Can you make sense of Harold Camping’s end time scenario?
On Saturday, October 8, 2011, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of Blessings to Israel Ministries on their “God First” program. During the hour long interview we discussed the many failed attempts of date-setters to declare an accurate date for the Lord’s return, especially concerning Harold Camping as his October 21, 2011, end of the world deadline approaches.
Brian Thomas: Let’s now talk about Harold Camping’s end time scenario. It is quite intriguing, or I guess I could call it sort of a” mad scientist” way of an end time scenario. Can you explain his time line and how he perceives things transpiring with end time events?
Nathan Jones: You are asking a lot of me, Brian! It’s kind of like going into an insane asylum and trying to make some understanding of the ramblings of a crazy man. Fortunately, Dr. David Reagan the founder and director of our ministry here at Lamb & Lion has done a lot of research into this and if you go to our website at lamblion.com and see the great article he wrote on this. He tries to make sense of that nonsense and he is a better man than me because I had a hard time going through it. So, instead of trying to repeat it into my own words, if I may I’m just going to read the five part of his end times scenario directly and let folks make sense of it themselves. We will all be scratching our heads by the end!
- The Church Age ended on May 21, 1988 and the Tribulation began that day.
- Between May 21, 1988 and September 6, 1994, the first six years of the Tribulation, almost no one was saved.
- On September 6, 1994, God began to pour out His Spirit. This will result in a great end time harvest of souls during the last years of the Tribulation.
- Since the Tribulation will last 8,400 days or 23 years, dating from May 21, 1988, the Rapture will occur on May 21, 2011.
- Those left behind will be judged by Jesus for a period of five months, until October 21, 2011, at which time the world will come to an end.
Nathan Jones: To summarize, the first thing Camping says in his end time scenario is that the Church Age which we are living in now ended on May 21, 1988. He claims that was the day in which the Tribulation began. Even after 1988, he clings to that date and says that rather than a real thing happening, it was spiritual. So, the Church Age has ended — surprise! We were pretty young then, Brian, when the Tribulation began. We have been living in the Tribulation all this time and haven’t even realized it.
Camping also says May 21, 1988, until September 6, 1994, was the first six year of the Tribulation. Now, the Tribulation for him isn’t seven years long like the Bible says; it is 23 years to him. He also said no one was saved between ’88 and ’94. I worked at a Christian camp in 1993 up in Alaska, wonderful place, and I saw many, many kids come to the Lord, so his claim is total bunk.
Anyway, on September 6, 1994, Camping said God then turned around and again began to poor out His Spirit on the world so that we would have a great end time harvest of souls during the last days of this Tribulation we are supposedly living in. So, according to Camping, we’ve gotten six years of just nobody getting saved, and then all of a sudden God is pouring out His blessing and people are getting saved. Why, I have to ask?
The fourth part of his end time scenario is that the Tribulation would last 23 years. He takes the 84 months of Revelation 11:2 and 13:5 and says that 84 months of Tribulation is really 8,400 days, and that is where he comes up with his May 21, 1988, day for the rapture occurring, which we know it didn’t.
Finally, after the Rapture Camping says that those left behind will be judged by Jesus for a period of five months, which will end on October 21, 2011. That is the date you and I are talking about. So, for the last five months since May, Jesus is judging us — right now!
How Camping can explain his five months of judging when we can go to the Bible and read about the Sheep-Goat Judgment portrayed in Matthew 25:31-46. This passage tells us that Jesus will literally be on the earth at the end of the Tribulation and He then separates the good people which he calls sheep and who have accepted Him as their Savior from the people who have rejected Him as Savior which are goats. The goats God sends to Hades to await the final Great White Throne Judgment. The saved “sheep” people get to live on into the Millennial Kingdom. For Camping to ignore all of that and figure that instead Jesus will come to judge and end the earth, well it’s a different thing than what the Bible says will happen. To think that supposedly this very day up until October 21st Jesus is judging us and that the world will literally end this month. Remember that it’s not this October that Camping is saying Jesus will come back, rather he is saying the earth will end this month.
Brian Thomas: Absolute nonsense, without a doubt! That’s why again as you all state at Lamb & Lion Ministries, “When the plain sense makes sense, look for no other sense, or else you have nonsense.”
