I wanted to call this post “May 21st Definitely Will Not Be Judgment Day.” The only reason I didn’t is because anything could happen on any given day. It could be tomorrow or this Saturday or April 8, 2071 or 10,435 years from now. I’m not prophetic or arrogant enough to claim to know when the Rapture will or won’t happen.
At the same time, I have a problem with the biblical interpretive reasoning that led Harold Camping and others to arrive at this particular date. It’s based on the understanding that the world was created in the year 11,013 BC and Noah’s Flood took place in 4990 BC. People have carefully examined biblical genealogies to arrive at these dates and I respect that effort, but I’m convinced (yes, partially by science) that our planet is well over 13,000 or 14,000 years old. And I’m just not convinced that all humanity except 8 people were literally wiped out 7000 years ago by a flood. The Bible has some things in it that are historically accurate, and some things that aren’t. Faith always plays a role, but responsible scholars still need to search out the difference.
[Can’t spend too much time on this here, but the Noah’s Ark story has been retold in a lot of cultures. The writer of Genesis wasn’t the first one to tell it. For more on that, check out the Pulitzer Prize winning book “God: A Biography” by Jesuit scholar Jack Miles.]
There’s another part to the prophecy that I’m not clear on. The May 21st crowd is saying that the Bible says that a day is like 1000 years and 1000 years is like a day for God. I got that. But they’ve also concluded that the world’s destruction will come “7 days” (7000 years) after the flood, but I don’t see what they’re basing that on.
The argument for a 5/21/11 Judgment Day centers around the belief that May 21st, 2011 will mark 7000 years since the Noah’s ark account took place. The Bible says the rain began on the “17th day of the 2nd month.” It’s true that any Hebrew Calendar Converter will tell you that the 17th day of Iyar translates to May 21st. But I wonder if these prophets have considered the fact that a complete Hebrew calendar year is 6 minutes and 25 seconds shorter than our Gregorian year, so every 231 years, the Hebrew Calendar falls a day behind the Gregorian calendar and there’s no agreed upon way to account for this. Also, the Hebrew Calendar inserts 7 leap months every 19 years, and we insert a leap day every 4 years. So the 17th of Iyar would have been May 21st in the year 4990 BC, but do they still line up so evenly this year?
I’m not telling people “don’t believe these wackos,” because at the end of the day, I have no idea when or precisely how the new heaven and new earth will be ushered in.
But I do think it’s fascinating that the people and organizations telling us there are only a few days left are getting some big donations from people who think there’s no reason to store up savings, rent, or tuition beyond next week. And they are definitely accepting them.
I’m just saying May 21st, 2011 may not be Judgment Day.