LiveScience.com – Mon May 16, 5:01 pm ETThe May 21 Judgment Day meme is the brainchild of an 89-year-old radio evangelist named Harold Camping. Using a mathematical system of his own creation to interpret obscure prophecies in the Bible, Camping originally predicted that Sept. 6, 1994 would be Judgment Day, or the day of the “Rapture” when Christian believers will ascend to heaven, leaving the rest of humanity to its deservedly dreary fate.But 1994 came and went relatively uneventfully, and Camping has since reworked his equations in such a way that they now point to a May 21, 2011 Rapture. Once the 200 million true Christians (in Camping’s estimation) have been whisked away this coming Saturday, he says hell on Earth will ensue and last for 5 months, until Oct. 21, at which point the world will end. [Infographic: Doomsdays Past & Present]Here’s the gist of Camping’s calculation: He believes Christ was crucified on April 1, 33 A.D., exactly 722,500 days before May 21, 2011. That number, 722,500, is the square of 5 x 10 x 17. In Camping’s numerological system, 5 represents atonement, 10 means completeness, and seventeen means heaven. “Five times 10 times 17 is telling you a story,” Camping said on his Oakland-based talk show, Family Radio, last year. “It’s the story from the time Christ made payment for your sins until you’re completely saved.”He added, “I tell ya, I just about fell off my chair when I realized that.” [End of the World: Top Doomsday Fears]
Over the past few months, Camping’s prophecy has gained considerable traction with Christian fundamentalists. Signs, billboards, and volunteer evangelists around the country have helped spread the word.
Christian naysayers point out that, in the gospel of Matthew, Jesus says Judgment Day cannot be foreseen: “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man comes.”Here is the scripture from the New King James Version that tells us that no one knows the day or time of the Rapture, not even Jesus, only God Himself. Mark 13:32 (New King James Version)
Jesus Predicts the Destruction of the Temple
1 Then as He went out of the temple, one of His disciples said to Him, “Teacher, see what manner of stones and what buildings are here!”
2 And Jesus answered and said to him, “Do you see these great buildings? Not one stone shall be left upon another, that shall not be thrown down.”
The Signs of the Times and the End of the Age
3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, 4 “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”
5 And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 6 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. 7 But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. 8 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles.[a] These are the beginnings of sorrows.
9 “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought[b] before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. 10 And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. 11 But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate[c] what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit. 12 Now brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. 13 And you will be hated by all for My name’s sake. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.
The Great Tribulation
14 “So when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’[d] spoken of by Daniel the prophet,[e] standing where it ought not” (let the reader understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. 15 Let him who is on the housetop not go down into the house, nor enter to take anything out of his house. 16 And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. 17 But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! 18 And pray that your flight may not be in winter. 19 For in those days there will be tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the creation which God created until this time, nor ever shall be. 20 And unless the Lord had shortened those days, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake, whom He chose, He shortened the days.
21 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘Look, He is there!’ do not believe it. 22 For false christs and false prophets will rise and show signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. 23 But take heed; see, I have told you all things beforehand.
The Coming of the Son of Man
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; 25 the stars of heaven will fall, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 Then they will see the Son of Man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then He will send His angels, and gather together His elect from the four winds, from the farthest part of earth to the farthest part of heaven.
The Parable of the Fig Tree
28 “Now learn this parable from the fig tree: When its branch has already become tender, and puts forth leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So you also, when you see these things happening, know that it[f] is near—at the doors! 30 Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
No One Knows the Day or Hour
32 “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. 34 It is like a man going to a far country, who left his house and gave authority to his servants, and to each his work, and commanded the doorkeeper to watch. 35 Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning— 36 lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!”