In the wake of Harold Camping and Family Radio's recent failed predictions, we got to thinking about what we can know about the end of the world and the great day of judgment. Mr. Camping's prediction is just the latest in what is a long line of such hypotheses that have been submitted throughout the centuries.
Among the many problems with such predictions is the over-stepping into areas in which the Bible does not speak -- a classic example of what God's word means by the following statement: "The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law" (Deuteronomy 29:29). Mr. Camping and others purport to know things from the Bible, and yet a search of the Scriptures turn up no such information.
So, what does the Bible tell us we can know about judgment day?
- It will happen (Matthew 12:36-37; Hebrews 9:27)
- We will not be able to miss it...it will not be invisible (Revelation 1:7)
- It will be a sad day for some (Matthew 13:41-42)
- It will be a happy day for some (Matthew 25:23)
Yes, more could be mentioned with more details about certain sights and sounds of the judgment. The Bible does, in fact, speak of trumpets and the dead being raised; but is there really anything more important than the four items mentioned above?
Despite Harold Camping's attempt at calculating the day of judgment (and the thousands of similar attempts that preceded), the word of God makes it abundantly clear that we cannot know the time of Christ's return and the judgment of the world (Matthew 24:36). The Bible describes this as a day that will come "as a thief in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:2). Thieves operate based on the element of surprise. They do not make a habit of telling their victims the specific time -- or even a general timeframe -- in which they will break in steal! It is impossible for anyone except God to know the time of Christ's return and judgment of this world.
Instead of spending valuable time trying to make fruitless guesses and impossible calculations, why not use that time to open the Bible and read what it actually says? If we will all do that and be committed to both hearing and obeying, we will all be better equipped to "make our calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10) as well as being more capable of teaching the gospel accurately to others.