The President of Family Radio, Harold Camping, has made quite a bit of a stir recently. According to Camping, the Rapture of the Church (which is, in fact, only one interpretation of the end) will occur on May 21st, 2011 and the end of the world soon after this October. Camping is well known for having made similar predictions about the return of Jesus in 1994, but it seems this time he's catching a good bit more media attention.
Camping, who's antics of placing billboards and making public pronouncements of judgment remind me of Westboro Baptist Church at times, is making a big mistake. He asserts that his 50 years of Bible study and his calculations of biblical numbers gives him the date of May 21st, 2011 for the rapture of the church (dang Mayan's were off by a year!). An exact 5 month period of tribulation follows culminating in the return of the Church with Christ to bring an end to all history.
Unfortunately, while it is certainly possible (though, statistically unlikely) that Christ comes back on May 21st, it would not be for the reasons Camping supposes. You see, Scripture emphatically warns against man making proclomations of when the return of the Christ will be:
Matt 24.36 -- "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father."
Acts 1.7 -- He said to them: "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority."
The rule of this seems simple. If Jesus didn't know, Harold Camping certainly doesn't know. And if both Paul and Peter indicated it will come about unexpectadely like a "thief in the night" (1 Thess 5.2; 2 Pt. 3.10), this means any attempt to calculate the day and the hour of the event is completely unscriptural. For two millenia, individuals--including the apostles--were anticipating with great hope the return of Christ. Some have made the mistake of attempting to calculate the exact time of its occuring.
Harold Camping's eschatology (a word meaning, 'last things') is scewed beyond belief and when May 21st comes and goes, Christians need to be prepared to offer a more sober and scripturally based response. Some individuals certainly will make the claim, as the "false teachers" did in 2nd Peter, that the lack of any return by Christ indicates a false hope in that return. Our response should be within the same vein as Peter's: "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day [btw, this is not Bible mathematics!]. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, byt everyone to come to repentance" (2 Pt 3.8-9).