Matthew 24

No man knoweth the day or hour

Harold Camping's followers believe that Christ's return can be accurately predicted from the bible and they believe that God has revealed that date to Camping and themselves. They are wrong, of course, because there is a serious flaw in the way that Camping interprets the bible.

Scripture clearly says "no man knoweth the day or hour". If Christ does return on May 21, Camping's calculations will only be a coincidence. The bible does not tell us when Christ will return, and God's revelation to us (the bible) is complete. That means God does not continue to reveal more to us that what He has already chosen to reveal in the bible.

I can't say Christ won't return on May 21, but I don't think it is likely. In fact, if you consider the vision in Daniel 2, Christ's return could still be many thousands of years in the future. The critical understanding from the bible is to always be ready, because you don't know when Christ will return.

This is not the first time Camping has predicted a date. That alone qualifies him as a false prophet, according to Deuteronomy:

Deuteronomy 18:21-22
21"And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?
22When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him."

Consider Matthew 24:3, Jesus' disciples ask two questions. Jesus' answers continue long into Chapter 25. Pay the most attention to the second answer and it's point.

Question 1: "When shall these things be?"

The "things" the diciples are talking about are the things Jesus had just spoke about (in the previous chapter, Mat 23, and continuing into Mat 24:1-2), speaking of the literal destruction Jerusalem and of the temple. Jesus answers this first question in Mat 24:4-35, and gives many indicators and warnings about it's timing. From outside historical references we know that Jerusalem was destroyed and the temple torn down around AD 70. That fits with the timeline given by Jesus in Mat 23:36 "...All these things shall come upon this generation", and again in Mat 24:34, "This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." In other words, Jesus said that those things would happen in their lifetime (not 2,000 years later).

Question 2: "What [shall be] the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?"

Jesus addresses this second question starting with Matthew 24:36 and continues through chapter 25:46. 24:36 begins with a new paragraph in the original Greek and notice the transition from talking about "these things" to "that day". The obvious principle from Mat 24:36 and following, is "always be ready". The warning is not "Jesus will come on such and such date" nor "God will reveal the date in due time," rather we are specifically warned that Jesus will come at a time not expected therefore always be diligent in what you are supposed to be doing. If Christians knew the time of Christ's return, then His return would be expected not "in such an hour as ye think not" (Mat 24:44). You are instructed to always be prepared so that you will not be found unprepared.

In other words, even if Camping's calendar were accurate, his conclusion and prediction are certainly wrong because discovering the date in advance is impossible.

Supporting Scripture

Luke 12:37-48
37Blessed [are] those servants, whom the lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them.
38And if he shall come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find [them] so, blessed are those servants.
39And this know, that if the goodman of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched, and not have suffered his house to be broken through.
40Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not.
41Then Peter said unto him, Lord, speakest thou this parable unto us, or even to all?
42And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom [his] lord shall make ruler over his household, to give [them their] portion of meat in due season?
43Blessed [is] that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing.
44Of a truth I say unto you, that he will make him ruler over all that he hath.
45But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
46The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for [him], and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
47And that servant, which knew his lord's will, and prepared not [himself], neither did according to his will, shall be beaten with many [stripes].
48But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few [stripes]. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.

Act 1:6-7 6When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

Luke 21:8 8 And he said, Take heed that ye be not deceived: for many shall come in my name, saying, I am [Christ]; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them.