California based, radio evangelist, Harold Camping made news when he analyzed Biblical events mathematically and predicted that the world would end on May 21st, 2011. On May 21st, he revised ‘the end of the world’ date to October 21st, 2011. Many of his followers resigned their jobs and spent their life savings to travel around the world spreading Camping’s message. The dates came and went and the social media had a field day mocking Biblical prophecies and the naive Christians who believe fairy tales.
Is it reasonable to set a date for the end? There are a few reasons why it is not a good idea. First, a look at the Bible will make it clear that no man can decipher the end date.
36 “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 37 As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man——— 42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 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. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him. (Matthew 24)
When the Bible specifically states that the specific time of the end is beyond the discernment of any man or even spiritual powers, is it not surprising that many attempt to do just that?
Second, if the end were to be a date that has already been decided, there would be little need for faith. Keeping watch and awaiting the 2nd coming of Christ is an attitude that helps you to live life well here on earth. Being cognizant of the imminent return of Christ is a lifelong attitude that a Christian is encouraged to cultivate so that he does not get drowned in the sea of worldliness. It helps him to take his eyes away from what is seen and fix his eyes on what is unseen and eternal. If a date is fixed, do what you want now and then get ready for the end a few days before the same. But not so, if he will arrive like a thief in the night.
Finally, the end date might not be a fixed date yet. In 2 Peter 3, we read, ‘9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.—-11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming’. The idea given is that the end date might be a dynamic date, which the Lord will delay till he accomplishes his purpose and gets everyone to a point where they have the opportunity to repent and respond to salvation in Christ. Yet, it will not be delayed indefinitely.
The last thing we should conclude from failed prophecies like those of Camping would be to say that Biblical end-time prophecies are a bunch of jokes. In Peter’s words again, ‘3 First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water’ (2Peter 3).
The reality and the imminence of the 2nd coming should not be lost on a pilgrim and when the day does arrive, he would do well if he is not taken by surprise.
- TUNING UP FOR THE END TIMES-2
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