Harold Camping says that Christ will return May 21st, 2011. One primary "proof" he cites is his 7,000 year argument. Camping calculates that exactly 7,000 years have elapsed from the time of the flood to our year 2011. Because the number is 7,000 (a multiple of the 7 days given to Noah), this "fact" is submitted as "proof" that Judgement will occur in 2011. See sample quotations below:
"Just before the flood Noah was instructed by God that in seven days the flood would begin (Genesis 7:10-16). Using the language of 2 Peter 3:8 that "a day is as a thousand years," it is like saying through Noah, who was a preacher (2 Peter 2:5): "mankind has seven days or 7,000 years to escape destruction." Since 2011 A.D. is precisely 7,000 years after Noah preached (the flood occurred in the year 4990 B.C.), God has given mankind a wonderful proof that Judgment Day will occur in the year 2011.
"God doubled the statement "a day is as a thousand years" to greatly increase our assurance that this is established by God and will shortly come to pass (Genesis 4l:32).
[ quotations from: "Another Infallible Proof That God Gives That Assures the Rapture Will Occur May 21, 2011" (www.familyradio.com, from website article "Another Infallible Proof", as presented 10/19/2009, presumed to be written written by Harold Camping) ]
Prerequisite/Dependant Beliefs Examined:
1. That the phrase “a day is as a thousand years” is to be taken literally as a mathematical formula.
The complete verse reads as follows:
2 Peter 3:8 8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Note that Camping says "God doubled the statement 'a day is as a thousand years'", however if you read the verse carefully you will see that is it only written once. What is actually written are two inverse equations, or comparisons, each written only a single time:
First comparison: "one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years"
Second comparison: "a thousand years [is] as one day"
They are exactly the opposite of each other! If we were to favor the latter equation, we must conclude, by Camping's assertions, that Judgement Day occurred approximately 10 minutes after Noah preached.
At this point it is important to remember that the two equations are connected with the word "and", the bible is saying that "one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, AND a thousand years as one day" (emphasis mine). For God, both are true at the same time. They are not equations in the mathematical sense, they are comparisons. What the bible is saying here is that God does not view time the way we do; God is not bound by time in the same way that we are.
The importance of explaining that God is not bound by time in the same way that we are ("as some men count slackness"), is evident from the immediate context: the next verse reads:
2 Peter 3:9 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
What Peter is explaining here is that God will not delay in carrying out what He has promised (as the "scoffers" accuse), rather God will certainly do all things He promised, and He will do so according to the time He has appointed. The "evidence" that "all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation" (2 Peter 3:4), is not valid because God does not view time the way we do. Furthermore, the scoffers make their accusations in ignorance, that is, without regard to the fact that God has in fact carried out judgment upon the world before (by flood).
Psalm 90:2,4 2Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou [art] God....4For a thousand years in thy sight [are but] as yesterday when it is past, and [as] a watch in the night.
In Psalm 90:4, The psalmist says two things:
- To God, 1,000 years is as yesterday
- 2. To God, 1,000 years is as a watch in the night
A watch in the night is a much shorter timeframe than yesterday, yet both are said to be as 1,000 years to God. Both cannot be literally true at the same time. The number 1,000 is not to be taken literally in this verse, it is intended to highlight the power and majesty of God. God is outside of time the way we understand it. As the psalmist wrote two verses before: "...from everlasting to everlasting, thou [art] God..." (verse 2).
Is the number 1,000 itself intended to be taken literally as "exactly" 1,000 years, or as a greater-lesser type comparison? It must be comparison. This is in agreement with Psalm 39:
Psalm 39:5 5Behold, thou hast made my days [as] an handbreadth; and mine age [is] as nothing before thee: verily every man at his best state [is] altogether vanity. Selah.
Why does Camping selectively apply the 1 day = 1,000 years in this passage and not others? By the same understanding, are we to understand from Revelation 20 that Satan would be bound for 365,242,200 years?
Consider the following verse:
John 2:19 19Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.
20Then said the Jews, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
21But he spake of the temple of his body.
If we are to understand that 1 day = 1,000 years, then we could easily deduce from the previous verse that Christ would be raised up again 3,000 years after his body was destroyed, or roughly the year 3033AD.
2. That the timeline of the Noachian flood is rightly to be understood allegorically as a literal event timeline for the second coming of Christ.
God promised that He would never again destroy the earth by flood as he did in Noah's day. Whether you understand the passage literally or allegorically God promised that He would never again destroy the earth by flood:
Gen 9:11 11And I will establish my covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of a flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.
Isaiah 54:9 9For this [is as] the waters of Noah unto me: for [as] I have sworn that the waters of Noah should no more go over the earth; so have I sworn that I would not be wroth with thee, nor rebuke thee.
The Bible explains that we may understand the flood as a figure of baptism:
1 Peter 3:20-21 20Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.
21The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ...
This understanding is reinforced by the fact that Peter referrs to Noah as "the eighth"(2 Pe 2:5). Remember, circumcision was done on the 8th day (Lev 12:3). Since water baptism replaced circumcision(Colossians 2:11-12), it is easy to understand the comparison of water baptism to Noah and the flood: "The like figure whereunto [even] baptism doth also now save us..." (1 Peter 3:21).
God is longsuffering and deliberate in carrying out His promises:
2 Peter 3 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
God is Just:
We learn from the account of the flood that "The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished" (2 Peter 2:9). (see reference to the flood in verse 5)
Christ will come unexpectedly:
Matthew 24:37-38 But as the days of Noe [were], so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark...
Luke 17:26-27 26And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.
27They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.
3. That the 7,000 years should begin starting at the time Noah preached.
Camping says: "2011 A.D. is precisely 7,000 years after Noah preached". Noah lived 950 years, when did Noah preach?
Although Noah is called a "preacher" in the bible, there is no record of when this preaching took place. We are not told if he preached before building the ark, while building the ark, after the flood, or any combination of the above. We are simply told that Noah was "a preacher of righteousness" (2 Peter 2:5).
If Camping said "2011 A.D. is precisely 7,000 years after God came to Noah and said 7 days hence...", then we would have a definitave place to start 7,000 years from. However that is not what Camping says. Instead, the timeline is based upon a starting time that cannot be isolated, which means that this "proof" alone could only pinpoint Christ's return as +/- 950 years, which of course renders the resulting answer (date) useless.
4. That the Noachian flood occurred in the year 4990 B.C. (because “2011 A.D. is exactly 7,000 years after 4990 B.C.”)
The entire 7,000 years "proof" is entirely dependant upon the 4990 B.C. date being accurate. If it is off by even 1 year then all other "proofs" are proven false: for example 2011 being a jubilee year.
It so happens that Camping's The Biblical Calendar of History has at least one major flaw: Moses' father was Amram. See 430 Years for a detailed explanation of this flaw.