Predictably – and appropriately, conservative Bible teachers, theologians and pastors have uniformly condemned Harold Camping’s adamant declarations that the Rapture would occur before the end of the day on Saturday, May 21, 2011. It is now being widely reported that Mr. Camping has since admitted that he is neither infallible nor a “genius”, while inexplicably insisting that God’s judgment, did in fact begin on May 21:
On May 21, this last weekend, this is where the spiritual aspect of it really comes through,” said Camping. “God again brought judgment on the world. We didn’t see any difference but God brought Judgment Day to bear upon the whole world. The whole world is under Judgment Day and it will continue right up until Oct. 21, 2011 and by that time the whole world will be destroyed.” (source)
There is little that I can add to what has already been said by many others about knowing the timing of the Lord’s return and false prophets, so the focus of this article is what I consider to be the greatest tragedy to come out of this whole matter – the wholesale dismissal of the idea of Christ’s return and the coming judgment of God. Many others are expressing the same concern.
Of course, there are many tragic stories in connection with Family Radio’s world-wide campaign to proclaim Camping’s apocalyptic message. Some faithful followers quit their jobs, sold their possessions, and emptied savings and retirement accounts in order to provide Family Radio with the funds needed to warn the world of impending judgment. The Guardian’s sister newspaper, The Observer cited a figure of more than $100 million that went into advertising around the world in countries from Israel to Iraq, from the Philippines to Viet Nam. When I was in Hungary last week, I heard reports of Camping’s followers handing out pamphlets on the streets of Budapest.
Some churches have even prepared to counsel those who might be contemplating suicide under the duress of staggering losses. [source]
On Friday, a mother in California slit the wrist and throat of her two daughters before slitting her own in order to keep them from having to endure the post-Rapture judgments. This double-murder / suicide attempt was averted at the last minute by a neighbor who discovered them in time to get the authorities and emergency crews to the home in time to save them. [source]
The Christian Post has reported that a teenage girl in Central Russia did commit suicide by hanging herself on Saturday. According to her diary entries, she did not consider herself to be one of the righteous whom God would take to heaven.
We are not righteous people, only they will go to heaven, the others will stay here on Earth to go through terrible sufferings. “I don’t want to die like the others. That’s why I’ll die now.”
Others who did not take such drastic measures, are still trying to cope with the ongoing realities of life with little of their lives left intact. Emotions among Camping’s followers have ranged from bewilderment to delusion, from despair to anger, from depression to outrage. It will probably be months before a clear picture emerges of the magnitude of the personal devastation.
However, as terrible and heart-wrenching as all these things are, I believe the greatest tragedy of Camping’s failed predictions began to quickly unfold on Saturday and Sunday across social networks and internet forums. One social media analytics company noted that on Twitter, 67% were joking about the “event,” 10% were criticizing Camping and 9% were planning “end-of-the-world parties.” [source]
All Facebook has published a “Top 10 Rapture Facebook Status Updates” list, which includes, among others.
Craig Gunnet: Rapture… brb
William J. Tjaden: …I think the rapture is starting! Ten minutes ago there was a bunch of people waiting at the bus stop down the street, and now they’re all *gone*!!!
Philip Lemoine: If you can’t think of a rapture joke, don’t worry, it’s not the end of the world.
Sally Stevens: I’m setting the date for the Rapture to really happen on Tuesday, November 6, 2012 and am taking donations as of now…
Many got in on the act by posting pictures such as these:
The whole story has spawned innumerable headlines, articles, and media reports, as well as countless blogs. And of course, the late-night comedians have had a field day with this. On an unprecedented scale, we are witnessing the open and unashamed mocking of the Rapture and the entire notion of the outpouring of God’s wrath in connection with Christ’s second-coming.
This, I believe, is the greatest tragedy – that fewer than ever before will take seriously the issue of the return of Christ and the coming judgment; that it will be more difficult than ever to persuade people of the need to be spiritually prepared for an event which they believe has no basis in reality – being promoted by a small army of unbiblical and unbalanced religious zealots with an escapist and elitist mentality.
The skepticism, mockery, jokes and even anger and disdain by some for all things Christian was inevitable. And yet, the Apostle Peter warned that exactly these kinds of responses would intensify even as the time of the return of Christ actually draws closer.
2 Peter 3:1–13 (NKJV)
(1) Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder), (2) that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, (3) knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, (4) and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” (5) For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, (6) by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. (7) But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
(8) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. (9) The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
(10) But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. (11) Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, (12) looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat? (13) Nevertheless we, according to His promise, look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.
As Peter notes, God’s merciful restraint in withholding judgment will be misinterpreted as being proof-positive that all such prophecies are nothing more than the rants of a long line of deluded doomsayers (like Harold Camping, for example). To add to the tragedy, a growing number of those who continue to insist they are “evangelical” are joining the scoffers’ chorus.
However, be certain of this: The Lord is coming. During the first phase of His return, the Lord will come as the Bridegroom, to meet His Bride, the Church, in the air. Then, after seven years of increasingly severe judgments, Christ will come to the earth as the Lion of Judah, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords – accompanied by the armies of heaven. At that time He will execute swift and sure justice against the enemies of God and establish His kingdom on the earth. This is not a fantasy or wild speculation.
1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 (NKJV)
(13) But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. (15) For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. (16) For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. (17) Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. (18) Therefore comfort one another with these words.
And because no more biblical prophecies are left to be fulfilled before the trumpet of God sounds, the Rapture could happen at any moment (meaning its timing cannot be predicted).
Revelation 19:11-16 (NKJV)
(11) Now I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. (12) His eyes were like a flame of fire, and on His head were many crowns. He had a name written that no one knew except Himself. (13) He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God. (14) And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. (15) Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. (16) And He has on His robe and on His thigh a name written: KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS.
Revelation 22:20 (NKJV)
He who testifies to these things says, ‘Surely I am coming quickly.’
Amen. Even so, come Lord Jesus!