- (Photo: BGEA)
- (Photo: BGEA)
Speaking on the final day of his three-day evangelistic event in Jersey Shore Sunday, Will Graham delivered a message on the end times in response to Harold Camping's failed prediction that the rapture would occur on May 21.
Graham, grandson of the legendary Rev. Billy Graham, explained to the crowd of over 5,000 at the Jersey Shore Will Graham Celebration in Ocean Grove, N.J., what the end times will look like and what the signs to the end times are. The evangelist preached from Matthew 24, in which Jesus speaks about the destruction of the temple and the signs of the last days.
“The end of the world didn’t happen yesterday,” Graham said Sunday night, according to BGEA, “but Jesus is returning. God will bring this present world to a close. Time will come to an end."
"Are you ready to stand before God?"
Over 300 people responded to Graham's invitation to make a decision for Jesus following the message. Counselors prayed with each person and gave them a packet with a CD and Gospel of John booklet.
The event was hosted by an association of 265 local churches in partnership with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Camping, president of Family Radio, had predicted that the rapture would occur on May 21, 2011, and that the suffering on earth would last until Oct. 21, 2011, the date when the world would be destroyed.
Christians worldwide condemned his attempt to attach a date to Judgment Day while atheists jumped at the opportunity of intensifying their mockery of both Camping and Christianity in general. Meanwhile, some of his followers sold everything to finance the marketing of the May 21 rapture date and others gathered together in places like Times Square to wait to be taken up to heaven.
Graham said Sunday that the rapture is not something that can be predicted as the Bible indicates.
“Unfortunately for Harold Camping, he's miscalculated. He does it based on numbers. He's a brilliant engineer and he came out with some formulas trying to predict when the rapture is going to take place. The Bible clearly states we just don't know the time," said Graham before Sunday's event, according to the Asbury Park Press.
"I don't think [the rapture] is something that we should be trying to predict."
While other Christian leaders have taken to blogs and social media to blast Camping on his doomsday predication, Graham actually looked at the bright side of the frenzied interest generated by Camping's judgment date.
"People are spiritually inclined right now. Not saying that they are right with the Lord, but their hearts are a little more sensitive to spiritual issues. At least they are thinking about them," said the 36-year-old evangelist, according to BGEA.
"God has used Harold Camping in the sense of getting people to talk about spiritual things. It got people thinking and I am grateful for that."
He added, "I am sure there are people who came out because maybe they thought the end of the world was coming and they wanted to get right before God; and they never knew their life was forever going to be changed."
Will Graham is the third generation of Grahams to preach the Gospel message under the banner of Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The Jersey Shore event was held in the Great Auditorium in Ocean Grove, N.J., the same venue that Billy Graham spoke at decades ago when he was Will's current age.
The younger Graham has maintained that Jesus Christ remains the greatest need of this generation. He also assured people that Christ will return someday, even though the date is unknown.
"It’s not every day that they predict the end of the world is going to happen while you preach," said Graham to BGEA.
"The truth is, we never know when Christ will return. It could be before I even get up to the pulpit today. That is why it is so important that we preach the Gospel and tell others about Christ."
Joining the May 20-22 "Celebration" event were music guests Matthew West, FLAME, the Newsboys and Chasen.
In total, 13,871 attended the three-day event, with 860 decisions for Jesus, BGEA reported.
Will Graham’s next multi-day "Celebration" event is scheduled to take place in Nakuru, Kenya, in July.