Judgment Day – May 21st – is Fast Approaching

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fred-deruvo-dir

Took my wife to San Francisco yesterday and on the way there and back, I saw numerous lighted billboards that reflect Harold Camping’s view on the return of Christ.  Mr. Camping has made these judgments before and was wrong.  Now, he has arrived at the May 21st day through a complicated set of math problems (Mr. Camping was an engineer before he began Family Bible Radio).  He states that in his attempts to narrow down the date of Jesus’ return before, his math was wrong.  Apparently now, his math is correct.

I guess we’ll know for sure in a few days whether or not he did the math correctly.  The problem though goes much deeper than any math problem.  It goes to the heart of the matter and the idea that in spite of the FACT that Jesus said in no uncertain terms that no one would know the day or hour (cf. Matthew 24; Luke 21), people have been trying to figure it out for centuries.

Way back during the time of Noah, not even Noah knew when he would be told by God to take his family and himself and get in the Ark.  Noah was not aware of it until God said, “Okay Noah, time to go.  Get in the Ark and I’ll seal it up from the outside.”

I also note that in the narrative of Noah’s Ark (Genesis 6-11), there is no record of Noah trying to figure it out either.  Yet, over the centuries, there have been plenty of people who seem to think that either Jesus was lying or He meant something else entirely when He said that no one knows the day or hour.  Jesus even went so far as to say that He did not know the day or hour, but only the Father in heaven.  Obviously, Jesus is referring to His humanity here because in His deity, He knows everything.

{pub}To read this entire article you need to become a PZ Insider http://tinyurl.com/Become-A-PZ-Insider {/pub}{author}He made the statement – that no one including Himself knows the times, day or hour of His own return – while here on earth, as a Man (though still fully God).  He was speaking from that humanity in making that comment.

People like Harold Camping however, apparently believe that it is fine for them to try to figure things out for themselves, as if God the Father will allow that to happen.  Camping is not the first one to do that either.

In the late 1800s, William Miller said that Jesus would return during the year 1844.  It did not happen and many people were left confused, frustrated, and finished with religion.  Some of them went on to form Seventh-day Adventism and Ellen G. White because one of the leaders there.

Though Jesus did not physically return and the event became known as the Great Disappointment, the theology of Investigative Judgment was born.  This teaches hat Jesus entered into the Holy of Holies within the heavenly Temple, after October 22, 1844 and began judgment His people.  “The purpose of this judgment is to vindicate the saints before the onlooking universe, to prepare them for Christ’s imminent Second Coming, and to demonstrate God’s righteous character in His dealings with humanity. This judgment will also separate true believers from those who falsely claim to be ones.” [1]

It should be acknowledged that beginning with Desmond Ford, at least some of the substance of this theology was changed (and because of it, Ford was dismissed from Seventh-day Adventism).  However, in spite of the fact that as late as 1980, the basic theology of Investigative Judgment was reaffirmed by leaders within Seventh-day Adventism, many progressive adherents of SDA do not necessarily subscribe to this doctrine.

There’s good reason not to subscribe to it since there is nothing in Scripture that supports this view and in fact, there are many areas of Scripture that certainly deny the plausibility of Investigative Judgment.  When Jesus died on the cross, all who trust in Him and His finished work on the cross have their sins – past, present, and future – dealt with forever.  There are too many places in Scripture that discuss this – Romans, Ephesians, Galatians, the letters of Peter, the letters of Paul to the Corinthians, etc.

Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were fully complete in and of themselves to judge sin and fully cancel (not merely cover) all sin for those who trust in Him.  When the Christian stands before the Lord at the BEMA judgment seat, it will NOT be to determine whether or not that individual is saved.  That is a foregone conclusion based on Jesus’ atonement and representative faith evidenced by His followers.  The BEMA seat is solely to determine which crowns, if any beyond salvation, are rewarded to the believer.

So what does this have to do with Harold Camping?  The reality is that often when people start to think that they have come up with a method that reveals the time of the Second Coming, there is usually more going on behind the scenes with those individuals.

William Miller was an individual who began calling people out of their churches to follow him.  Harold Camping has been doing the same thing.  Miller was also an individual who believed that in many ways, the true Church has replaced Israel.  Camping believes the same and has said as much on his radio program and in his writings.  He believes that Jesus is not only completely finished with Israel, but that those who claim to be Christians must come out of their current church to start home Bible groups.  He believes this, because like Miller, he believes that the current church is corrupt and needs refining and purification.

Unfortunately, while this type of theology often caters to the concerns and worries of the average Christian, it is fully incorrect in my view.  The second chapter of Ephesians clearly states our CURRENT position in Jesus and it should be noted that this position is gained by what Jesus has done, not what we have done.  If we do anything, we merely believe that Jesus is who He says He is and did what He came to do in order to provide us the opportunity to be free of the kingdom of darkness, in order to enter His glorious Kingdom of Light.  Jesus did it all.  He paid the price.  We merely see the truth and embrace that truth.  This is far from easy-believism.  It is life changing at every turn once we grasp the reality of who Jesus is and what He accomplished for us.

