Today is May 21. The six p.m. deadline has passed, and at last report the rapture has not occurred. Some are embarrassed, some are elated, some are confused, some are amused; some mock and others are angry. For sure, it must be a difficult time for Harold Camping and his followers. But what about Christians who believe the Bible is true, who believe that Jesus Christ will return at the hour of God’s choosing? It is easy to feel frustration because our faith is being mocked by people around the globe and around the block. How does God want us to respond?
Our first response should be one of compassion. Camping is right in warning that judgment will come, though he was completely wrong to predict the time. Those who have taken this opportunity to mock and scoff at God will still face judgment. In fact, a precursor of Judgment Day has already happened for all of those who have died doubting God this day. Those who continue to doubt and mock should take no comfort that Harold Camping doesn’t understand the Bible. God will still deal with them. This is certainly a compelling reason to have compassion for the lost. “God is not mocked!” Paul reminds us in Galatians. The people who are holding failed-rapture parties this evening will one day see their mocking turn into sheer terror, as they face an eternity of torment. We should remember this and pray for those who are lost.
Some people will choose to mock Christians because of Camping’s failed prophecy. Perhaps some of this ridicule and scoffing will be directed at you. If this happens, take heart! The God of Heaven is not intimidated by the foolish words of the mocker. As Nebuchadnezzar declares in Daniel 4, God is able to humble those who walk in pride.
Secondly, we should not live as though we are entitled to tomorrow. Tomorrow will come for each of us only if God determines to make it happen. We live and breathe at God’s pleasure, not our own. This is a good day to consider that one day judgment will occur. It will be glorious, terrifying, wonderful, joyous and sad all at the same time. The coming of Christ will bring profound, unspeakable joy for those who know him. For those who do not, for those who have mocked him, no words can describe the dread and fear they will experience. The world attempts to live as if Judgment Day is as real as Harold Camping’s prophesies. That is not a good idea. Yet, far too often, Christians also live as though God will not bring judgment. We live as if this world is all there is. We raise our children to think that what is most important is earning the favor of a world that thinks judgment will never happen. Textbooks do not warn of judgment; sports teams only care about preparing for next season. Financial security is proclaimed to give peace of mind. But the Bible teaches something totally different. God is a God who will have no other gods before him. Remember the question asked to the rich and foolish farmer in Luke 12? “This night your soul is required of you and then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” God wants you and your children to be rich towards God and not rich towards the praise of this world.
The world has chosen not to live in fear of God. The world may use Harold Camping as a reason to dismiss God. But these things should not deter Christians from their mission to live for the glory of God. May we develop a deep compassion that leads us to reach out to the lost. Yes, Harold Camping was wrong. But God never is.