A Reflection on May 21st and the End of the World

Ezekiel 12:25-28
“For I am the LORD: I will speak, and the word that I shall speak shall come to pass; it shall be no more prolonged: for in your days, O rebellious house, will I say the word, and will perform it, says the Lord GOD. Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Son of man, behold, they of the house of Israel say, The vision that he sees is for many days to come, and he prophesies of the times that are far off. Therefore say unto them, Thus says the Lord GOD; There shall none of my words be prolonged any more, but the word which I have spoken shall be done, says the Lord GOD.”

Now that May 21st has come and gone, and all the laughing and mocking is starting to subside, I feel it necessary to address this issue as both a pastor and a Christian believer. First, let me say to any of you who may have believed Harold Camping’s prophecy that I don’t write this to condemn you or mock you as so many others have already done. I want you to know that the Lord Jesus still loves you despite your mistake. If you’re not saved, he still wants to save you; if you are already saved he remains that friend that sticks closer than a brother. Simply confess your error and ask forgiveness, and it will be over and done with – never to be brought up by the Lord again.

With that out of the way, let me next turn to my fellow Christian believers that have taken some perverse pleasure in Mr. Camping’s failure. If this is your attitude it should not be so. Scripture tells us that we are not to rejoice when someone else falls. We need to pray for Mr. Camping and all those who follow his message, that the Lord would break through whatever is holding them and reveal to them the truth. As we know, the truth is what makes men free.

Furthermore, those who fell victim to the May 21st prophecy don’t need our condemnation, criticism, or “I told you so.” What they need is a heart of compassion in order that they might also know the rest of the Christian church has not abandoned them. Listen, we all make mistakes. The only difference between theirs and mine is the fact that theirs was broadcast on national television. I need to practice the same grace and compassion toward them that I expect others to practice toward me.

Finally, to the non-believing critics of Christianity, let me just say you need to watch your step. As you can see clearly by today’s text there were people in Ezekiel’s day who dismissed the prophecies against Israel and claimed that they were never going to happen. Critics accused Ezekiel of the fanciful musings of an old man with too much time on his hands. Yet when God was ready to do what he wanted, he did it…period. Not a single one of them could stand against the armies of Assyria once God had sent them to kill. Likewise, no one will be able to stand when God decides the end has come.

Rest assured, most of what Mr. Camping preached was absolutely true; he simply got the date wrong. His error is not an indictment against Christianity or those who believe in the truth and infallibility of the holy Scriptures. In fact, it is one more piece of evidence to prove that what born-again Christians believe to be true is in fact, true. Don’t believe me? Then consider the following two things from Scripture:

“Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away. But of that day and that hour knows no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Take you heed, watch and pray: for you know not when the time is.” (Mk. 13:31-33)

“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” (I John 4:1)

The first of these two Scripture references clearly indicates that no man knows the day or hour of Jesus’ return to the earth. Mr. Camping was obviously wrong because he gave the exact day and hour – in violation of the very Word of God which he claimed to be such a student of. Furthermore, the second Scripture reference warns the church of false prophets, telling us to try the spirits. Any Christian with even a limited knowledge of the Bible could have tried to Mr. Camping’s spirit by simply comparing his prophecies to God’s Word. In other words, this whole sordid episode has already been dealt with in Scripture and God has won! The Bible has not been refuted by Mr. Camping’s error, it has been proved!

Once again we have a case of critics being willing to throw out the entire Bible and all of Christianity because one man gets it wrong. Yet logic dictates that such thinking is utter foolishness. Would we dismiss all of astronomy simply because there are still people in the world who believe the earth is flat? Would we dismiss the history of the Holocaust because there are people in the world who claim it didn’t happen? Will we throw out the daily weather forecast because weatherman get it wrong? The point is, Mr. Camping’s being wrong about the date has no bearing on any other portion of Scripture.

Everything God has said will come to pass will, in due time, come to pass. He said that Noah’s flood would occur, and it did. He promised the Assyrian army would attack Israel and the Babylonian army would attack Judah; they did. He said Jesus would be crucified, buried in a tomb, and resurrected; and he was! My friends, God has said the end will eventually come, and it will. Will you be ready? Or will you continue to hide behind a thin veil of criticism because one foolish man assumed upon himself authority he did not have?

If you stand today in criticism of Christianity and the holy Scriptures, let me ask you a question. Are you willing to bet your soul on it?