May 21, as you may know, was predicted to be the beginning of the end of the world by Harold Camping, a retired civil engineer-turned-evangelist. At 6 p.m. local time, the faithful were to be raptured and a cataclysmic earthquake was to sweep the Earth, leading to the utter destruction of the Earth on Oct. 21 with a giant fireball. Now that the 21st has come and gone earthquake free and no one, least of all not the 200 million Camping predicted, has gone mysteriously missing as a result of the rapture, it is pretty obvious the predictions were wrong. But in an announcement Monday, Camping stated that judgment had indeed come as predicted, but as an “invisible judgment day” where Christ “came and put the world under judgment.” And he sticks to the prediction that the end of the world will indeed still be on Oct. 21.
I have a really hard time seeing billboards and reading articles in which the statement of “The Bible Guarantees It” is tagged onto this end-of-the-world prediction. This date used a complicated set of multiplications and then furthered with assumptions about the significance of several numbers as being prophetic. The Bible does make some strong assertions about a lot of things, but that the end of the world will be May 21, or Oct. 21, or some other date pulled from some unintelligible equation, it most certainly does not. It also does not say anything about standing on a street corner with a sign declaring the end of the world.
So I’d like to comment on what it does say. It says to love God with all your being. It says to love your neighbor as yourself. It says to go and tell others about what a life reconciled to God looks like and to do more than just tell others, but to walk through life with people who may not know, living and loving in the good times and bad. It certainly says a lot of other things also, but when Jesus Christ was asked by his followers what was most important, he answered that this whole love deal was paramount.
So where does that leave us? That leaves us, as followers of Christ, called to be an example of Christ’s love to the world. It leaves us to walk through life, making disciples of those we meet not through preaching that the world is about to blow up, but rather by reflecting the love of God, living as if we were a light in a dark world. Now, the kingdom of God is at hand and there is a sense of urgency to our message, as we will never know when the end will come. But this end will come unexpectedly and Jesus himself says in Matthew 24 that even he doesn’t know when it will happen. It’s kinda like the fact that I don’t have any guarantee that I will not die today driving home. We are called by Christ to live in a state of “expectant uncertainty,” holding fast to the truth of Matthew 28, that no matter how bad things get and how crazy our world seems, Christ will be “right here with us, right into the end of the world.” This is the end time truth that the Bible guarantees.