Harold Camping is Wrong About Jesus’ Return in One Year

Harold Egbert Camping


Harold Camping claims that Jesus will return one year from today.  In a 2010 radio interview with me, one of the hosts brought up May 2011 as a date he noticed that some people proclaimed would be the end of the world (or in this case the supposed date of the “rapture“).  I told the host that the May 2011 date was an invention of Harold Camping and that he was getting quite a following for it.

The radio host was unfamiliar with Harold Camping so I informed him that this was the second date that Harold Camping had predicted.  Here is one news item from the San Francisco Chronicle about that:

Harold Camping lets out a hearty chuckle when he considers the people who believe the world will end in 2012…The real date for the end of times, he says, is in 2011…

Camping, 88, has scrutinized the Bible…

The world will end May 21, 2011. This is not the first time Camping has made a bold prediction about Judgment Day.

On Sept. 6, 1994, dozens of Camping’s believers gathered inside Alameda’s Veterans Memorial Building to await the return of Christ, an event Camping had promised for two years. Followers dressed children in their Sunday best and held Bibles open-faced toward heaven.

But the world did not end. Camping allowed that he may have made a mathematical error.  (Berton J. Biblical scholar’s date for rapture: May 21, 2011.  January 1, 2010.  http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2010/01/01/BA8V1AV589.DTL&feed=rss.news).

Of course, if he actually would have relied on the Bible, and not his own imaginations, Harold Camping would not have made the prediction about 1994 or 2011.  And while he admits to perhaps making one mathematical error, he has made many more.

I spoke with one from Southern California who followed him somewhat in 1994 and she said at the time she would not listen to him again if he was wrong.  And since Harold Camping was clearly wrong, she has not listened to him since, and neither should anyone else.  But sadly, both she and I know others in Southern California who are believing him.  Allegedly he has millions of listeners around the world to his various radio broadcasts.

Anyway, although I have denounced Harold Camping before (see Will Jesus return by 2012 or in 2011?), I also promised to provide more information about him (see Ronald Weinland Made the News for Being Wrong), so, this seems to be a good time to do that.

In his  publications, We are Almost There! and To God be the Glory, Harold Camping also claims that certain biblical passages teach that May 21, 2011 is the date of Jesus’ return (which he calls the rapture) and October 21, 2011 is the date for the end of the world.

Incorrect Dates and Lengths of Time for Biblical Events

Notice something that is in his We are Almost There! book:

The church age embraced, to the very day, exactly 1,955 years in that it began on Pentecost day, May 22, A.D. 33, and ended the day before Pentecost on May 21, 1988 (A.D.). (p. 29)

As we have noted, God further solidifies or locks in this date, May 21, 2011, by placing the day of shutting the door, when the rapture will occur, on the 17th day of the second month of the Biblical calendar. Significantly, the number 17 links perfectly to the fact of the rapture because spiritually, the number 17 signifies heaven. Moreover, the number 2 (second month) spiritually identifies with those who have been commissioned to bring the Gospel. Is it not amazing that they will be raptured on the 17th day of the second month? Is that coincidental?
We also have learned that the last day of the earth’s existence, October 21, 2011, is the 23rd day of the seventh month of the Biblical calendar. The number 23 normally signifies God’s wrath being poured out. The number 7 (seventh month) signifies the perfect fulfillment of God’s purposes. Could this also be coincidental, that the final completion of God’s punishment on the unsaved occurs in the seventh month on a day that features the number 23, which is a number that completely identifies with God’s wrath, thus signifying God’s perfect wrath on the unsaved?  (p. 61-62)

Now what is that based upon?  In that particular booklet, he never explains why 1955 years–he just asserts based on his calculations.  And his assertions do not count.  33 A.D. is wrong and even it were correct, the 1955 years is simply not a biblical time period for the age of the church (no matter what type of calculation he may show for it).  Furthermore, he comes up with his own meaning of 17, 23, and many other numbers, and then based upon his meaning, then suggests that this “proof” is not coincidental.  It is not coincidental, he intentionally manipulates numbers and calculations when plain numbers do not work, in order to try to force his conclusions upon people.  Also notice that when he makes statements such as “The number 23 normally signifies God’s wrath”, this means that he can decide that it does not mean that if it interferes with any of his other calculations (and it seems that he is very selective that way).  Sadly, his followers do not seem to see this.

Furthermore, PENTECOST IS ON JUNE 12, 2011 AND NOT MAY 21, 2011 (see Holy Day Calendar). Harold Camping does not even understand what Pentecost is all about (to learn more, see Pentecost: Is it more than Acts 2?). Because he prefers his own imaginations to the truth of the Bible, Harold Camping seems to load one misleading calculation onto other misleading information to get to the wrong answer. He should not be listened to by those that actually believe the Bible.

