A full-page ad in USA today, 05/13 and 5/18 proclaims, “Judgment* Day is coming today, Saturday, May 21, with a worldwide earthquake beginning at 6 p.m.” . . . according to Harold Camping, the president of the Christian broadcaster Family Radio. * “Judgment” spelled this way in the ad) Could he be wrong? He wouldn't be the first. Here are five failed Judgment Day predictions.
1. October 22, 1844
Who: Samuel S. Snow, a preacher in the Millerite movement, led by the Baptist preacher William Miller How he came by this date: A prophesy in the Book of Daniel states "Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed" (Dan. 8:14). If you convert the days into years, and if you start in the year 457 BC – the year that Artaxerxes I of Persia decreed that that the city government of Jerusalem shall be re-established – then this takes you to 1844. Using the Karaite Jewish calendar, Snow pinned the date down to October 22. What actually happened: Thousands of people gave away all their possessions, only to be surprised when the world did not come to end, and the day came to be known as "The Great Disappointment." The Millerites splintered into several religious groups, the largest and most mainstream being the Seventh Day Adventists, and the smallest and most unconventional probably being the Branch Davidians. Millerism has also influenced the Bahá'í Faith.
Who: The Prophet Hen of Leeds, a domesticated fowl in Leeds, England, who in 1806 began laying eggs that bore the message "Christ is coming." How she came by that date: As you will see in the next paragraph, the answer is "the hard way." What actually happened: Charles Mackay's 1841 book, “Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds” describes it thus: "Great numbers visited the spot, and examined these wondrous eggs, convinced that the day of judgment was near at hand. Like sailors in a storm, expecting every instant to go to the bottom, the believers suddenly became religious, prayed violently, and flattered themselves that they repented them of their evil courses. But a plain tale soon put them down, and quenched their religion entirely. Some gentlemen, hearing of the matter, went one fine morning, and caught the poor hen in the act of laying one of her miraculous eggs. They soon ascertained beyond doubt that the egg had been inscribed with some corrosive ink, and cruelly forced up again into the bird’s body. At this explanation, those who had prayed, now laughed, and the world wagged as merrily as of yore."
3. December 21, 1954
Who: Dorothy Martin, a Chicago housewife and student of Dianetics, a set of practices developed by science fiction author L. Ron Hubbard. How she came by this date: Through automatic writing, Martin came in contact with beings from the planet Clarion, who told her that the world would be destroyed by flood and that the faithful would be rescued at midnight by flying saucers (or so she said). What actually happened: Martin's followers, many of whom quit their jobs and gave away their possessions, gathered in her home to await the aliens. (Martin's husband, a nonbeliever, slept upstairs through the whole thing.) To avoid being burned by the flying saucer, her followers removed all metal from their persons, including zippers and bra straps. Midnight came and went and the group became increasingly agitated. Finally, at 4:45 am, Martin said that she received another message from Clarions informing her that God was so impressed by her groups actions that He changed His mind and decided to spare the earth. The group was infiltrated by a psychologist named Leon Festinger, who used his observations to develop the theory of cognitive dissonance.
Who: Hal Lindsey, who has been continually predicting the end of the world since his 1970 book "The Late, Great Planet Earth," and who, in his 1996 book "Planet Earth 2000 A.D.: Will Mankind Survive?" wrote that Christians should not make any plans after the year 2000. How he came by this date: Probably the same method he used to calculate the date of the end of the world in his book "The 1980s: Countdown to Armageddon," which is now out of print. What actually happened: Despite his less-than-stellar track record, Lindsey is still at it. In 2008, he wrote a column for the conservative news site WorldNetDaily suggesting that Barack Obama is the Antichrist.
5. October or November 1982
Who: Pat Robertson, who in a 1980 broadcast of "The 700 Club" said "I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world."
The first thing I thought when I was surprised to find this one page ad in USA Today, last weekend edition was . . “We’re heard it before! Here we go again! . . . and the Bible says “No man knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return.” So, I’m, like you, skeptical before I read any of the article. I do respect the fact that this prophet and president of Christian Broadcaster Family Radio felt strongly enough about their conviction to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $130,000 for this full page, color ad . . . not to mention that they ran it at least one more time, Wednesday, May 18, which would have been at least another $120,000. $250,000 minimum under the “outreach” or “make aware” account on their church books. Understanding that they were willing to put their money where their mouth was . . . I read the fine smaller print of the ad.
My first response was addressed in the first of three columns . . . NO MAN KNOW THE DAY OR THE HOUR?
Column 2 . . . HAROLD CAMPING A PROPHET? and column 3 . . . CHRIST DID KNOW? Prophet Camping substantiates his claim from the assumption that the “unsaved” do not know the “day or the hour,” but 1 Cor 2:10-19, God hath revealed the true gospel unto us—“true believers.” He also says, “Noah knew when the flood would occur.” I believe God told Noah to build this thing called an “ark” and that it was going to rain . . . but God didn’t tell Noah the exact day that the weather forecast would predict “rain.” Okay, enough! I didn’t read beyond this point. I do realize that in the last days God would use prophesy . . .
But! . . . that in the last days many false Christs and prophets will 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 24:24).
Conclusion! Yes! The rapture could take place today! If so, it’s not because prophet Camping was lucky! I’ve been writing songs about for the last fifty years, but I’ve never been spiritually foolish as to predict a “specific date.” I do realize that every time prophets who have gotten the visibility that prophet Camping has gotten are wrong . . . they deteriorate the credibility of the Christian community to the non-believers who are even more convinced that “Christians” are flakey . . . and Christianity is not to be taken seriously! I’m sure that Satan and Hell enjoys all of the “flakey Christians” press that the Christian community gets from highlighting “Doomsday” prophecies that didn’t come to pass.
The important thing is to realize that we are living in the end times because of all of the signs given in scripture. We need to not concentrate on “selling all of our possessions” banking on a certain day . . . but 1) Be ready! Live ready! . . . for in a moment ye think not! and 2) Get the word out that “Jesus is coming! Untold millions, still untold! WE NEED TO tell them while there is still time. I do believe harvestime is upon us!
P.S. It is now 7 a.m., May 22nd, I haven’t check with the news media to see if “we’re all still here, or if there was a start of a “world-wide” earthquake last night at 6 p.m. EST. My guess is I may need to revise the list above to the last “six” failed predictions!, but I won’t revise my position on His coming! He still is! . . . and I need to live “ready” and tell the lost that they need to “get ready.”