Can We Know?

Text: Matthew 24:36-44


I.         A massive advertising campaign has started claiming that Jesus’ second coming and the Judgment Day will be on May 21, 2011.

            A.        Different billboard proclaim slogans, such as “The wise men knew, we can know” or “Noah knew, we can know.”

            B.        Most of us understand that this is just another in a long list of failed prophecies concerning the second coming.

                        1.         Steve Rudd has a list of 220 of them on his web site, including this one.

            C.        Yet, we are bound to be asked whether this one is real or not

                        1.         It was even on the front page of Friday’s paper (Omaha World Herald, December 3, 2010).

                        2.         It is important that we have an answer - I Peter 3:15

                        3.         Fraudulent predictions like this one undermine the credibility of Christianity.

                                    a.         If people think that this is what Christians believe and it doesn’t come true, then the conclusion is that Christians are either liars or deceived.

II.        The source for this latest claim is Harold Camping

            A.        Owns Family Radio broadcasting and it is featured heavily in all the advertising.

            B.        He published a book in 1992, titled “1994?” in which he claimed that Jesus would return in September, 1994.

                        1.         Clearly he was wrong - Deuteronomy 18:20-22

                        2.         In a move reminiscent of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, he re-interpreted his prediction to say that September 7, 1994 was the start of the saving of people outside the church.

                                    a.         Isn’t that what churches are about already?

            C.        Oh, in case you missed it, he also claimed that 1988 was the end of the church age and the beginning of the 23 years of great tribulation.

            D.        “After Jesus’ return in May, Evans said, the people remaining on Earth will have only until Oct. 21, ‘when the entire universe will be rolled up like a scroll and completely destroyed.” [Omaha World-Herald, 12/3/2010, p. 2A]

III.       Can we know?

            A.        What is skipped in the claims that “Noah knew, so we can know” is that Noah knew when the flood would come because God told him - Genesis 6:3

            B.        Contrast this to Jesus statement regarding the second coming - Matthew 24:36

            C.        To emphasis that point, Jesus gave illustrations - Matthew 24:44-51

            D.        For Mr. Camping to be right, you would have to conclude that Jesus didn’t know what he was talking about

                        1.         Of the two, Mr. Camping doesn’t register on the scale of credibility

IV.      Playing games

            A.        To conclude that Judgment Day is May 21, 2011, Mr. Camping plays numerous games with dates and numbers

            B.        The Old Testament time line is stretched from 4 to 5 thousand years to 13 thousand years.

                        1.         He justifies this stretching, claiming that the biblical dates don’t match commonly accepted archeological dates.

            C.        Using God’s warning in Genesis 7:4, Mr. Camping claims that God wasn’t talking about the flood but that Judgment is coming in seven thousand years.

                        1.         How does a week become a seven thousand years? - II Peter 3:8

                        2.         Peter did not say one day equals a thousand years. This is a statement that time doesn’t have the same meaning to the eternal God that is has to mortal man.

                        3.         God is eternal so a short period of time (a day) and a long period of time (a thousand years) are much the same to the God who lives in eternity.

            D.        How do you get to 2011?

                        1.         It hasn’t been 7,000 years since the flood. The best estimate is that the flood occurred about 2,300 years before Christ.

                        2.         That is where the stretched Old Testament time line comes into play. By claiming that the flood actually happened 4,990 years before Christ, 7,000 years later ends up at 2011.

            E.        Why May 21st?

                        1.         Using Genesis 7:10-11.

                        2.         The Hebrew calendar starts about mid-March, so two months and seventeen days later is May 21.

            F.        The Genesis verses are not prophecy, they are historical accounts of the past.

                        1.         He connects the two because of verses like Matthew 24:37

                        2.         But Jesus was discussing the attitudes of people in the two periods, not the time frames - Matthew 24:38-39

            G.        Hence, we have a made-up time period being applied to a fudged calendar to come up with the absolute date of Judgment!

                        1.         The day of the end is not knowable - Matthew 25:13

V.        But there is more

            A.        Camping even tells us how many will be saved:

                        1.         “We learn from the Bible that Holy God plans to rescue about 200 million people (that is about 3% of today’s population). On the first day of the Day of Judgment (May 21, 2011) they will be caught up (raptured) into Heaven because God had great mercy for them.”

                        2.         He doesn’t tell us how he came up with these numbers. I’m sure it is just as innovative as his date setting.

            B.        The problem of the righteous being taken up six months before the dead and the end of the world - I Thessalonians 4:15-17

            C.        The problem that only the good are raised - John 5:28-29

VI.      Should we worry?

            A.        Not a chance. Mr. Camping will be proven wrong, just as the frauds that preceded him.

            B.        Let’s heed Paul’s warning - I Timothy 1:3-4