Harold Camping, President of the Family Radio broadcasting system, has been exposed as a false prophet and heretic. When I was growing up in the Northeast, Family Radio was by and large the only Christian radio station I could receive. In my listening area, it broadcasts as WFME on 94.7 on the FM dial. When I first started listening to the station, I enjoyed listening to Harold Camping’s Open Forum program. That is, until I started hearing things that don’t align with Scripture. For example, he teaches there is no literal hell. Upon death, an unbeliever enters the grave and no longer has any consciousness. Or when speaking of his salvation, Camping said he’s always been saved since birth because he stands as one of God’s elect. It’s statements like these that demonstrate he’s probably not saved at all. He doesn’t understand God’s salvation plan. And there’s so much more that he’s taught in the name of God that God never wrote in the Bible.
Camping was wrong when he predicted the end of the world would happen in 1994. He is wrong again with his latest prediction of the Rapture occurring on May 21, 2011. Since that date has come and gone, he has since revised his prediction that the world is due to end on October 21st of 2011. He’ll be wrong again of course. Matthew 24:36 says, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only.”
Even our Lord Jesus Christ Himself didn’t know the time of the end while He was living His life here on earth as a man. It’s just not for humans to know. No matter how smart we think we are or what kind of math we use to determine the date of the Rapture or end of the world, we’ll never be right. God is the only one who knows and He’s not telling. So as far as Harold Camping being a false prophet is concerned, beware of him, pray for him and know that he’s under God’s condemnation although he doesn’t even realize it.
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.—Deuteronomy 18:20, (AV)
Yet, even though Camping has been exposed as a false prophet and teacher, the Rapture is a real future event. The word “Rapture” does not appear in Scripture. It is the term given to an event described in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
The term “Rapture” is an English noun derived from the Latin verb rapiō, with a literal meaning of “I catch up” or “I snatch.” As far as I’ve been able to discover, the term was first used by Philip Doddridge in a sermon preached at Welford in Northamptonshire, March 9, 1737 titled Practical reflections on the character and translation of Enoch. Enoch, as you may be aware, is the first person in the Bible to be translated (raptured) and not experience a physical death. Enoch was 365 years old when he was raptured. (see Genesis 5:23-24, Hebrews 11:5)
Paul continues this thought in 1 Thessalonians 5 tying it to a discussion of Christ’s second coming. But again, Paul warns, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.”—1 Thessalonians 5:1–3, (AV)
Christ talks about the end times in Matthew 24. He speaks about the false prophets who will rise up and say here is Christ or there is Christ just as Camping did when he predicted the Rapture on May 21st. The Rapture is a “here is Christ” event. And as we get closer to His return, (and I do believe we are closer than ever before), we need to be very careful about who we listen to for spiritual guidance. We need to study the Bible for ourselves and not take everything a so called “Bible scholar” says as Gospel. God meant His Word to be in the hands of the common man. The Holy Spirit leads us into all truth if we call upon Him.
Most Christian leaders will say there’s nothing left in the prophetic calendar that needs to be fulfilled before Christ returns, but I disagree and I could very well be wrong. I believe there’s one event Christ talks about in Matthew 24 that has not been accomplished yet. Our Lord speaks of it in Matthew 24:14, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.”
The Gospel has been preached for ages, yet there are still unreached people groups in the world. And according to Matthew 24:14, when these people are reached, the end will come. I believe there’s a real urgency for men and women all over the world to stand up and be counted for God. People who teach the Gospel truth. People with soul winners’ hearts. Not false prophets and teachers like Mr. Camping, but real men and women of God who share Jeremiah’s fervor when he said, “…But his word was in mine heart as a burning fire shut up in my bones, and I was weary with forbearing, and I could not stay. ”—Jeremiah 20:9(b), (AV)
So when will Christ return? I don’t know. But, we will explore this topic in greater depth as we continue with Part 2 of the Realm of Possibility.