May 21 Judgment Day?

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May 21 Judgment Day?

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In recent weeks a considerable amount of media attention has centered on the assertions of Harold Camping, an 89-year-old minister who believes that the world will experience a kind of "judgment day," beginning on May 21, 2011. Camping, who is a founder of a California-based media network called Family Radio, bases his assertions on his personal understanding of the Bible.

History shows that many, many people have developed personal interpretations of certain passages from the Bible, leading them to believe that Jesus Christ would return or other events of divine origin would take place over the past centuries. To date, none of these personal interpretations have come to pass as predicted.

We must handle prophecy carefully

The United Church of God recognizes that a considerable portion of the Bible is devoted to prophetic teachings, specifically including a recognizable sequence of events that will presage the return of Jesus Christ. Jesus will return to set up the literal world-encircling Kingdom of God, which Jesus Himself declared through many biblical passages. The United Church of God also holds true to what Jesus Himself firmly stated regarding when these events would take place. As He told His disciples: "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority" (Acts 1:7, emphasis added throughout). This reflects what Jesus had told His disciples earlier, preserved in what is known as the Olivet Prophecy. Concerning the time when God will intervene in human affairs, Jesus was very specific: "But of that day and hour no one knows, no, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only" (Matthew 24:36). Christ urges His followers to always be prepared, "for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect" (Matthew 24:44).

False prophets don't properly handle God's Word

As students and scholars of the Bible know, both the Old and New Testaments show that God Himself has a plan for all of humanity, and it is God's will that all should be given the opportunity for salvation. Neither God nor Jesus espouses "universal destruction" in biblical accounts. Instead, many biblical accounts point to an incredible future time when peace and prosperity will engulf the earth under the benevolent and loving reign of Jesus Christ as "King of kings" in the literal Kingdom of God.

The Bible does speak of a time ahead in this human age when chaos will erupt, leading up to the time when Jesus Christ will Himself return to cut short devastating global turmoil (Matthew 24:22). Unfortunately, when some people ignore the teachings of Jesus that no man or woman can know the specific hour or day of prophetic events, the magnitude and importance of these prophetic teachings can seem a bit diminished. When the events don't happen as some predict, the credibility of God's message may be temporarily affected. That is indeed unfortunate, as they will come to pass, and—as Jesus plainly stated—at a time when many will not expect. They will be caught off-guard.

The Church's responsibility

Thus the United Church of God recognizes that it is the duty of the Church to openly teach and proclaim these true prophetic messages. It is the responsibility of the Church to do so in a way that people gain real understanding—that these prophetic events will come to pass as a result of humanity's wholesale disobedience to God's way of life, as revealed in the Law of God and the teachings of the Bible. God and Jesus are very plainspoken in biblical accounts: If you obey God, keep His commandments and do them, then you are promised many good things, both in this life and in the life to come. That is why God declared first to the ancient Israelites and today to us: "I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life" (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Sadly, unlike what has presently attracted much attention, May 21, 2011, is not the prophesied "Judgment Day." That day will come, but in a completely different manner and for a completely different reason. God is a God of love, and as Jesus noted, it is His good pleasure to give us the Kingdom of God (Luke 12:32), a time of peace and plenty without end.

For more information, you are invited to review these short topical summaries published by the United Church of God: "Are We Living in the Time of the End?" "God's Holy Day Plan: The Promise of Hope for All Mankind" and "Does the Bible Teach 'A Secret Rapture'?"


  • Cameron Forbes

    Seven Prophecies That Must Be Fulfilled Before Jesus Christ's Return
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    article by Melvin Rhodes

    Previous generations have thought that Jesus Christ would return in their lifetimes, but they were proven wrong. Many people alive today think that Christ's return is imminent. Certainly, the Bible contains prophecies that could not have been fulfilled until this generation

  • dust_i_am

    Built, your answer came tonight -- with Mr. Camping spiritualizing "Judgment Day," and still saying October 21 is when God will destroy the earth.

