When Will The World End?

aybe you have seen this billboard on the side of the road heading into Milford. Who is behind it? What do they think will happen this Saturday?

Harold Camping, the 89-year old founder of Family Radio, has warned that this Saturday the rapture will occur at exactly 6 p.m. in Jerusalem. After that, God’s Day of Judgment will begin.

If you think Harold is right, there are many unique options available this weekend.

  • You can skydive without a parachute in complete safety at 5:50 p.m. Jerusalem time (any takers)?
    You can finally afford a trip to Hawaii for the weekend. After all, you are only paying for a one-way ticket.
    This weekend is the chance for the shopping spree of a life time. By the time the bill arrives, you will be long gone.
    You are done with your diet forever. Immediately stop eating healthy! You will never have enough time to gain the weight.
I know it sounds like I am mocking Harold’s prediction, but I am completely serious. I am sure Harold would agree with my special weekend options. In preparation for writing this post, I ran across a video interview of Harold Camping where the interviewer asked if he is concerned about the mosque they are building near ground-zero of the World Trade Centers. He laughed at the question. “Why should we be concerned? They will never have a chance to finish it before May 21, 2011.” So Harold’s motto is truly, “eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow (May 21, 2011 to be exact) we are out of here!”

This is not the first time Harold has predicted the end of the world. He made a similar prediction in 1994 and even wrote a book about it (in case you haven’t noticed, he was wrong). He claims the Bible guarantees this new date! In fact, he wrote another book called, Time Has An End to explain why his first book was wrong. 


Thankfully, Harold is not living in Old Testament times. If he was, he would not be around to make this new prediction after his failed previous one.

But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak,... that same prophet shall die.’ And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. Deuteronomy 18:20–22 (ESV)

The death penalty is a great way to cut down on the false prophets. I am sure Harold is thankful we are not living in theocratic Israel but in the democratic USA! It allows him to be wrong as often as he wants, until he stands in front of King Jesus on the real Judgment Day. I wouldn’t want to be in Harold’s shoes standing in front of Jesus wearing a T-shirt that says, “I’m a False Prophet.” It doesn’t sound like things will get off to a good start.

On a more serious note, what are we to think of people like Harold who claim they can predict the end of the world? If you check history, there are many of them. Over 200 according to my quick count. Let’s do a little Q&A to think this through.

Will anybody know the date of the end of the world?

According to Jesus, the answer is, “No!” In Acts 1:7 Jesus said, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority.” In Matthew 24:36 Jesus made it crystal-clear, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”

If Jesus doesn’t know the exact date of his return, why would Harold Camping know it? Does Harold have a special bat-phone to God the Father’s inner world? Does Harold have access to information the Father has chosen not to reveal to the Son? I don’t think so.

Any Christian who thinks they have the date of Christ’s return figured out is incredibly presumptuous,... OK.... even worse.... they are part of a box of granola.... they are either a fruit, a nut or a flake.


Where did Harold come up with this date?

You need to know a little of Harold’s history. Growing up in the 1980’s, I used to listen to him on the Christian radio station in the evening. He was known as “the Bible answer man.” Callers phoned in and he answered their biblical questions. I must admit, he is a very intelligent man. Unfortunately, he has huge gaps in his knowledge. For instance, he never went to seminary or learned Greek and Hebrew. Why would that be important? The better your understanding of the original languages and cultures, the more accurately you understanding the Bible. Many pastors head to seminary precisely because they do not want to make Harold’s mistake and teach something the Bible doesn’t say!

Not only is Harold lacking any formal training but his calculations for the date of the end of the world are based on an understanding of the Old Testament and its genealogies that no Biblical scholars agree with (when nobody agrees with the way you understand the Bible, it is time to check your thinking).

Harold believes the return of Christ can be calculated through patterns of words, numbers and dates. Let’s think about this. Needing a degree in higher mathematics to understand coded messages in the Bible is an insult to the message of the Bible. The Bible’s message is clear and it doesn’t require a mathematician to understand it!

What should I do this Saturday (...and the next time some nut predicts the end of the world)?

We are not to circle dates on our calendars and tell people to prepare for Christ’s return. We are to be about our father’s business of sharing the gospel and living faithful lives of righteousness every day, including the last day! The Bible doesn’t tell us to hang out on roof tops with our hands in the air waiting for the skies to part. If you do, prepare to look like a fool and you will drag the reputation of the Jesus I love through the mud when you do it all in His name!

Are we to await Christ’s return? Of course we are. We are even to eagerly look forward to it, but we are not to set dates and times. Setting dates and times distracts us from our true calling, which is to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves.

As a final thought, it is always good to go back to Scripture. Peter tells us exactly what we should do as we anticipate Christ’s return.

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace. 2 Peter 3:10–14 (ESV)

I think that sums it up.

See you Sunday morning, the day after May 21, 2011!