By the time many of you read this, May 21st will have come and gone.  For some of you that date has little significance.  For the Millers, it is quite important, for it is the first birthday of our youngest son. 
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The date also has some significance for those who have been listening to Family Radio.  I personally am not a listener, for they have promoted many unbiblical doctrines.  Among them is the idea that we can know the date of the Lord’s return.  Harold Camping, the president of Family Radio set the date of God’s judgment and the rapture of the elect as May 21st, 2011.  So what should our response be to those who set such dates?
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Christ was very clear in teaching that only God the Father knows the timing.  “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)
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It is tempting to think that Camping and his teaching will become irrelevant after May 21st, but as we look at the history of past date setters, that might not necessarily be the case.  In the 1800’s William Miller taught the 2nd coming would be between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844.   When it didn’t happen, a new date of Oct 22, 1844 was set.
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After that date came and went, some followers left, but many just tried to find a new explanation.  Out of this came Ellen G White (founder of 7th day Adventism).  They decided that Jesus was moving in heaven on that date, not coming to earth.  (Notice the extreme they went to to defend the false teaching)
   Another group, led by Jonas Swendahl taught that 1844 was just the beginning of the last generation and that meant the 1844 date was 30yrs off.  He set the date at 1874.  When that date came and went, one of his followers, Charles Taze Russell decided 30yrs wasn’t long enough for a generation and so he added 70 yrs to 1844 to bring the date to 1914 and founded Zion’s Watchtower Tract Society (Jehovah’s Witnesses).  The date was later changed to 1925, 1941, and 1975.
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Harold Camping himself has a history of date speculation.  In 1992, he published the book 1994?  1994 has come and gone, yet Camping has now predicted 2011.  Deuteronomy 18:20-22 gave those in Old Testament times a way to test the prophets.  If their predictions did not come true, they were to be rejected.  We shall see if Camping and Family Radio are rejected, or if their followers will come up with some sort of excuse.
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Much of Camping’s errors come about because he applies a spiritual meaning to the text instead of just reading it with the normal use of language.  This is a dangerous interpretation method.  It allows the individual teacher to decide what the hidden meaning is.  All kinds of ideas can then be created with no real Biblical support.
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May we, instead, study the clear meaning of scripture rather than being led astray by every wind of doctrine that comes along.  “That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:” (Ephesians 4:14-15).