Banner photo of Larry Eugene Meredith, Ronald Tipton and Patrick Flynn, 2017.

The good times are memories
In the drinking of elder men...

-- Larry E.
Time II

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hold Your Four Horsemen of the Apocalypses (Yes, apocalypses)

Left, William Miller - "Jesus Christ will return between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844."

Okay, for those impatient for the end of the world there is good news. You do not have to wait until December 21, 2012. The new date for the end to come is October 21, 2011. We have that on good authority, one Harold Camping.

Now I don't know for sure if Mr. Camping reads my Blog, but apparently he has picked up on my suggestion that God, being patient and loving, might delay the finale. This seems to be his explanation from the little I have heard so far today.

Right, Mayan Calendar: "The world will end on December 21, 2012."

Camping had, of course, actually predicted October 21 to be the end of the world. What he claimed would happen on May 21 was the Rapture and a great worldwide earthquake and the beginning of Judgment. He now says God, being merciful, put all that off to October 21, including the Rapture of the Campingites.  I do not know if that is the proper term, but I know many people are afflicted with Campingitis.

Left, Harold Camping: "The world will end in 1994, make that May 21, 2011 absolutely...uh, let's say October 21, 2011 and I'm pretty sure this time, I think."

Why? Because God in his mercy would not even put sinners through the hell of the next five months if that earthquake has happened.  Now it will all be over with very quickly. Much more quicker that the predictions of Harold Camping seem to be over.

For my wife, here is the bad news and the good news. October 21 comes too late to get her out of Jury Duty in July or August, but she will get to celebrate one more birthday. Given there will only be about a week left, though, I probably won't get her anything too expensive.

I said in my past post I thought Camping was sincere and he believed in his own research, but if he came up with another date I'd begin to doubt that sincerity. Now I am even a bit suspect of his so-called deep Bible study that determined all this dating. I am beginning to think he may have been dipping into some old-time Adventist literature. Not just this setting dates thing, but his teaching there is no Millennium Rule of Christ and no Hell; that the unsaved simply cease to exist.

Left, Charles Taze Russel: "The Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world will be in 1914."  [I don't know if there was a 21st of anything in there.]

William Miller put the date off a few times, saying he must have miscalculated his math somewhere (where have we heard that before) and others decided it had happened, but as a spiritual thing and the real bad stuff still awaited God's decision (which seems familiar, too). Russel, who was influenced by Miller made a couple more stabs at it after 1914 came and went, but like Miller, died before the end came. That is because those guys were born too soon and couldn't possibly have lived to October 21, 2011.

I suppose I will be writing another post about these non-events on October 22, 2011. Unless the Lord should come before then, certainly a possibility.

You see I do believe in Christ's Second Coming, in Judgment Day and in the end of this world. Here is what I have to say about the date. I don't know it. You see, someone once said, "No man knows the day or hour," someone with much more authority that William Miller or Charles Taze Russel or even Harold Camping, a gentlemen known as The Lord Jesus Christ.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let the Mocking Begin -- The Lions are Hungry

Well, that was pretty anticlimactic. I didn't expect anything, of course. Even so, can I admit, I still felt a bit disappointed. But the only thing that happened on May 21 was a volcano erupting in Iceland.

This is the largest eruption in Grímsvötn in 100 years. (They probably don't have records going further back.) It is bigger than that other volcano eruption last year that shut down air flight in Europe for so long. Iceland has shut down air flight at the moment.

So one big spit in your eye from Mother Earth is all we got on "Judgment Day". That is something, anyway.

Think if the largest eruption in 100 years had happened on Tonga early on in the expectations yesterday, around 6:00 PM their time. That would have shaken some people up for sure, until nothing much happened anywhere else.

Here we are on the twenty-second, safe and secure. The bars are or have had their "End-of-the-World" Parties and the churches are having their sermons on false prophets. Family Radio is still on the air. Some people are pitying "those people" and some are making fun of them. For the world at large this makes for great sport.

Howard Camping may have missed the mark -- again, but you have to give him credit for one of the most successful marketing campaigns in history. In all my years I often heard advertisers claim, "The product everyone is talking about."  This is the first time I have really heard everyone talking about it. Everywhere I was this week, everyone I saw, this subject came up. I heard jokes in passing on the street, mentions at work, statuses on Facebook, tweets on Twitter and monologues on TV. There were articles in each newspaper we subscribe to, on the front page no less. It came up both in a poem and in discussion at my Poetry Group meeting on Thursday and again in discussion after the Open Mic at Borders on Friday. It was the postings of many Blogs. I went to the hardware store to buy some dirt yesterday and everyone in the store, customers and clerks, were making comments about the day and what was predicted.