Nathan Jones: Exactly!
Brian Thomas: Well, better you trying to go through Camping’s end time scenario than me, because my head has been spinning from the time I first looked at it.
Nathan Jones: Indeed, the scenario is crazy. The problem with it is simple, like we said earlier, Camping takes the biblical numbers and just assigns random meanings to them. So, even if you look at his calculations and try to figure them out, you couldn’t without some kind of index that tells you what each of these numbers must mean. When you see these numbers so taken out of context and transformed, you have to scratch you head and ask, “What could these numbers possibly mean?” Then you have to put all those meanings to the dates. Like you said, the numbers make your head spin. They just make no sense whatsoever. You might as well read the ramblings of a crazy man for it would mean just as much.
Brian Thomas: Right, exactly!
End of the Church Age: May 21, 1988
Brian Thomas: How did Harold Camping arrive at his date of May 21, 1988? He claims as you stated that was the end of the Church Age. How did he come to the conclusion that the Church Age ended in 1988?
Nathan Jones: Oh, that is just as convoluted as his other calculations. Again, he took Daniel 8:14 where it tells about the 2,300 days which was fulfilled by Antiochus Epiphanies and he just goes ahead and takes the word “days” and says they must be years. He just runs with years for no reason! He comes up with this theory from Daniel 8:14 that it will be 2,300 years which he believes started in 457 BC until when he thinks the Temple will be cleansed, meaning the purging of the earth by fire at the Second Coming of Jesus. If you calculate 2,300 years from 457 BC you get all the way up to 1994 which is when he claims is the re-establishment of the first Year of Jubilee.
The institution of the first Year of Jubilee is the very key to Campings entire thinking. You remember that from when Joshua crossed the Jordan River, every 50 years after that the Lord declared that Israel needed to celebrate a Year of Jubilee. That year would be when people would give their land back to the original owners and forgive each other’s debts, and so Israel would have this cleansing so to speak every 50 years. Well, Harold Camping looked at Israel becoming a nation again in 1948 and decided that the Year of Jubilee would be 50 years after that. So, get this, for a guy who loves math so much, he came up with 1994. Now, even I can calculate that 50 years after 1948 would be what? 1998! So, for some reason 1994 is the Year of Jubilee to Harold Camping and that is when the Lord began to pour out His Spirit and save people after a dry spell.
To summarize, Camping has said then that the last part of the Tribulation will be identified by a great multitude which will be saved and that is because the Year of Jubilee happens. The first 2,300 days of Daniel which he says are really 23 years would place the Tribulation from 1994 to 2011. Then he comes up with this idea that well since the Church was established on the Day of Pentecost, then the day before Pentecost must mean that is the last day of the Church Age, and that is where he gets May 21st for 2011 being the day of this year for the Lord’s return. So, we put that all together and we get the Tribulation beginning May 21, 1988, until the Rapture occurs (occurred?) on May 21, 2011. So, according to Harold Camping, we have been actually living in the Tribulation since 1988.
Brian Thomas: That’ll make your head spin. There really is no other way to respond to that.
Return of Christ: May 21, 2011
Camping seems to love the day of the 21st. We can see that pattern pretty clearly at least. It brings us to his scenario of this year May 21, 2011, being the date for the Rapture of the Church. After his first prediction in 1994 failed, he then came up with May 21, 2011. How did he come up with that date? Before you answer that question, now is probably a good time for a clip of a CBS News Report that was given three days prior to his May 21st prediction:
Harold Camping: You and I are living at the time of the end of the world.
Reporter: 89 year old Harold Camping says his 70 year study of the Bible leads him to believe God will destroy the earth starting May 21st, 2011.
Harold Camping: There is going to be a huge earthquake that is going to make the big earthquake in Japan seem like a Sunday School picnic.
Reporter: The founder of Family Radio in Oakland heard in 48 different languages around the globe has begun a worldwide multi-million dollar campaign to let people know… billboards up all around the US and several other countries. An atheist group calls it a crock and has begun a counter campaign with billboards denouncing the prediction and plan to party hard that day.
Harold Camping: To be candid about it, I am kind of happy for it because it calls attention to us.
Reporter: There is the Mayan prediction of a world ender coming in 2012. Hollywood gave that a big PR bump with a movie. A joke says Camping who has also gone into the multi-media business has a cartoon to help parents explain it to the kids.
