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The Doomsday Prophecies

By now there can be few people interested in Bible prophecy who have not heard of Harold Camping. Camping, an 89-year-old retired civil engineer living in California who had built a multi-million-dollar non-profit ministry known as Family Radio, had issued an Apocalyptic warning that God’s Day of Judgement would begin on May 21, 2011, starting with a worldwide earthquake. 

Camping also predicted that on this day Jesus Christ would return to the earth to save all true Christian believers, estimated to be some 200 million people, and that those left behind would suffer through a series of catastrophic disasters that would culminate in the destruction of the world by a fireball on October 21, 2011.

This prediction was publicized through Camping’s network of radio stations, TV channels, satellite broadcasts and website. It was also was picked up by the international media because of its sensational content, and ultimately came to the attention of most of the countries of the world.  

As May 21 drew nearer, donations grew, allowing Family Radio to spend millions of dollars on more than 5,000 billboards and 20 recreational vehicles plastered with the doomsday message. They also took out full-page adverts in national newspapers, complete with Biblical quotations supporting their predictions.

When the predicted Day of Judgement finally arrived, millions of people around the world waited expectantly. Some of Camping’s more fearful followers shut themselves inside their homes to pray for mercy as they awaited the end. 

Others met for tearful last farewells with family as they prepared to leave behind their homes and pets before being swept up into heaven. Camping himself had recommended that followers surround themselves with their loved ones and not meet publicly.

Once it became clear that they had not been rescued by Jesus, and that the predicted earthquakes had failed to occur, Camping and his followers were faced with the realization that their predictions were false, and that they would have to come to terms with a new reality.

Theirs had been an unwavering belief, the sort that had inspired some to quit their jobs, others to simply leave their homes and walk away from family and friends. For Camping himself, this was a case of the past repeating itself, as he had previously predicted that the Rapture would occur in September 1994.   

In 1992, Camping had published a book titled 1994?, in which he proclaimed that Christ’s return might be on September 6, 1994. In that publication, he also mentioned that 2011 could be the end of the world. Camping’s predictions used 1988 as a significant year in the events preceding the apocalypse.

In his later publications, We are Almost There! and To God be The Glory, Camping referred to additional Biblical evidence which, in his opinion and that of others mentioned by him, indicated May 21, 2011 as the date for the Rapture and October 21, 2011 as the date for the end of the world.

Meanwhile skeptical observers and critics lampooned Camping and his apocalyptic predictions, pointing out that he himself had not only failed once before, but that he was merely the latest in a long line of would-be date-setters who had all failed in their attempts to predict the time of future Biblical events.

Other Christian preachers and scholars went further. They used scriptural evidence to show that these apocalyptic events could never be predicted in advance, quoting the words of the disciple Mark: “But 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)  

Camping was unrepentant. When he emerged from his home on May 22, saying that he was “flabbergasted” that the Rapture had not occurred, he said he was “looking for answers” and would have more to say when he returned to work on May 23. He also added that he had no plans to return the donations given to him by those followers who had believed implicitly in his words.

On May 23, undeterred by this failure, Camping was quick to counter his critics and issue a revised date. Speaking on his open forum radio show from California he announced: “The timing, the structures, the proofs, none of that has changed at all.” He added: “We don’t always hit the nail on the head the first time. All I am is a humble teacher. I search the Bible.”

As he went on to explain: “Actually there are four days that are very crucial at this point in time. We have talked about all four of these days in the past and we are not making any changes in these four days except for the emphasis … The first part of the end of the world began on May 21, 1988.” The new date for the end of the world he now assured his followers, would be on October 21, 2011.

But even his most ardent followers must now have serious cause for doubt, especially as he had initially predicted that the Rapture would occur in September 1994. After all, Camping was not the first person to set a date for the apocalyptic events described in the Bible. Nor unfortunately, is he likely to be the last.

