Last month (seems longer ago than that, doesn't it?), Harold Camping predicted that the world would end at 6 pm local time on May 21, 2011. He figured it would have to happen then since it was exactly 7000 years after it started raining on Noah's ark.
He'd have never made that mistake, if he'd just listened to Jesus.
Here's what Jesus said about the end of the world.
(The synoptic gospels disagree a bit about the order of events, but this list is as close as I could get to what Jesus supposedly said.)
Before the end comes the following things must happen:
- Many false Christs and false prophets will show off signs and wonders that will deceive many people. Some will claim the end is near. Don't believe them.
Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:5
Many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. Matthew 24:11
If any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Matthew 24:23-24
Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. Mark 13:6
Many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and the time draweth near: go ye not therefore after them. Luke 21:8(I haven't noticed many "false Christs" or "great signs and wonders" lately, though there have been a few like Harold Camping, Hal Lindsey, William Miller, and the Jehovah's Witnesses that have said "the time draweth near." But they've been doing that forever. And they're always wrong.)
- There will be wars, rumors of wars, and commotions. (Ignore all that.)
Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. Matthew 24:6
Ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. Mark 13:7
When ye shall hear of wars and commotions, be not terrified: for these things must first come to pass; but the end is not by and by. Luke 21:9(There will be wars. OK, he was right about that. But it hasn't been very helpful in setting the date for the end of the world.)
- There will be earthquakes, famines, troubles, pestilences, fearful sights, and great signs from heaven. (This is just the beginning of sorrows.)
There shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows. Matthew 24:7-8
There shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows. Mark 13:8
Great earthquakes shall be in divers places, and famines, and pestilences; and fearful sights and great signs shall there be from heaven. Luke 21:11(This is one of the stupidest things Jesus is said to have said. There have always been earthquakes, diseases, etc. Couldn't God find a better way to communicate with us?)
- Believers will be arrested, beaten, persecuted, and killed by Jews and kings.
Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you. Matthew 24:9
They shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. Mark 13:9
They shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake. Luke 21:12(This one has happened now and then, and still happens today in some parts of the world, though not noticeably more today than in in the past. But when did Jews persecute Christians? Seems like Jesus got this one backwards.)
- But not a hair on a believer's head will perish. (Even if they are killed.)
But there shall not an hair of your head perish. Luke 21:18(Since the visible part of hair is dead, I suppose Jesus was sort of right about this one. I guess the end is near.)
- Believers will be hated by everyone (for Christ's sake).
Ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake. Matthew 24:9
Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. Mark 13:13
Ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake. Luke 21:17(The religious right in the United States is starting to make this one come true.)
- Believers will hate one another.
Then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. Matthew 24:10
(Believers have been fighting among themselves since the time Jesus supposedly said this, but less today than in the past.)
- Friends and family will betray each other and some will be put to death.
Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. Mark 13:12
Ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death. Luke 21:16(Have believers been betraying their family and friends to avoid persecution lately?)
- Iniquity will abound and love wax cold. (But don't worry. If you make it this far, you'll be saved.)
Iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Matthew 24:12-13
He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. Mark 13:13(Is there more iniquity or less love than usual? I hadn't noticed. Still, I am encouraged since I've endured this far. I guess I'm saved after all.)
- The gospel will be preached to all nations (and then the end will come).
This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Matthew 24:14
The gospel must first be published among all nations. Mark 13:10(This one happened a long time ago. Paul even claimed it had happened back in his day. The entire world is sick of hearing about Jesus. Stop already!)
- The abomination of desolations will be displayed where it shouldn't be. (When you see this,
it's time to head for the hills. Whoso readeth, let him understand.)
When ye ... see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:Matthew 24:15-16
When ye shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing where it ought not, (let him that readeth understand,) then let them that be in Judaea flee to the mountains. Mark 13:14(Nobody knows what the hell Jesus was talking about here.)
- Pregnant and nursing women will be especially screwed.
Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! Matthew 24:19
Woe to them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! Mark 13:17
Woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. Luke 21:23(I suppose this one has always been true.)
- Jerusalem will be trampled by non-Jews (until the time of the Gentiles be fulfilled).
Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled. Luke 21:24(I don't know what to make of this one. Has the time of the non-Jews been fulfilled?)
- It will be bloody hell out there.
Then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. Matthew 24:21
In those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be. Mark 13:19(I just checked and it looks pretty nice out there. Don't think this one has happened yet.)
- Everyone will be afraid of everything.
Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. Luke 21:26(There's plenty of fear today, but is there any more than usual? And I'm pretty sure the powers of heaven haven't been shaken.)
- The sun and moon will darken, the stars will fall down from the sky, the powers of heaven will shake, and waves on the sea will roar.
The sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken. Matthew 24:29
The stars of heaven shall fall, and the powers that are in heaven shall be shaken. Mark 13:25
And there shall be signs in the sun, and in the moon, and in the stars; and upon the earth distress of nations, with perplexity; the sea and the waves roaring; Luke 21:25(Jesus was talking about things that he knew nothing about. Ignore him.)
- Then, and only then, will Jesus come in all his glory.
As the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Matthew 24:27
Then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. Matthew 24:30
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in the clouds with great power and glory. Mark 13:26
And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Luke 21:26(Everyone will get to see Jesus come. He'll come in the clouds like lightning, with one great and powerful splurge of omnipotence. Don't miss it.)
- And he'll come within the lifetime of his contemporaries.
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Matthew 24:34
Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done. Mark 13:30
Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass away, till all be fulfilled. Luke 21:32(Crap! We all missed it. It all happened nearly 2000 years ago. Oh well.)
So there you have it. That is what Jesus supposedly said about his own second coming and the end of the world. And he ought to know.
Except that it turns out he didn't. He had no idea when he was scheduled to return. Here's what he said about it (after he told everyone when he'd return).
Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. Mark 13:32
So forget Harold Camping. And forget Jesus, too.