Cartoon: This date —May 21, 2011 — is extremely important as it will also be the first Day of Judgment, a time of horrible death and destruction for all those who are left behind.
Man: Just in case this doesn’t happen, can we do an interview with you the next day?
Harold Camping: It is absolutely going to happen. There is no way I could schedule an interview because I won’t be here.
Brian Thomas: So, there you have it from the mouth of Harold Camping himself. So again, my question is how did he come up with this date of May 21, 2011?
Nathan Jones: The Bible gives us a lot of detail concerning the length of the Tribulation. The length of the Tribulation is seven years long, described in a variety of ways as “one seven” year block (Dan. 9:27), half called “times, time and half a time” (Rev. 12:14), consisting of two “1260 days” periods (Rev. 11:3), or two “42 month” periods (Rev. 11:2; 13:5). So, the Bible in many different ways of telling us that the Tribulation will only last 84 months total, or for a total of seven years exactly, if you take the months as 30 day months which is typical of the Hebrew calendar.
Instead, Camping takes the 84 months and he tacks on two zeros and says it is instead 8,400 days to make the Tribulation 23 years long, not seven years long. The Rapture Camping said would occur May 21, 2011, because that is the 23 years of the Tribulation which he predicted would begin on May 21, 1988. See how he created that first wrong date and now he is building his entire math on that wrong date and producing even more wrong dates? He is just compounding the problem with his calculations.
For those who do not know what this Tribulation we’re talking about is, it’s a seven year timespan reserved for the judgment of God. He promised in the Bible that He is going to pour out his judgment on the earth, 21 different judgments to be exact, to shock people into turning back to Him. Believers in Christ who are the Church won’t be here for the Tribulation. We will be raptured. The scriptures containing 1 Thessalonians 4:17 says we will be caught up and we will be taken away to Heaven. The old Latin word is rapio where we get the term Rapture. We will be taken up to Heaven so we won’t be here to suffer through the Tribulation.
For those seven years the earth will face a punishing judgment. Half of the world population will be destroyed during just the first 3 1/2 years. Most of the ecology will be destroyed until Jesus returns. It will also be a terrible time of persecution on the world, especially for the Jews, which will open the eyes of many Jews and turn them back to Christ. The Bible says a third of them will accept Jesus as Messiah.
Harold Camping says we are in for 23 years of Tribulation and technically it should have been over this May, but he got the number wrong. Now, I don’t know about you, but I haven’t seen comets falling from the sky poisoning the waters and turning it into blood. We haven’t seen massive world wars that have killed half the world population. We have had bad wars, but not that bad. We haven’t seen a one world ruler which the Bible calls the Antichrist come on the scene. We haven’t had all of the fresh water going bad. We don’t have plagues. The Bible even talks about demons being released and punishing people with stings for five months, which obviously hasn’t happened. Speaking of five months, it’s another date that Harold Camping runs with, too. Clearly, since 1988 we have not been living in this type of world chaos. Right there should tell people that his math is just totally wrong.
Brian Thomas: Absolutely! As you said, that goes along with how Harold Camping just loves to play with numbers. You mentioned earlier that he is former engineer and he has that in his background. He just loves to play with numbers and he combines that with Bible prophecy and he just throws all these crazy scenarios out there. I guess he is able to convince some people because obviously he has a large following. Camping has these numbers that on the surface look like they make some sense, and so people just accept his calculation and accept what he says and they go along with it.
Nathan Jones: You hit the nail on the head, Brian. Because most people cringe at the math, we just accept them. It is interesting by faith we accept Christ as Savior and that is great because He is perfect and He is God, but to do that with people and have 100% faith in people that have been proven wrong in the past, you can’t have that kind of faith. I mean you can’t have that.
Using numbers to overwhelm people is just what Camping does. He is such a profound thinker and he has all this great math so that he overwhelms you. That is typical of a cult. They will overwhelm you with too much information, and you think, “Wow! This guy must be really smart. I can’t figure it out, but he’s got to have it right.” So, Camping’s followers put all their faith in him and they believe in whatever he says.
In the next part of this series “Deadline October 21,” Brian and I will put Harold Camping to the test to see if he is in truth a cult leader.