The Misguided End of the World Predictions of Harold Camping Part 1

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Authored By  :
Bill Kochman

Published On :
October 16, 2011

Last Updated :
October 16, 2011

NOTE: This article or series has not been updated recently. As such, it may possibly contain some outdated information, and/or ideas and beliefs which I no longer embrace, or which have changed to some degree.

Reactions To Harold Camping, Mr. Camping's End Of The World Predictions, His May 21st And October 21 Predictions, Harold Camping Has Been Wrong Before, Scriptures Regarding True And False Prophets Of God, Negative Effects Of False Predictions And Prophecies, Satan's Expendable Tools, A War Of Thoughts And Words To Cast Doubt Upon God's Word, False Predictions Encourage Endtime Scoffers, An Uncertain Sound, Darkness For Light And Bitter For Sweet, Ravening Wolves, Years Spent With A Misguided Cult, Lessons Learned From Cult, Let God's Word Be Your Only Guide, Not Necessarily Being Evil, Harold Camping's Erroneous Date Calculations, Earth Age And Flood Date, Revelation's Five Months, The Earth And Heavens Are Destroyed By Fire, True Prophet Of God vs The False Prophet, Followers' Reactions To Harold Camping's Prophetic Missteps, Quotes Regarding UFO Cultist And Christian Cultist Reactions To Their Misguided Leaders From Some Of My Earlier Articles, Camping's Core Group Of Followers, Is Camping Undeterred?

Harold Camping. Just hearing the name will immediately result in a variety of reactions. Some people will simply roll their eyes upwards in disbelief as if to say, "Please, not again!" Other people will quickly break out into a sarcastic smirk. Yet others might return a word or two of mockery, or possibly worse. However, at this late date, I suspect that very few people will offer a kind word, or a nod of approval, for this man, or for what he represents. In fact, a lot of Christians will no doubt feel embarrassed and ashamed, due to the fact that our Christian faith has become associated with Camping. In short, anyone who is at all familiar with the name Harold Camping will not remain neutral.

For those of you who may not be familiar with him, Harold Camping is an elderly, self-proclaimed prophet who predicted that Jesus was going to return to the Earth on May 21st of this current year -- 2011 -- at which time the Rapture would occur. Following this Earth-shaking event, during the next five months, after true Bible-believing Christians had been spirited from the Earth, Camping predicted that the world would be bombarded with plagues, earthquakes, wars, famine and other deadly calamities, before it meets its ultimate destruction on the 21st of October of this same year.

Yes, I know; you have heard all of this before. Ho-hum. But before you decide to quickly end reading this series, let me tell you -- in case you missed it in the title -- that I for one do not agree with Mr. Camping's interpretation of the Scriptures. I believe that Camping is simply misguided and dead wrong.

As a longtime Bible student, and being quite familiar with the prophecies of the Books of Daniel and Revelation, as well as with the prophecies of Jesus Christ that are found in the Gospels, and with additional prophecies that are found in a number of the Epistles, I fully understand the current end-of-the-world hype. However, based on my personal understanding of said prophecies, I pointed out last May on the Bill's Bible Basics Blog, that Harold Camping was way off-base in his assertions. At that time, I also noted that Camping was seriously misleading his followers by way of his erroneous broadcasts on his Family Radio Network.

According to a news article that I read at the time, Camping has won thousands of converts across the United States since he first began making his end-of-the-world predictions. The power of his doomsday message is such, that it has resulted in serious divisions occurring between members of his own family; that is, between those family members who embrace Camping's teachings, and those who reject his beliefs.

What I find so sad regarding the situation with Camping, is that similar to what I wrote in my 2007 series "Sorry . . . Jesus Is Not Coming At Any Moment!", this is not the first time that he has made such an erroneous prediction. As it turns out, Camping made a similar prediction in 1992, when he claimed that Jesus Christ would return in 1994. Well, it is rather obvious that the man was wrong in that case, as he is mistaken at this current time as well.

