A group of people based out of Raleigh, NC are promoting that the Rapture is going to take place on May 21, 2011. Harold Camping, a retired civil engineer says this about his group's prediction, “Beyond the shadow of a doubt, May 21 will be the date of the Rapture and the day of judgment.”
When I say they are "promoting" the idea, I really mean that: and they're getting the attention of the media and the masses alike. Marie Exley, one of the groups most noted supporters, is using her logistics skills acquired while serving in the military to "advertise" their theory. They are using billboards, bus stop benches, caravans of RV's and are passing out pamphlets on street corners. They are doing this in several cities across the nation: from Bridgeport, Conn. to Little Rock, Ark. And they aren't stopping there, as they also have mission groups traveling through Latin America and Africa to spread the news outside the U.S.
The problem is that an unbridled imagination feeds scoffers both within and outside the Christian community. We read in 2 Peter 3:3-4 an interesting prophecy, “First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. They will say, 'Where is this ‘coming’ he promised?'”
So, how do these scoffers come about? The following is an excerpt from my book, Pray That You May Escape:
When the subject (of Bible Prophecy) does finally get onto the average person’s “radar,” it is often when the secular media report about so-called prophets on the proverbial street corner proclaiming “the end is near,” or when another best-selling author does essentially the same thing but is eventually left embarrassed when his or her “last day” is followed by another sunrise.
So now we have the same issue developing again. It is unfortunate when people erroneously tie events to the end times, particularly when a date for the Rapture is set. They only bring embarrassment to the field of eschatology (the study of end times) and, more importantly, undermine God's Word that indeed some day the Rapture will happen. In other words, it feeds the scoffers all the more.
We do know the Rapture, as described in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, is an imminent event. Indeed it is that understanding of its imminence that inspires people to share God's Word with a sense of urgency, and it helps them be sure they are living right and that their relationship with the Lord is where it should be. We should also understand, however, that we do not know specifically when the Rapture will happen. Jesus Himself told us that repeatedly:
• "No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father." (Matthew 24:36)
• "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come." (Matthew 24:42)
• "So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him." (Matthew 24:44).
• "Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming." (Matthew 25:13).
One of the verses I like best can be found in Luke 21:36, where we are told by Jesus to "be always on the watch, and pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that you may be able to stand before the Son of Man".
With all that said, I would like to conclude this article with what the Apostle Paul's instructed in 1 Thessalonians 5:6-11:
So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.