May 21: Judgement Day?

Friends, I may not have been fully up-front with you. Yes, I’m moving to the UK. But the real reason why is this: the end of the world is coming. In fact, it’s coming soon and I’m hoping the dear old land of the Archbishop of Canterbury gets a gentler treatment than Oz!

Seriously, 2011 has been marked by a fascination with all things doomsday, heightened by a variety of factors:

  • Natural disasters like the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, the Queensland floods, the Christchurch earthquakes, last year’s Haiti earthquake that killed 200,000 people, and the Asian tsunami of 2004 all looking eerily like Scripture’s ‘signs of the end of the age’
  • Movies like 2012 and other popular works that have popularised the so-called ‘Mayan Prediction’ of the world coming to an end next year.

The result? In the US, sales of ‘doomsday’ bunkers are up by as much as 1000 percent.

One of the more interesting predictions of immanent judgement is that of Harold Camping, a US radio preacher and founder of the Family Radio network, whose May 21 Judgement Day campaign has spread around the world.

Billboards like this are being erected around the globe—including Sydney, Brisbane and other Australian cities—declaring May 21 as Judgement Day, and October 21 as the day the world ends. Armies of volunteers have been mobilised to spread the word and Camping’s radio network is devoted to declaring the good/bad news around the clock.

How does Camping arrive at May 21 as the Day of Judgement? His biblical mathematics are nothing if not inventive:

  • Genesis 7:4 says that Noah’s flood lasted for 7 days
  • 2 Peter 3:8 says that a day to the Lord is like 1000 years (and that 1000 years to him is like a day, although that does mess up the equation somewhat)
  • Camping calculates that the Flood happened in 4990BC
  • A 7-day flood becomes 7000 years, so 4990 + 7000 = 2011 (with Camping subtracting 1 year to account for differences in modern and biblical calendars)
  • The 17th day of the 2nd month of the biblical calendar – May 21 – is calculated from Genesis to be the exact day of judgement.

In this Open House interview with theologian Ross Clifford from Morling College, Ross and I explore this growing interest in the future, where Harold Camping goes wrong, what Jesus really said about the ‘signs of the end of the age’, and whether May 21 could still be Judgement Day anyway.

I believe in the literal return of Jesus. I also believe that the date of that event will forever be a surprise to us. As Harold Camping declares that ‘the Bible guarantees’ his sincerely-held yet erroneous ideas, my concern is that many sincere people will be disillusioned when May 22 and October 22 roll around and the world remains the same.

Take a listen to this short conversation and tell me if you agree.

Download this interview by right-clicking here, or listen below.

UPDATE: “It has been a really tough weekend,” Camping is reported as saying on May 22, following the inevitable failure of his Judgement Day prediction. “I’m looking for answers,” he said, admitting that he was “flabbergasted.”

No doubt his followers feel the same way.

A sad ending. And a lesson learnt?


Q: What do you believe about the end of the world? How will it all end?


  • May 19, 2011

    Of course, one wonders what time zone Camping and others are using over this too. Australia is a day ahead of the US. Do they get an extra day’s grace when May 21 rolls around? 

  • May 19, 2011
    Ps Max

    cool I will already be in the clouds that day can’t wait lol 

    • May 20, 2011
      Sheridan Voysey

      I write this from Rome. And by my clock it’s 3:29am, Saturday May 21 in Australia. Either you guys are all nuked or Rome got a special dispensation :).

  • May 20, 2011

    Thank you Sheridan and Ross.


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