By now, many people have heard about Harold Camping’s Doomsday Prediction that on May 21, 2011, the rapture will occur (removing all true Christians from the Earth) and the catastrophic Judgments and disasters of Revelation will commence leading to the end of the world.Radio host and religious teacher Harold Camping’s prediction of May 21, 2011 has gained a great deal of media attention the past few months. He also has gained a large following with some people even quitting their jobs and leaving their homes to spend their “final days” traveling the country spreading Camping’s message. And it’s unfortunate because the prediction incorrect. This blog will show what Camping is actually basing his conclusion on and why it is not only wrong but out of line with what the Bible actually states.
Doomsday Predictions: The Origins of Camping’s “Prophecy”
19th Century Madness
Like most things that involve the Bible, history is repeating itself. Harold Camping may be the first person of the past 30-40 years to garner so much attention for a Doomsday prediction but he was not the first in America. Not by a long shot. The original “Harold Camping” was a man by the name of William Miller
Miller a farmer and self-taught bible scholar from New York, based his first big Doomsday prediction on an incorrect interpretation of Daniel 6:14 in the Bible which discusses a time in the future in which the Holy Sanctuary of God will be desecrated and a band on temple worship will be instituted for 2,300 days (at the end of this 2,300 days the temple would be ritually cleansed and the worship would be restored). Miller understood the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 to refer to the number of years until the return of Christ. Even though scholars for centuries were in almost full agreement that this prophecy referred to the time of Antiochus Epiphanies, Miller insisted it was for fulfillment in his day. Here is the verse in question:
13Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot?
14And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed.
In 168 BC, as Daniel had prophesied, the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanies, entered Jerusalem to punish the Jews. As promised, he put an end to sacrifices at the temple, and he rededicated the temple to Zeus. He then offered Zeus the sacrifice of a pig upon the altar of God, completing its desecration. Daniel 8:14 does not literally read “2300 days”, but “2300 evenings and mornings.” And as secular history records, from the time of Antiochus entering Jerusalem until the temple was cleansed and proper sacrifices reinstituted was roughly 2300 days. The actual morning and evening sacrifices prevented totaled roughly 2300. Either reading finds fulfillment in real past history. And thus the book of Daniel, which was written in approximately 535 BC, was accurate.
William Miller believed the cleansing of the temple in Daniel 8 was not of a real temple, but rather referred to the purification of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Christ. Adding 2300 years to the time of Daniel’s prophecy gave Miller a date between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. He began to teach this throughout the Northeast and gained a wide following. Despite the great excitement, the original Doomsday of March 21, 1844, came and went without the return of Christ. Miller was devastated, but one of his followers went back through the calculations and found what he believed to be the error. The conclusion was that Miller’s calculations were off. A new date was set of October 22, 1844.
When the new 1844 date did not come true, some of the followers abandoned the movement. Many however tried to find a new explanation and thus several new movements were formed that were not centered on the Bible but were centered on Doomsday prediction. They were too embarrassed to admit their error. They had invested too much to be wrong. A woman by the name of Ellen G. White eventually led the Seventh-Day Adventists to the conclusion that Jesus had returned invisibly in 1844, and that He would soon make His presence known. Another group that tried to hold to the 1844 date was led by Jonas Swendahl and was known as the Second Adventists. They believed that 1844 marked not the date of Jesus’ return, but of the beginning of the last generation to live on Earth before Jesus’ return. Swendahl taught that Jesus would therefore return in 1874.
One of Swendahl’s followers was a former Presbyterian named Charles Taze Russell. When 1874 came and went, he concluded 30 years was not long enough for a generation. So he added 70 years to 1844 and concluded that Jesus would return in 1914. This and other differences led him to split from the Second Adventists and launch Zion’s Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence. His followers became known as the International Bible Students, and they went about the country with the message, “Millions now living will never die!” Followers were to leave their churches and fellowship together. All churches were considered apostate, but God had provided a new channel for their instruction, Zion’s Watchtower Tract Society. They eventually became what we know today as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.
