Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Second Great Disappointment

    Harold Camping has finally spoken in public about Judgment Day, May 21. He informed the world that he felt terrible when his prediction about the return of Christ did not come true. He now says that Judgment Day will come on October 21, which was the date he had originally predicted that that the world would end by being consumed in a fireball.
   Camping explained that Saturday was "an invisible judgment day," not the visible day he had predicted. Everything else remains the same," he added. "We've always said May 21 was the day, but we didn't understand altogether the spiritual meaning. May 21 is the day that Christ came and put the world under judgment."
   In 1994, Camping also admitted that he had made a mistake in dating the return of Christ, but then he explained it as a mathematical error. As I mentioned in my earlier post, there is a long history of such failed predictions, of which perhaps the most memorable took place in 1844 when the failure of the prophecies about the end of the world caused widespread consternation among the followers of William Miller. This was called "The Great Disappointment." 
    Camping's failed prediction may one day be termed, The Second Great Disappointment. Many of his followers sold all their possessions because of the coming judgment day. Some used the proceeds to pay for the many advertisements announcing this day. That they were disappointed is probably an understatement. 
    Jeff Hopkins, a former television producer from Great River, New York, has bared his feelings: "I've been mocked and scoffed and cursed at and I've been through a lot with this lighted sign on top of my car. I was doing what I've been instructed to do through the Bible, but now I've been stymied. It's like getting slapped in the face."
    Camping himself, it should be added, did not sell his possessions, nor does he plan to do so before October 21. "If it is Judgment Day, why would I give it away?" Nor would his ministry, Family Radio, tell others what to do. "That is between them and God," he added. 
    The overwhelming majority of Christians reject the idea that the exact date of Christ's return can be predicted. Even if we cannot know the date, most of them are agreed that God does provide signs that warn us about what is coming.
   Tim LaHaye, co-author of the bestselling “Left Behind” novels about the end times, calls Camping's prediction “not only bizarre but 100 per cent wrong!” He cites Matthew 24:36: “But about that day or hour no one knows,” except, of course, God. 
   "While it may be in the near future, many signs of our times certainly indicate so, but anyone who thinks they 'know' the day and the hour is flat out wrong," LaHaye makes this comment on his website: leftbehind.com. 
   Although one can commend Camping and his followers for not only warning people through the many millions they spent on advertisements, they also tried to convert them at the last minute so that these people too would be raptured by Christ and taken with him to heaven. Camping estimates that about 200 million people will saved and join Christ on Judgment Day.
   But, one may well ask, in response: why so few people? That is less than 3% of the world population. Is God's love for the world, for which he sacrificed his Son, limited only to such a small handful of believers? Hardly!
    Christ is returning one day, but we don't know when. Nor do we know how many will be saved. But thankfully God does know.  And one day we too will know; until then we can only wait patiently.

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