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Predicting the End of the World: A Fruitless and Stupid Undertaking

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The Issues Desk wishes to look at the continuously unsuccessful and stupid attempt by some individuals to predict the end of the world as we know it. The latest prediction was made by Harold Camping, a ninety-nine-year-old American evangelist, who publicly predicted early last year that the world would come to an end on May 21, 2011. But May 21 came and passed without the world and everything in it being destroyed as Camping had prophesized; in short, things remained as they had been. Camping is a rich American preacher. He has about 55 radio stations and was the head of the Family Radio.

To save face – what else could it have been? – Mr. Camping modified his prophesy and set a new date for the end of the world – October 21, 2011. However, that date, too, came and went without the world coming to an end. Then interestingly and quite surprisingly, as many were waiting to hear a new prediction from Camping, the evangelist, through a special statement, announced last week that his prediction of the end of the world was wrong and sinful, that he wants God to forgive him for that sin, and that he will no longer attempt to make any new predictions about the end of the current state of things.

Camping’s statement reads: “We humbly acknowledge we were wrong about the timing. We tremble before God as we humbly ask Him for forgiveness for making that sinful statement… We also openly acknowledge that we have no new evidence pointing to another date for the end of the world. Though many dates are circulating, Family Radio has no interest in even considering another date. God has humbled us through the events of May 21, to continue to even more fervently search the Scriptures (the Bible), not to find dates, but to be more faithful in our understanding.”

We salute Evangelist Harold Camping for audaciously and publicly admitting his mistake, his spiritual stupidity, scriptural waywardness, and his promise never again to engage in such stupidity. As human beings, we all err in one way or another and do need God’s forgiveness. Therefore, on behalf of Camping, we importune God to have mercy upon him and use him for His own glory.

That said, it is mind-boggling that Camping, who teaches that the words of Jesus as written in the Bible and other teachings enshrined in the Bible should be followed, would be that brave to announce the specific date of the end of the world. And his two different predictions in 2011 were not his first attempts. The same evangelist predicted in a book titled Are You Ready? that the world would come to an end in September of 1994. That, too, did not happen.

It was Albert Einstein who said: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” Indeed, human beings relish exercising stupidity. And, frankly, it was simply stupid on the Evangelist Camping’s part because we believe he has read the words of Jesus as they are recorded in Matthew 24:36: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

The Bible says that no one knows the DAY and the HOUR that the world as we know it will come to an end. The Bible says that not even the angels in heaven know that specific date. What is in this verse that Evangelist Camping and other predictors of the end of the world do not understand? What is so scripturally difficult to comprehend about this verse? What is so spiritually unfathomable about this passage?

To read Matthew 24:36 and still come up with a prophesy or prediction about the end of the world could best be described as sheer stupidity, and a lot of individuals enjoy embarking on this stupid and fruitless venture, especially when it is done by individuals considered learned.

This stupidity, as shown by history, has been exercised by various religious groups and individuals over the years, going as far back as the earlier days of the church, even long before Jerusalem was destroyed in 70 A.D. This exercise of stupidity has increased campaign-wise since the induction of the 20th Century.

The Jehovah’s Witnesses, for example, based on computations they came up with, predicted that the end of the world would occur in 1914. When that did not happen, they modified the date a number of times, including one they set in 1975 and another as recently as 1984. We are now in 2012, and Jesus has not returned. Let it be remembered, also, that, according to records, the Jehovah Witnesses are leading when it comes to making wrong predictions about the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. Some of their wrongly predicted dates are 1874, 1878, 1881, 1910, 1914, 1918, 1925, 1975, and 1984.

Also, the True Light Church of Christ predicted that the end of the world would occur in 1970. It did not happen, and it has not happened. We are now in 2012. One of the world’s leading Biblical scholars, Hal Lindsey, predicted that the worlds would come to an end in 1981, using all kinds of mathematical computations. We are now in 2012.

Another preacher, Moses David of The Children of God Christian group predicted that the world would end 1993. We are now in 2012. Barry Smith, a preacher of the Assembly of God Church in New Zealand, predicted that the world would come to an end before 2000. We are now in 2012.

Scores of other religious people and institutions have predicted wrong dates since the 1980s, most of them using books and magazines as their medium, making millions of dollars in the process. Most of them, if not all of them, do it shamelessly. Even when their predicted dates come and go, they shamelessly refuse to admit their mistakes or issue any apologies.

This is one reason why Harold Camping’s public admission and apology and promise never again to engage in any predictions connected with the end of the world should be lauded, although he has done it at least three times. At least he has realized the fruitlessness and stupidity of his action.

Considering the dismally unsuccessful trials of scores of others before Camping, and considering Camping’s public confession, one would think that others, especially would-be end-time predictors, would see reason not to pursue such a venture; however, knowing who human beings are, and what they are capable of engaging in, it is safe to say that others will still decide to participate in this fruitless and stupid undertaking – predicting the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world. But, again, didn’t Albert Einstein say: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity…”?

To conclude this article, it seems perfectly reasonable to us to re-quote Matthew 24:36, a passage that is in reference to the end of the world and the Second Coming of our gracious and merciful Lord Jesus Christ, the savior of the world: “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”

Believe me, my people. We will never stop following the issues?

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