On many nostalgic drives through Georgia's backwoods roads, I remember a couple of billboards unique to the South. One read, "Impeach Earl Warren" (the conservative-cum-liberal chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court), the other, "Prepare! Jesus is Coming."
Warren wasn't impeached (he retired after 16 years on the bench) and Jesus is still coming, although at a date just as uncertain as it was when the billboard went up.
As Matthew 24:36 says of the Second Coming, "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only."
That enigma doesn't discourage 89-year-old Harold Camping from predicting that the world will end in a few days, on Saturday, May 21. In a full-page newspaper ad, Camping predicts the end will begin with a worldwide earthquake. Since May 21 will arrive by time zones, does that mean the "end" will creep across the earth, hour by hour?
Hundreds of Camping's followers have dropped their jobs to spread the word. However, not all fellow Christians have signed on. Other predictors are holding out for the ancient Mayan doomsday of Dec. 12, 2012.
Thousands of predictions of earth's end have been made over time, as far back as the first century A.D. Seventh Day Adventists made several picks: 1914, 1918, 1925, 1942 and 1975, according to archives. All were wrong, of course.
It's baffling why professed religious men and women persist in defying the Bible's admonition—that "the Father only" knows Judgment Day.
Some may be charlatans hoping for an earthly 15 minutes of fame. Cocky ones might try upstaging the Bible.
Unhappily, mindless followers of some predictors pay dearly for their gullibility. How many times have we read of dopes in loony "religious" sects selling their belongings and moving into bunkers and caves to await the Rapture and the "end" on the strength of mumbo-jumbo promises. When the Rapture doesn't materialize, those cheated souls must rebuild their lives as mortals. Will they fall for the next prediction, too?
For mindlessness, however, nothing matches the en-masse 1997 suicide in their bunks (complete with new matching clothes and walking shoes) of 39 Heaven's Gate followers near San Diego in time for the appearance of the comet Hale-Bopp, which supposedly was being trailed by an alien spaceship that would presumably park long enough to board them and then bear them off to an eerie, supernatural beyond.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command, however, saw no spaceships trailing the comet that day.
Folks, that's a really big missed connection.