Harold Camping first predicted the world would end October 21, 2011. That was not his first forecast. In 1992 he published a book called 1994 and in it declared Christ would return mid-September, that same year.
"I'm like the boy who cried wolf again and again," he said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle. "This doesn't bother me in the slightest," he said.
William Miller preceded Camping by more than a century. He preached about the pending return of Christ through the 1840's. He warned the earth would be engulfed with fire sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844. The Millerites sold their belongings between 1840 and 1844 and fled to the mountain to wait for the end. When time passed with no result Miller changed the date to October 22. His supporters went on to form the Seventh Day Adventist movement.
The Bible warns no one knows the day or the hour, nevertheless, the end times is a popular topic and world events often lead to speculation. "Is it now?" "Are we living in the Day?"
Christians are not alone with such thoughts. Even for terrorists, end-times is irresistible. Sebastien Gorka is a renowned counter-terrorism expert. He says Islamic State is trying to usher in the end of the world with one 'final jihad' (jihad – holy war).
Gorka spoke at the first annual The Bridge conference for the persecuted church hosted by International Christian Concern. He explained that Islamic State is referred in various places by the names IS, ISIS, ISIL or Daesh.
Gorka explained the self-description comes from 'the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham', from that they take the Arabic acronym DAESH. In that name al-Sham takes on a 'deeper' theological meaning. "Like every religion, Islam has an eschatology. It has a story of the End Times.
Just as in Christian eschatology, the talks of a final period of tribulation or judgment day and a series of battles between the believers and non-believers, Islam has the same," Gorka declared. "Everybody will be resurrected and judged by Allah at the End Times. But prior to that judgment, there will be a series of battles in al-Sham. The pivotal jihad, the last jihad will occur in this territory."
"It is crucial to understand how powerful that message is because when ISIS gets up on the internet or Twitter, Facebook and Telegram and say 'We are the Islamic State of al-Sham,' what message are they sending to that Pakistani immigrant in San Bernardino, to that man with Afghan descent in Orlando or those people in Istanbul and Brussels?" Gorka asked.
"They are sending a simple message: 'Have you ever wanted to be a jihadi? Have you toyed with the idea of salvation? Guess what? Look where we are — on the site of the final jihad. If you don't come now, you are going to miss guaranteed salvation.'"
He then claimed over 86,000 terrorists have been recruited to jihad from Iraq and Syria, and an estimated 36,000 are from outside Iraq and Syria including westerners.
Thahir Saheb Jamel, 27, was an Islamic State 'soldier'. In a jailhouse interview conducted by Foxnews he told how he eventually became disillusioned by the dark vision of his associates. "At the beginning, ISIS told us we would all go to heaven," Jamel said. "But now that I am in prison it means I am going to the fire. I am going to hell."
He was opposed to the Shia-led authorities in Baghdad and joined with Sunni young men. "We have to have a world based on sharia," he was taught. "And to build the Caliphate we must control the economy, take over every oil field." He lost count of the slaughter, the prisoners and the public beheadings.
"It haunts me that I am responsible for killing many people, we killed them for nothing," he said.
Biblically speaking it may be true. we may be living in the end times. The return of Jesus may be soon. It seems a healthy way to assess the situation.
For many generations predictions have been made using bible texts and world indicators to point to this or that date. William Branham was a Pentecostal preacher. February 23, 1963 he climbed Sunset Mountain. He claimed he met with seven angels who revealed to him the meaning of the seven veils described in the Book of Revelation. This experience led him to predict Jesus would return in 1977. Sadly he did not live to see that year. A drunken driver smashed into his car and Branham was killed Christmas Eve, 1965. For him the end came suddenly and despite his message, it was without warning.
"About the time of the end, a body of men will be raised up who will turn their attention to the prophecies, and insist upon their literal interpretation, in the midst of much clamor and opposition," a statement attributed to Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727. Newton predicted that the end of the world will occur in 2060.
"However, no one knows the day or hour when these things will happen, not even the angels in heaven or the Son himself. Only the Father knows," – Jesus Christ (Mark chapter 13, verse 32)
Some like ISIS, seek to hasten the day. Others will display their 'anointing' by naming the day, despite what Jesus said.
In 1969, my friend Larry Norman sang, "I wish we'd all been ready." As I type these words, I stopped and posted Larry and the song to my Facebook page. There is not a better end-times challenge for any of us.
Ron Ross is a Middle East consultant for United Christian Broadcasters (Vision FM). Previously he was radio news editor for Bridges for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel.
His career started at WINTV (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Ron Ross' previous articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/ron-ross.html