MIAMI (CBSMiami.com) – Across South Florida, and around the world, the clock did not stop, earthquakes did not tumble buildings, and the skies did not crack open. In other words, the world did not end as a fringe Christian radio group, the “Family Radio” had predicted.
There have been billboards across the Sunshine State for months proclaiming the rapture is near. CBS4’s Jorge Estevez profiled the billboards when they first started popping up earlier this year.
But what exactly are the billboards referring to about the rapture? Well, the Family Radio network’s founder, 89-year-old Harold Camping, said Saturday, May 21, 2011 at 6:00 p.m. will be when the rapture of the church takes place
Those who don’t believe that the world will end had with the countdown. The Florida Atheists and Secular Humanists marked May 21 with a Rapture Party at the Lauderdale Beach Hotel Tiki bar in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.
“The heathens are going to party until the end of the world,” said one of the hundred or so people at the Ft. Lauderdale party. They were ready at 6 p.m,, when the world was supposed to end in the Eastern time zone, but as was the case in earlier time zones, the Apocalypse stayed away.
“We’re just here to party,” one woman said, “In case they’re right, we’re pretty certain they’re not, but well see.”
Said one organizer, “It’s ridiculous to start with. We’re just increasing that ridiculousness.”
The rapture of the church is a relatively new idea in the realm of Christianity. It refers to the time when Christians believe that Jesus will take the faithful to heaven ahead of the calamity and destruction that lies ahead in the tribulations from the book of Revelation.
It’s drawn from passages in the bible including I Thessalonians 4:17 which states, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so shall we ever be with the Lord.”
This would follow Jesus raising the souls of Christians who had already died over the millenniums.
The idea of the rapture picked up steam in the United States during the middle and late 19th Century with a school of theological thought called Dispensationalism. The movement was led by John Nelson Darby, who preached about a concept of the rapture happening at any moment, among other things.
Dispensationalism would go on to be the basis for vast parts of Christian theology in the United States for decades.
This brings you back to the idea that Camping, a civil engineer, has managed to convince thousands of people the beginning of the apocalypse is near and the rapture will happen Saturday evening.
So how did Camping come up with his dire prediction?
He based his theory for the rapture and second coming of Jesus on two Bible passages. The first is in second book of Peter in the New Testament.
Camping said the 2 Peter passage says that “One day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years is one day.” By his deduction, Camping implies this to mean 7,000 years from the great flood will be the end of the world.
He also cites the book of Genesis. Camping said Genesis states, the flood began on the “17th day of the second month.” In his interpretation of the Jewish calendar, that date is May 21.
Combining the two, Camping came come up with Saturday as the date of the apocalypse.
Camping also predicted the world would end in 1994. And if you think you’ve heard stories like this before, you have. The most famous was from William Miller who founded the so-called Millerite movement. Miller predicted the world would end in 1843.
After the first time period he called for the end of world was nearing an end, Miller would go on to correct his time period to October 22, 1844. But on October 23, 1844, the previous day turned into the “Great Disappointment” for Millerites; and Miller’s movement lost credibility and steam after that.