In the 16th Century, a German Anabaptist prophet by the name of Melchior Hoffman announced to his followers that the Lord would return to the earth in 1533, and that the French town of Strasbourg would be the location of the New Jerusalem.

Then, some three centuries later, an American Baptist preacher called William Miller wrote: “My principles in brief, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843, and March 21, 1844.” When March 21, 1844 came and went without the appearance of the Christ, Miller (like Camping) decided that his calculations had been incorrect.

After further discussion and study, he adopted a new date based on the “Karaite” version of the Jewish calendar, in place of the “Rabbinic” version he had used before. This new date, Miller announced, would be April 18, 1844. When this new date again passed without Christ’s return, he responded publicly, writing: “I confess my error, and acknowledge my disappointment; yet I still believe that the day of the Lord is near, even at the door.”

The failures of men like Miller, and now Camping, are unlikely to deter those Christian followers who look for a precise understanding of apocalyptic events. But predicting the dates of future events is fraught with difficulty, and even so revered a prophet as Nostradamus had his own hits and misses. In a letter addressed to “Henry, Second King of France”, Nostradamus wrote:

These predictions made with the aid of astronomy and other methods, and even by the Holy Scriptures, cannot not happen. Had I wished I could have put a calculation of time into each quatrain; but that would not have pleased everyone, and my interpretations still less, unless your Majesty grants me enough protection to do this, so as not to give slanderers pretext for attacking me.”

Yet in spite of these cautionary words, Nostradamus did publish seven quatrains that contained actual dates of reference. They were Century 1 verse 49, Century 2 verse 51, Century 3 verse 77, Century 6 verse 2, Century 8 verse 71, Century 10 verse 72, and Century 10 verse 91. 

These quatrains are quoted below. Translations from the original French, together with the accompanying commentaries, are taken from the book The Prophecies of Nostradamus by Erika Cheetham.

Century 1 verse 49 – “Long before these happenings the people of the East, influenced by the moon, in the year 1700 will cause many to be carried away, and will almost subdue the Northern area.”

Cheetham considers this to be a failed quatrain since nothing that occurred in 1700 had the sort of impact in the north that Nostradamus predicted. 

Century 2 verse 51 – “The blood of the just will be demanded of London burnt by fire in three times twenty plus six. The ancient lady will fall from her high position, and many of the same denomination will be killed.”

Cheetham considers this to be one of Nostradamus’ more interesting quatrains, for it not only gives an accurate date for the Great Fire of London (1666), but also mentions St. Paul’s Cathedral (dame antique) which was destroyed in the blaze.

Century 3 verse 77 – “The third climate included under Aries, in the year 1727 in October the king of Persia, captured by those of Egypt: battle, death, loss: great shame to the cross.”

This quatrain proved to be uncannily correct, for in October 1727 a peace treaty was concluded between the Turks and the Persians. At the time Egypt belonged to the Ottoman Empire and was ruled by the Turks.

Century 6 verse 2 – “In the year five hundred and eighty more or less one will await a very strange century. In the year seven hundred and three, the skies as witness that several kingdoms, one to five, will make a change.”

Cheetham writes: “A daring quatrain with two dates, both of which seem accurate. In 1580, Nostradamus nearly always leaves out the thousand for reasons of scansion, France was torn by the Civil War called the Seventh War and had little to look forward to. But by 1703 Louis XIV was defying Europe and fighting the Spanish Succession.” 

Century 8 verse 71 – “The number of astrologers will grow so great, that they will be driven out, banned, and their books censored. In the year 1607 by sacred assemblies so that none will be safe from the holy ones.”

Cheetham considers this to be an accurate quatrain. In the year 1607 Pope Urban VIII banned Dekkers’ Almanach under pain of expulsion from the church. This act caused considerable controversy at the time.

Century 10 verse 91 – “In the year 1609, the Roman Clergy at the head of the year will have an election; one of grey and black come forth from Campania, never was there as wicked as he.”  

