lord’s return has been fixed and determined in the mind and in the plan of God (Acts 17:31).  It will happen on that day, regardless of whether or not some spiritual nutcase has made a prediction for that date.  Otherwise, we could forever forestall the return of Christ by having people make predictions for every calendar day in the future.  I don’t believe that is going to change God’s plan! 

Jesus said that no man “knows” the day or the hour of His return (Matthew 24:36, 42).  Guys like Camping don’t “know.”  They guess; they are shooting in the dark.  Jesus went on to say in the same context, “So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him” (Matthew 24:44).  Most of us weren’t “expecting” Jesus on May 21!  It would have been a perfect day for His return!

Be ready; today and every day.

Oh, the nickname “Happy”?  Just a silly name that popped into my head every time I heard or read about Camping recently.  Very juvenile, I know.  Sorry, I just can’t seem to help it.

Finally, a cartoon for you to enjoy!