Now by the time I was in the hardware store we knew it wasn't happening. 6:30 PM of the 21 May had already come and gone in much of the world. It was already Sunday, May 22 in Australia and Japan; all of Asia I suppose. I had coincidentally set out to buy my dirt just as it struck 6:30 PM in Jerusalem. When the Temple Mount did not split apart I figure we could definitely relax.

There is much speculation this morning about what Mr. Camping will do now. He is 89 years old, time is running out for him to recalculate and come up with something new. I think Mr. Camping was sincere about his vision, that he truly believed in it. If he comes up with a new date, then I probably won't feel that way anymore. When he wrote and predicted that September in 1994 would see Judgement Day he wrote a book called 1994?. (Boy that makes for awkward punctuation.) There was a question mark and within he mentioned 2011 might actually be a possibility if it wasn't 1994. He gave himself an out.

He left himself no out this time it would seem. He guaranteed it. He said it would absolutely happen. It didn't. End of story with no possible twist to another announcement left, right? 

I can think of one. 

But it displeased Jonah exceedingly, and he was very angry. And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil. Jonah 4:1-2 (KJV)
 Then said the LORD, Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night, and perished in a night: And should not I spare Nineveh, that great city, wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand; and also much cattle? Jonah 4:10-11 (KJV)
Why in the world would I think these couple quotes from Jonah could be used by Camping as an out? You remember Jonah? He was that prophet whom God told to go one way and instead he ran the other, got on a ship and tried to get away from it all. You know, the guy who ended up in the belly of a great fish that everybody keeps mistakenly calling a whale. There is a lot we can say about the plight of Jonah and Christianity, Jesus and salvation, but Jonah doesn't have anything to do with Judgment Day, the end of the world or Harold Camping, does he?

Well, it could have if we think about Jonah's situation. Why did he run away from what God asked him to do? For that matter, just what did God ask him to do anyway?

God asked Jonah to go to this terrible city called Nineveh, a place so full of sin that God planned to destroy it. He told Jonah to warn those people if they didn't straighten up and fly right they would be toast,  and Jonah didn't want to do that. Why?

Because Jonah had a bad attitude to begin with. He hated those Ninevehian, uh—Ninevehites...uh, those people of Nineveh. He didn't want them saved, he wanted them flattened, but he feared they just might repent and God wouldn't smite them, which is exactly what happened. This made Jonah really sore at God. Jonah tells exactly what his feeling were. "And he prayed unto the LORD, and said, I pray thee, O LORD, was not this my saying, when I was yet in my country? Therefore I fled before unto Tarshish: for I knew that thou art a gracious God, and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil."

Harold Camping actually used this story of Jonah recently in explaining his coming Day of Judgment. He used it as urging everyone to repent, but also to show how God was patient and sometimes spared people and places because of his compassion for the few who were not sinners. You can find several such examples in the Old Testament.

It would be quite possible to put forth that God was ready to pronounce judgment upon the world, but out of his desire that no one be lost postponed the date. The reason would be there are some who God knows will come to Salvation yet and so a new Judgment Day must occur. 

As a Christian, who believes a real Second Coming of Christ must eventually come on a day and hour no man knows, I am not effected much by what Mr. Camping does or doesn't do. I do take what he did seriously, though, as causing great harm.

It certainly harmed many folk who choose to put their faith in Mr. Camping. Some of these will suffer as a result of this fiasco. But so will we Christians who argued against his interpretations all along. The world isn't going to be overly discriminating between some of what we believe and what they have been hearing preached for many moons in the media leading up to May 21. No, the mocking began in earnest last week and it will continue for a while, and in the future anyone proposing Judgment Day is at hand will be quickly compared to Mr. Camping's crusade.

Christians are fair game these day, as the Bible told us we would be. We have plenty of those out there quite willing to feed us to the lions, if not in actuality, at least figuratively. 

Jesus left us in the dark as to exactly when he would return or when Judgement Day would be. However, he and other prophets left us with a number of signs that will point more and more to that time as we approach it. As a younger man I used to be mystified reading the prophecies, the events that would begin to happen, and yet the Bible said men still wouldn't turn to God or believe this was from Him. I wondered how knowing such happenings before they happened anyone could deny they were from God. But it recent years I have heard many discussions that would put in place excuses to not believe God had a hand in such things, for instance "Global Warming". 

This May 21 will make it more difficult to get anyone to seriously consider such prophecies if we begin to recognize a quicker pace in the signs of the times. People will simply compare any such warnings as akin to Camping's folly.

Remember as well, December 2012 lies ahead. Expect more media coverage of this other prediction of the end of the world. Even though this one has nothing to do with Christianity, it will certainly bring forth much rehashing of the May 21, 2011, failure to launch and all Christian belief will be held up to ridicule as well.

