Previous article in this series: October 1, 2011, p. 5.
And so October 21 has come and gone, and no return of the Lord Jesus.
No rapture either.
Nor for that matter, did God’s final judgment fall with history-ending severity.
One did not have to be a Bible scholar to have predicted that. Even the unbelievers ‘prophesied’ October 22 would dawn bright and clear.
However (and this is what Christ’s church must continue to declare), the judgments of God that bring about this world’s end did and will continue to rumble through creation and the nations.
Harold Camping or no Harold Camping (let the scoffers hoot and howl as they may), Christ does continue to ”…come quickly” (cf. Rev. 22:20 —almost the last word of Scripture!), and every sign indicates that the ‘Day of the Lord’ will be sooner rather than later. We must not allow a scoffing, laughing society to deter us from declaring the world’s approaching end, any more than Noah did as he declared the end of the “world that then was,” and that while building an ark on dry land in the days before men had ever felt a drop of rain (cf. II Pet. 3:6).
Undoubtedly God has His purpose even in Camping’s mad prophecies, namely, the hardening of the hearts of many over against God’s true word. This too the Lord God will use to prepare the world for judgment, as mankind looks for every reason to refuse to pay heed to the undeniable judgments of God all about itself, loud as those rumblings may be.
Be that as it may, Camping’s guilt and egotism in all of this is not to be minimized. He is anything but a humble Bible-teacher. Concerning the precise time of His return, Christ Himself declared that “of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels in heaven, but my Father only” (Matt. 24:36). No man, that is, other than Harold Camping!
How does Camping get around Christ’s statement? Post-1994 we heard that his response was, “No one knows the day and hour! But that does not apply to themonth and the year!” Evidently, in the intervening years, that changed and Camping convinced himself that his knowledge had reached such a level that he, Harold Camping, had become the one man in all of history who was able to decipher even the day. What temerity!
It is not to be minimized.
Neither is the evil that Camping has done.
Being a cause for the enemies of all righteousness to blaspheme God’s name, church, and Word is serious enough. But, as various reports have made plain, Camping and Family Radio are accountable for more than that. He, and really all those who continue to support and to be associated with this ministry of his, now have blood on their hands.
A colleague alerted us to the following report lifted from WorldNetDaily (WND) that indicates to what extent Camping’s false prophecies have misled those new to the Christian faith, those not yet well-founded biblically, bringing death to some and, to others, despair.
The following quote, though a bit lengthy, is most significant.
The executive director of a ministry that works with the persecuted church in the northern reaches of Vietnam says he’s outraged that a “prophecy” by an American preacher apparently cost the lives of many tribal Hmong people who believed it.
The prediction by Harold Camping, 89, of Oakland, Calif. based Family Radio was that Jesus Christ would return to Earth to “rapture” his followers to heaven on May 21. Camping said mankind had run out of time, and the Cre-ator of the universe would arrive on that Saturday.
The horrific aftermath of the unfulfilled prophecy was reported by James Jacob Prasch, a key leader of Moriel Ministeries, which emphasizes the “last days apostasy” dis cussed in the Bible and ministers to persecuted church members.
The organization describes itself as a “teaching ministry to believers” that brings awareness of issues such as the “social gospel” and ecumenical efforts that “masquerade” as Christianity.
Prasch routinely travels and meets with members of the Christian body worldwide. A recent trip took him to Vietnam, where a large number of the Hmong tribal peoples of the nation’s Central Highlands are Christian.
They are referred to in the West as Montagnards.
They had heard of Camping’s prophecy and not having sophisticated methods for evaluating its validity, took it literally, he explained.
The result, for many, was death, Prasch reported in an email to supporters:
“After listening to a translation of Camping’s prediction 7,000 of these people (known in the West as Montagnards) gathered on a mountain praising God their suffering at the hands of the communist regime was about to end because Jesus was returning that day in May to establish a new kingdom.
“The police and military police slaughtered many of them at gunpoint—beheading two pastors. Others were arrested. I am told by Hmong pastors that so many were shot dead that they were buried in mass graves bulldozed over in an episode that I read about in Britain but did not understand the magnitude of until I got here.”
Prasch reported that he spoke to a secret meeting of Hmong pastors to explain to them “false prophets and false teachers.” “Due to a combination of poverty, ignorance, and persecution these poor Christians don’t understand much, so they believed Camping’s shortwave broadcast which is how most get their teaching,” he said.
Now “their families don’t know if their missing loved ones are among the many shot dead, among those arrested and imprisoned, or among those from the 7,000 hiding in the jungle,” he said.
“These people already suffering for their faith in Jesus had it bad enough. They are not like the undiscerning whackos in the West who should have known Camping was a crackpot and a proven false prophet and false teacher,” Prasch reported. “This is a persecuted church who just had no means to know any different. This is why…I warn so much about false teachers and false prophets.”
He continued, “Of course we can blame Satan and the communists, but their blood is on the hands of Harold Camping and his Family Radio. Women without husbands, children without parents, husbands without wives.”
