But if we are true to the Bible, if we seek the message of Christ’s words in Matthew 24 and 25 with an open heart, we will close our holy calculators. Preparation for Jesus’ return has less to do with figuring out a date and more to do with how we are to live in the present.
Harold Camping, a Christian radio broadcaster and president of Family Radio, has used mathematical predictions to predict that the end of the world will happen on May 21, 2011 at exactly 6:00 p.m. He is convinced that a rapture of God’s people will take place. Then, five months later, God will destroy the Earth and the universe.
Some people laugh at Camping. Others wonder, “Could this be true?” The answer is not to be found in blogs, posts, or interesting articles. The answer is found by studying the Word of God for yourself.
What does the Bible say about the timing of Christ’s coming? Here are seven passages from Scripture that guide us in understanding whether Camping’s prediction is true.
- Matthew 24:36 says, “Of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only.”
The Bible tells us every effort we make to nail down the time for Christ’s return will fail. Camping directly contradicts Christ’s words.
- Luke 21:8 says, “Take heed that you not be deceived. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and, ‘The time has drawn near.’ Therefore do not go after them” (Luke 21:8).
The Bible warns us there are false prophets who attempt to predict the timing of Jesus’ coming. Camping demonstrates that he is a false prophet by trying to set a date for Jesus’ return.
- Matthew 24:32, 33 says, “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. So you also, when you see all these things, know that it is near—at the doors!”
While the Bible shows us we cannot know the precise time of Christ’s second coming, it helps us know from signs that it is near.
- Matthew 24:44 says, “Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
A repeated emphasis in the Scriptures is to watch and be ready always because we do not know exactly when Christ will return (Luke 12:35-40, Matthew 24:50, 1 Thessalonians 5:6).