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What Happens If May 21st Doesn’t Bring The Rapture?

posted by Brad Hirschfield

Radio evangelist Harold Camping has calculated what he believes to be the exact date of the rapture: May 21, 2011. His followers are fanning out across the nation, bringing his message of impending doom, and they’re getting more than a little attention.  In fact, I have been asked by numerous publications, what I think this is all about.  I share with you what I have already shared with others in the media.

I am a Jew, and one who believes in the coming of the Messiah, but I am far more interested in making the world messianic – peaceful, plentiful and teeming with life, than I am with the question of when the Messiah will actually arrive.  In fact, I think that is our best shot at bringing the Messiah.  And even if wrong about that, it is surely our best shot at making a better world.

Jewish tradition as a whole takes a dim view of calculating the exact time of the Messiah’s arrival (see for example warnings against such practices in the Talmud, Tractate Sanhedrin, 97-98), although that hasn’t stopped more than few Jewish sages from making exceptions to the norm and offering their own  predictions over the centuries.  Needless to say, they have all been wrong. 

Most recently, there has been genuine controversy around this topic as significant segments of the Chabad Lubavtich movement have held firmly to the belief that their “departed” (as opposed to dead) Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson of blessed memory, was and is the Messiah.  This is by no means the view of all members of the movement, but enough believe it that the controversy continues.

I mention this because messianic expectation, calculation and identification are not limited to any one religious tradition.  I also mention it because such behavior is not the province of fools, however wrong they may be. 

Such thinking usually grows out of deep dissatisfaction with the status quo and the genuine belief that it could get much better at any minute.  That is actually the approach which lies at the heart of pretty much all western, and much eastern, religious thought.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I have a “messiah calander” or think that anyone should.  It simply means that I have deep empathy for the intense desire to see things change for the better.

The real problem is not offering a date for when the Messiah will show, it’s what to do when he or she fails to show up?  Historically, one of two things happens and neither of them is good.  Either the believers become deeply disillusioned and embittered, or, they find it impossible to admit that they were wrong and the entire focus of their spiritual lives becomes proving that in fact that were not wrong. 

In the latter case, the believers’ world becomes increasingly narrow and disconnected from the very reality they sought to change, or they pursue aggressive means to force others to join them in their erroneous beliefs.  The former is pathetic and the latter is dangerous.  Certainly both should be avoided — in the first case, for the good of the faithful, and in the second case, for the good of the rest of us.

I am pretty confident that the world will still be here after May 21st.  The real question is what to do on May 22nd.  As long as those who think that I am wrong about what will happen on the 21st can also answer that question, I wish them, and the rest of us, the best of luck.



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 12, 2011 at 2:36 pm


What happens if the word doesn’t “end” on that day? Easy one. It goes on. Just as it did on the countless other “last day” events that were predicted/prophecied.

Sorry to say, but those ‘warnings’ seem more and more like the boy who cried “Wolf!”.



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nnmns

posted May 12, 2011 at 3:14 pm


If by some chance the world keeps on keepin’ on May 22 won’t it be time to declare that any religion that so consistently produces blunders like this is worth the paper it’s written on or the airwaves it occupies.

Why can’t we all just grow up?



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Cully

posted May 12, 2011 at 3:36 pm


maybe on May 22, 2011 we will all read the obituaries, look around and realize that the *rapture* so many predict (death) happens every minute of every day. The “rapture” that we long for will only happen when finally get it together and do our job. Namaste, Rabbi Brad :-)
Cully



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R

posted May 12, 2011 at 4:15 pm


#1) it is up to God, not man, to decide when the Messiah will arrive.
#2) For that reason, the last 2579 times (or pick you own number) that end the of the world has been prophesied have all been wrong.
#3) My nephew is getting married that weekend.



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nnmns

posted May 12, 2011 at 5:35 pm


People talk about The Flying Spaghetti Monster but they don’t predict it will show up, so it doesn’t fail to show when predicted and there’s no overriding reason to doubt its existence. Jesus and the Messiah have been specifically predicted over and over and failed to show so that gives added reason to doubt their existence.

