III. Its Concluding Application
The “date-setters” make predictions that time after time prove to be false. Thus, they are akin to false prophets, and we may apply to such false teachers the warnings of Deuteronomy 18:20f.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 20 “‘But the prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.’ You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”
This passage says three things that we may apply to ourselves with regard to the modern date-setters.
Deuteronomy 18:22 addresses the people of God regarding the false prophet with the command, “You shall not be afraid of him.” The last words of Deuteronomy 18 are perfectly applicable to the modern date-setters. There is something in us that tends to respond fearfully to the Campings of the world. Could it be true? What if they are right? But even before Camping’s prediction disproved itself, the Bible gave us sober reason not to believe it. Christ has said that such predicting of His return is impossible. So heed the warning of the Word of God against such false prophets. Don’t be afraid of them! Don’t be worried by them! Don’t be rattled by them! Don’t be moved by them! Don’t be made cautious by them! Don’t give respect to their forecasts in any way! They may speak with a show of great learning. They may speak with amazing dogmatism. They may speak calm solemnity. Still, don’t be afraid of them.
Deuteronomy 18:20 commands of the false prophet: “That prophet shall die.” False prophets in the Old Testament were to be put to death. We live no longer in the Old Testament economy, and I am not teaching that we should not literally kill false prophets like Camping. But there is an application of this command to us in the NT church. We should do everything we can to kill their influence and standing in the church. We should rebuke them, denounce them, warn people against them, and, if they happen to be members of our churches, exercise church discipline against them.
Why is this an important duty for us to take to heart? Such false teachers give occasion to the wicked to mock Christianity. They give Bible-believing Christianity a bad name. They deceive and lead into sin immature believers. They bring scorn on the very doctrine they pretend to uphold, the second coming of Christ. People hear of such date-setting for the second coming of Christ and say to themselves, “Those crazy Christians are at it again!” We must get the Word out that people who write and believe predictions like Camping’s do not represent biblical Christianity or our Savior. We must let people know that Christ Himself condemns such predictions.
Deuteronomy 18 also contains a command about the true prophet in verse 19: “Whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him.” In Old Testament Israel the presence of false prophets did not mean that there were not true prophets to whom Israel had to listen. Similarly in our day the presence of false predictions of Christ’s return does not mean that we may ignore all that Bible does teach about Christ’s return. We must not allow all the extremism to steal from us the “blessed hope” of the appearing of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus. If you are here tonight and do not know Jesus Christ, you must not allow the failure of lunatic predictions like those of Camping to make you secure or lull you to sleep. Camping was wrong about yesterday. But Jesus is not wrong about someday! Judgment is coming. If it were today, would you appear on the right hand before Jesus or would you wake to find yourself on the dreadful left hand of the coming King and doomed to eternal judgment?
Dr. Sam Waldron is the Academic Dean of CBTS and professor of Systematic Theology. He is also one of the pastors of Grace Reformed Baptist Church in Owensboro, KY. Dr. Waldron received a B.A. from Cornerstone University, an M.Div. from Trinity Ministerial Academy, a Th.M. from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. from Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. From 1977 to 2001 he was a pastor of the Reformed Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, MI. Dr. Waldron is the author of numerous books including A Modern Exposition of the 1689 Baptist Confession of Faith, The End Times Made Simple, Baptist Roots in America, To Be Continued?, and MacArthur’s Millennial Manifesto: A Friendly Response.