One of the key items in Harold Camping’s interpretation that leads him to conclude that 2011 is the last year is that the flood was in 4990 B.C. and that A.D. 2011 is “exactly” 7000 years later. That 7000 years number is important to Camping, because at one point God said to Noah, “For yet seven days, … and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth” (Genesis 7:4). Moreover, elsewhere Camping has noted that with the Lord one days is as one thousand years, and one thousand years as a day. Thus, Camping concludes that it is 7000 years from Noah’s Flood until Judgment Day.
First, this is completely arbitrary. There’s nothing about Genesis 7:4 that would lead someone to conclude that does not refer simply to the seven literal days that were fulfilled in the days of Noah. The reference to the earth being destroyed there is a reference to the world being destroyed by a flood, and we have been promised that a global flood will never again destroy the earth (see Genesis 9:13), of which the rainbow is a sign of the covenant.
The arbitrariness of the interpretation can be seen from the full context of the verse itself: “For yet seven days, and I will cause it to rain upon the earth forty days and forty nights; and every living substance that I have made will I destroy from off the face of the earth.” (Genesis 7:4)
There is no room for 40,000 years in Camping’s chronology, so this part of the verse is conveniently ignored. Perhaps a justification is given that when it says “days … and … nights” it is not referring to thousands of years – but such an explanation doesn’t come from the Bible.
There’s another problem, though. The Bible doesn’t date the flood to 4990 B.C. Of course, the Bible doesn’t give year numbers, the Bible gives genealogies. Those genealogies can be used, to some extent, to reconstruct the history of the Old Testament era.
If one uses those genealogies, however, one will not arrive at 4990 B.C., one will arrive with a number like 2349 B.C., the number that Archbishop Ussher calculated, or 2957 B.C. – the number similarly calculated from the Septuagint translation (incidentally, the former calculation places Creation at 4004 B.C., while the latter places it around 5200 B.C.).
The 4990 B.C. date for the flood is actually something that Camping came up with around 1970 or so, and published in “Adam When?” in 1974. There is an updated version available on Camping’s website now. Lord Willing, we will discuss “Adam When?” some more in a future post.
What suffices for this post is to point out that if Camping is right about the flood being 7000 years before the end of the world, then we have well over a 1000 years to go.