I didn’t know what to call this post. My official title is: “Is Harold Camping Right about May 21, 2011?” My alternate title is: “Why You Need to Read the Bible for Yourself.”
One of the saddest realities as I’ve been in full-time ministry is the Bible illiteracy that most Christians have. The typical Christian doesn’t know what the Bible says for themselves and so they rely on the weekend message for their Bible intake.Â This is dangerous and unhealthy. The Biblical teaching in a weekend message at a church service should always be in addition to your own time reading the Bible. Otherwise, you will have no way of discerning the validity of what you are hearing and you have no idea if the challenges you are being issued are actually biblical and worth taking seriously.
Let me give you a perfect example from the current news headlines.
You may have seen this article or something similar explaining that God is coming back May 21 of 2011. This date was determined by a guy named Harold Camping. As he reads the Bible this is the obvious conclusion he arrives at. It isn’t just a hunch either. As he has said, “Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment.” What’s most ironic to me is what his followers are saying about this.
“We’re hoping people won’t take our word for it, or Harold Camping’s word for it. We’re hoping that people will search the scriptures for themselves.”
I think it’s a bluff. I think he realizes that most people don’t know the Bible confidentally enough to challenge what he is saying and so it is far easier to get swept away with the hype. But if you do read the Bible for yourself you’ll no doubt have a few verses that may come to mind that would create an issue with Harold Camping’s May 21st date. Let me show you just one passage where Jesus Himself addresses this topic:
“But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.
Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Matthew 24:36-44
Jesus says that nobody knows the date He’s coming back, including Himself. Only the Father knows. So it is pretty narcissitic for Harold Camping or anyone else to confidently come up with a date.
Knowing that this passage exists allows you to confidently keep your distance from guys like Harold. But that only comes from reading the Bible yourself. Otherwise you are left wondering and hoping.
If you never have before, I’d encourage you to spend 2011 reading through the entire Bible yourself. It isn’t nearly as scary or big as you might think. I’m reading through a chronological plan and I invite you along for the journey. When it comes to what you believe and how you decide to live your life you don’t want to live blindly. Read it for yourself and you’ll be amazed at what God will show you. And make sure to mark your calendars for May 22, 2011, as I have a feeling that Harold Camping and his friends will have some explaining to do.