Bible Clearly Disagrees With Harold Camping’s Flood Dates

Although, the biblical fact is that God said He would never again destroy the world by flood (Genesis 9:11), Harold Camping is basing a lot on his inaccurate calculation of when he claims the flood was.

He wrote the following in his We are Almost There! booklet:

There are exactly 7,000 years from the flood of Noah’s day, which destroyed everything on the earth in 4990 B.C., to A.D. 2011 (p. 30).

According to the Bible and pretty much all biblical scholars, Noah’s flood was centuries less than 5,000 years ago, not nearly 7,000.  The best calculated estimate that I have seen places the flood closer to 4,336 years ago (see Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?).

Harold Camping’s is Wrapped Up in His Own Numbers

Furthermore, notice what else the article from the San Francisco Chronicle stated about Harold Camping’s logic for his “rapture” date:

Meaning in numbers

By Camping’s understanding, the Bible was dictated by God and every word and number carries a spiritual significance. He noticed that particular numbers appeared in the Bible at the same time particular themes are discussed.

The number 5, Camping concluded, equals “atonement.” Ten is “completeness.” Seventeen means “heaven.” Camping patiently explained how he reached his conclusion for May 21, 2011.

“Christ hung on the cross April 1, 33 A.D.,” he began. “Now go to April 1 of 2011 A.D., and that’s 1,978 years.”

Camping then multiplied 1,978 by 365.2422 days – the number of days in each solar year, not to be confused with a calendar year.

Next, Camping noted that April 1 to May 21 encompasses 51 days. Add 51 to the sum of previous multiplication total, and it equals 722,500.

Camping realized that (5 x 10 x 17) x (5 x 10 x 17) = 722,500.

Or put into words: (Atonement x Completeness x Heaven), squared.

“Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved.

“I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that,” Camping said…

Rick LaCasse, who attended the September 1994 service in Alameda, said that 15 years later, his faith in Camping has only strengthened.

“Evidently, he was wrong,” LaCasse allowed, “but this time it is going to happen. There was some doubt last time, but we didn’t have any proofs. This time we do.”

Would his opinion of Camping change if May 21, 2011, ended without incident?

“I can’t even think like that,” LaCasse said. “Everything is too positive right now. There’s too little time to think like that.”

Now the above is utter nonsense.  That rapture date is based upon many faulty biblical assumptions and is also historically inaccurate. Christians need to realize that there is nothing in the Bible about the idea that the timing of Jesus’ return has to do with a numerical calculation based upon Atonement x Completeness x Heaven, squared.  Multiplying numbers developed for concepts and then “squaring” them does not come from any Bible prophecy I am aware of. For one historical point that should be of interest , the crucifixion was a couple of years earlier than that, hence the “rapture” according to Harold Camping’s “1,978 years logic” should have been no later than May of 2009  (33 A.D. for the crucifixion year has been eliminated by most serious biblical scholars).  His followers should take the time and look at what the Bible does and does not teach–as it does not teaching many of the calculations that he is teachings.

Notice the basis for the 1,978 years according to Harold Camping:

1978 = 2 x 23 x 43
Number 2 symbolizes those who are to bring the Gospel.
Number 23 symbolizes wrath
Number 43 symbolizes judgment

Thus, by the number 1,978, God is emphasizing that judgment will fall on those who had been commissioned to bring the Gospel (2) and are still subject to the wrath of God (23 and 43). (We are Almost There!, p. 64)

This is presumptuous nonsense.  The above is human reasoning, not solid prophetic interpretation. 1,978 does NOT come from the Bible, yet Harold Camping’s followers act like he only teaches what is in the Bible.

Now if this 1,978 years is to be exact like he suggests, why then does Harold Camping have to add 51 days to it to get to his May 21, 2o11 date? Cannot his followers see the fallacy of that?

In the Bible, God uses a lunar, not a 364.2422 day solar, calendar (cf. Exodus 12:1; Leviticus 23:4-44). Thus all this solar “exactness” is not consistent with what the Bible shows.  Because he fails to utilize the biblical calendar, Harold Camping’s date for his Pentecost in 2011 is clearly not God’s date.

Furthermore, Jesus was killed on the day of the Passover and was our Passover (1 Corinthians 5:7). And let’s just say for the sake of argument that this was possibly Harold Camping’s April 1, 33 A.D. date (even though it was not). Under that assumpption then, if 1,978 years has an exact fulfillment somehow related to what Harold Camping is claiming, then the return would need to be on April 1st 2011 (which is exactly 1,978 of his solar years) or at minimum Passover for 2011 should be on April 1st.

But it is not.

The day of Passover in 2011 is April 18th. So, we see that Harold Camping’s calculation is not exact and not based upon the Bible. Instead he pieces data together, adds 51 days to get to his 722,500, and then claims it is an exact match. It is not a true match.  And since May 21, 2011 is also not even the date of Pentecost, his logic again falls apart as further nonsense.