When the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ date of Doomsday in 1914 did not come to pass it was then moved to 1925, 1941 and then 1975! It changed 5 times! And with their own religious book and a call that all their followers should leave the church, the Jehovah’s Witnesses formed into their own religion. And this leads us to Harold Camping who is doing the exact same thing. As will be shown below, Camping is reinvention of the 19th century Doomsday hustlers, manipulating the Bible to instill fear of a date and gaining massive support for it.
5 Reasons Camping’s May 21, 2011 Prediction is Wrong
1. He’s done this before and was wrong. – Like the great Doomsday Predictors of the 19th Century, Camping has already struck out once in Apocalyptic Date Setting. In 1992, Camping published the book “1994?” Like William Miller, he rejected the historic understanding of Daniel 8 and instead of seeing it as already fulfilled applies the 2,300 days to mean “years” and thus leads to modern times. Like the Seventh Day Adventists and the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he focuses on the “hidden” meanings and codes in Bible Scripture and made his prediction based on a decoding. Camping introduced 1994? with the following statement, “No book ever written is as audacious or bold as one that claims to predict the timing of the end of the world, and that is precisely what this book presumes to do.” And it was completely wrong.
September 1994 came and went and while Camping gathered with a number of devoted followers awaiting the rapture and the Judgment of God on the world, nothing happened. And of course, like the False Prophets before him, Camping soon came back to “recalculate” his mathematical prediction. Like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he says 1994 wasn’t the wrong date. We just have to add 17 years to it. Like Russell he is now telling Christians to leave their churches. All churches are now evil. You should no longer trust your pastors and elders, but you should abandon them and turn to one of the only true channels of God’s Word, Camping’s Family Radio Station. Like Jehovah’s Witnesses, you should simply fellowship together and await Word from Oakland.
Unfortunately for Camping, when someone claims to be a prophet and makes a prediction, the Bible does not allow for re-calculations of the code. The Bible is clear that when if someone is a true prophet of The Lord, they are 100% accurate.
Deuteronomy 18:20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
So already based on his incorrect prediction of 9/6/94, he should be rejected and not considered a prophet of The Lord God.
2. His Calculations are Un-biblical —
Camping uses several different mathematical formulas to get his new date. One formula arrives at the conclusion that something is going to happen on May 21, 2011 by finding “spiritual meaning” in Genesis 7:4.
- Gen 7:4 For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.
Camping claims that God’s warning to Noah that He would begin to flood Earth with water in seven days was also a spiritual/hidden warning to us that there will be 7,000 years before He will destroy the world again. Camping cites 2 Peter 3:8’s statement that “one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” to claim that these seven days mentioned in Genesis 7:4 were also meant to represent 7,000 years.
Camping relates this to 2011 by claiming that the flood (of Noah’s Ark) took place in 4,990 BC on Iyvar 17 (on the Hebrew calendar) and thus 7,000 years from Iyvar 17, 4990 B.C. is May 21, 2011.
There are a couple of major problems with this method of calculation.
- The first problem is that it is a huge stretch to say that Genesis 7:4 contains a spiritual/hidden warning that there will be 7,000 years between the flood and the time when God will bring destruction again. The warning in Genesis 7:4 specifically concerned the seven days before the flood began, especially when you consider that God related the seven days to the 40 days and 40 nights. Therefore, to argue that Genesis 7:4 has a hidden warning that there is seven thousand years between the flood and the time when God will bring destruction again is to argue for something that is not stated in the text.
- The second problem is that Camping’s placement of the flood (4990 B.C.) is extremely out of line with other Bible chronologies. For instance, Ussher’s chronology, one of the most reliable among historians, places the flood in 2348 B.C.
Therefore, Camping’s use of Genesis 7:4 is insufficient to defend his Rapture date of May 21, 2011.
The number 5, Camping concluded, equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.” Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.
“Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he began. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.”
Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.
Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.
Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.
Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.
“Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved.
Flaws: Why do these numbers have these meanings? (Atonement, Completeness, Heaven)
What is the sense in multiplying? There is no Biblical basis for this whatsoever.
Why does it being squared even matter? Again, there is nothing in the Bible that instructs us to make these sorts of calculations.