Now, as a Bible-believing Christian who has been reading and studying God's Word for over forty years, I too believe that everything that is stated in the Scriptures will indeed come to pass in God's chosen time, but I honestly do not believe that the time is now, as Harold Camping claims. If you want to better understand why I say this, then I encourage you to read some of my articles which deal with eschatology -- that is, Endtime prophecies and the end of the world -- that are found here on our Bill's Bible Basics website.

One would think that rational people would stop and think to themselves, "Wait a minute! Camping has been wrong before, so why should I trust him now?" Yet despite this obvious fact, Camping's Family Radio Network broadcasts have still managed to attract thousands of followers, including what one would think to be hard-working, clear-headed American parents. As I point out in a number of other articles, the Bible is filled with verses which warn us of false prophets. In fact, it even advises us how we should respond to such false prophets, as you can see by the following verses:

"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. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
Deuteronomy 18:20-22, KJV

"The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?"
Jeremiah 5:31, KJV

"For they prophesy falsely unto you in my name: I have not sent them, saith the LORD."
Jeremiah 29:9, KJV

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Matthew 7:15-20, KJV

"And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many . . . For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect."
Matthew 24:11, 24, KJV

"For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect."
Mark 13:22, KJV

"For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."
2 Corinthians 11:13-15, KJV

"But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
2 Timothy 3:13, KJV

"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;"
2 Timothy 4:3, KJV

"But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
2 Peter 2:1, KJV

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
1 John 4:1, KJV

While I may seem to come across rather strongly for some of you, please understand that I do not doubt Harold Camping's sincerity as a Bible-believing Christian. However, having said that, we must all recognize that he is a misguided man. Not only that, but my concern is that rather than advance the cause of Christ, as with so many other false, wannabe prophets who have appeared in our modern times, Camping's erroneous teachings are going to do the exact opposite. In other words, such false predictions and interpretations can only result in one thing, and that is in even more people hardening their hearts, mocking our faith, and being harder to reach with the Gospel of Salvation. With good reason the Apostle Peter wrote the following in his second Epistle:

"Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation."
2 Peter 3:3-4, KJV

So you see, the more false prophecies that are pronounced, and fail to come to pass, the more our faith suffers harm; because not only do sincere Christians begin to look like gullible, naive fools, but non-believers begin to doubt every single word that we say, including the all-important message of Salvation which we try to share with them. In fact, personally, I can't help but suspect that the Devil himself might be behind this mischievous scheme.

In other words, as I have mentioned before, Satan sets up these false prophets through his deceptions, and then he humiliates them when their predictions fail to come to pass. Such people are Satan's expendables. He uses them, abuses them, and then he just throws them away once they have been discredited by the world. But Satan doesn't care, because he has accomplished his purpose, which is to sow more seeds of doubt in the Word of God. As I explain in other articles, it is indeed a war of words, and of thoughts and ideas, and our mind is the battleground. But the end result is that we not only have a long list of end-of-the-world false prophets who have appeared on the world stage since our faith was born two millennia ago, but we also have an increasing number of scoffers and mockers as well, who feel totally justified in their position.

There is another side to this issue, and it concerns how such false predictions and interpretations affect weaker Christian brethren. In writing about the Gifts of Tongues and the interpretation of Tongues, in his first Epistle to the Corinthians, the Apostle Paul wrote the following:

"For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"
1 Corinthians 14:8, KJV

A visitor remarked in our Bill's Bible Basics chatroom that even though Harold Camping was wrong, his trumpet "was heard round the world, and it lasted for days!". While that may be true, what good did it do? How did it inspire belief in our Christian faith? It didn't. In fact, as I noted earlier, it did the exact opposite. Furthermore, since when has God made it His practice to use false prophets who preach predictions which fail to materialize, as a means to preach the truth? I don't find that method being regularly used anywhere in the Bible. I can think of only one example in the Old Testament where God purposely sent a lying spirit, because the parties involved -- a certain unnamed king of Israel -- did not want to hear the truth anyway. Please refer to the story of the true Prophet of God named Micaiah which is found in the First Book of the Kings, chapter twenty-two.

