The claim behind the prediction of the rapture:
Watching the followers of Pastor Camping explain the rapture is disheartening. Several of them have stated they quit their jobs and planned their finances to run out today, May 21st. As his people stated in an interview, “There is no plan B.”
According to Camping’s statements in an interview, the rapture is to occur exactly 7,000 years after the flood. Today is that date by Camping’s calculations.
His reasoning is that the Apostle Peter said, “With the Lord a day is like a thousand years.” Since God said, “I will send a flood in seven days”, the earth will end 7,000 years from the date of that statement. However, people seem to forget the rest of Peter’s statement, “and a thousand years is like a day.” Now if we apply the same logic to the second half of the verse, calculations suddenly don’t make sense. Perhaps the point of Peter’s statement isn’t a coded message, but a reminder that time is not a boundary to God. Whether it’s a thousand years, or a single day, God is there and unaffected by time. We are bound by time, He is not.
Reasons why rapture predictions don’t pan out
Aside from the fact that Harold Camping predicted the rapture and end of the world in 1994, there are specific biblical reasons why the world won’t end today. The first and most obvious is Jesus’ statement in Mark 13:32-33
32 ” But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
33 “Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.
How is it that people who claim to be Bible scholars who predict the rapture never seem to understand what Jesus said to his disciples? If Jesus said no one knows – not even the Son – doesn’t it stand to reason that a preacher or Bible scholar can’t know either? Do they have more understanding than Christ? Apparently not. 41 times since 1900 the end of the world has been predicted. 41 times they failed. Today will be the 42nd failure.
Camping’s followers attempt to explain away Jesus’ comments, but there is no escaping the plain truth staring us in the eye. Not only did He say, “No one can know the day or hour,” but he also said, “You do not know when the time is.” Let’s take a glance at the rest of Jesus’ explanation. He mentioned this in each of the gospels, but Luke gives the most details. Luke 12:42-46
42 And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season?
43 “Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes.
44 “Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has.
45 “But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk,
46 “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
Can you pick out the instruction being communicated in this passage? The point Jesus is making is simple to understand. First, He will come when you are not watching or expecting it. That tosses May 21st off the prophetic calendar.
The purpose of Jesus’ foretelling His return (i.e. the rapture)
The purpose of prophecy is not to predict God and try to outguess him, but to know how to watch. If God gave a date, no one would be caught unaware. The whole purpose of waiting and watching is to determine who is faithful and who is not. The unfaithful only keep their house in order when they think they are being watched. That is human nature. When we know the boss is coming, we make sure we look busy, the office is clean, and everything is in order. But a surprise inspection reveals who we really, are and what our work ethic really is.
Those who are truly following Jesus Christ will not be caught unaware. Whether Jesus comes on May 21st, August 15th, or ten years from now – it doesn’t matter. A faithful believer will always be watching because their heart is on obedience, not merely hoping we hear the sound of approaching footsteps in time to get ready.
Do I believe the Lord will one day return? Absolutely. But it will be on a day when the world and the church is unprepared. Those who become apathetic and neglect their call to discipleship will be caught by surprise. The faithful will be surprised as well, but it won’t matter for they are always ready and watching.
Here’s my prediction. Monday morning Harold Camping’s followers will be looking for jobs, and like the 41 failed rapture predicting prophets before him, he’ll have to find an excuse for being wrong.
See you in Church on Sunday.