Cheetham writes: “Pope Paul V reigned from 1605 to 1621 as Pope. But in the year 1609 he fell ill, and according to contemporary reports, there was a great deal of intriguing going on in the Courts of France and Rome should the Pope die an opportune death.” In retrospect this seems like a less than convincing quatrain by Nostradamus.

Century 10 verse 72 – “In the year 1999, and seven months, from the sky will come the great King of Terror. He will bring back to life the great king of the Mongols. Before and after War reigns happily.”

This is one of Nostradamus’ most intriguing quatrains, implicating as it does his many references to “fire from the sky”. What makes this even more significant is that in July of 1999 the comet Hale-Bopp could still be seen dominating the northern sky, and was of course the subject of numerous end-of-the-world predictions. However, from the point of view of the date quoted by Nostradamus, this quatrain must stand as a failure.  

As we have seen, Nostradamus indicated in his letter to Henry that his predictions were made “with the aid of astronomy and other methods, and even by the Holy Scriptures”. And yet despite his avowed confidence that he “could have put a calculation of time into each quatrain”, it is clear that Nostradamus was ultimately as fallible as others have proven to be. That did not necessarily mean that his prophecies were incorrect, but rather that the methods he used to date his predictions were prone to error.

And this should be the lesson that all those (like Harold Camping) who dare to predict “the day and the hour” should take to heart. And those gullible souls who choose to follow blindly the calculated guesses of these savants, do so at their peril. The reason for this is that all “date-setters” proceed from the same mistaken assumption.

They all assume that by careful analysis of the various time periods quoted in the Bible, both in the New Testament and the Old, it is possible to accurately predict the time of the end. Even so august a scientist as Sir Isaac Newton could not resist this temptation, when he predicted that the Apocalypse would occur in the year 2060.

Newton was a devout Christian who believed that the Bible was a revelation from God. He also believed that biblical prophecy predicted the divinely-ordained events of the future, and that the interpretation of biblical prophecy was “no matter of indifferency but a duty of the greatest moment”. As he recorded in his alchemical papers “the holy Prophecies” of the Scripture are nothing less than “histories of things to come.” (Yahuda MS 1.1, folio 16 recto)

There is, however, another way of dating prophecy that has proven to be much more effective and reliable than simply guessing at dates. It was also the method used by Jesus. As Jesus pointed out to his disciples, many would be misled about the days and the time of the end.

And as he sat upon the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ, and shall deceive many.” (Matthew 24:3-5) 

Jesus then went on to teach his disciples the only proven method for understanding his own prophecies, as well as those of other prophets.

Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know the summer is nigh; So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors.” “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only.” (Matthew 24:32-36)

As Jesus explained to his disciples, the timing of these events lay in the sequence of these events. So, when one thing happened, his disciples should be ready for the next to occur. And this is the basis for the true interpretation of prophecy. For it is one thing to have been granted the gift of prophecy. It is quite another to accurately interpret these prophecies at a later time.

As Jesus explained, if one wanted to have a true understanding of the time of the end, it was necessary to have eyes to see and ears to hear. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand. And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esias, which saith, by hearing ye shall hear, and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive:” (Matthew 13:13-14)

The events that will precede the Day of Judgement on earth have been clearly laid out by Jesus, and even more clearly described by St John in his Book of Revelation. However modern man remains blissfully unaware of these signs, and of the impending arrival of that terrible day on which all of mankind will be held to account for their actions.

And this is what makes “The Last Days of Tolemac” such a unique book. For the Oracle has not only explained the sequence of events that will lead up to the time of the end, but he actually gives the actual event which will herald the Great and Terrible Day of the Lord, which will also be the day on which the souls of the just will join Jesus in rapture.

What the actual date of this cataclysmic event will be, no one can say. But what is increasingly evident is that the circumstances leading up to it are unfolding by the hour. Already it looms ever closer, and can be glimpsed through the fog of the evening news.

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Allan, Articles, May 26, 2011, 11:42 am

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