So as I said, I find the idea of God's Prophets preaching misguided false prophecies and predictions in order that the truth might be heard, quite preposterous. In fact, what I do find in the Scriptures are verses such as the following one which expose the treacherous practice of deception, such as calling black, white, and white, black:

"Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!"
Isaiah 5:20, KJV

In short, Harold Camping didn't just make an uncertain sound -- as Paul writes above -- he in fact made a false sound; a sound which can result in confusion and uncertainty amongst the flocks of the Lord. If there is a lesson to be learned from examples such as Harold Camping, it is that we all need to be very careful that we don't seek to justify or cover up when our fellow Christian brethren make such public mistakes which seriously harm our faith. As the Apostle James informs us:

"Brethren, if any of you do err from the truth, and one convert him; Let him know, that he which converteth the sinner from the error of his way shall save a soul from death, and shall hide a multitude of sins."
James 5:19-20, KJV

As we saw earlier, Jesus did not hesitate to expose the false prophets in His own day. He even referred to them as ravening wolves. As such, we should not be afraid to do the same thing today either when it becomes necessary; and in my opinion, it does become very necessary when their mistake can have such a profound negative effect on the overall perception of our faith.

Please don't misunderstand me, or attempt to twist my words. I am not saying that Harold Camping is an evil, ravening wolf in sheep's clothing. As I stated earlier, Camping is probably a very sincere, dedicated Christian man who loves Jesus. I do not believe that he is purposely trying to mislead people. In fact, I think the same thing can be said for other Christian false prophets as well. Maybe not all of them, but at least some of them. In other words, they sincerely believe in their hearts that God has shown them certain things -- even certain things from the Scriptures -- and that they are preaching the truth.

I speak from personal experience, so you would do well to listen. If you read a sufficient number of my articles, you will piece together enough evidence to figure out that forty years ago, I too joined an organization which later turned out to be a misguided cult. Of course, I did not know that at the time. I was quite young, rather naive, and obviously very desirous to serve the Lord in some way. Then I heard about a particular Christian organization. Convinced that joining them was God's Will for my life, I left my former life behind, I became a member of the organization, and I proceeded to dedicate the next fifteen years of my life to them entirely.

Like so many other people who join such groups, I became totally indoctrinated by them, I believed as they believed, and I preached as they preached. When they said that Jesus Christ was going to return in a certain year, I didn't doubt it for a minute. I preached that date as God-inspired truth, and I was very sincere about it, but I was sincerely wrong, because they were wrong. The year in question came and went, and Jesus still has not returned. Does this mean that God's Word is wrong? Of course not! It simply means that how they chose to interpret the Bible was wrong.

Have I learned anything from the experience? You bet! Not only have I matured as a Christian and gained both Wisdom and Spiritual Discernment, but I have also learned to trust in no one, or in anything, except in God's Word. Call me a hardened skeptic, but unless I have been fully convinced of a particular teaching or doctrine through the Scriptures, I do not accept it, and you would be wise to do the same. Let God's Word be your only guide. A little bit of skepticism is a healthy thing, particularly when it comes to questionable doctrinal issues. In fact, don't even believe anything that I teach, unless you are personally convinced of it from the Scriptures.

Now, obviously, during the years that I preached that Jesus would return in a particular year, I was not outright evil, or even intentionally trying to deceive people. I was simply convinced that what I had been taught was the truth; and who would not want to share the wonderful "truth" of the year of Christ's Return with everyone? So it is with people who join particular denominations, organizations, groups, cults, etc. Their leaders have taught them to believe a certain way, and trying to convince them otherwise may not be easy. They are not necessarily evil deceivers; they may simply be misguided in a doctrinal sense. Furthermore, as we all know, the older a person is, and the longer they have believed a certain way, the more difficult it is to change their mind. This may very well be the case with Harold Camping and similar misguided false prophets.