As for me, I trust in the Lord. This is not a prediction of the end of the world, but a prediction of labor pains growing closer together. I would keep awake and keep my eyes on this September and the state of Israel. Yes, indeed, I would.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Is It 1,000 or is It Not?

This is a follow-up to what I posted yesterday.
But, 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. 2 Peter 3:8 (KJV)

And I saw an angel come down from heaven, having the key of the bottomless pit and a great chain in his hand. And he laid hold on the dragon, that old serpent, which is the Devil, and Satan, and bound him a thousand years, And cast him into the bottomless pit, and shut him up, and set a seal upon him, that he should deceive the nations no more, till the thousand years should be fulfilled: and after that he must be loosed a little season. Revelation 20:1-3 (KJV)
As perhaps many of you are aware, or have seen many of the placards and billboards, this year has been proclaimed the last.  According to Howard Camping Judgment Day will occur on May 21, 2011, a date that has all ready begun somewhere in the South Pacific this very day. In fact, as I begin to write this, it is 12:45 AM, Saturday, May 21 appropriately enough in the Christmas Islands. Thus, if Camping is correct, in less than 12 hours the great earthquake will begin.

I do not believe any such thing will happen, but many do. Camping has said if you dispute him, you must do it from Scripture. There is not enough space here to take on that challenge  and I am not such an expert on the Bible to feel equipped to do so. However, there is a statement he has made that popped out at me as making no sense.

In his explanation of the timeline, he has said there is no 1,000-year millennium as traditional Christian prophesy often teaches. It is stated in Revelation that Satan is seized after Armageddon and bound for a 1,000 years after which he is let loose a little bit. He contends the 1,000 is not physical time, but is symbolic. In his scenario, Satan was bound at the time of Christ's crucifixion and resurrection. Satan was thus chained up for 1,955 years, until 1988 and then released. In 1988 upon release, Satan then took over all the churches in the world and so everyone who is truly saved should get out of the churches.

He has also stated that during this 1,955 years that Satan was bound, he was still able to roam about seeing whom he could devour like a roaring and sowing "tares" in the churches. I do not quite understand how he could be bound while also roaming free. Perhaps somewhere Mr. Camping explained that.

Note that I said Mr. Camping. I have seen and heard him called in the news media a Preacher or Minister. He is not a minister. He is a civil engineer, turned founder of a Christian radio network called Family Radio. Up until 1988 he was a member in good standing in a Reformed Christian Church, but never more than an Elder. I would call him a Bible scholar.

As long as we are correcting the media, many have gotten great glee in reporting Mr. Camping called for Judgment Day in 1994 and it didn't happen, so he wrote another book. This is technically true, but the original book was 1994?, with a question mark, and he did say in it there was a possibility that 2011 might be the actual year if 1994 wasn't. He has not left himself any wiggle room this time. He has unequivocally and absolutely guaranteed May 21, 2011 is it.

Anyway, back to my problem with 1,000.

Mr. Camping has explained the Devil being bound at the Resurrection for 1,955 year as the fulfillment of the 1,000 year bondage spoke of in Revelation. So how does he explain adding 955 more years on?

He references the passages quoted at the beginning of this post. With 2 Peter 3, He interprets "one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day" as simply symbolic.
 Explaining that numbers are used both figuratively and symbolically in Scripture, he goes on to note we must determine how a number is used, a fact I have no argument with. It is his view that Peter as well as John in Revelation are using it symbolically here. It is his opinion that Peter did not mean a day was literally a thousand years or vice-versa to God, but simply meant "a long period of time". This is also how he viewed the 1,000 years mentioned in Revelation.

This is possible, and certainly in the case of Peter could be exactly right. Peter was calming people impatience about Christ not yet having returned. He began this way: Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.

Obviously he is telling the believers that what seems a long time to them is nothing to God. I don't see that as the case in Revelation. I feel where it says a 1,000 years there it means a 1,000 years.

Even so, Mr. Campings stretching 1,000 years to 1,955 for the convenience of his timeline is a stretch. (I'm not even going to get into his placement of this event where he did.)

A problem with his argument is he is fine with using the 1,000 equals a day concerning other events, for instance, the 7,000 years between when the Great Flood came and this coming Saturday. Here he uses such things as the seven days of Creation, Daniel's Week and the seven days between when God told Noah to get in the Ark and when the rain began as indicating there would be 1,000 years from then to Judgment Day.

In these situations as described by Mr. Camping I don't think you can have it both ways.

There is an irony that Mr. Camping should rely so heavily on Second Peter. In that Book, Peter spends much time warning against false prophets and those who interpret Scripture to their own devices.

