May 21, 2011: An Apocalyptic Minstrel Show
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. ~Jesus of Nazareth~
Have you heard the stunning news? The end is near—AGAIN.
There’s no mistake or shadowy interpretation this time. Take care of earthly business, make amends, and do what must be done to fix all relational troubles and be at peace with everyone.
Don’t be caught unprepared and unaware. Get all bags and baggage ready because the date is set, and for this go-around we have an ironclad pledge that every nitty-gritty particular can be found in ancient texts.
Ah-huh—and I’m next in line to be King of England or the Pope, whichever office comes open first. Please forgive my skepticism, but we’ve been here before and unfortunately, unless human nature is magically and radically altered, we’ll revisit this territory repeatedly in the future.
The current theological silly season is being fueled by Harold Camping, the eighty-nine year old president of Family Radio, which is a religious broadcasting network based in California. It has more than 150 outlets scattered across the United States along with a website, which means the tidings are being widely dispersed.
Evidently Camping and Company has the inside scoop on what goes on in the heavenlies. According to them the end is fast approaching—their bold prediction is posted on Judgment Day billboards around the world with the slogan, The Bible Guarantees It.
There’s also the freakish scene of the apocalypse as a traveling minstrel show—a caravan of RVs touring the United States carrying followers of Harold Camping. The vehicles are decked out in decorative lettering proclaiming that Judgment Day begins on May, 21, 2011.
At each stop along the journey, the teams disembark to distribute tracts detailing the secret knowledge they possess. Here are the specifics of the hidden Bible calendar that Camping has unearthed and polished up: The Rapture—in which believers in Jesus Christ will be instantly transported to heaven—will occur on May 21, 2011. The estimate is that 200 million people will disappear from planet earth on that fateful day.
However, that cataclysmic event is not the conclusion of matters. Camping states that May 21, 2011 will merely be “the first day of the Day of Judgment”.
The actual end of the world will occur on October 21, 2011—and remember to take heart, have courage, be filled with overwhelming sorrow, or collapse in convulsions of laughter because according to the mathematical interpretations of his prophetic utterances, the Bible guarantees it.
Ah-huh—pardon me while I adjust the antennae inside my head. I thought I had it tuned into spiritual matters and the stuff of eternity, but apparently I’m not picking up all the stations anymore. I was a johnny-come-lately to this headline news—it came to me courtesy of Brother Camping’s Traveling Minstrel Show.
We’ve been here before, and most certainly, we’ll be here again.
- 12.21.2012: The End Is Near
The sky is falling. Today there are a multitude of voices echoing that cry. It's always end times somewhere; throughout history gleaners of secrets have often claimed to know exactly when the universe's clock would tick down to doomsday. . .
People Are People
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the apostles over a period of forty days, speaking to them about the kingdom of God. We can only imagine the depths he delved into or the startling insights he shared.
At the end of their time together, Jesus gathered them on the Mount of Olives, which was less than a mile from Jerusalem. His disciples were anxious and excited about the happenings.
They couldn’t get a handle on the subtle nuance of his teachings—just like moderns they wanted a physical manifestation of spiritual truth. The waiting and faith issues were things to be wrestled with, but while they had Jesus with them they wanted direct answers, so they asked, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Jesus didn’t coddle them—neither did he pull any punches. He spoke with succinct clarity, telling them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
After that, those men who’d left everything to follow Jesus of Nazareth were eyewitnesses to a miraculous wonder. Their Master, who they’d traveled and lived with for three years, ascended to heaven. While they watched—mouths gaped wide open and eyes bugged out—Christ was taken up, and engulfed by a cloud.
As they stood there staring intently at the sky, a pair of white-clad men were suddenly beside them. These supernatural visitors had a challenge and information for them: “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.”
After that, the apostles returned to Jerusalem and settled into the upper room in the house where they were staying. What salted their conversations as they walked along together—how long did it take before they engaged in speculation about the future events they’d been told about?
