I think the failed rapture prediction of May 21 in some sense has exposed my own view about the second coming of Jesus. I mean, to be honest with you, I don’t really expect Jesus to come within my own lifetime. I fully expect myself to experience physical death. In fact, the way I live could inform how I actually think about the issue, that perhaps life will go on forever without Jesus coming again at all.
Harold Camping knows for sure that Jesus will come on the day that he predicted. When I said that his prediction will be wrong, have I done so because I believe that no one knows when the day will come, or that because I believe that Jesus won’t come again at all?
It is one thing to say “he will come again to judge the living and the dead” every week, but the problem is whether our life is coherent with such belief. How shall we live if we believe that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead?
There is a well-known quote which said that “even if tomorrow the world ends, I will still plant my apple tree” (some said it was Luther, other said it was Augustine — well it doesn’t really matter who said it), but for me the saying could become “I will still plant my apple tree because the world will never end anyway!”
Of course, on the other hand, you could find people who think that they can make Jesus come by helping him to fulfill his words in Matthew 24:16: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” But then I don’t believe Jesus would think in the same crude way as these people did.
The Thessalonians were perhaps too eager to wait for the coming of Jesus (1 Thess 5, 2 Thess 3). Well, my problem is perhaps I don’t really expect him to come again. One more time: how shall we live if we believe that Jesus will come again to judge the living and the dead? What does it entail in practice?
(By the way, Camping is an engineer by training. I’ve told you, never trust the engineers when it comes to the matter of scriptural interpretation!)