During the spring of 2011, Harold Camping made the news with his prediction that on May 21, 2011 Jesus Christ would return to Earth, the righteous would fly up to heaven, and that there would follow five months of fire, brimstone and plagues on Earth, with millions of people dying each day, culminating on October 21, 2011 with the end of the world.
To promote “Judgment Day 2011,” Camping’s followers reportedly spent millions of dollars on billboards, subway advertisements, literature distribution and personal canvassing. After the date passed, Mr. Camping was the butt of late night TV jokes, unflattering articles in the newspaper, and even parties held by atheists in his honor.
William Miller was a captain in the War of 1812. Following a period of years in which he proclaimed Deism, Miller joined the Baptist Church of Low Hampton. Following his conversion, he was asked by Deist friends how he knew the Bible was true. He determined to prove the Bible true. After studying for two years he was convinced he understood the Bible —especially Daniel 8:14: "Unto 2,300 days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed." The cleansing of the sanctuary, Miller believed, could only mean the purging of the earth by fire—in short, the end of the world. By interpreting these prophetic days as years and beginning from the date of the prophecy, Miller concluded that the end of the 2,300 "days" would fall in 1843.
Invitations multiplied, and Miller gained a bit of local notoriety. In 1838 he published a book on prophecy. Joshua V. Himes heard Miller speak and was impressed by the power in the message of the quiet, middle-aged farmer. So he eagerly joined Miller as his manager and publicity agent. Himes equipped Miller with a great chart displaying the millennial calculations in graphic form, purchased the biggest tent in the country for his meetings, and edited two journals—New York's Midnight Cry and Boston's Signs of the Times.
Miller the man was transformed overnight into the Millerite Movement. Himes and his associates recruited other evangelists and sent them on speaking tours; organized camp meetings; and published tracts, books, and pamphlets.
With excitement rising, people began to demand a definite day for the Lord's appearance. Miller was reluctant to be more specific, but in January 1843, he announced that this Hebrew year—March 21, 1843, to March 21, 1844—must see the end of time.
Then March 21, 1844, came—and nothing happened. After a month, Miller confessed his error and acknowledged his disappointment. In August 1844 at a camp-meeting in Exeter, New Hampshire, Samuel S. Snow presented his own interpretation, what became known as the midnight cry. Snow presented his conclusion (still based on the 2300 day prophecy in Daniel 8:14), that Christ would return on, "the tenth day of the seventh month of the present year, 1844". This date was determined to be October 22, 1844. The midnight cry message spread among the Millerites.
One of those who experienced the great disappointment wrote "Our fondest hopes and expectations were blasted, and such a spirit of weeping came over us as I never experienced before. It seemed that the loss of all earthly friends could have been no comparison. We wept, and wept, till the day dawn."
I can’t imagine how those people felt. Instead of seeing Jesus and being transported to heaven, they had to pick up the pieces of their lives and listen to the ridicule of their neighbors.
I don’t want to be disappointed. I’m sure you don’t want to be either.
If Jesus came for you right now, would you be ready? Have you really received Him as your Savior? Jesus is coming back, and this we can know for sure. We are closer to his arrival today than we were yesterday. The time to get ready is limited.
Don’t be disappointed!