Harold Camping and others who continue to pick dates of Jesus’ return do a huge disservice for Christendom.  Since Camping has chosen dates before and came up wrong, he became false teacher or false prophet.  Because of that, no one should listen to him anymore, but the sad fact is that there are too many people who do not read the Bible for themselves to know what His Word says.

I have spent some time listening to Harold Camping during times when people will call in and ask him questions.  The sad part is that whatever he says, people accept as truth.  I have heard him make extremely simple mistakes based on his lack of contextual understanding.  Yet he preaches it as if it is truth.

Here is what I have come to believe.  Those who arrive at the position that God is completely finished with Israel are 100% wrong (in my opinion).  Because of this, they are fully unable to see things from God’s perspective.  They do not see that things are unfolding according to Ezekiel 38-39, or Daniel 9 and 11.  They don’t see it.

When they read the text of God’s Word and the angel is speaking to Daniel or Ezekiel (or some other OT prophet) and says that he (the angel) is referring to that prophet’s people, we should understand the angel to mean the Israelites or Jews.  People like Camping, Miller, and too many others to note, read those same words and understand the angel to be talking about the followers of Jesus because they believe that the Church has replaced Israel and so the Church is in view.

Though these folks would deny doing so, they are guilty of changing the meaning of God’s Holy Word to mean something it does not.  Once they begin making mistakes along these lines, it naturally progresses to include other mistakes.

It reminds me of one person I know who was/is an ordained minister.  During counseling sessions, he would offer advice to folks and that advice – at least in my view – was not in keeping with Scripture.  For instance, one couple was living together.  They were planning on marrying and they claimed to be Christians.  The pastor I refer to here said that as long as they were sleeping in separate beds, they were fine and should not worry.  Really?  What about 1 Thessalonians 5:22 that without equivocation tells Christians to avoid even the appearance of evil?  Was this couple doing that?  Not at all.  Were they glorifying Jesus or glorifying themselves?

If neighbors saw then and knew that they professed to be Christians, what would the neighbor think?  While it is true that they may not have been doing anything physically wrong, the fact that they lived together gave the wrong message and could very well have brought dishonor to Jesus.  The pastor though said nothing about this.

On another occasion, a women went to him because her chest was in pain.  My first stop would have been a doctor, but that’s just me.  During prayer, the pastor laid his hands on her breasts because that is where the pain emanated from!  I note that even Peter when he prayed for Dorcas, did NOT lay on top of her, but kneeled down beside her bed and prayed! Read about it in Acts 9.

We may recall Elisha in 2 Kings 4 who prayed for a young boy who had died.  During the process and AFTER he had prayed for the boy, Elisha then stretched himself on top of the young boy, put his own mouth to the boy’s mouth, his eyes on the boy’s eyes, hands on his hands, etc., and soon the boy’s body became warm because life had flowed back into him.

I find it very difficult to believe that Elisha would have done this if a young girl had been involved.  It is my view that this is why Elisha prayed FIRST and it was because of that prayer that Elisha then laid his body on top of the boy’s body.  Remember also, the boy was actually dead at this point.

There are all sorts of people in this world who claim to be Christian.  They teach things that are not in sync with Scripture and often people get completely hung up on one legalistic viewpoint.  I know people who firmly believe that drinking any type of alcohol is absolutely wrong.  They believe that when Paul told Timothy to have a bit of wine for his stomach, not just water (cf. 1 Timothy 5), he was telling him to drink grape juice and as some try to assert grape juice is better for your stomach than (fermented) wine.  Science tells us otherwise, but why argue? Wine has been shown to actually improve heart health (done in complete moderation).  Grape juice does not.

I don’t drink anyway, so it does not affect me at all.  However, to use so much energy trying to prove that when Jesus made wine, He actually made grape juice is a complete waste of time in my view.  He made wine and it was likely the best tasting wine that was ever created!

I could list any number of oddball theologies that come from people who spend too much time ignoring the obvious biblical truth and going off on tangents for something else.  History shows that it is usually the person who has a view of Israel that (again, in my view), is not in keeping with the pure and absolute meaning of Scripture, that they begin to wander off in other areas as well.

In the case of Camping, he leans toward Amillennialism (meaning: no millennium), Covenant Theology and dabbles in numerology, which is nothing more than the belief in an esoteric connection between numbers and physical objects or living things.  This is likely the “math” he used to determine that May 21st is the correct date of Jesus’ return.

In spite of clear direction to the contrary with Jesus saying no one will know the day or hour, Camping has at least told us the day of Jesus’ return.  Should we take Camping’s word for it or think of him as someone who has gone off on his own, leaving truth behind him?

In either case, it will be interesting to hear the excuse put forth when May 21st comes and goes and…nothing.  I can hear it now:  “The Lord DID return…spiritually and is now judging people,” OR “This is merely a reminder that we should live every day as if that was the day Jesus would be returning!”  To the latter I agree wholeheartedly.  If that was the point, then it should have been stated like that.

Time will tell what most seem to know.  Harold Camping is out there on his own branch and it is breaking under his weight.

fred-deruvo-dir

By Fred DeRuvo

[1] “Fundamental Beliefs“. Retrieved 2006-04-20.

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