As I write this, it is already 6pm in certain parts of the globe, and we have no reports yet of a rapture, earthquakes, or any other cataclysmic events. So now we know from experience what we already knew from scripture. No one knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return, and teachers like Harold Camping who claim to possess such knowledge are false prophets (Deuteronomy 18:10; Matthew 24:36; Mark 13:32).
Nevertheless, I have been struck by the attention that this particular false prophecy has gained in the popular culture. For instance, just yesterday morning the talking heads on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program took a moment to scoff at the infamous prediction, and everyone around the table had a good belly laugh.
Even though bible-believing Christians will likely agree with the “Morning Joe” crew that Harold Camping is a crackpot, I think we need to be careful about feelings of solidarity. What I heard in the laughter on “Morning Joe” was not the sober critique of the pious, but the sad ridicule of 2 Peter 3:3-4:
3 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation.”
In other words, one of the hallmarks of the sinful human heart is the suppression of any notion of a coming judgment. Sinners employ all kinds of strategies to make-believe that the second coming of Christ is make-believe. Thus, the mockers of 2 Peter register the same objection that modernists offer:
“Where’s your Jesus? We have never seen Him or any evidence that there will be a cataclysmic reckoning at the end of the age. Your belief is as silly and irrelevant as it is unfounded. You believe in fairy tales.”
This is what I heard in the laughter on “Morning Joe.” And this is the real tragedy of a false teacher like Camping. He gives the scoffers a reason for feeling vindicated in their scoffing. He gives aid and comfort to the judgment-suppressing human heart and thereby consigns them to their own God-ignoring delusions. This is a tragedy of eternal proportions, and it is anything but funny.
If you count yourself among those who pray “Maranatha” in earnest, you will find very little to laugh about in Harold Camping’s false teachingâ€”and even less to laugh about in a scoffer’s scoffing. So let’s be sober. Let’s be ready for the Lord’s return. And let’s pray that the Lord would grant the mockers not a belly laugh, but repentance and faith in the Lord with whom they have to do (Hebrews 4:13).