A WND request of Family Radio for comment did not generate a response.
Family Radio’s very silence is a self-indictment. How can they respond in any acceptable way over against such a horror and grief?
Did such news lead Family Radio to reconsider its predictions and repent of its follies lest it be accountable for more such horrors?
Not at all. Rather, Family Radio allowed Camping to offer a new date for the final judgment and so continue to mislead the ignorant and endanger the pliable.
Closer to home, WND reported the following:
When Camping’s expected rapture did not occur, International Business Times reported, Lyn Benedetto of Antelope Valley, Calif., slit the wrists and throats of her two daughters and then slit her own, claiming to prevent them from going through the “Tribulation” on May 21.
A neighbor summoned an ambulance in time for them to be hospitalized.
One cannot help but wonder how many others Camping’s failed predictions have led to despair, to say nothing of disillusionment with Christianity altogether.
Indeed, Harold Camping’s persistence in folly, folly that plainly is condemned by the very Scriptures Camping claims to understand better than any Bible student who ever lived, is no little matter.
But having stated the above condemnation of Harold Camping and his irresponsible predictions, the question arises, what are we as the church of Christ in these latter days to preach concerning Christ’s second coming? Ought we in the name of Christ to continue to preach the ‘soon’ return of Christ and the nearness of His second coming, and with it, the end of this world?
Or does continuing to do so number us with the irresponsible?
Those of the apostasy, who have long ago ceased to believe the prophetic Scriptures or to confess the coming judgments of God, are sure to seize upon what has just transpired (or, if you will, what did NOT occur) and justify their silence on Christ’s second coming. Surely, they say, if the Harold Camping fiasco has taught Christianity any-thing at all, it is that preaching the return of Christ, and in particular some imagined ‘nearness,’ is nothing but ‘alarmist preaching.’ All it can do is lead to more dashed hopes, and with it despair, disillusionment, and, for some, grievous and needless suffering for their Christian faith.
But such a perspective is unbiblical. Such is exactly what the Arch-deceiver wants the Christian church in these latter days to believe and practice—a preaching silence concerning the Lord’s return, a moratorium on warning all and sundry concerning Christ’s nearness as judgment day approaches.
We are not given to know the day or the hour. Nor do we claim to. Not even the year. But that is not to say that Christ’s church is to act ignorant of her Lord’s close approach. Nor, for that matter, will the church be taken by surprise when Christ’s time to reappear is at hand.
To be sure, Scripture in more than one place states that Christ’s coming will be as a thief in the night. But, strikingly, in I Thessalonians 5 the apostle applies this being taken by surprise exclusively to the ungodly and apostate, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety: then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child: and they shall not escape” (v. 3). As for the believers, the apostle declares, “But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief” (v. 4).
The reason? The “signs of the time” spelled out in the New Testament Scriptures.
Scripture’s prophetic reality is, Christ cannot come at any time.
This is why at the conclusion of last month’s editorial we stated that Camping’s predictions concerning the end of the world would no more be fulfilled on October 21 than they were on May 21 or back in 1994. Nor, for that matter, is Christ going to return next month, next year, or the year following, 2013.
Such predictions do not make one guilty of Camping presumptuousness.
In Matthew 24 Christ Himself tells the church what mustfirst take place, namely, His kingdom gospel must be preached in all the world for a witness unto all the nations, “…then shall the end come” (Matt. 24:14).
This tells us who live in the twenty-first century that the return of Christ is near, very near. To live in the twenty-first century and not to see that the White Horse with its Rider has nearly finished his great task is to be willfully blind. For those who have heard the gospel, the time to repent and believe, or perish, is short.
But that is different than saying Christ can come at any moment.
Scripture is plain. There is one great sign and reality that must occur before Christ returns, namely, the appearance of the one whom Paul calls “the man of sin” (II Thes. 2:3), labeled by Christ in Matthew 24:15 as the “abomination of desolation…stand[ing] in the holy place.” It is in connection with the appearance of this Antichrist that Paul warned the church, knowing how it early on expected an immediate return of Christ: “Let no man deceive you by any means; for that day [of Christ’s return] shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition.”
We are well aware that Camping maintains that Satan is that Antichrist and already stands in the holy place (the pulpits of all Protestant churches). But here too, in light of his prophetic fiasco, Camping is discredited and his explanations dismissed.
The simple fact is that the Antichrist as the man of sin has not yet made his appearance. The great tribulation that the monster of iniquity and deception will bring upon the church (Matt. 24:15ff.) has not yet occurred. Until he stands forth, bringing with him the great tribulation, Christ will not appear, and time cannot end.
So we wait, and watch, and warn.
But we set no exact date. To do so would be folly and only plays into the hand of the Deceiver himself.
Of such Harold Camping and Family Radio have been guilty. They have much to answer for to the Lord of truth.
But this foolish date-setting is not the worst of ‘False Harold’s’ (as one wag labeled him) evils. There is more.
With this we will deal in our next editorial.