Thus there’s more reason to doubt the existence of Jesus and the Messiah than there is to doubt the existence of the Flying Spaghetti Monster.



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romanscapegoat

posted May 12, 2011 at 7:02 pm


I’m sure a Jewish producer will make a movie in Jew hollywood with an all jewish cast-playing Christians…is it fair only Jews are allowed to have successful careers in the Jew Hollywood and media…



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Dr. Paul K. Fauteck

posted May 12, 2011 at 7:57 pm


As a psychologist I see this need to believe that someone (Jesus Act II, Siegfried, space aliens, the Lone Ranger, the Moschiach…) is coming to make everything all wonderful and beautiful as an avoidance of personal responsibility. Those who are truly devout, who themselves work to make the world a better place, who advocate on behalf of the wrongly imprisoned, who build schools and hospitals in deprived areas, are seldom the ones to promote such childish hopes. They serve our G-d, however they understand him or her, rather than using religion to serve their own selfish needs for wealth and attention.



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Linda

posted May 13, 2011 at 2:59 pm


The book of Daniel will help you understand the coming of Messiah, this article will help …

http://jewsforjesus.org/publications/issues/5_1/timetable



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MH

posted May 13, 2011 at 8:41 pm


I applaud them for making definite predictions. It takes guts to put your beliefs out there and see if they are right or wrong. If they’ll admit they were wrong after the fact I’ll be even more impressed.

However, I expect they’ll handle this like the Millerites did in the aftermath of the Great Disappointment. They’ll try to re-frame events and not question their underlying beliefs.



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Mordred08

posted May 14, 2011 at 12:24 am


romanscapegoat: “I’m sure a Jewish producer will make a movie in Jew hollywood with an all jewish cast-playing Christians…is it fair only Jews are allowed to have successful careers in the Jew Hollywood and media…”

Mel Gibson, is that you?



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romanscapegoat

posted May 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm


as a person who searches for truth…i see people forced to find a way to make money…some chose psychology…which is the study of others theories with the only purpose to benefit the wealthy drug companies and health-care system with unregulated profit…and of course the jews control the health care system and drug companies and wall street…Obama was never coming after the ignorant backwards hillbilly christian tea baggers…just wealthy jews…Kennedy tried to stop unregulated jew greed…he was killed by the jews…Obama tried to stop unregulated jew greed..the jew media using jew controlled polls…stopped Obama…GOD BLESS AMERICA???



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MH

posted May 14, 2011 at 7:32 pm


The atheists are having a field day with this. Here’s the URL to the “Countdown to Backpedaling” clock:

http://www.wecantknow.com/



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jeansmama

posted May 15, 2011 at 3:14 pm


The May 21,2011 prediction is really upsetting. I had my plans made for the world to end on December 21,2012. I was planning to go out for brunch on 12/22/2012 and then go out shopping and take advantage of all the ‘End-of-the-World’ sales. And it would have been just in time for Christmas.



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Mayra

posted May 15, 2011 at 3:44 pm


It seems as if another group has entered the billboard wars in Camping’s/Family Radio’s back yard of Oakland, CA. They are disputing Camping’s claims with a compelling message of “Jesus is already here.” Here’s the billboard photo:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/62779138@N08/5708063636



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romanscapegoat

posted May 15, 2011 at 11:04 pm


mayra…they are right



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Grumpy Old Person

posted May 18, 2011 at 12:13 am


Maybe if He doesn’t show, the “Is it the end of the world?” blog here on B’net can be scrapped. I think there’s ONE out of two dozen posts there that have received any comments at all.

PUH-LEEZE, B’net, get rid of him/it.



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Mikvah

posted May 18, 2011 at 10:29 am


Yesterday, a man whom I have know for over 20 years told me that I needed to be re-born to enter heaven. Being Jewish I asked him what happens to the Hindus and the Jews and the Muslims? He stated simply that they do not get into heaven. I feel very sorry for these types of people that feel it’s their way or the highway. May 21st, is just another day. G-d is compassionate and so should we be.