Speaking of nonsense, notice the following “proof” from We are Almost There!:

Thus, we can know that it is as if there are exactly 7,000 years, to the very day, from the shutting of the door on any further possibility of salvation, both during the worldwide destruction of Noah’s day and the worldwide destruction of our day. Can this be coincidental? (p. 61)

No, there is no coincidence.  The above is false and utter nonsense as, was mentioned before, the flood was thousands of years less than 7,000 years ago and the salvation argument is based upon blasphemy (see Harold Camping’s Teachings About the End of the World Do Not Agree with the Bible).

Jesus Did Not Point to the Types of Calculations that Harold Camping Does

When the disciples asked Jesus when He would return, He did not give those type of calculations.  Notice that Jesus warned people not to be deceived about it:

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you.  5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. (Matthew 24:3-5).

Sadly, Harold Camping is among those who have deceived people about the date of Jesus’ coming.

How do we know that?

Well, Jesus listed specific events in Matthew 24 that needed to occur, many of which have not yet happened.  Now notice precisely when Jesus said He would return:

29 “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  30 Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  31 And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. (Matthew 29-31)

Notice that according to Jesus, He returns after the Great Tribulation, and with the sound of trumpet.

Now, the Great Tribulation has not began yet, nor did it possibly begin in 1988 as Harold Camping wrote.

And not only has that not happened yet, it does not happen until 3 1/2 years (the middle of a seven year prophetic “week”) after a deal is made in Daniel 9:27:

27 Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week;
But in the middle of the week
He shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering.
And on the wing of abominations shall be one who makes desolate,
Even until the consummation, which is determined,
Is poured out on the desolate. (Daniel 9:27)

And while many are working towards a peace deal that might fulfill the above (see ), the deal still has not happened yet.  And even if it were to happen this month (which is almost impossible), then Jesus would not return until 2017 (adding the 3 1/2 years to the time, times, and half a time for the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord adds up to seven years).

Harold Camping Meets the Bible’s Criteria for Being a False Prophet

Notice a couple of warnings about false prophets:

22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him. (Deuteronomy 18:22).

1 But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. 3 By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber. (2 Peter 2:1-3).

I do not consider that Harold Camping is a real Christian.  He has proven to be a false prophet.  The world did not end in 1994, there will be no “rapture of the Church” in May 2011, and no one should base their life on following the dates of Harold Camping.  He, and other false prophets, have caused the way of truth to be blasphemed.

Jesus Will Return, But Not Until After Harold Camping’s May 21, 2010 Date

And while Jesus absolutely will return, and Christians will meet Him in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:17), many of the signs that Jesus specifically gave (including the Great Tribulation) have not happened yet.  People need to heed what the Bible says and not be swayed by those who make biblically impossible claims from their own calculations and imaginations.

Harold Camping also wrote:

…the last day of the earth’s existence, October 21, 2011 (We are Almost There!, p. 64).

No, the world will exist after that and all remaining will be able to realize that Harold Camping was in complete and total error.  Others have also put supposedly biblically-based numeric calculations for their version of prophecy that also have failed to come to pass.  Simply putting mathematical calculations to prove something in scripture is not enough.  Those like Harold Camping who spiritualize away the obvious meaning of scriptures are not true servants of God.

Sadly, because of people like Harold Camping, many have been turned off to the truth about biblical prophecy (2 Peter 2:1-3). Harold Camping will also give scoffers something to point to (just like other false prophets have throughout the ages).

Furthermore notice what the Apostle Peter warned:

…scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, 4 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 creation.” 5 For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, 6 by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. 7 But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.

8 But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9 The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:3-9)

So, despite false ones who rise up (Matthew 24:4) and scoffers, Jesus will return.  And very soon.  Probably within the next ten years (Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End?).  But not on May 21, 2011.

Harold Camping is wrong.

Some articles of related interest may include:

Harold Camping’s Teachings About the End of the World Do Not Agree with the Bible Harold Camping teaches that the rapture will be on May 21, 2011 and the world will end on October 21, 2011. What does the Bible show?
Does God Have a 6,000 Year Plan? What Year Does the 6,000 Years End? Was a 6000 year time allowed for humans to rule followed by a literal thousand year reign of Christ on Earth taught by the early Christians? When does the six thousand years of human rule end?
Can the Great Tribulation Begin in 2010, 2011, or 2012? Can the Great Tribulation begin today? What happens before the Great Tribulation in the “beginning of sorrows”? What happens in the Great Tribulation and the Day of the Lord? When is the earliest that the Great Tribulation can begin? What is the Day of the Lord?
There is a Place of Safety for the Philadelphians. Why it May Be Petra This article discusses a biblical ‘place of safety’ and includes quotes from the Bible and Herbert W. Armstrong on this subject–thus, there is a biblically supported alternative to the rapture theory.

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