False Prophecy Is Not A Laughing Matter

Harold Camping’s false prophecy that the rapture would occur yesterday (after having failed some seventeen years earlier) gave those opposed to God more ammunition in their arsenal. It also gave humorists and regular joes alike comedic content, and that fact is one of the saddest results of this debacle.

Camping and his believers have been the butt of jokes for days, making material for late-night talk show hosts, funny bumper stickers and even jest on local news stations around the country (“misjudgment day: Survivors pick up the pieces” ).

True, there is also the very sad reality that some of Camping’s followers shucked off the trappings of this world in preparation for the rapture — things like jobs and houses, savings accounts and school opportunities. As hard as it might be for them in the short term, they can recover.

Some of their kids may have a harder time. Their faith might be shaken.

The May 21st kids will be facing their “day of reckoning,” waking up to realize that their parents, pastors, and theologies were wrong. Many of those kids will lose something that day. The questions that many of them will ask will get answered with lies and excuses and bad biblical reasoning. Some of them will be angry with God for not bringing about Judgment Day. Some of them will lose their faith and yet be unable to escape it. (“May 21, 2011: The harm that ‘Judgment Day’ will do“).

Since these folk were believing something that wasn’t true, I don’t see it as a bad thing that they re-examine their faith. One Camping follower said that obviously something was off about the way they were interpreting the Bible. Good! Some of them, at least, will wake up to the fact that they have believed a false prophet.

But there’s a whole camp of people who never once considered that the world would end May 21, 2011 — not because they believe Jesus when He said no one knows the hour of judgment, but because they don’t believe Jesus at all. They don’t believe He died for their sins, that He’s coming again, that He will rule in justice and hold them accountable for rejecting Him.

Those who mock God and who harden their hearts as a result of the “evidence” Camping’s false prophecy provided that the Bible is untrustworthy, may well be permanent losers. Here’s one person’s reaction:

I am not sure why so many people are eager to leave this earth. Many are waiting to be sucked up into a heavenly abyss while looking down on us heathens who simply lived our life day to day. I personally had a great day this rapture weekend and attended several parties and even the day after breakfast and must say with each and every prediction, the parties get better, and the technology through the use of Facebook and Youtube is absolutely hilarious (“Rapture Reflections“).

The heartbreaking reality is that Camping’s false prophecy is no different from the false prophecies of Jeremiah’s day. God does not look on false prophecy lightly.

Behold, I am against the prophets,” declares the LORD, “who use their tongues and declare, ‘The Lord declares.’

“Behold, I am against those who have prophesied false dreams,” declares the LORD, “and related them and led My people astray by their falsehoods and reckless boasting; yet I did not send them or command them, nor do they furnish this people the slightest benefit,” declares the LORD.

“Now when this people or the prophet or a priest asks you [Jeremiah] saying, ‘What is the oracle of the LORD?’ then you shall say to them, ‘What oracle?’ The LORD declares, ‘I will abandon you.’

“Then as for the prophet or the priest or the people who say, ‘The oracle of the LORD,’ I will bring punishment upon that man and his household.

“Thus will each of you say to his neighbor and to his brother, ‘What has the LORD answered?’ or, ‘What has the LORD spoken?’

“For you will no longer remember the oracle of the LORD, because every man’s own word will become the oracle, and you have perverted the words of the living God, the LORD of hosts, our God (Jeremiah 23:31-36, all emphases added).

There’s something we Christians can gain from all this, I think. For one, false prophecy — of the Camping variety or the Rob Bell variety or Word of Faith, Mormons, or any teaching that strays from what the Bible says — should not go unchallenged. We can’t wink at this stuff or shrug and say, Oh well, they can believe whatever they want to believe.

At the opposite extreme, however, I don’t believe Christians should turn into heresy hunters. Convicting and convincing others of sin is the job of the Holy Spirit.

Our role should be to know what we believe. We should have an increasing knowledge about what the Bible teaches, but we should also know how we are to understand it. Are we to look for numerical codes to dates and times of Christ’s return, or are we to believe Jesus when He said

But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. Take heed, keep on the alert; for you do not know when the appointed time will come (Mark 13:32-33).

If we know what we believe, then we’ll be ready — alert — to stand up and speak the truth in love when a false teacher comes along.

Published in: on May 23, 2011 at 7:10 pm  Comments (2)  
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