As Jesus said, "But about that day or hour no one knows" (Matthew 24:36, NLT)
Religious believers are in waiting for Judgment Day. Whether they are Islamic or Mormon, Jehovah's Witness or Catholic, many religions believe in the End Times. Within Christianity, this period is traditionally viewed as including a time of tribulation, the Rapture, the Second Coming of Christ, and the Day of Judgment when people will be judged by Jesus and treated accordingly. This Day of Judgment has proven to be motivational; spiritual quotes from Scripture and Church leaders throughout the centuries describe how citizens who are in right standing before God will go to heaven and those who remain in their sin will be held accountable.
Over the years, many prophets have predicted when this will happen, whether those prophets have been believed by others to be real or false. Many of them have predicted Judgment Days that have already come and gone, while another is on the horizon.
Signs of Judgment Day
Depending on the religious perspective, the signals preceding the Day of Judgment can include anything from fire and volcanoes to earthquakes and storms. Floods, famine, wind, few people left who are trustworthy... almost any horrible thing happening on a large scale can be interpreted as a sign that Judgment Day is finally upon us and that Christ will appear to judge people for their sins.
The Early Predictions
A book called "Isaac Asimov's Book of Facts," published in 1979, claims that archaeologists unearthed an ancient Assyrian tablet from around 2800 BCE that spoke of "these days" being the last days and that the end was upon them.
The Gospel of Matthew contains a verse wherein Jesus makes a reference leading his hearers to believe the second coming would happen within the lifetimes of his audience members. After describing the events of the End Times, Jesus stated, "Truly I tell you, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Matthew 24:34, NLT).
In the fourth century, Saint Martin said he believed the antichrist--another sign of the Apocalypse--had already been born.
Predictions in the Elizabethan Era
Between AD 1500 and 1700, there were many predictions of End Times. Perhaps this was because people were swarming with ideas about witches and personification of evil, or perhaps this had to do with the splitting of the Protestant Church away from the Catholics. Whatever the reason, religion was on a lot of minds.
Since the year 2000, there have been hundreds of predictions of the End--too many to count--from reputable sources to completely deranged people. These are not often heard about because they are usually discredited. Every so often, however, one gains popular interest, much like the most recent prediction of Harold Camping, who predicted the End of the World, the Rapture, Judgment Day, the Second Coming, and everything else associated with the End Times.
May 21st, 2011
Harold Camping, a man who inaccurately predicted Judgment Day previously (September of 1994), has come up with another prediction. This date was chosen because of the Bible's claim that Christ will come again seven days after Noah's flood. The Bible also states that, to God, a day is like a thousand years. According to Mr. Camping's calculations, then, May 21st, 2011 is seven thousand years after Noah's flood.
While predicting Judgment Days doesn't ever seem to go out of style, the only thing these predictions seem to do is to beget more predictions. Obviously, no one has yet been right about it. As Jesus said, "But about that day or hour no one knows" (Matthew 24:36, NLT). Since nothing can be done about it, maybe it's time to stop guessing.