    And don't overlook "Pentecost 2012," May 27 of next year -- when Ronald Weinland says Jesus will return. And Mr. Weinland clearly tops Mr. Camping, because he claims to be one of the two witnesses. :-)

  • Johannes Meintjes

    I though i would just love to share this scripture with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I feel this scripture is very relevant regarding this topic.
    Colossians 2:8.

    8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces[a] of this world rather than on Christ.
    I received a christian dvd for my birthday from my Sister In law.
    The title of the dvd is To Tell The Truth.
    Breaking out of the spiral of sin and temptation.
    Saw this scripture on the dvd and i thought i would like to share it with everyone here.
    God Bless.

  • Built Ford Tough

    Well May 21, 2011 came and went without any real significant event. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Camping will once again go back to the drawing board to tweak and recalculate the "end of the world."

    I'm now wondering if his miscalculations and false prophecy will turn some of his followers away from Christ and turn them into atheists. It's guys like Camping who can take a believer and turn him or her into a non-believer because of these foolish false prophecies. Hopefully most of his followers will come to their senses and get into studying the word of God (instead of rejecting God) and read the prophecies of events that will take place before Jesus returns. It's guys like Mr. Camping who make a mockery out of Jesus and Christianity.

    Also, remember folks in 20 months is the next "end of the world" event. December 21, 2012 is another date where people believe that the world is going to end, so as we get closer to that date a lot of excitement will build up to that event, and once it's over there will be a lot of very disappointed (but relieved) people.

    The problem with these "end of the world" prophecies is that people will hear them so much that when the real event occurs they will be so tuned out that they will be caught off guard by the actual return of Jesus. It's like the story of the boy who cried "wolf!" When you tell a lie often enough, no one will believe you anymore even when you do speak the truth. So many false prophets have come and gone that when true preachers comes along people mock and ridicule them.

    So boys and girls let's just stick to the word of God, and be prepared to meet Jesus whenever His true second coming might be. Even if He does not return in our lifetime we will rise from the dead to meet Him. So whether we will rise from our graves or be changed from flesh to spirit let's make sure that we prepare ourselves for that true event.

    God Bless.

  • dust_i_am

    Random, I fear many of the supporters are feeling pain tonight. They're wondering what could have gone wrong, whether they were played for fools -- and perhaps questioning whether God really does exist.

    I'm sorry, but I'm not laughing at that. I want to be compassionate toward them. Even a little bit for Mr. Camping, even though as a "Bible scholar" he obviously should have known better.

    I think the principle of Ezekiel 33:11 applies: "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked."

    If that's true of the killing of Usama bin-Laden, I seriously doubt God was giggling at what Harold Camping produced in recent years.

    I prayed in recent days that Mr. Camping might repent of his error before May 21. He certainly needs to repent now. We'll see if he does.

  • randomxkitty

    I wonder what he and the people who actually were convinced of this lie are doing right now, being that it is the 21st of May hahaha

  • Great commentary written by Mr. Snyder. We need to be ready for the return of Christ every day, and every hour. We need to be living the Way of life that He taught us to live. If we're doing that, we have no need to worry and the exact date does not matter. On the other hand...if you're not living His Way of life, there is no time like the present to repent and get with it because worldwide events are pointing to the culmination of Bible prophecy during our lifetime.

  • dust_i_am

    Interesting that tonight on the eve of "Judgment Day," the Open Forum on Family Radio was a rerun -- after Harold Camping had been on the air live seven nights a week during May.

  • Johannes Meintjes

    Rit Janula just amazing that Jesus was sent by God the father to earth, but even He does not know the hour or day of the end. Only God The father knows the day or hour of the end.

  • Rit Janula

    I pray everyday to God and Jesus to get this show going...So I hope he is right...However Jesus himself dose not know when the time will be..How can this guy know...

  • Johannes Meintjes

    I attended a gathering at our congregation Lewende Waters in Pretoria ,South Africa Sunday night at 18:00 on the 15 Th of May 2011 discussing the topic Can one determine the hour of our Lord Jesus Christ second coming ? The answer is definitely no as we can see in the scripture. Matthew 24:44
    So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.
    The article mentioned in this post was also mentioned.
    It appeared in a afrikaans newspaper on the 6th March 2011 and many placards is visible all over Pretoria and I believe throughout South Africa.
    God Bless.