After I became aware of Harold Camping's Endtime predictions, I visited his website in order to determine exactly how he arrived at the conclusion that the date May 21, 2011 marks the Earth being 7,000 years old. His error was not difficult to find. In the opening paragraphs on his web page, he states that based upon his personal Bible studies, the Great Flood which swept the Earth in Noah's day occurred in the year 4990 BC. That date -- which intentionally makes his prediction fit what he has chosen to believe -- is incorrect; based not only upon my own Biblical studies, but upon the studies of many other Bible scholars and students as well.

For the record, many such people -- myself included -- place the date of Creation at approximately 4000 BC. As I explain in the article called "The Earth Is Under 7,000 Years Old!", my personal calculations -- which are based upon Biblical genealogies and other events in the Bible, as well as upon historical data -- convince me that Noah was born when the Earth was just about 1,056 years old. The Bible informs us that the Flood occurred some five hundred years later -- when Noah was five hundred years old -- when the Earth was about 1,556 years old.

Now, using simple math -- and rounded figures for the sake of simplicity -- if 4000 BC was the date of Creation, that means that the Great Flood would have occurred about 1,556 years later, at which time the date would have been 2,444 BC, and not anywhere near 4990 BC as Harold Camping claims. Observe the following simple mathematical equation:

4000 BC - 1,556 years = 2444 BC

In contrast, based upon his personal beliefs, Camping had to juggle numbers and dates so that the current year -- 2011 -- would mark the completion of 7,000 years of Earth history, as well as the beginning of the Millennial Rule of Jesus Christ. Thus, by placing the Great Flood at 4990 BC, it seems that he simply did the following:

4990 BC to year 0 = 4,990 years
year 0 to 2011 AD = 2,011 years
4,990 + 2,011 = 7,001 years since the Flood

Thus, according to Harold Camping, this year would mark the first year of the new millennium, which would herald Christ's Return, and the beginning of His Millennial Rule on Earth; at least that is the way that I understand what I read on his website a number of months ago. Obviously, I cannot remember everything that I read at that time, but that is the gist of it. On a side note, please note that I haven't updated "The Earth Is Under 7,000 Years Old!" in many years, and it no doubt requires a good update. Nevertheless, most of what it states is still valid information, if you wish to consider reading it.

But concerning misguided "prophets" such as Harold Camping, who preach specific dates or years for Christ's Return, let me again refer you to my five-part series "Sorry . . . Jesus Is Not Coming At Any Moment!". Three other related articles which come to mind which also touch on the topic of false prophets are the following:

The Office Of A Prophet
Modern False Prophets And Worldly Ecumenism
Elijah: Where Are the True Prophets?

What I find mind-boggling is the fact that even though Harold Camping was humbled and humiliated and fell flat on his face regarding his May 21st predictions, he hasn't quite given up on his "prophetic ministry". Camping now insists that he was just confused regarding some of his earlier interpretations, and claims that May 21st was actually an "invisible judgment day" which only occurred in the Realm of the Spirit. I would respect the man more if he would just say "I was wrong." So what does he now believe concerning his end-of-the-world predictions?

According to Camping's latest interpretations, the physical destruction of Planet Earth will now occur on October 21st, without a lead-up time of five months, which supposedly was to have been marked by global calamities, according to his earlier predictions. For those of you who are not familiar with the Book of Revelation, while I haven't delved deeply into Mr. Camping's teachings, I am assuming that he derived the five-month period from the following verses that can be found in Revelation chapter nine:

"And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he striketh a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them. And the shapes of the locusts were like unto horses prepared unto battle; and on their heads were as it were crowns like gold, and their faces were as the faces of men. And they had hair as the hair of women, and their teeth were as the teeth of lions. And they had breastplates, as it were breastplates of iron; and the sound of their wings was as the sound of chariots of many horses running to battle. And they had tails like unto scorpions, and there were stings in their tails: and their power was to hurt men five months."
Revelation 9:5-10, KJV

