Did the world end, and we just missed it? October 21 was the date set by radio minister Harold Camping. Many people had their eyes on May 21 this year as the day that the rapture would happen. Camping, a 90-ish radio Bible teacher, claimed to have cracked the code as to when Jesus would return. May 21 came and went--no rapture. Camping claimed that his calculations were off, much as they were previously when he made a similar prediction in the 1980s, and that the big day would actually occur five months later, on October 21.
In case you haven't noticed, October 21 has come and gone, and the world continues, much as it did on October 20, and October 19, etc. Camping is not the first to have made such bold predictions. I remember a book in the 1980s titled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. Edgar Whisenant, the author of 88 Reasons was just as wrong as Camping. Neither Camping nor Whisenant is the biggest flop in terms of failed predictions of the end.
The original Great Disappointment occurred in 1844. Baptist minister William Miller predicted that Jesus would return in 1843. When 1843 came and went, Miller then predicted sometime between March 21 and April 21, 1844, although he would not give a specific date. Those dates came and went. Samuel Snow then predicted at a camp meeting that the true date would be October 22, 1844--the date of the official Great Disappointment.
Many people scoffed at the Millerites, as many scoff at Camping's predictions. I'm pretty sure that the whole "thief in the night" and "at an hour you think not" preclude anyone actually getting a date for Christ's return. I don't doubt that He will return, I'm just betting that no one will get the exact date straight. These people tend to arouse scoffers through their errors. I guess the next big date will be December 21, 2012. I'm not expecting much that day, either.