Now that Harold Camping has revised his rapture-and-end-of-the-world prediction by pushing the “visible” end of all things to October 21, you have to wonder why anybody is paying attention to this guy.
There are at least two problems with what Camping is doing. First, his calculations are based on a bizarre idea of biblical numerology, attaching numerical values to things like “heaven.” ( The Washington Post has Camping’s computation here). Apparently, heaven’s biblical number is 17 because that is a combination of 10 (completeness) and 7 (perfection), so heaven is the “complete perfection.” While it is true that heaven is a wonderful place, that doesn’t add up to 17 in any legitimate biblical scholarship.
Secondly, and most disturbingly, Camping is making a mockery of the idea of judgment, the idea that there is a consequence for our actions. That’s the point of Jesus’ story about the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25. It does matter how we live and what we do, and in whom we place our trust and confidence.
So now we have to endure 5 more months of media coverage of this silliness. I for one will be glad when October 21 comes and goes. Until then, don’t sell your house, quit your job, or empty your bank account. Let’s live like followers of Jesus, people who believe that to love God and others sums up God’s command to us. That won’t get any headlines, but will change the world.