It’s the end of the world as we know it—well, maybe. If the ancient Mayans—peoples of Southern Mexico—are correct in their prediction, the Earth will be destroyed by a cataclysmic event, whatever that may be, on December 21, 2012.
As interesting as that concept might be, I am going to go out on a limb here and make a bold prediction: the world will not end on December 21, 2012. Life will go on. If there is a lesson to be learned, it is that the prophetic words of Jesus are fulfilled. No man knows the day or the hour when the final judgment will be unleashed on humanity.
With that being said, it can be observed afresh that intensive paranoia about living in the “last days” and the world coming to an end is not new in the history of mankind, or the Church. In the twelfth century, for instance, the Italian mystic Joachim of Fiore promoted a host of doomsday scenarios. In 1844 William Miller and millions of others waited for the world to end on October 22 of that year. It became the “Day of Great Disappointment.” The Seventh-Day Adventists continued to mislead people at the end of the 19th century. Where they failed in their end time predictions, the Jehovah Witnesses picked up the narrative and anticipated the end of the world during World War I.
Now, once more, the doomsday pundits are looking at contemporary headlines. They are seeing war in Israel and are leaping to new conclusions that, surely, we must be living in the last days. Just look at how bad it is, they insist. The world is soon coming to an end. Once more people are thinking about selling their property and enjoying what little income they have. Young couples are contemplating not having children, for time is short.
If I can reach even one person with a message of hope and calmness, then time spent producing this blog is time well spent. So, let the word go forth; the world is not going to end on December 21, 2012 as the Mayan Calendar predicted. Neither are the events in the Middle East an imminent prelude to Armageddon. How can I be so sure?
First, there is the testimony of time. Even a cursory study of human history reveals that the unrest in the Middle East has no basis of comparison with the upheaval and violence of World War I and World War II. As bad as the situation is, as violent as it might yet become with the threat of an Iranian nuclear capability, there has been more bloodshed in the sand in the past than is now being spilt in the present.
Second, there is the testimony of the Scripture. I know it is popular to read present headlines and then, cherry pick biblical passages, take them out of their historical context, and apply them to current events, and declare with spiritual authority that prophesy is being fulfilled. However, it is a wicked practice. All the modern day false prophets will be ashamed in the ultimate Day of Judgment for scaring God’s people and making merchandise out of them. From William Miller to John Nelson Darby, from C. I. Scofield to Jack Van Impe, and on to John Haggee, these unauthorized prophets of doom will have much to answer for. God’s people are instructed not to listen to them and not to fear them or their message. Deuteronomy 18:22, “When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” Prophetic pundits are conspicuously notorious for being greedy, wanting power, and being wrong.
Third, there is the use of common sense. Since there have been so many wrongheaded predictions in world history, since there is the clear teaching of Jesus that no one can know the day or the hour of the Lord’s return and the end of the world (Matt. 24:36), since there is no biblical prophecy that has yet to be fulfilled, since all the modern day prophets have been one hundred percent wrong, one hundred percent of the time, it is better for people to calm down. Common sense will tell the heart to live a good life, love God, love others, and prepare to die and meet God.
Of course, if December 21, 2012 is the appointed time of one’s natural death, then the world, on that day, for that person, will certainly end.