(ABP) – By now everyone knows about the billboards across the country that read, “Judgment Day May 21.” Harold Camping, president of Family Radio, is the man behind the stir. According to his interpretation of the Bible, the Rapture will also start tomorrow, beginning five months of tribulation that will culminate with the end of the world on Oct. 21.
Here is my prediction: Judgment Day will not be tomorrow. By Sunday morning I guess we will know which prediction was correct.
Camping is just the latest in a long line of Christians to (foolishly) set dates for the end times on the basis of “biblical prophecy.” Obviously, those who have predicted the end for past dates have all been wrong. And I am predicting that will be the case with Camping’s 5/21/11 prediction also.
There are others who talk about this being the end times, but they don’t set a date. Still, they think the end is definitely near.
One such person is Joel Rosenberg , a bestselling author of six novels about terrorism and how it relates to Bible prophecy. One of those books, The Ezekiel Option, was the 2006 Christian Book Award winner for fiction.
Recently I talked with an intelligent Christian who was reading Rosenberg’s latest book, The Twelfth Imam (Oct. 2010). She had been impressed with how a number of Rosenberg’s predictions have come true, and she seemed to think that he was probably right in saying we are now living in the end times.
She mentioned that his predictions were based partly on Ezekiel. “He probably referred to Gog and Magog,” I said, not having read any of Rosenberg’s books or his website. She said, “Yes, I had never heard of that before!”
I told her I heard revival preachers talking about Gog and Magog in the 1950s. They declared that the prophecy in Ezekiel 38-39 was a clear reference to Russia (the Soviet Union). Thus, it was quite certain, they proclaimed, that the end of the world was at hand.
But, alas, the Cold War ended, the Soviet Union broke up, and here it is nearly 60 years later and the end has not yet come. So Gog and Magog had to be reinterpreted, just as they have been for more than two millennia.
Some early Christians thought “Gog from the country of Magog” surely referred to someone in the Roman Empire. They were wrong. Next, and for a long time, Magog was identified with the Goths. That and subsequent identifications also proved to be erroneous.
Here’s the advice I gave to the woman. Whenever you hear someone prophesying the imminent end of the world on the basis of Bible prophecy, assume they are wrong. They all have been up until now, and there is no good reason to think that current prophecies will be any more accurate.
So, go ahead and make your weekend plans. Judgment Day is not going to be tomorrow, and we Christians have more important things to do than to become entangled in spurious prophecies.
Leroy Seat was a Baptist missionary to Japan from 1966 to 2004 and a full-time faculty member at Seinan Gakuin University. He blogs at The View from this Seat.