3. His Biblical understanding is completely off — In his books, Camping makes numerous wildly incorrect interpretations of Scripture.
— The 2 Witnesses of Revelation 11: Camping: “Thus, we know that these two witnesses represent the true believers who are driven out of the churches or in obedience to God’s command, come out of the churches. As individuals without membership in an earthly spiritual organization like ancient Israel or a local congregation, without titles such as priest, pastor, elder, or deacon, they send out the Gospel into the world during the final season of the latter rain.”
The Bible: The two witnesses are men sent to preach The Gospel during the end times. The Bible says that these two men have a ministry preaching 1,260 days. They are empowered to perform supernatural miracles and they are not only killed but their bodies lie in the street for public viewing for 3 days (Revelation 11).
— The Antichrist – Camping: ” “The beast and the false prophet are pictures of Satan as he ruled in the churches during the Great Tribulation” (p. 41).”
We have dealt with this issue many times. The antichrist/Beast is an actual man. Who will rule the Earth. He is ascribed all the characteristics of a person. And the False Prophet is also a person and they are all punished separately by God in the Bible (The Antichrist and False Prophet are killed in Revelation 19 while Satan is allowed to live and only suffer imprisonment).
The Mark of the Beast – The Bible: It is implemented by the antichrist as a means to have total economic control over the world. Every person on the planet will need the mark to buy or sell any item (something that can actually now be done with today’s technology). However Camping changes it to say: “.the Mark of the beast is being unsaved. And buying and selling is “sharing the Gospel.” So in short, anyone who is not a true Christian (i.e., a listener and follower of Camping) has automatically received the Mark of the beast which guarantees eternal punishment after death.
Errors: what about the Bible saying that the mark is an actual object that goes in your right hand or forehead? What about the fact that it delineates people by socioeconomic status? Or that the mark must have a certain number on it (666)? Camping does not address these verses.
4. He denies that Jesus is God — And this is where the rubber really hits the road. Camping in his book claims that the Archangel Michael is Jesus Christ: “Michael is the Lord Jesus Christ. He defeated Satan by shedding His blood, that is, by giving his life in the atonement experience.” (p. 56) Not only is this incorrect, it is outright heresy. Jesus Christ is not an angel (who are created beings). He is God (who is The Creator). But let’s allow the Bible to speak on this point:
Jesus is not an Angel! — Hebrews 1: 1God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high: 4Being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. 5For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son? 6And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. 7And of the angels he saith, Who maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of fire. 8But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom.
This passage makes several powerful points 1) Jesus, the Son of God, made the worlds (v. 2). 2) Jesus is the express image of God personified (v. 3). 3) Jesus is the greater than any angel (v. 4) 4) All angels worship Jesus and 5) The Lord calls Jesus “God” (v. 8).
1 Timothy 3:16 And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
So where does this incredibly false idea of Jesus being the archangel Michael come from. This is Jehovah’s Witness doctrine. So again, everything has come full circle.
5. Camping does not preach the Gospel — For all of the effort that he and his organization are putting out to spread the Doomsday date, Camping is not even preaching the true Gospel. While the Bible states that “whosoever” believes in Jesus as their Savior can have eternal life, Camping does not agree. He preaches that God has a pre-set list of people He is going to bring to Heaven and regardless of what an individual believes, desires or puts their faith in, the list for Heaven is set. So they are either in or out. In his book, the final chapter discusses whether the reader can go to Heaven, Camping explains his Heavenly VIP list concept and finished the book by urging the reader to beg God for mercy and then “And so, perhaps, God may save you.”
This is not the Gospel. The Gospel means “good news!” The good news is that just as we are all sinners, we can all be saved because Jesus took our punishment on the cross. And it just takes our faith and belief in that sacrifice as our only way to Heaven that lets us receive the gift of eternal life. This is the saddest part of Camping’s incorrect movement. For all the people he is shaking up and scaring, he is not even pointing them in the right direction that the Bible directs people to.
John 3:16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Romans 10:13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Do not fear Doomsday, but know that you can be sure to go Heaven no matter what. And that is the biggest and best news of this week.
What do you think about the May 21st Doomsday Prediction? Let us know below!