Does the Bible really say that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge the world on October 21, 2011? Well, Harold Camping is at it again predicting now that the world will face final judgement on October 21, 2011 as Jesus Christ comes back to judge the world. Now, many people have short memories and, therefore, have already forgotten about the fact that Camping has been proven wrong on more than one occasion, the latest one being the failed prediction of May 21, 2011.
Camping, of course, appears to be undaunted by his earlier failed prediction. Days after his last failed prediction he came out with a statement trying to justify his errors by saying,
“What really happened is that God accomplished exactly what He wanted to happen. That was to warn the whole world that on May 21 God’s salvation program would be finished on that day.”1
Now, prior to May 21 Camping had been telling everyone that Jesus Christ was actually coming on the 21st. Immediately after the failed prediction Camping was known to have been baffled at why nothing happened. A few days later, after he had concocted this new theory, he came public with it, saying,
“Indeed, on May 21 Christ did come spiritually to put all of the unsaved throughout the world into judgment. But that universal judgment will not be physically seen until the last day of the five month judgment period, on October 21, 2011.”1
So now Camping is holding to this notion that Christ came spiritually on May 21st. But what biblical text is he drawing on to come up with this new “spiritual” coming of Christ? It is most unfortunate that Camping is more interested in putting together a story based on such obviously poor exegesis. Does the Bible really contain a secret message that only Camping is able to decipher leaving all other theologians to bask in their ignorance? Or is he reading into the text something that just is not there? There are very good reasons to think that it’s the latter.
The historicity of Christianity is quite compelling, and its antidote for humanity’s ills is satisfying beyond belief. Christ’s death and resurrection was history’s most pivotal point, and the assurance of Christ’s return will be the culmination of humanity’s long struggle to avoid the God who wants nothing from us but our acknowledgement and affection.
As for when Christ will come back in all His glory to judge the world, as the Gospel of Matthew reminds us, no one knows,
“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” (Matthew 24:36-39).
Matthew implicitly grants the coming of Christ by telling us that no one really knows when it will happen. By comparing the flood of Noah to draw a parallel, Matthew demonstrates that at the time of Noah people were engaged in common day-to-day life, and aside from a man who was building an ark in the middle of dry land, without any explicit warning.
This is not to say that there could not be a prophet who could warn people of such things. However, true biblical prophets were speaking based on direct revelation from God. And since God cannot be wrong, if any of his predictions did not come to pass, the so-called prophet would be seen as a heretic and be stoned to death. Needless to say, unless one was absolutely certain that his message was from God, he would keep his mouth shut. As a result, true biblical prophets are not known to have made a single error in their prophesies, and this is a far cry from the man who has now been proven wrong at least twice.
Arthur is an author, a former agnostic, and current ambassador of Jesus of Nazareth who loves to share the best of reasons for God's ultimate reality. His love and passion are helping skeptics and Christians grow in their faith and knowledge of God through accessible materials.