Concerning the physical destruction of the Earth by fire, as I mention in a number of my own articles which deal with the end of this present world, Mr. Camping probably had verses such as the following in mind:

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless."
2 Peter 3:9-14, KJV

So while some of Harold Camping's beliefs seem to have at least a partial Scriptural basis -- at least in a twisted sort of way -- nevertheless, like many other people, both Christian and non-Christian alike, I am left flabbergasted by his recent remarks, which he shared in a 90-minute speech that was broadcast online, as well as via his Family Radio Network. The fact of the matter remains that Mr. Camping has now struck out twice with his 1994 prediction, as well as with his May 21st prediction. Should we really expect any different from his October 21st prediction? Just wait until you hear what the Comet Elenin folks are saying regarding September and October of this year!

Allow me to again share with my readers a few verses that are found in the Old Testament, which deal with the office of a Prophet:

"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. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."
Deuteronomy 18:20-22, KJV

"And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them."
Ezekiel 33:33, KJV

So there we see a clear contrast between a true Prophet of God, and a false prophet who is motivated by his own pride and vanity. In your opinion, which one does Harold Camping seem to represent? If not the former, then pray tell why.

At this point, one of the things which is of concern to me -- that is, aside from how Harold Camping's blunders will affect the overall perception of our Christian faith -- is how his followers will choose to react to his very obvious prophetic missteps. Obviously, as a result of my own former affiliations with a cult-like organization, I have a rather clear idea regarding how some of Camping's followers will probably choose to react. Allow me to share with you a few excerpts from some of my earlier articles where I discuss these issues. In part two of my 2010 series entitled "2012: New Age Deception And Psychobabble" I note the following:

----- Begin Quote -----

"This is a common reaction with cults and other manipulative groups. In other words, when a leader is exposed as a false prophet, the more dedicated followers will simply forgive him for his blunders, wash over his mistakes, and they will continue to place their faith in his writings, until the time arrives for them to purchase his next book, which many of them will gladly do."

----- End Quote -----

In part nine of my updated 1997 nineteen-part series entitled "Nature of the Alien : ETs, Demons or a Government Plot?" I also state the following:

----- Begin Quote -----

"As I already said, we have heard of similar predictions like these for decades, from many self-proclaimed prophets, seers, psychics and contactees. Every single one of them has failed. Of course, as is usually the case, the leader offers a vague explanation which satisfies the most devoted followers, and they continue living in their state of delusion. Sometimes, the date for the predicted UFO landing is moved up, or else the followers are told that by our own decisions, we humans have helped to change the course of events. This is exactly what occurred with the Nibiru prediction. Supposedly, Nibiru was going to arrive in 2003; now it is 2012, according to a few websites that I have visited."

"In short, a plausible excuse for failure is always provided. The psychic, prophet, seer or channeler must maintain their credibility with their followers at all cost; and the blind followers are usually quick to forgive their leader. I speak from personal experience, and have observed this firsthand. So these people who make predictions of massive UFO landings on a certain date, or who say that Jesus will be coming back in a particular year, or who claim that such-and-such will happen on a specified date, are committing a grave mistake; and it may in fact end up being their own grave, if they are proven to be wrong."

----- End Quote -----

So while some of Harold Camping's current followers are no doubt very disappointed, confused, wondering what to do, and in some cases are probably contemplating abandoning the man due to his previous failed predictions -- if they have not already done so -- nevertheless, there will be a core group of followers who will maintain undying faith in Camping's words and predictions, because they are just that deceived, and absolutely nothing will persuade them otherwise. As I responded to an individual who made a comment on the Bill's Bible Basics Blog, while it may surprise some people, despite his rather obvious prophetic errors, the possibility exists that Harold Camping will continue making misguided prophecies and interpretations. If his 1994 false predictions did not sway or deter him, and if his May 21, 2011 false predictions did not stop him in his tracks, why should we expect him to desist from his foolishness now? Will October 21st make any difference? We shall soon find out.

Please go to part two for the continuation of this series.

⇒ Go To The Next Part . . .

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