Maybe you’ve seen billboards in your area, suggesting that May 21, 2011, will mark the biblically prophesied Day of Judgment. Although Jesus said in Matthew 24:36, “No one knows the day or the hour,” a group of enthusiastic Christians are convinced they know when Christianity’s risen savior will return to snatch away believers.
Billboards across the country in urban areas send a condemning and eerie message suggesting that “The Bible Guarantees It,” Judgment Day on May 21, that is.
Produced by Family Radio, a Christian station based in Oakland, the campaign actually began about three years ago and has seemingly turned up the heat in recent months.
According to the special projects coordinator, Michael Garchi, the purpose is to get non-believers ready for what the group says is the beginning of the end of the world.
He says the signs and evidence are clear.
“The Bible talks about a wicked and adulterous nation. The sin of homosexuality is a really big sign,” he said. “God puts emphasis on this particular sin. In the days of Lot … lots of sexual actions were going on … homosexuality is a huge sign that we are right at the end.”
Harold Camping, president and general manager of Family Radio, which broadcasts in 70 languages, calls himself a “tireless student of the Bible,” which he says qualifies him to announce the Day of Judgment. He derived the date from evidence he claims is in the Bible.
The radio network’s website says, “The timeline of history is God’s predetermined timetable for the unfolding of God’s Gospel program for this world. In other words, the length of time between the day God created this world in 11,013 B.C. and the day he will destroy it in Oct. 21, 2011.
“The discovery of this information built the foundation for what God would later reveal from the Bible as the date for the end. Judgment Day on May 21, 2011, is the culmination of five decades of intensive biblical study by Mr. Camping and other Bible teachers who have discovered the same biblical data.”
Todd Rogers, a subscribing Christian and follower of Camping, agrees that Jesus will come again on May 21 and take up believers in the Rapture while leaving heathens to suffer on earth.
“God specifically states in the Bible (in Genesis. 7:4) that Jesus will return 7,000 years after the great flood in 4990 B.C., which falls on May 21, 2011,” he said.
Despite the commonly quoted scripture (Matthew 24:36), Rogers says that information is no longer true.
“According to the Bible, not even Jesus knows when he will return to earth. But God himself does,” he said. “This was true until Harold Camping helped expose the true date of the Rapture.”
Garchi agrees, explaining that many have misinterpreted the Bible.
“The Bible didn’t say no one will know or can’t know,” he said, adding that there is some misunderstanding that Jesus didn’t know the day or the hour. He said that would be impossible if Jesus is God.
On May 21, Camping followers believe a number of believers will be taken up. Rogers says something around 2 percent of the population will be saved, but “the real number simply relies on the number of true believers in God and Christ on May 21, 2011.”
Believers like Rogers have started to prepare themselves for the Rapture by giving away their personal belongings and spreading the word through blogs, radio, and other means.
When asked if he would be raptured up, Rogers said: “Sure am. God and I have a great relationship, and I can only imagine that it will improve once we don’t have to deal with the long-distance aspect. If I am not saved, I will be shocked, but will accept God’s decision regardless.”
Ralph Watkins, professor of theology and African American studies at Fuller Theological Seminary, says this claim is unreasonable.
“I think this is a fear folks-into-faith (campaign), saying the day is coming so you better get saved before the date,” he said. “May 21 will come and go and you and I will be talking on May 22.”
Although he agrees any day is possible for the so-called Second Coming, Watkins believes it is unlikely any man knows the exact day.
He added that Camping’s claim is unbalanced and does not prove anything.
“It is very problematic to predicts dates because you have to consider if the events (in the Bible) are actually historical events … what they (Family Radio) fail to do is source extra-biblical material, biblical criticism, and ancient African history,” the professor said. “They have a very narrow view and are using one source. Their interpretation of that source is very limited.”
For more information about Family Radio’s Judgment Day announcement, visit familyradio.com.