Tuesday, March 13, 2012

End-times speculation: A sinful distraction

Last week, Harold Camping admitted he was wrong and confessed his "sin." Two years ago, the radio preacher had begun predicting that Jesus would return on May 21, 2011. He boldly declared, "the Bible guarantees it."

Now he belatedly admits that critics who pointed out that his prediction contradicted Jesus' own declaration that "no one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father" (Matthew 24:36, NIV), were right all along, and that he and his supporters had been sinful in making such a prediction. Unfortunately, it took the failure of his prediction to cause him finally to believe God's Word. That passage was there a long time before Harold Camping began his ministry, and I'm sure he had read it more than a few times. But he apparently thought he knew better than Jesus.

I guess contradicting God's Word on this subject is enough, but it seems to me there is an even greater "sin," if you want to call it that. None of us knows the mind of God perfectly, so we don't know for sure why God has chosen to leave the time of Christ's return as such a mystery, even to the point that Christ Himself doesn't know it. But, if you'll notice, Christ simply accepted it; once the Father made it clear that He would keep His own counsel on the timing, Christ didn't speculate on it. In fact, Christ discouraged any speculation on the part of His disciples, and that includes us.

Christ made it clear that our mission is to love, serve, and make disciples. Speculating on the end times is not our mission. We are to trust that matter to God and simply be faithful to what He has called us to do. The real sin in such speculation is that it distracts us from faithfulness to God's call and claim upon our lives. May we ever be found faithful.

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