  • Val

    This brings to mind Isaiah 8:20. In his artical Michael speaks from God's law and the testimony of Jesus Christ. His words are an encouragement in the troubled times in which we live.

  • hookra

    I think it should provide all of us an excellent reason for keeping quiet, because just like this, HWA and Sons stated a lot of similar things and even to say they were the "Two Witnesses", but you still look up to them, even though they ended up being false prophets. UCG and most of the off-shoots do the same still today, they can't even get the calendar straight by following a Rabbi's invention of 358AD. Many people say many things and even on BT I catch so much false doctrines and teachings, that I finally departed from UCG and these similar organizations. I now follow the one true God and follow Dt.28 (Dt. chap:11-27), keep his New Moons for the holy Days schedule, and keep the Temple Period Calendar. But remember, the Hebrew Bible (the only accurate one) tells us that his servants will know his business and actions, so by being with Eloah, and following him, we will know, but it doesn't say shout it out either. May 21 will come and go, but very, very soon a real day will come, so where are you with God today, tomorrow is every day you wake-up!

  • Roger Christiansen

    Just plain out of Whack

    Most of the problem we've had over the years in studying history, and especially Biblical history has been the historians themselves.

    Historians are human and there are a great many ideas competing for dominance, but little agreement on anything in critical scholarship. Looking at our political situation today for example. There are many historical political scholars on both side of the aisle, but little agreement. Historians tend to find the things in history that support their own personal concept, even inventing things if they must. Then they just keep banging away at their own conclusions.

    The biblical historian is no exception. Today we have such things as Source Criticism; Form Criticism; Redaction Criticism; Reader-Response Theories, Rhetorical Criticism; Deconstructionism or, the text means whatever the reader whats it to mean.

    Walter A. Elwell & Robert w. Yarbrough in their book, Encountering the New Testament say this:

    "One important thing however, is that most scholars now have come to agree on the importance of understanding the Gospels in context of their decidedly Jewish setting.This has made for some real progress over these other approaches in recent years. Jesus's Jewishness has become a focal point of study. One problem is that some scholars make Jesus out to be just another Jewish thinker of his time. These thinkers either "modern" or "postmodern" in their approaches refuse to admit anything that points to the existence of a supernatural order of things, or the intervention of a personal God in the world by special revelation, miracles, and prophecy."

    Then Of course there is the other side of the issue. Herein lies the problem with people like Mr. Camping: "He's just plan out of whack. He is an example of what can happen if the right conditions, methods, and aims of the text are not observed when trying to enter into fruitful dialogue with its message. If we do not take these considerations into account, wrong interpretations can and will be the result. The price for such error can and has been high in the past when life decisions have been placed on such things. So as Christians we have to take such people in stride. I like take the Gamaliels approach on such things. It was Pastor John Piper who said: "as for these people: 'the whackos will whack' there is not much we can do about them."

  • Built Ford Tough

    We are close to the second coming of Christ, but May 21 is not the day. What many of these gloom and doom preachers such as Harold Camping and others fail to realize is that many prophetic events have yet to occur before Jesus can return.

    I find it arrogant of some people who come up with the date for the return of Jesus when Jesus Himself does not even know. Who are they to think that they are above God and know more than He knows? What we as Christians must do is live a godly life and make sure that we are prepared to meet our Maker when He does return.

  • Ward Shamblin

    This article was very well written with scriptures to back up what was said.

  • dust_i_am

    Be careful here. If Harold Camping is wrong to declare Saturday is the "guaranteed" Judgment Day, isn't it equally wrong to declare Saturday will NOT be that day? Aren't all things possible with God?

  • marcryan71

    I am glad you guys are commenting on this. His headquarters is about 10 minutes from my house. I am very curious to see what Mr. Camping has to say on May 22nd when all the things he predicted do NOT come to pass. However, this will only further tarnish the general impression to the world about Christianity. Every person who proclaims with the "authority of God" and is shown to be false...only re-enforces the opinion: "Well, if this guy was false...then all Christianity is false." -- Which is exactly what satan wants.

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