Apologies to R.E.M. but it’s always a great story. In the Christian Bible (Matthew 24:36-42) Jesus says this (New American Bible translation):
“As for the exact day or hour, no one knows it, neither the angels in heaven nor the Son, but the Father only. The coming of the Son of Man will repeat what happened in Noah’s time. In the days before the flood people were eating and drinking, marrying and being married, right up to the day Noah entered the ark. They were totally unconcerned until the flood came and destroyed them. So will it be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be out in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women will be grinding meal; one will be taken and one will be left. Stay awake, therefore! You cannot know the day your Lord is coming.”
There are countless ways to understand this passage, but there has always been Christians who interpret this in this way:
- At a time of God’s choosing the world will end.
- Those who are saved will be taken directly to heaven.
- Those left behind will face untold tribulations.
- While the Bible insists that no one knows when this will happen except the Father, there are clues that we can interpret and predict when this will happen
Virtually from the earliest days of the Christian Church there have been those who have predicted that this date is soon. The latest is the folk at Family Radio. They predict the end of the world (or the “Rapture”) will be May 21, 2011. If you click on their web page they give a formula to show how the date is relevant. Just for amusement I looked at their rationale, and here’s what I came up with:
They claim that in God’s mercy He has given us the information we need to predict. In 2 Peter 3:8 it states that for God “a day is as a thousand years.” Therefore we can use this as a calculator. Two days is 2,000 years, etc. They claim that the Noah’s Ark flood was in 4990 BC, and this year, 2011, is exactly 7,000 years later. St. Peter states in 2 Peter 2:5: “Nor did he spare the ancient world – even though he preserved Noah as a preacher of holiness, with seven others, when he brought down the flood on that godless earth.” If you’re wondering how they find Noah’s Ark in the year 4990 BC, they do this through a series of calculations in the Book of Genesis. You can look at a thread in Catholic Answers for more background, but Genesis 7:11 states that the flood started on the 17th day of the 2nd month in the 600th year of Noah’s life. Translating from the ancient Hebrew Calendar to ours makes the 17th day of the 2nd month May 21st.
OK, here’s where it gets fun for me. If they claim that Noah’s Ark was 4990 BC, then 7000 years later would be 2010, not 2011. Why didn’t this happen last year?
OK, maybe it gets fun for me now. They have another proof that begins with the statement that Jesus was crucified on April 1, 33. They don’t give the rational but claim this is the only date that fits when the Bible states Jesus was crucified (let’s put on hold the fact that the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke place the Last Supper as Passover and John’s gospel has the Last Supper as the night before the Passover meal).
From April 1, 33 to May 21, 2011 there are 722,500 days. What is the significance of 722,500? Glad you asked. If you multiply 5 X 10 X 17 X 5 X 10 X 17 you get 722,500. For simplicity’s sake it’s really 2 X (5 X 10 X 17). The order of the numbers doesn’t matter, we just need to see the significance of the numbers 2, 5, 10, and 17.
According to these folk, the number 2 signifies doubling and they say: “Remarkably this number sequence is doubled, to indicate it has been established by God and will shortly come to pass.” Proof of this is Genesis 41:32: “That Pharaoh had the same dream twice means that the matter has been reaffirmed by God and that God will soon bring it about.”
The number 5 signifies atonement or redemption. You can see this from Exodus 30:15 where the rich are commanded to give more (money) and the poor shall not give less than one half a shekel (1/2 equals 0.5) in atonement for souls. Also in Numbers 3:47-48:
The Lord said to Moses: “Take the Levites in place of all the first-born of the Israelites, and the Levites’ cattle in place of their cattle, that the Levites may belong to me. I am the LORD. As ransom for the two hundred and seventy-three first-born of the Israelites who outnumber the Levites, you shall take five shekels for each individual, according to the standard of the sanctuary shekel, twenty gerahs to the shekel. Give this silver to Aaron and his sons as ransom for the extra number.” So Moses took the silver as ransom from those who were left when the rest had been redeemed by the Levites. From the first-born of the Israelites he received in silver one thousand three hundred and sixty-five shekels according to the sanctuary standard. He then gave this ransom silver to Aaron and his sons, as the LORD had commanded him.
Still following? OK, the number 10 (or 100 or 1,000) signifies completeness. We find this because the Bible often speaks of 10 coins or 100 sheep or 1,000 years. Also Satan is bound for 1,000 years in Revelation 20:2-3.
Lastly, the number 17 frequently signifies Heaven. This is from Jeremiah 32 where God tells him to purchase a field for 17 silver shekels. You can read this in Jeremiah 32:7-17.
This gives us the formula 2 X (5 X 10 X 17) = 722,500. Therefore since 722,500 days from the crucifixion of Jesus is May 21, 2011, this will be the end of the world.
If you think like me, you’re thinking that this stuff is awfully arbitrary and that these numbers came about because they shopped for numbers to back up their prediction. If God did indeed plant these hints so we could predict, I know I would never have come up with this. I can only assume this means I’ll be left behind. In that case can someone who is being raptured leave his car for me?