Here Comes Harold Camping’s October 21, 2011!
By Dianne E. Butts –
Last spring, Harold Camping made national news when he predicted the Rapture would occur May 21, 2011. What’s the Rapture? It is an event that many Christians believe will occur during the “End Times,” which we talked about a little in my column last month.
One of the foundational beliefs of Christianity is that Jesus will return to earth—as an adult, just like when He died, alive and powerful. We believe this because Scripture tells us so in many places. Here are just couple:
- Jesus Himself talked about His coming. Three of the four gospel writers recorded this conversation: Matthew in his book’s chapter 24, Mark in chapter 13, and Luke in 21. Jesus talked about many things that would happen just before He comes, including wars, earthquakes, and natural disasters that would increase in intensity and frequency like a woman’s birth pangs.
- Also, as the resurrected Jesus was ascending into heaven, two angels appeared suddenly and said, “This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11).
Some Christians believe that just before His second coming, the Rapture will take place. The Rapture is when all true Christians are suddenly whisked away, taken out of the world to meet the Lord. This belief is based on Bible verses like 1 Corinthians 15:51-53 and 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, which says in part, “…we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”
The Bible describes the “End Times” as the last seven years of human history as we know it, known as the great “Tribulation.” This seven year period is divided into two halves of three and a half years each. Some Christians believe the Rapture will occur at the beginning of the seven years, as sort of a kick-off event. Others believe it will take place at the halfway point.
Harold Camping said he’d done some calculations (I don’t know what) and that the Rapture would occur on May 21, 2011. But on May 22 we were still here. Quickly afterwards media reported he said he had miscalculated or that God was giving us another five months—until October 21, 2011.
Since May, I’ve heard Harold Camping called a false prophet. And that is true, because a true prophet of God can’t be wrong. If a “prophet’s” prediction does not come true, it was not from God and so he or she is a false prophet.
However Mr. Camping sure had people talking. And I think that’s a good thing. I heard one radio talk show on a mainstream (meaning not “Christian”) radio station with a host that was Jewish. He was asking questions about the “Rapture” and Christians were calling in explaining what that meant. The host just kept saying he was blown away by how well-informed the Christians were!
Only nineteen days after Mr. Camping’s failed prediction, on June 9th, he suffered a stroke from which he is still recovering. I found myself wondering if Harold Camping would live to see October 21, 2011, or if his own personal “rapture” would occur by then. Whether his stroke was a judgment from God or not I’ll let you decide.
But I believe God can use even false prophets for His glory and I hope even more people are talking and thinking about God this October. And I hope Christians will continue to talk about what they know, because there are people out there who are curious, are listening, and are taking note.