By Jacob Sprecher
Seen any apocalyptic billboards of late? Happen to notice that the end is near? Yeah, me too. But for those unaware, Saturday, May 21st is the official beginning of The Rapture, as in the return of Jesus Christ and the end of the world as we know it, which ultimately culminates with the destruction of the universe five months later on the 21st of October.
That’s the belief of Family Radio and its followers, at least.
Family Radio is Bay Area-based, non-denominational Christian broadcasting. It’s headed by 89-year-old Harold Camping, a Christian author and Biblical soothsayer of some notoriety. 17 years ago, Camping penned the book 1994, which, in accordance with the teachings of Leviticus, prophesized The Rapture for September of that same Jubilee year. As it turned out, 1994 was instead the year of “Latter Rain, a picture of salvation, the beginning of a great multitude being saved.” Which brings us to May of 2011, the revamped and certifiable End.
In anticipation of Doomsday, Synthesis hooked up with Family Radio spokesman Tom Evans for the straight scoop.
How can you explain The Rapture beginning on May 21st?
Probably the best, most visible sign that we were nearing the end of time was when the nation of Israel was reestablished in 1948. That very important sign—in fact it’s indisputable—sort of alerted believers that we were in the season of the end.
Summertime for farmers is the season right before harvest. And Jesus said when you see the fig tree leaves, know that “summer is nigh,” and that He or It is at the door. So 1948 was like summertime before the harvest, [and] the harvest is what God described in the Bible as the time when he will separate the wheat from the chaff, the true believers from those who are not… Now, we’re in the season, 1948 comes, and Jesus talks about several signs which would precede his return. He says in Peter 4:11, “judgment begins in the House of God.” Wherever that’s found on Earth, that’s where God begins his judgment process. So the judgment begins with the nation of Israel, because at one point Israel was the House of God.
Then Jesus warned [of a sign] called the “abomination of desolation,” [which] we believe occurred in 1988. Basically, it is judgment occurring on the church. It’s a very subtle, silent kind of thing. It’s not going to happen with any fanfare, and it’s not going to be visible in nature. It’s going to be invisible.
Does this tie in with the concept of spiritual decay?
Yes. The churches themselves should be caretakers of the Bible, and yet rather than doing their job of bringing the gospel, the churches have adopted a gospel that has nothing to do with [what] God presented in the Bible. And one of the signs, Jesus said in Matthew 24:24, is “false Christs and false prophets shall arrive.” Today, no one can dispute the fact that there are hundreds if not thousands of Christian denominations. And why is that? If there’s one truth and one Bible, why do Lutherans have a different take on the Bible than Catholics; why do Catholics have a different take than Baptists?
They all have their own Jesus, and what we’re contending is that they have a false Christ; the Christ they have is not true. And Jesus said this would precede his return.
Is it true that gay pride is also one of the foremost signs of the apocalypse?
Well, what was the problem with Sodom and Gomorrah? It was homosexuality. In fact, if you read that account in Genesis, you find that God himself went there in the form of two men, and these two men went and visited Lot’s house; and the men of Sodom and Gomorrah went and surrounded Lot’s house and told him, “Bring these men out to us so that we may know them,” [which] means to have sex with them. They started pulling on Lot’s gate, and finally God himself pulled Lot inside and blinded all the men. And the same day Lot went out of Sodom and Gomorrah, it rained fire and brimstone and destroyed them all.
So the worldwide rise of gay pride is a signal of Sodom and Gomorrah presenting itself once more?
We’re not saying homosexuality is any worse than any other sin, but it’s interesting to watch how it’s become culturally acceptable, whereas in the ‘50s and ‘60s and before people had to hide the fact they were homosexual. But now it’s almost welcomed, and become very fashionable. That change, that cultural change, is a signal… And Jesus said the end of the world would be very much like the flood [Noah’s Ark], and very much like Sodom and Gomorrah.
So if the rapture is indeed beginning on May 21st, what can people physically expect to take place? Do you have any idea what it will be like?
Yeah, we do. If you go to Revelations 16:18, God gives a very dismal, very scary warning. We suspect strongly that an earthquake will occur and work its way around the globe…there will be no question.
Could it be bizarre? Like dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria? Or will it just be fire and brimstone?
Well, the fire and brimstone won’t come until October 21st, but the interim is just going to be a time of torment. People are going to be living in a world of devastation. And people who aren’t killed by the earthquake are going to live in a world where no one can be buried, no organized government…nuclear reactors will be spewing out waste…people are going to know intuitively that this is Judgment Day.
The true believers will be caught up. When that earthquake occurs all the believers will be caught up and meet Christ in the air. The non-believers who are left here will not see Jesus; they’ll see the sign of his coming, but they won’t see him. Yet they will see the effect of the believers being caught up.
Is it too late, then, for non-believers to be saved before May 21st?
No. And that’s one of the reasons God tells the true believers beforehand, so they can warn the world. Right at the last hour before the judgment starts, people can become saved.
Will you feel a sense of vindication in proving non-believers wrong by their suffering the wrath of God?
No, not necessarily like that. Because I don’t believe I’m any better than anybody else. The only difference is that I’ve observed God’s mercy upon me. And we [believers] all feel the same way. It’s a very humbling thing. And from someone observing this from the outside, they would look at us and say, “You guys are crazy. You’re just doing this to exploit people, or scare people, or benefit financially.” No. Two things motivate me: One is my desire to be obedient to God’s commands; second is my compassion for my fellow human being no matter who they are.
How do you personally see yourself residing in the Kingdom of Heaven?
I have no idea. I don’t think it’ll be anything like this world. But I can’t wait. Certainly my imagination can run wild, but based upon what I read in Revelation 21, bring it on. I’ve been waiting for this for the last 25 years.
But what if you’re wrong again?
I believe with all my heart it’s gonna happen. I trust the Bible. God is not a liar. The Bible will vindicate me. There isn’t going to be a May 22nd.
Some people might think that if the rapture were not to take place, that this group of believers might take the route of Heaven’s Gate and commit mass suicide.
No, it’s not going to be that way. The believers that I know, their reaction [to being wrong in 1994] was to trust God no matter what. He protects us, even from ourselves. So the idea of fear amongst people who observe this, [if they think] there’s going to be a lot of people drinking Kool-Aid and committing mass suicide, they don’t understand what’s working inside the true believers.
How will you spend the rapture? On high ground? At church? Peacefully alone?
I have two small children. My wife and I will be with them, pray with them, hold them; and we have some dear friends [that] have six children, and they have invited us to come hang out. We don’t know what will happen that day. We’ll just be praying, reading the Bible, and quietly preparing.
The only real question is this: What are you doing Friday night? All of it, bubba!