As you’ve no doubt heard by now, Harold Camping, president of California-based Family Radio, predicted that the rapture would occur today, May 21, and that the subsequent end of the world will occur on October 21. He and his followers do not claim to follow any new prophetic teaching, but rather claim to have deciphered a hidden teaching within the text of the Bible itself that gives exact dates as to the timing of the rapture. However, this teaching didn’t make much of an impact on us at PleaseConvinceMe.com for several reasons:
1) The Bible claims Jesus is unaware of the exact date that the world would end.
This is the most apparent problem with Camping’s teachings, and the one I hear most from Christian friends. Matthew 24:36 reads, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only” (NASB). If Jesus is unaware of the exact date it’s difficult for us to say that we can ourselves know. However, it might be argued that the exact date was revealed after Jesus’ time on earth, and could then be found in books written after his ascension, i.e. The New Testament. However, that leads us to a problem: Camping claims the dating of the end times is exactly 7,000 years after the time of Noah. Camping claims that there is a 7,000 year gap between the time of the flood and the end times, according to Genesis 7:4. However, Jesus had access to the book of Genesis during his lifetime; if the exact timing of the end times could have been deciphered since the time of Moses then it is hard to believe that Jesus would have been unaware of it.
2) Camping uses the genealogies found in the Bible to determine when the flood occurred and when the Earth was created.
Camping claims that the flood recorded in Genesis occurred in 4990 B.C. To come up with this, Camping and his followers use the genealogical records found in the Bible to gage how much time has transpired since the time of Adam. However, the Biblical genealogies are incomplete. The purpose of the genealogies in the Bible is not to compile a complete list of people but rather to show that a certain person is a descendant of another; the genealogies were certainly never intended to be used to construct calendars or timelines. Because the genealogies are not complete, it is impossible to use them to come up with a reliable dating of the flood or any other historical event. As far as the date of creation, whether you believe in a young earth or an ancient earth one thing is clear: the Bible is ambiguous as to how long ago creation occurred and how long the creation of the universe itself took.
3) If it was important to God that his believers knew the exact date of the end times he would have made it explicit.
It’s important to remember that many early Christians owned only a few pieces of scripture, if any. Early Christians and many Christians around the world today, did not and do not have access to the complete Biblical record, and so could not make the calculations that Camping says are required to find out the exact age of the earth. The apostles and early church fathers did not claim to know the date of the end times, nor how to decipher it. The fact of the matter is that the knowledge of when the end will come is not necessary to be a Christian. The Bible is clear that, in the end, all the believers in Christ will be in Heaven with God. So we don’t need to concern ourselves with discovering when the world will end, or worry about our fate.