May 22, 2011: Left Behind

Nothing happened!

May 21, 2011 came and went and the rapture did not occur.  There was no blast of the trumpet, there was no voice of the archangel, no one was taken up in the air.  In short, there was no second coming on May 21.

The only thing that happened was the unmasking of a false prophet, a lot of disappointed followers who came to the realization that the prediction of Harold Camping was as bogus as his book The Biblical Calendar of History.

If there was a rapture, then Harold Camping was left behind.

The issue that Camping’s failed prophecy of the second coming of Christ raises in the minds of people of faith is this: who among those who claim to speak for God truly speak the truth of God? Another issue that this debacle raises is how do we know that a prophet who speaks in the name of God has been sent by God?

According to Jesus, one can recognize false prophets by their fruits (Matthew 7:16).  From an Old Testament perspective, we can recognize false prophets by looking at the havoc their false prophecies caused to the people of Israel.

Jeremiah criticized the prophets because they led the people astray with their falsehoods. He said:  “Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:16).

Jeremiah said that these false prophets did not receive their message from the Lord, but that their visions, (or in Camping’s case, his message) were the creation of their own mind.  The falseness of their message was seen in the content of what they proclaimed.  Jeremiah said that the false prophets were proclaiming lies:

“I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name” (Jeremiah 23:25).

“Will the hearts of the prophets ever turn back–those who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart? (Jeremiah 23:26).

The problem the people of Israel faced in the days of Jeremiah is not unknown in our own day because many people come claiming that they speak the word of God when in reality they are speaking the deceit of their own hearts.

Jesus also had to confront the same problem. According to Jesus, the coming of false prophets will be a sign of the last days.  Jesus said: “On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name’” (Matthew 7:22).  Just because a person prophesies in Jesus’ name, it does not mean that the message being proclaimed is God’s message.  Jesus told those false prophets: “Then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; go away from me’” (Matthew 7:23).

People today must learn how to distinguish between those who speak the word of God and those whose messages are the visions of their own mind. This is the reason the Bible urges believers to “test the spirit” to see whether those who pretend to speak for God are sent by God.  John wrote: “Dear friends, don’t believe all people who say that they have the Spirit. Instead, test them. See whether the spirit they have is from God, because there are many false prophets in the world”  (1 John 4:1).

The result of Camping’s debacle is that non-believers will laugh at Christians with scorn.  They can see through the falsehood of Camping’s claim and then cast doubts on the relevancy of the church in today’s society and the truthfulness of the Bible as the Word of God.

We who are ministers of the Word must not give the enemies of the Word an occasion to bring reproach to the church of Jesus Christ and ridicule to Christianity.

There are several things people can learn from this situation.

First, people must learn that the content of Camping’s book, The Biblical Calendar of History, is false.  Camping claims in his book that God has left behind a complete calendar from creation to Christ.  Included in this calendar is the precise date for the end of the world.  Since nothing happened according to The Biblical Calendar of History, then people must accept the fact that everything in it is false.

Second, people must realize that every one of Camping’s books that are based on The Biblical Calendar of History is also false and cannot be trusted.  Since The Biblical Calendar of History has proven to be a failure, then the other books that use The Biblical Calendar of History cannot be trusted.

Third, Harold Camping is discredited in the eyes of God and in the eyes of society.  No one should take him seriously because the Lord has not sent him, and he made people trust in a lie (see Jeremiah 28:15-16).

Fourth, the Lord Jesus Christ is coming, but of that day and hour no one knows, only the Father in heaven.  This is the reason people must be ready.  One man failed in giving the day for the second coming of Christ.  The Bible does not provide us with a date for that day.  However, the Bible is clear that he is coming back, and soon.

Are you ready for that day?

Read also: Darrell Pursiful’s To Disillusioned Followers of Harold Camping

Claude Mariottini
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary

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13 Responses to May 22, 2011: Left Behind

  1. Michele Beck says:

    There are two things that come out of this that bothered me.
    First, he made Christians look like loons and some facebook people had a field day mocking what will one day be the return of our Lord. So he gave them fuel for their fire.
    Second, today at church we were asked if any of us believed him and did something different just in case. One gentleman raised his hand and shouted, “Yes I was a bit worried.” He scared those who are weak in faith and for that he is at fault.
    When I started out my ministry I chose this verse and when Gary married me he had the verses taken from an 18th century bible and framed for me and I stand on them and live by them and will share them with you:

    My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of My hand. What My Father has given Me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one. John 10:27-30 NRSV

    It is imperative to know who your shepherd is and in this way you will know only His voice. I write this today praying that all who read your blog will understand that there will be a day when our Lord shall return and when that day comes, we want them to be with us. For God so loves this world, as sinful and hateful as it can be, that He did send His One and Only Son to save us and bring us eternal life. This is truth and this truth does set you free.
    Sorry Professor for preaching but the Lord pulled this out of me today.
    Thank you for posting and for searching endlessly for those who are lost in Christ.