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Sue

posted May 18, 2011 at 10:54 am


When today christian leaders are predicting the “end of the world”, they are speaking to their enter circle of the christian world. Two christians were talking saying yesterday about “the christians will be going through a tribulation like no other”. Christians are reading the signs of the times for themselves, it doesn’t involve us who are not christian. So the world of the christians will change after May 21, the rest of us will carry on.



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Faith

posted May 18, 2011 at 11:19 am


I am a “Christian” and believe very much in Jesus. I also believe putting fear and doubts into us believers is just wrong. I hate reading this stuff and questioning what to believe. So, I will keep with my belief that only God knows the day, hour…and Jesus will always be the center of my being to forgive me of all my wrongful thoughts, acts, and doubts which entered my head due to these false teachers. Forgive me Jesus, I will keep you in my heart and always faithful in God’s Word.



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Believer!!!

posted May 18, 2011 at 5:31 pm


First of all, predicting the Messiah’s return is NOT the practice of Christianity. No one knows the day nor the hour of His return. I can PROMISE you that it won’t be May 21, 2011 though! He will come as a thief in the night and all I can say is that you should be prepared for Christ’s return at any time. Believe Christ died on the cross for our sins and that He was resurrected and He sits on the right hand of the Father. If you have asked for that and you believe it then it does not matter when He returns because you will be a joint heir with him in Heaven!!!!!!

Be blessed my brothers and sisters!!!!

BTW…..THERE IS ONLY ONE WAY! Ask and you will receive, seek and you will find!



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Church

posted May 18, 2011 at 8:25 pm


{romanscapegoat
May 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm
“as a person who searches for truth…i see people forced to find a way to make money…some chose psychology…which is the study of others theories with the only purpose to benefit the wealthy drug companies and health-care system with unregulated profit…and of course the jews control the health care system and drug companies and wall street…Obama was never coming after the ignorant backwards hillbilly christian tea baggers…just wealthy jews…Kennedy tried to stop unregulated jew greed…he was killed by the jews…Obama tried to stop unregulated jew greed..the jew media using jew controlled polls…stopped Obama…GOD BLESS AMERICA???”}

Racist much? Get a life and stop bashing on people.



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romanscapegoat

posted May 19, 2011 at 9:29 am


Jews have made up a word..anti suspect a jew a nite…which is a smokescreen used to accuse of racism while jews conquer the world…just as lucifer asked jesus to join him and together rule the world…lucifer also gave the same offer to jews if they killed their messiah and walk with lucifer..the space aliens are really lucifer and his fallen angels and have giving the jews control of the world…soon lucifer will land his “spaceship” in Israel…everyone will be forced to bow down to lucifer or be killed…



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Summer

posted May 19, 2011 at 9:24 pm


So I just wanted to know, if G-d created the heavens and the Earth, why would He randomly want to destroy all of it and the people He created? Why is it on May 21 2011? Why not January 19? or August 27? or November 11? Why May 21? These questions that we all ask, cannot be answered because only G-d knows when the world will end and I strongly believe that it is not May 21 or December 21, 2012. G-d chooses everything and everyone that comes on this earth. Why would He make the world end? With all the wonderful creations and amazing people that He created, He wants to end the world now? If anything, the people who choose to commit crimes should be taken away. G-d, please don’t do anything to the world. I just turned 17 and I haven’t lived my life yet.



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hannah

posted May 19, 2011 at 9:29 pm


Roman whatever goat… are you on meth? You should know that seeing aliens on a spaceship when no one else sees that is called a hallucination and you should immediately seek out medical professional help before all the good Christian doctors are taken up to heaven. It is precisely because.of ppl like you that ignorance spreads and hatred prevails.
On the subject, I am just tired of all this doomsday crap, people its time to make something of life and not sit here debating when it shall happen that the world ends. Make the world a better place by being a bit kinder, a bit more loving, a bit more caring and then maybe it would not have to end after all…..



