Second-coming date-setter apologizes

According to an AP story by Garance Burke bearing a San Francisco dateline and appearing in the March 10, 2012 edition of The (Nashville) Tennessean, Harold Camping has conceded that he was wrong when he set the date for the second coming of Christ to take place last May 21 (and subsequently revised to occur five months later).

Hooray for Mr. Camping! Less than a year ago Camping’s followers were “absolutely sure that Camping’s predictions [were] right.” They were confidently claiming “It is a certainty” . . . “It’s a matter of simple math.” But, of course, it turned out to be another rapture rupture and end-time date “bust.” After spending millions of dollars to publicize his message and to play on the gullibility of his naïve followers (many of whom quit their jobs or sold their businesses), Camping has acknowledged that his apocalyptic prophecy was wrong. In a letter to his followers he now says he has “no evidence the world will end anytime soon, and he isn’t interested in considering further dates.” “God has humbled us through the events of May 21,” he wrote. He went on to openly acknowledge that “we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world.”

He is but one of many self-proclaimed students of prophecy who have “figured it out,” only to be proved time after time after time to not know what they are talking about. To his credit, Mr. Camping has informed his followers that he has “stopped looking for new dates, and [will] concentrate on deepening his faith through rereading the Scriptures.” Good for him! Hopefully others of his ilk will follow suit. There is so much in the Scriptures that we all need to read, study, and know (and can know): God’s eternal purpose to save man through Christ; the wondrous and gradual unfolding of that scheme of redemption through the ages of the Old Testament; the fruition of that great purpose in the birth, earthly life, ministry, atoning death, burial, and resurrection of Christ; the thrilling story of the proclamation of the gospel and the obedient response one is to make to that gospel as set forth in the New Testament; the establishment of the church as the community of Christ’s blood-redeemed disciples; and the life one is to live in the church in humble and dedicated service to God. All of these (and more) need to capture our attention as we read, study and reflect on God’s wonderful revelation to us in Scripture.

For one to become fixated on and consumed with looking for hidden “keys” that supposedly provide information on the exact time of Christ’s second coming is to rob oneself of the abundant life that Christ came to give (John 10:10). There are so many rich, wide vistas of knowledge, understanding, and appreciation to be derived from a full and thorough investigation of God’s revelation to us through the Scriptures. What a shame to deprive oneself of these by becoming totally obsessed with something that God has not revealed!

In His Olivet discourse to His disciples (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), Jesus plainly stated with reference to His second coming: “But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels in heaven, but my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). To make it clear which day He was talking about, Jesus went on to say: “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (verse 42). Still a moment later, He admonished: “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not expect Him” (verse 44). Continuing into Matthew’s next chapter, in the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, Jesus exhorted: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming (25:13). Question: If Christ had wanted to stress that the day and the hour of His second coming are not known by anyone other than the Father in heaven, what more could He have said than He did say in the above passages?

One’s study of the Bible will be much more profitably spent on the things that have been revealed, rather than looking for “signs” and weaving speculative theories concerning the time of an event that God has chosen to retain within the counsels of His own mind.

Hugh Fulford

March 13, 2012

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