The Christ in Prophecy Journal

Harold Camping: Playing With Numbers

Harold Camping


Harold Camping, owner of the Family Radio Network who has set the date for the Lord’s return at May 21, 2011, is a former engineer, and as such, he loves to play with numbers. They are an obsession with him.

The best example is a mathematical formula he discovered that absolutely convinced him that he is correct in dating the end of the Church Age to May 21, 1988. He treats this formula in his writings as if it has eclipsed the world’s previously most important equation — namely, E=MC2. You had better sit down. Here’s how it goes:

  1. From the time of the crucifixion on April 11, 33 AD (a date that is not agreed upon by scholars) to May 21, 2011 is a total of 722,500 days.
  2. The number 722,500 is made up of two sets of an identical series of numbers: 5x10x17 x 5x10x17 = 722,500.
  3. Now, since the number 5 stands for atonement (Says who?) and 10 stands for perfection (Since when?) and 17 stands for Heaven (Give me a break!), this formula means, “Atonement has been completed for Heaven,” and it is repeated twice for emphasis.

And if that silliness is not enough, Camping points to another calculation of his that he says validates his date for the Rapture. He states that the Noahic Flood occurred in 4990 BC (most Evangelical scholars place it from 2500 to 2300 BC!). He then points out that the time span from 4990 BC to 2011 is exactly 7,000 years.

Even if this were true, what would it prove? Well, Camping says that when Noah preached that Mankind had 7 days to escape the destruction (Genesis 7:4), he was really saying that Mankind had 7,000 years of existence left, since to God a thousand years is as a day. Once again, we find allegorical interpretation running amok!

In the next part of this series examining the madness of Harold Camping’s date-setting, we’ll look at the Bible verses that ultimately challenge Camping’s set date.

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Dr. David Reagan

Dr. David Reagan is the Founder and Evangelist Emeritus of Lamb & Lion Ministries. He is a life-long Bible student, teacher, and preacher and he led over 45 pilgrimages to Israel. Dr. Reagan was the host of the radio then television program Christ in Prophecy for nearly 40 years.

8 CommentsLeave a Comment

  • most pastors and preachers tho wont openly admit it have an inner contempt for prophecy. I was at a church in the foyer doing some writing (I'm working on a booklet dealing with an overview of prophecy for some friends)and some Guy I know comes to me and says"what are you studying? not revelation I hope"I paused a second, smiled then went off for 15 minutes on the importance of prophecy. (this Guy did not know I was into prophecy) the reason (one of them anyway)the church has such a contemptuous attitude about prophecy is people like this camping dude. every time I mention prophecy I hear about the sensationalist. I'm already having to do damage control

  • Nonsense like this damages weaker believers and often gets them to stop following prophecy entirely. They often don't realize that just because some man was setting dates that it means he had any right to. (Though I'm still hoping for the Rapture soon! I don't wanna be here anymore!)

  • Is your contention that numbers in the Bible cannot have any meaning? Isn't it common knowledge that 17 has something to do with heaven? There's even a secular music group called Heaven 17. I don't agree with Harold Camping's progressive revelations, but i don't reject his notion that numbers can have meaning.

  • I was at a retreat and a lady mentioned something about not wanting to hear about it and I asked why if approximately 25% of the Bible is about it, how can you just ignore it? But sadly the church I attended for years had a pastor that said he had no reason to preach on it because until the Word had been preached to all the world, we didn't need to be concerned with it. When he taught Revelations, it was approached to learn how to worship only. I was so saddened by that attitude. The church I am in now is warning people that the time is short and we have to be ready… I am very pleased about that! We can't ignore the warnings just because it makes us uncomfortable. And besides, we are to be waiting and watching for the bridegroom and the wedding of the church and the wedding feast and that is not a scary event! It depends on what is your focus… we need our eyes on Jesus.
    C~ in Salem

  • c in Salem…you just described almost every church in America, my church also used revelation as an approach to worship. (tho I is indeed a book on worship it's also prophecy )

  • Hartdawg, I honestly wonder if the real reason they don't preach on it, is because they have not even tried to study it or learn what the Word says about it. Makes me wonder what the Bible colleges are teaching them. Sad as they are the watchmen on the walls too.
    C~in Salem

  • Anyway,Camping forgot to adjust the date to account for the Julian/ Gregorian conversion in the year 1582, when Pope Gregory adjusted the calendar to synchronize the solsitces, taking off eleven days. So, the day after October 4, 1582 was October 15. How does this effect the count? So, the Return of Christ would really be about May 10, 2011. But I guess HC was not intelligent enough to realize this.


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