Harold Camping of Family Radio wrote a book in 1992 named '1994?' In it he speculated that Christ might return in 1994, but he also mentioned 2011. Nowadays many people believe him: the rapture will take place on 21 May 2011, and the end of the earth on October 21, 2011. That raises the question: Why are people deceived by such teaching?
- Does it sound like an easy solution before harder times come for followers of Christ? There is a general antagonism of governments against Christians (fulfilling Jesus' prediction that His followers '...will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and [they] will be hated by al nations because of [Him]' [Matthew 24:9]).
- Why would they believe Mr Camping and not Jesus Himself? When asked if He was going to restore the kingdom to Israel, He said: 'It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority' (Acts 1:7). About the end of the earth, He said: "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come.... Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back - whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the cock crows, or at dawn. If He comes suddenly, do not let Him find you sleeping. What I say to you, I say to everyone: 'Watch'" (Mark 13:25-37).
Jesus said that no one knows the time of the end, not even He or any of the angels (Mark 13:32). When He told us to be on guard, He meant that our relationship with Him must never be relinquished, or relapse into complacency, because we don't know when He is coming. This is logical, as the Bible is a universal book for all times. A person living in 500 AD had to have the same opportunities of understanding God's message to people. For example, if he learned that Jesus would come in 2011, what would induce him to live in a close personal relationship, reading the Scriptures (God speaking to him personally), praying (talking to God) and being led by the Holy Spirit? Nothing, if he knew there would be no spiritual excitement in his lifetime.
All believers will stand accountable to God. It is our opinion that only those who had an eager expectation that Jesus would come soon, prepared enough oil for their lamps, so that they can enter the marriage feast. ('But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with Him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut' Matthew 25:10). Look at the words:'the virgins who were ready....' Believers are all treated the same by God. He will not favor an elect group with details about His coming, because that might induce some who don't care about Him at all, to make some effort to be part of the rapture group. That is not what Jesus wants. He wants people who love Him with Him. Eternity is very long, and only a loving relationship will survive those millions of years without boredom or a lack of love for the Bridegroom.
This is not the first attempt to predict the time of Jesus' second coming, and it will not be the last. Our command from Jesus is to be prepared: He might come at any time. That means that we should always be ready, because we love and obey Him daily. Concerning a possible escape from tribulation, Jesus said He is with us always. He will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, found also in Hebrews 13:5). There is no reason to fear.