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romanscapegoat

posted May 20, 2011 at 2:47 am


hannah…now i understand where the name Hannah Montana came from..jew producers that control hollywood..have you seen the movie THE FOURTH KIND…are you one of those beautiful jews that looks like mary Magdalene in all the jesus movies…



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Maarie

posted May 20, 2011 at 11:25 am


I thought that Beliefnet did not want hate speeech on a blog.
Some of the language here qualifies as hate speech.



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romanscapegoat

posted May 20, 2011 at 12:14 pm


maarie…i agree Hannah is showing alot of hate toward me…i once knew a girl that spoke Hebrew she would get mad at me when i said she spoke Jewish..she was the most beautiful women i have ever seen…i fell in love with her…i dont hate the jews.. iam spreading the light of truth…the jews have control of the world…jesus said have nothing to do with the world…it belongs to lucifer..



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Nancy Jones

posted May 20, 2011 at 4:24 pm


If the people who keep predicting the end of the world would spend their time trying to make the world a better place to live in , then maybe we wouldn’t have to wait for Jesus or the messiah or whoever else one cares to believe in to come save us.



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Brenda

posted May 20, 2011 at 6:26 pm


One pays no attention to the Boy Who Cries Wolf when in an area void of The Wolf. But God lives long and strong today and tells us that we will not know the day nor the hour.

Therefore, I hear not the Boy; I hear God.



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Brenda

posted May 20, 2011 at 6:27 pm


Ooops. Does that last comment sound like I support the May 21st erroneous guess?

Guess, too, that I don’t speak my English in any kind of understandable way. I meant well…..



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Harbinger

posted May 20, 2011 at 6:53 pm


Hey romanscapegoat,

Considering your claim they control everything and can rub out people much more significant than you, why do you suppose you haven’t been dealt with yet?



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romanscapegoat

posted May 21, 2011 at 12:21 am


harbinger…they know the space aliens…the space aliens control the small group of jews that have been giving power of the world…the leader of the space aliens is lucifer my brother…dont be afriad…god is everything…there is no free will…god is playing with himself…



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Your Name

posted May 21, 2011 at 2:01 pm


God will come when he is ready. Noone knows when he coming. So we need to live right. When that day finally comes hope to see alot of people in heaven. No man knows when he coming.. Or they know the day or the time. Its called a prediction for a reason..



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Lia

posted May 21, 2011 at 2:04 pm


In the bible it says God will come like a theft in the night. Predictions are only predictions not the real thing. Like we predict the numbers in the lottery noone knows for sure



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Harbinger

posted May 21, 2011 at 5:51 pm


Roman,

Luci is your brother??? Dang, I didn’t know that! He still owes me $200 from the last time we played cards together. You telling he better pay up next time you talk to him. Thanks buddy.



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Your Name

posted May 21, 2011 at 10:46 pm


It’s wise to think that everyday is rapture day,so that we are always ready to meet the True living God who created you and me,and all the that is in the world,not to mention the entire universe for we truly cannot fathom the leangths and the depths of God’s wisdom and power of creation.We are all created in God’s likeness,in His own image ,we are all created,and so,we became God’s pro-creator.But,we all have the spirit to discern the will of God to each one of us,His coming is not the question of when,but i pray that He has already come in us who truly believes that He saved us from our sins,through His flesh and blood,we truly can accept and understand,when we do believe this by faith,we received Him and ,we repented and we will receive the blessings of forgiveness and eternal life that we truly need in order to enter the Heaven which He dwells,for no one can truly enter the Heaven without receiving the promise of eternal life,in Heaven,there is no death ,so ,we must seek to find where and how to receive the promise of eternal life,and we welcome rapture anytime when we receive what’s truly His will for us to receive.amen.



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romanscapegoat

posted May 24, 2011 at 5:42 am


harbinger…Lucifer wants to be forgiving…GOD commands Lucifer to hurt others…god is in control of everything…watch THE FOURTH KIND…you will learn alot about Lucifer…he knows your thinking about him…how strong is your faith…



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