    • Michele,

      Thank you for sharing these thoughts with me. When a person truly belongs to Christ, that person will never be deceived by people with false teaching. What Camping did was to bring a lot of criticism to Christianity because now people will think that all Christians are like him. We are not like him. We do not have to make claims like he made. We just wait in faith for the day when Christ will come again.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini


  2. Carl Rhoades says:

    While I was stationed in the Sacramento area Family Radio was a source of comfort and encouragement. I learned to turn off the radio when Harold Camping came on.
    I never understood his power base and how he could remain on Family Radio when I knew many of the churches that supported the radio startion did not agree with him. He should have been forced off Family Radio in 1994 when he first predicted the end of the world and it did not happen. Family Radio sold off their primary radio stations so they are hard to receive after 1994 and the fallout from that prediction.
    Today I believe he needs to be forced retired if that is possible.


    • Carl,

      I used the listen to Family Radio for the music, but some of the preachers preached poor messages, so I stopped listening to them. I agree with you, Camping should go. I am sure Family Radio’s reputation will suffer again.

      Claude Mariottini


  3. What infuriates me most about Camping and the ridiculous media attention devoted to his crackpot theories is that the Bible as the “Word of God” has failed again in the eyes of popular culture.

    Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the Son of Man coming in his kingdom.” –Matt 16:28

    The revelation from Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. –Rev 1:1

    You see, the entire Bible is “false,” then, because the “Son of Man” did not come “in his kingdom” within that generation, and the events described in Revelation did not take place “soon.” This also means Jesus was a “false” prophet because the things he predicted did not come to pass when he said they would.

    Playing these ridiculous games with the Bible as a kind of divining rod or a Ouija board comes from an utterly false and destructive view of the Bible as the “Words” of God. If we start with the particular view of God as a perfect and remote King somewhere “out there” who can do no evil, is all-knowing and all-powerful, and who perfectly inspired the words of the Bible and that some kind of pure crystalline “Truth” is captured therein with no contradictions, etc., then the Bible, and by implication God, will fail us miserably over and over.

    The simplest metaphor I can think of for Christians to understand the Bible as the “Word of God” is that it is the Word of God because it reveals Jesus Christ as the Logos, the Word, of God.


    • Chris,

      Thank you for your comment. The secular media pays too much attention to people like Camping and in the process this king of negative publicity brings much ridicule to the church. The problem is that there are so many people, including many Christians, who are easily deceived by people like him. In the process, they give credence to Camping and the media makes him bigger than he really is. Unfortunately, many more like him will come in the future with similar message. We must be vigilant when this happens again.

      It has been a long time since we last talked. I hope you will visit again. Are you still blogging?

      Claude Mariottini


  4. Bryant J. Williams III says:

    Dear Dr. Mariottini,

    You are right to point out Jeremiah and his denouncing of the false prophets, but even Jeremiah was doing based on what is found in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 is even more pertinent. The problem with these “prophets” so-called is that they think that prophecy exists today. When the Apostle John died, then prophecy ceased. The Montanist movement, the Millerites (later known as Seventh-Day Adventists), the Russellites (Jehovah Witnesses), Hal Lindsey, Pentecostal/Charismatic Movements, LDS, etc., all are examples of movements began by false prophets. Deuteronomy 13 is also very pertinent to this discussion. Either way this latest event will just bring more ridicule upon the name of Christ. It will bring Peter’s remarks in II Peter 3:4 closer to reality, if it has not done so already. This is just more of the same within Christianity where the secular cultural’s view of a prophet is one who is over 90% correct. This is also similar to the Greco-Roman view of prophecy that Paul is battling against in Corinth and the Oracle of Delphi. The Christian church is to be totally different from the world. Again, failure of its followers to heed the Words of Jesus NOT the failure of Jesus.

    Rev. Bryant J. Williams III


    • Bryant,

      All these movements you cited have set dates for the second coming of Christ, the end of the world, and other events related to the end. It is important for Christians to know their Bible and judge these people according to the word of God. It is embarrassing that so many Christians are easily deceived by these false teachings. You and I do not blame the church for the failure of its members. We know that the followers of Christ are human and will make mistakes. However, people who are hostile to the church find situations like this to emphasize the failure of the church. They are wrong, but it is difficult to convince them that they are wrong.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Claude Mariottini


  5. Pingback: Response to “Left Behind” and Harold Camping « Combustion of Ideas – by Chris Walters

  6. Pingback: Will Judgment Day Happen on May 21, 2011? | Claude Mariottini - Professor of Old Testament

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