For me, here’s where discernment kicks in: I seriously doubt that those first disciples even made it back to the city before a quiet dialog took place. It started out with a tentative query, and then, built itself into the problematic eschatological quagmires humans frequently find themselves slogging through.
“When did Jesus say he was coming back?”
“He didn’t. He said our Father in heaven has the date set.”
“Yeah, but it’ll be soon, right?”
“Of course. The angels said we’d see him, didn’t they?”
“That’s right. . .I think.”
“So when’s he returning?”
“Next week maybe—it won’t be long now.”
By the time they were ready for bed that evening there was likely factions within the group so fascinated by the mystery and determined to unravel every aspect of it in terms that could be easily understood that they were projecting possible scenarios for it all to transpire.
These imaginings of mine hold credence because in this we see flesh and blood fallibility being true to itself. People are people—our motivations and inclinations remain unchanged from the dawn of time.
Throughout the centuries since Jesus ascended to heaven there have been segments in the worldwide body of Christ who’ve been obsessed with end times. Their misdirected passion can be contagious, cantankerous, and cancerous. In their compulsive enthusiasms, dates have been set with absolute finality, only to pass with nothing of significance taking place. Each dismal failure is a stain and stench on God’s Word, and the cause of Christ.
been here before, and most certainly, will be here again.
Deceived & Deluded
This latest traveling minstrel show isn’t Harold Camping’s first adventure of heralding the apocalypse. In his book—1994?—he wrote that there was every indication for the world to come to an end in September, 1994.
That bit of forecasting was couched in wiggle room language. He duly noted that “the possibility does exist that I could be wrong.”
Wisdom prevailed back then, but nowadays there’s only adamancy and dogma—to this point there’s been no allowance that his grasp on what God has revealed might be mistaken or misguided. Time will tell—we’ll see if there’s any hint or flash of humility WHEN there isn’t an incomprehensible population decrease on May 21, 2011.
To suggest that Harold Camping is a kook is too easy, and an unfair characterization of respectable kooks everywhere—to say that those who adhere to his teachings are Kool Aid drinkers incapable of reasoning and thinking things through for themselves misses an all too human reality.
There’s something in our DNA that demands answers to the marvels of Scripture. We want all the ambiguities too wonderful for us to know explained and done so right now, thank you very much. This taking it on faith and walking in anticipation of what God is doing in history is fine and dandy, BUT let’s get the timeline clear and straight—every single detail of it in perfect alignment.
Forget the fact that Jesus of Nazareth flat-out declared that it was not for us to know what resided within the authority and sovereignty of our Father in heaven—No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.
There will always, always, always be some voice in the wilderness, some radio preacher or Internet guru proclaiming with unconditional sincerity the exact day and/or hour. We have an Enemy who has many aliases, one of which is the father of lies—though we wish it were not so, even those who claim Christ as their Lord and Savior, and the Bible as the authority in their lives are susceptible to swallow one of his multitude fictions as pure gems of sparkling truth.
Perhaps Harold Camping and Company are well-intention, but their views and perspective are deceived and deluded. They should be pitied, with the full appreciation that except for the grace of God, each of us could succumb to the fork-tongued whispers of our Enemy, who comes only to steal and kill and destroy.
been here before, and most certainly, will be here again.
- Wanted Man
Wanted Man a.k.a. Ken R. Abell, seeks to be a blessing to others. He's a rake, a rambler, and a teller of tales who understands that there is strength in a story well told and well lived. To learn more, inquire or schedule him, visit this web site.
- What's Up With God's Love & Rainbows?
On U2's album All That You Can't Leave Behind, Bono sings: "It's a beautiful day, the sky falls. . .And you feel like it's a beautiful day. . .It's a beautiful day. . .Don't let it get away. . ." It is always a beautiful day. . .
- Faith: To Glorify God
Graveyards are likely the wealthiest places in all creation. Beneath that sod lie countless unsung melodies and unwritten poems--books never written, tales never told. Our meticulously landscaped burial grounds reek. . .