In the last few weeks, a gross amount of attention has been given to a man by the name of Harold Camping. Harold, as we all probably know, has predicted that Jesus Christ will return to rapture His church tomorrow, on May 21st, 2011. Now normally, I don’t give this sort of stuff any attention. But I can’t help but notice the great amount of people who have. I guess there is nothing more important happening in this world right now, and it must just be a slow news cycle. Such claims of men who say they know when Jesus will return, as we all know from history, aren’t entirely unusual. Though of course, they are a bit odd and out of place considering that the Lord explicitly taught that no man knows the day or the hour of His return. Most Christians understand this very basic teaching, and aren’t in the slightest way moved by it.
Yet without fail, every few years somebody comes along who feels that through their diligent research and study of the Scriptures, or by means of some secret divine revelation, they have managed to figure out something that nobody else has figured out. They know the timing of Christ’s return! And to some degree, many of us laugh at it all. So much so that some people even throw end of the world parties. But tonight I’ve realized something about Harold Camping. Harold Camping is a paradigm of how many Evangelicals study the Scriptures. When you look at Harold Camping, instead of thinking you see some crazy old man and false teacher, realize that you just might be looking into a mirrored reflection of yourself.
We all have been influenced by some Bible teacher over the years who just seemed like he had an amazing grasp of the Scriptures. Every time such a teacher speaks, great mysteries and levels of understanding just seem to be unlocked, and we are blown away by his penetrating insights and discoveries. We highly esteem such individuals. So much so, we want to be like them. So we do what comes naturally, we do our best to try and imitate them. So we spend a lot of time reading the Scriptures, memorizing verses, and being extremely caught up in the world of theology and Biblical studies. We highlight every passage and look up ever single word in a dictionary.
But a problem occurs. Through our first few readings of the Scriptures, we find ourselves having a hard time understanding them. We discover we aren’t as insightful as our beloved Bible teacher after all. But not wanting to be ignorant, and always wanting to have some super deep spiritual insight to share with others, we attempt to look very hard to find some hidden gem. And when that is not enough, we begin to try and squeeze water out of rocks. Why? Because something of our pride is tickled, and we want to say we understand something great and awesome, and appear insightful to others. And because of such, we become poor Bible students. And instead of being blown away by the awesome work of what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and in His resurrection, we find ourselves caught up in lesser things.
Why do we do such? I’m convinced we do such because we are ultimately bored with Biblical Christianity and the faith once and for all handed down to the saints. Because we think the cross is so elementary, we move on to what we consider the real “deep things of God.” But in doing such, we’ve show ourselves to be deceived. For there is no greater mystery in all of the universe to understand than God crucified. And if you can ever get bored with this mystery, then it shows you’ve never really even begun to understand it. There is no nugget of truth greater or any insight more precious than what God did in Jesus Christ 2,000 years ago.
This isn’t to say we should neglect the study of eschatology– the doctrine of the last days. We should most certainly study these things. But my main point is this: if we can’t rightly understand the doctrines of the last days in light of what Christ did 2,000 years ago on the cross and in His resurrection from the dead, then we can’t honestly expect to understand anything at all. For in that place is found all insight and knowledge. And apart from a mastery understanding of what Christ did there, the rest of the Bible will be a very dark place. And it will be a very dark place for you, because like Harold Camping, you’ve became bored with the everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ. And God doesn’t want you to understand the precious truths contained in the Scriptures apart from the truth found in Christ.
So, make fun of Harold Camping all you want. But consider that perhaps God has raised such a man up to serve as a mirror for you to gaze in. And be warned, that in making fun of Harold Camping, you are only making fun of yourself.