A second thing I would like to touch upon is knowing or not knowing the date of the Second Coming. Mr. Camping is emphatic that true saved Christians will know the date and the hour. One reference he uses to support this is from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-10:
But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober. For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night. But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation. For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
But I see this differently than he. If a thief is going to come to rob your house, you will not know the day or time. However, if there have been a number of burglaries in your neighborhood, then there are signs that such a criminal attempt could be imminent. You would then take protective measures and you would be sober and aware, so when such a crook came you were not caught by total surprise and are ready. 

The people who feel safe, who get drunk or go to sleep without care are those who do not believe Christ will come again or dismiss the signs around them. They are taken by surprise.

We Christians need to believe in what Jesus told us and be ever ready for his appearance, not in fear, but in hope. But we shouldn't not so focused on the specific day or hour we lose sight of everything else. That would be counterproductive.

As to going as far as naming the hour, 6:00 PM, that is even more problematic, but this piece is already very long, so we will leave that go for now.

It is now 10:30 here. Less than seven hours to the earthquake begins in the South Pacific, so we shall see, shan't we?

The illustration is "Judgment Day" by Michelangelo.
The full 2 Peter passage:
Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation.
For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.
But, 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.
The 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. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.
Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.
Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own steadfastness. 2 Peter 3:3-17 (KJV)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

In These Next Few Waning Hours

I suppose it is possible this could be the last post, a time I should be saying goodbye, so long, been nice to know you, my friends, what with Judgment Day coming by the weekend. And if I believed that this would be so, then this would be such a piece.
But I don’t believe it.
Still I am disturbed by some of the mocking comments being made about those who do.
It especially bothers me to hear a Sunday sermon opened this way: “Just so you know just in case the crazies are right and we don’t get to see each other next Sunday … listen today like this is the last day [here]”
The objection is not to simply say, “In case this thing happens, and we are not here another Sunday,  listen as if it’s true.” My objection is referring to these people as “crazies”.
As a Christian I will tell you what I believe. I believe in a God who created the world and universe. I believe in Jesus Christ. I believe in the Virgin Birth. I believe in the Bible. I believe in the Resurrection. I believe in salvation and a Judgment Day. I believe Jesus will return as He said He would, and following the daily news and seeing how events are occurring and the world is lining up; I believe that the Second Coming is not far off.
I presume this is what many Christian preachers also believe. So are we the “crazies”?
I would never call someone of faith a crazy or a nut case or a wing nut because they believe something different than I.  If someone professed to being Jewish or Muslim or Buddhist or Hindu or Atheist (and yes Atheism is a matter of faith), would you dare to call them “crazies”? Obviously I believe they have placed their faith in the wrong beliefs. If I did not, then I would be a Jew or a Muslim or a Buddhist or a Hindu or an Atheist.
Obviously I believe Christianity it true. Otherwise, why would I be a Christian?
But because I disagree in where someone else has placed their faith, does not mean I think they are “crazies”.
I do not think Howard Camping or all these many people who have accepted his claims that May 21, 2011 is Judgment Day are nuts, nor do I think they are stupid. I just think they are wrong. If you have read the material put out by Camping you would not find some rambling mad utterances. It is very structured and intellectually presented. It is even convincingly logical, given Mr. Camping’s interpretation of Scripture. It is very understandable why many people would be willing to embrace it as the truth.
On the Family radio site there is a countdown clock. Today it reads “2 days to go”. But given Mr. Camping’s forecast of how it will begin, it is in reality just a bit more than one day away at the time I am writing this. It is his stance that a great rolling earthquake will begin at 6:00 PM on Saturday, May 21. It will begin in the South Pacific and will follow the time zones around the world, quaking in each area at their hour of 6:00 PM.
If this part of his prediction is true, then we here in my part of the country will know if it is happening sometime between 10:00 and 11:00 PM Friday evening. Why? Because it will already be 6:00 PM Saturday in the South Pacific just over the International Date Line. Of course if nothing happens at that time, it will not necessarily mean Judgment Day will not come on Saturday, only that this part of his calculation is wrong.
Of course, I expect nothing to happen, no worldwide earthquake, no Rapture, no Judgment Day…not yet.
If I am wrong and they are right, then nothing I have wrote matters. If they are right and I am wrong, then I will be among those facing condemnation by God, for that is what they believe. They believe if you cannot accept that Saturday is Judgment Day it is because you are not truly saved even if you think you are.
However if they are wrong and I am right, then on May 22 we are going to have a mass of disappointed and disillusioned people around this world, not the least of which will be Mr. Camping. This will not be something to gloat about. These will be people on the verge of losing faith in anything and some may be facing a very uncertain future. Some of these people have spent their finances and now will face difficult times. Some have split their families and will need healing. These will be people we should not mock, but instead show compassion for, reach out to with love and understanding. We should be prepared to help them back to faith in something and lift them up from their folly back into a life of true hope.
These people are not “crazies”, but like many, many others, they are just folks who lost their way for a while.