Posts Tagged ‘Harold Camping’

I am beginning the Book of Revelation with some fear and trembling. I’ve read it before and I know of its mysteries as I am aware of the promised blessings for reading it. I pray for fresh eyes. Let me start then with this: the time was near? Not really. Is it near today? It can be, if we so choose.

Revelation 1:3
Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Of course, there is always the issue of what is time to God? Near in time to God is a type of nonsense since there is no time as we know it in God’s realm. This is all a human interpretation of the message. John sensed urgency and for him, that meant the “time” would come posthaste, soon, and in short order. But that didn’t happen.

Some writers interpret this “nearness of time” as the start of the prophesied events. they say the milestone events were merely drawn out over the millennium and while the end may not be near-near, the beginning of the end was near enough to mention then.

But again, I cast aside anything dealing with time. I think humans spend too much energy on interpreting the time and the times. For this reason, we have a plethora of prophecies and kooks in abundance. And yet, human has managed to live through the “end of time” several years over, from the rise of Hitler in the 1930’s to October 21st (or 28th), 2011 (the predicted dates of Harold Camping and Family Radio). To make things even more interesting, we now have the secular world in on the “end of time” party as we enter into 2012, the year that the Mayan calendar ends.

I am not saying there is no Judgment Day … I’m sure there is, but I am saying that we are incapable of predicting the time. Our world is always in a state of flux, either through the unpredictability of nature or the power of prayer. The way is morphing. Our relationships with God are changing. Our “times” are transforming, lengthening and shortening as God wills.

This is the only element of God that is truly near: the Holy Spirit. The nearness, the very indwelling, of God through the Spirit is the most significant nearness factor. And this nearness depends on human to embrace the truth of Presence.

When Jesus walked the earth, he spoke of the “nearness” of the Kingdom of Heaven as within us [Luke 17:20-21]. This is where the true revelation is now and will be, no matter what events happen or don’t happen. The salvation of humankind is within.

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The second appearance of the Christ is critical to the faith. But I must say, it’s been an event a long time coming. No one can really imagine what the Second Coming might look like. Scriptures are fairly vague at best.

Hebrews 9:28
. . . so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

There’s Revelation 1:7 — “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him. . . ” and Matthew 24:30 — “Then will appear the sign of the Son of Man in heaven. And then all the peoples of the earth will mourn when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” and II Thessalonians 1:7b — “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”

So what do we have here: clouds, flames, and signs with the Son of Man manifesting in the midst of it all. Artists have rendered this idea/image as either the Bible School Jesus all in white, robes flowing, or some kind of King image, all in gold, often times on a horse, and full of majesty (whatever that means). In either case, he is recognizable. Me? I don’t think so. I don’t think we’ll understand the Second Coming any more than we understand the ways of nature. We may be able to describe its properties, but not its essence.

Some people talk about the Second Coming of Christ as their chance to say to unbelievers, “See, I told you so,” “I warned you!” They act as though they wouldn’t be in the same shock and terror and wonder! Face it. How many times do things appear out of nowhere in the sky? I have to laugh as I consider whether all the spaceship movies are getting us ready for that appearance.

Of course, not everyone believes this can even happen. I remember standing at a bus stop every day to wait for the public bus that would carry me to high school (this is pre-school buses in Indianapolis). On the corner was a church of some type or another and on their sign, it always said, “Jesus is coming soon!” From my limited understanding of Christianity in those years, I thought they were really stupid. How could Jesus come again if he had already come. This was a teaching I never got (or understood) in Vacation Bible School or the more formal Latvian Lutheran church services. I don’t think I was alone.

A Second Coming is not something which we can prepare for in any way. When Harold Camping touted his May 21st forecast of judgment day (now pushed back to October 21st), he made it sound like people could actually do something in time for that day. That’s not the purpose of Christ’s coming. It’s the end of the age. Whatever happens next will be new, different, not recognizable. It may mean death or it may mean transformation. It’s a nexus moment. When the Christ comes, and if indeed, it’s “in the sky,” then the universe has changed dramatically. Both things cannot co-exist and be the same as before.

And why do the scriptures say that people will mourn? Is it because they didn’t believe or is it the loss of what we know. Our children and our children’s children will not know life as we know it. Everything must change. Everything will change. And if we don’t like change now, “Baby, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet.”

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