(Photo: Harvest via The Christian Post)
As the May 21 Judgment Day prediction fizzled, pastors were left with having to address the resulting mockery from the public as well as the lingering questions with their congregations the day after.
"Well, the end of the world didn't come, did it?" Pastor Greg Laurie said Sunday as he began his sermon at Harvest Christian Fellowship in Southern California.
While calling Harold Camping's teachings and prediction that the rapture would occur on Saturday all "a big mess," Laurie acknowledged the unfortunate consequences from yet another failed doomsday prediction.
"The nonbelievers have had a field day with this," he said, "laughing at the whole idea, not just the predictions of this person but really the whole concept of the return of Christ."
"Here's where it gets muddled, here's where the devil is clever because when you have an extreme aberration like this it can cause people to say the whole thing's looney."
While Laurie and other evangelical pastors have all rejected Camping's teachings and date setting for the end of the world as false, they have expressed some concerns that the return of Jesus Christ and Judgment Day are being dismissed altogether.
In the months leading up to May 21, some were calling the second coming of Christ a joke and arguing that it will never happen. Atheist organizations took the opportunity to push that argument with their own ads, deeming it all as nonsense and reminding the public that predictions have come and gone for thousands of years.
Laurie noted, however, "that the very reaction to this is in itself a fulfillment of biblical prophecy," as he cited 2 Peter 3:3 ("Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.")
Dispelling doubts, Laurie proclaimed on Sunday, "Jesus Christ is coming back. Of that I am certain."
The Harvest pastor and renowned evangelist explained to his congregation that the reason it hasn't happened yet is made clear in Scripture, 2 Peter 3:9 where it says: "The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance."
"That day is coming," he reiterated.
What Christians can do in the meantime is "watch and pray," he preached.
"We need to pray about all things all the time," Laurie stressed.
Laurie gave attendees the chance to receive Jesus and "get right with God" at the end of the service.