Driving through Cedar Springs, MI as I often do I saw a new billboard Ad up a few weeks back that read “Judgement Day May 21”. I have always been a student of Biblical Prophecy and over the past the few years have spent many hours studying it. Researching the Hebrew and Greek texts, the cultures and settings in which the prophecies were spoken, all for the purpose of better understanding the season of the time of the end BUT NEVER for the sake of determining an exact date.
The scriptures are clear that “no man knoweth the day or the hour” of Christ’s return and Jesus himself told His disciples “It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority” (Acts 1:8). So why then has Harold Camping gone to this extreme to set a date? For fame? For notoriety? Well, believe it or not, this is not the first time that Camping has set a date for “judgement day”. His last prediction was for Christs return in 1994. So, why are so many Christians quick to believe him this time around? What excuse was given that makes up for such blatant theological error? Jesus specifically said “It is NOT for you to set a date”!
I believe this goes beyond Harold Camping; it goes beyond May 21, 2011, it even goes beyond the doctrinal truth of the return of Christ. This very ethos of date setting is a distraction to the very mission which Christ has called the church to. In the same verse where Jesus boldly declared that it is not for us to know the time, He also called for us to be His witnesses in all Judea, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the world. Yet, so many Bible teacher and preachers are caught up in predictive theory that the Great Commission has little to no relevance in their theology.
As J. Lee Grady, contributing editor of Charisma Magazine, put it:
Dates and deadlines do not have the power to save souls—only the gospel can do that. When we share Christ with others, we don’t need to provide a date for His Second Coming. Instead, we tell them about the miracle of Calvary and remind them: “Today is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2). No one knows when he will die; every new day could be his last. And every person will stand before God when this life is over. There is urgency in the gospel, for sure, but it is not about a countdown to the rapture. Hundreds of thousands of people die every day without Jesus, whether or not He returns in their generation. This alone should motivate us to avoid foolish distractions and false prophecies so we can get busy with the task of genuine evangelism.
So, how can I possibly believe that Campings May 21st prediction is a farce? Because it does not line up with what Jesus has called us to be about. If Christians were to take the time they spend in worrying about the date of the rapture and spend it in being a genuine witness for Christ; than what would we have to worry about?