A good Lord's Day to all my readers. As you may well be aware, today is May 22, and clearly the rapture expected by Harold Camping and his followers did not happen on May 21.
One thing that shocked me was just how prolific the knowledge of this became. Obviously it was covered by local and national news, and when something goes viral on the internet it can't be stopped. Perhaps what surprised me the most was how often I saw it on Facebook, and from friends I never even considered all that religious. Every other status or post was about the May 21 prediction and the end of the world. Most of it - nay, the vast majority of it - was done in jest. Even Christian friends of mine were making cracks at it. People joked about being raptured, others joked about meeting God, others just made general statements about how nothing had happened.
I've been thinking on this for some time, and I've begun to realize that this is a lot more serious than many of us realize. While I have been making jokes about it myself, in the past week I've tried to make an effort not to post anything publicly that would be mocking it or treating it as a joke. Because let's face it...it's not a joke. I don't mean by this that it's true or has any merit, but rather that this is not from a TV show or movie, but a real belief held by real people. Harold Camping is a real false teacher who has real followers who sincerely believe that they were to be raptured up on May 21. His followers have made radical life decisions (sold cars, quit jobs, etc.) over this. Many even considered suicide for fear that they wouldn't escape the judgment that would occur. This is hardly something to truly laugh about.
I am certainly not implying nothing should be said of Harold Camping ever again. I am not implying we take the attitude of "no harm, no foul." If anything, true believers should go on the attack in the weeks to follow, making sure that Camping cannot get out of this like he did the 1994 prediction. We should expose his teachings in the hopes of preventing anyone else being deceived. We need to also be on the lookout for movements or beliefs that may come from this folly, or may try to imitate this in order to receive money or followers.
However, the joking and humor directed at the false prediction cannot help but be noticed to have been general mockery now of future judgment. The biggest fear I have is that this will be used by the devil to make people laugh at the very notion of future judgment, and thus never seek their only Savior. Why look for He who can rescue you if you don't need rescuing?
Christ never spoke of what time He would return - but He always spoke in such language that we should expect it to be now. "Be on the alert then," He told the disciples, "for you do not know the day nor the hour" (Matt 25:13). Therefore we "must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will" (Matt 24:44). Our Lord likewise said: "Behold, I stand at the door and knock" (Rev 3:20). This can all come in either one of two ways: 1) by Christ's literal return, upon which all men will be judged; 2) by our death, in which the Lord, for His purpose, cuts off our life and we wait for judgment. All men will be judged for what they do in their life, in which they reap what will be sown. Judas had every chance to repent up to the moment he placed the noose around his neck. Herod had every chance to repent right up to the minute he declared to all that he was like a god. Yet they did nothing of the sort, and now they are awaiting judgment when the Lamb of God will, for them, become the Lion of Judah.
If you were a victim of Harold Camping's false teachings, let me assure you that this was not what Christ truly taught. Camping was a false teacher, and the false nature of his prophesy has proven true. However, I assure you that this is not the end all. We are not saved by the teachings of Camping - we are saved by Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and is our Mediator to the Father. Through faith in Him we are reconciled to God by His cross, and the wall of hostility is torn down. Christ has never gone back on His word, He never abandons His people, and what He says are true words. I invite you to take this chance to come to know the true Christ, who will not endow you with a secret knowledge of when He will come back, but will endow you with life eternal, so that you may become sons through adoption.
If you weren't a victim of Harold Camping, but have yet to confess Christ, I likewise invite you to come to know the truth. Harold Camping was not a Christian, and his teachings were far removed from anything that could resemble orthodox Christianity. That Christ did not come on May 21 does not mean He will never return. Error does not imply the lack of truth. Christ could come at any moment, and when He does, there will be a reckoning. Everyone will be held accountable for their sins. Anyone whose sins have not been blotted over by the blood of the Lamb will be judged righteously for their deeds. All men are guilty of their sins, and all are without excuse. However, what we could not do God did, by sending His Son to live the perfect life and offer Himself as the perfect sacrifice for the atonement of our sins. In Him we have life, and He gives it abundantly. I invite you to ponder this in your hearts, and I pray that the Spirit will drive you to do further research, and to seek after He who does not lie, but is the very incarnation of Truth.