Well it Came - And Went - and We are Still to Follow Jesus

Well it Came - And Went - and We are Still to Follow Jesus

As many of you will know this past week was filled with the prediction of the coming of Judgment Day and there were people who sat with baited breath as the six o'clock hour waiting, just waiting, and knowing that the great earthquakes of all earthquakes was going to come and destroy this sinful world.  The wrath of God would be unleashed and finally evil would be wiped out - forever. 

But as we prepared for worship on Saturday night, we looked at the clock and as you well know there was no earthquake, no rapture, no saving of the elect from a time of great suffering and torment.  As a matter of fact, at least at the time of this writing - there was no torment.  Mr. Camping was simply wrong.  He had forgotten that basic of all ideas that there is in fact only one God and the last time I checked, neither Harold Camping, nor I, nor any of us are the Creator of Heaven and Earth.  We simply can't know the mind of God.  But don't take my word for it - take out your Bible and read Mt. 24:36.  We don't know and we can't know.

 Now we may be tempted to write off Mr. Camping as strange.  But I am hesitant to do that.  Only because I really think that he believed what he was doing.  I think that he was committed to getting out the message of what he really did believe was going to happen.  In short, I think he was sincere and that his heart was in the right place.  All the money that he spent, and encouraged people to spend to get the message out on billboards, radio adds, websites, and RVs wrapped in the message of the coming day of judgment, he and his followers did this believing that they were doing you and me a favor.  They wanted us to know that Jesus was coming back - May 21, 2011 - and they wanted you and I to be prepared.

So it is hard for me to mock these people.  If anything my heart breaks for these people who were so sure of what was going to happen.  I think the families who divested themselves of their life savings trying to get out the word or advertising the May 21 date, should be pitied.  Because as misguided as we may believe them to be, they acted out of the best of intentions.  The problem is that there best intentions have left some of them financially bankrupt.  

The thing is this is not the first time something like this has happened.  Since Jesus' ascension into heaven people have been making predictions about when our Lord Jesus was coming back.  The first Christians thought that it was going to be any moment, but as time went by they started to realize that we might be in this for the long haul.  Therefore the church learned how to be faithful in the world while waiting for the eventual return of our Lord.

But that didn't stop people every now and then from gaining a following, going out into the woods and waiting for the end of time.  One of the first was a man named Montanus who in the second century gathered quite a following through his austere living and knowledge of the scriptures.  Eventually he revealed to his followers that he was in fact none other than the Holy Spirit, and he told everyone that Jesus would return on a certain date in Phrygia, a province of Asia Minor.  So Montanus gathered all his followers and waited on a mountain top on the assigned day and of course our Lord didn't come back.

Over the next 1700 years predictions of the second coming of Christ popped up ever now and then.  There was a great fear of Judgment Day as they approached the year 1000, and during the Reformation, Martin Luther himself believed that he was living in the Last Days and believed he could see the events of the Reformation displayed in the book of Revelation. 

It should be said of Luther that though he thought that he might be living in the last days he was known to say "That If I knew the end of the world were tomorrow, I would plant a tree."  Luther knew that even if the end were at hand his job as a Christian was to continue living and following his Lord Jesus.

The biggest prediction of the End of the World came in the mid 1840s from a man named William Miller.  Miller had a vision (like Camping) and Miller began to look at numbers in the Bible (like Camping) and from those numbers calculate a secret code (like Camping) that would give him the exact date of the end of the world (I think this probably sounds familiar doesn't it). 

Miller began to publicize his ideas that the end of the world would come between 1843 and 1844.  Miller lectured nationally on his calculations, printed articles, and organized a small army of followers who were devoted to spreading this message.  Miller's first date for the second coming was that Jesus would arrive by May 21, 1844.  That date passed and Miller re-examined his calculations and saw that the date should be April 18, 1844.  This date also passed.

Finally Miller realizing the miscalculation he had been making announced that the actual final date would be October 22, 1844.  He was sure of this, there was absolutely no way that Jesus would not arrive on this day.  So many of Miller's followers sold all they had, gave away all they could to the poor, and headed to Miller's farm to await our Lord Jesus Christ. 

When October 23rd, 1844 arrived many people were bankrupt.  The incident is known by historians as "The Great Disappointment." 

The book Ecclesiasties reminds us that "There is nothing new under the son."It has all been done before.  I find it interesting that Camping has now adjusted his date to October 21, 2011, which is very close to Miller's absolutely this is the end of the world date.

The thing is everyone.  We are always going to have people who are going to tell us that they have some secret about the end of the world, or secret knowledge about Jesus.  If you just listen to them then you will be safe.  I don't think that Mr. Camping is a wolf in sheep's clothing.  I think he is someone who may mean well but is simply in error in how he interprets scripture.

If anything my heart goes out to the man and all those who have followed him.  I hope those who have lost and given away so much in hope of the second coming being when they thought it would be, don't lose their faith over this.

Unfortunately, though this group is in fact a fringe and isolated group.  I am afraid that so many people will judge the church as a whole by the actions of these few. 

In the end I know that Jesus will come back.  I know that the Lord will bring his kingdom and all suffering and pain and evil in this world will end.  But I hope we can all remember that this will happen in God's time and not in ours. 

What we are to do is follow Jesus here and now.  Don't worry about the end of the world to come.  Worry about how we are following Christ.  Worry about what we are to do and how we are to do what Jesus did.  Jesus loved us, sacrificed himself for us, and came so that all people might no him.  The question we need to ask ourselves then is not when he is coming back - but we should ask ourselves how we are to give and serve and love and help in this world now.  That is how we follow Jesus.  That same Jesus is with us - now.  We don't have to wait for the second coming, because our Savior has promised that he IS with us even until the end of the age.

That was probably too long for a blog entry but - what are you going to do?

I pray that God will bless you and keep you, and that you will know that Christ always holds you and keeps you in the palm of his hands.

In Christ

Pr Mike

 

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