Let’s start with Harold Camping. I know what some of you will say: “Harold who?” But that is just the point! How soon we all forget. And because we forget, we learn so very little, and are so gullible to the next deception.
The late Harold Camping was an American Christian broadcaster. He boldly predicted that the Rapture would happen on May 21, 2011. His ministry spent millions of dollars to spread the word on more than 5,000 billboards, along with 20 RV’s taking this message across the U.S. Some of his followers quit their jobs and sold their possessions as they waited. After May 21 came and went, Camping wrote, “We humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing.” You think? Unfortunately, what was wrong, according to Rev. Camping, is that he was five months off. Furthermore, Camping believed that instead of the rapture, the date had been a day of “spiritual” judgment, which placed the entire world under Christ’s judgment.
I wish Harold Camping was the only one to have done such a thing. But sadly, this is not the case.
Consider the evidence. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2, Paul writes, “Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we ask you brothers, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come.” One can only imagine what gave rise to this sentence. Some were proclaiming Christ’s coming had already arrived! Imagine the hype! Imagine the best selling books that might appear with this theme!
In the second century, a heretical group called the Montanists predicted that Christ would return during their lifetime. A great many Christians seem to have believed that Christ would return on the advent of the first millennium – that is, in the beginning of the year 1000.
Without going into the long list of historic failed prophecies, I personally have lived through a number of them. A great many dispensationalists believed that when Israel became a nation in 1948, the prophetic calendar began ticking. Hal Lindsey, the late Chuck Smith and others claimed that since a generation consisted of 40 years, and since one had to subtract the 7 years of the great tribulation, Christ would return no later than 1981. And of course, many of us still remember the hysteria surround the year 2000. On and on it goes.
And now, here we are again! Jonathan Cahn’s bestseller, The Mystery of the Shemitah, although always cleverly hedging its bets that these events might not occur, yet claims a great judgement on America that will change the world. He saw the possibility of a stock market crash by September 13 of this year, based on some of the worst Bible study techniques I have ever witnessed. Now that we have passed beyond that date, we are being told that we are now in the year of Jubilee, which represents the year of “Super Shemitah.” (I prophesy there will be a new book on that theme this next year)
And then have come Mark Biltz and John Hagee, claiming that the “Four Blood Moons” are an ominous sign of judgment where something significant will happen to the Jewish people. Again, the Bible study in their works gets an “F,” and the historical material provided would also receive an “F” in any history class. But their books – which predict a great judgement by the end of September – are also reaching the “best seller” status on Amazon.
And so, I wonder.
How many non-believers simply will not listen to the message of the second coming of Jesus against a background of continual, unrelenting failed prophecies? How many will mock and proclaim that this is what Christians believe? And how long will some gullible Christian people, who have witnessed an impressive unrelenting string of failed prophecies based on some of the most abysmal Bible research imaginable, still continue to believe the next attention-getting paperback?
So, how do we build anticipation for the second coming of Jesus against the clamour of all this background? Stay tuned for Part 2 on the blog next week.