googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Happy End of the World

Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy End of the World

I wrote this in advance and scheduled it to be published today just in case I'm not here. After all, if the world ends today like everyone is saying, I might not be here to write anything and I can't let such an event go by without commenting on it!

I've not followed the Mayan calendar controversy too closely so maybe I'm a little fuzzy on the details. When I first heard about it, I was under the impression that the Mayans had prepared a calendar that accurately calculated dates far into the future. I had heard that the calendar abruptly stopped at 12/21/2012 which led many to believe that was the day the world ended. My first thought when I heard about it was that the calendar had to end sometime, right? I can just imagine these ancient chronographers (what is the correct term for someone who makes calendars?) working their fingers to the bone writing these calendars that extended far beyond their own life times. They pause and reflect a moment on their work and have this conversation:

MAYAN #1: How far into the future are we?
MAYAN #2: December 21, 2012.
MAYAN #1: That's far enough. Let's just stop here.

It seems to me that just because the calendar ended, it's not a good reason to believe it's because they believed the world is going to end on that date.

After having read a little more about the controversy, I saw there was a little more to it. A CNN story talked about a wooden tablet inscribed with a cryptic phrase talking about the end of an era and the heralding of a new one. That doesn't sound like the end of the world to me. It could be describing the winter solstice which happens on the same day.

But when did the Mayans become an oracle that predicts the future, anyway? Why do we give their beliefs any weight at all? I decided I had to consult a more trusted source so I asked the online, Magic 8 Ball its opinion. I've snipped an image of its answer for everyone to see:

I guess that confirms it. Both the Mayans and the Magic 8 Ball agree – it's the end of the world! But wait a minute... I asked if the world would end tomorrow (remember, I'm writing this in advance) and it said, “Outlook not so good.” Does that mean it doesn't look good that the world will end? If so, that would mean the world really won't end. What a relief!

I trust the Magic 8 Ball about as much as I trust the Mayans which isn't much. If you want to know the future, you need to consult the Book that is the final authority on any subject it addresses – the Bible.

The Bible records a conversation Jesus had with His disciples where they had asked Him about the end of the world. Matthew 24:3 says, And as he sat on the mount of Olives, the disciples came unto him privately, saying, Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and of the end of the world?”

Jesus told them many signs and events that would prelude His return but He concluded His remarks with the following words:

But of that day and hour knoweth no one, not even the angels of heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only.” (Matthew 24:36)

There's been a lot of misunderstanding about this chapter of Matthew and I intend to write about it sometime. However, v. 36 leaves little room for interpretation. The day of Jesus' return has not been revealed.

There's a lot going on in the news and Christmas is upon us so I regret having to take up valuable posting time on fanciful speculation but I felt I had a duty to at least mention this event that is certain to be a buzz all day. I'll be back to my usual topics presently – the end of the world notwithstanding.


Todd Williams said...

Robert, I did a study recently on the Olivet Discourse, and it's fascinating...especially the prediction of the destruction of the temple and the terror during the fall of Jerusalem. It's irritating when atheists try to rip out verses from this part of the gospels to try to show that Jesus was wrongfully predicting the end of the world. They see what they want to see, and don't care for a sound study of the passage.

RKBentley said...


I, too, have heard critics use this passage as an argument against His return. Unfortunately, there is also much misunderstanding about this passage from Christians. I can't go into too much detail in a comment but let me give a brief thumbnail.

Christ has just had an explosive encounter with the Pharisees and then stormed out of the Temple vowing to not return until they recognized Him for who He truly is. On the way down the hill, His disciples – in an apparent attempt to break an awkward silence – talk about the beautiful Temple buildings. It was then (v. 2) that Jesus prophesied the destruction of the Temple.

Later, perhaps when things had settled down a little, His disciples asked Him 2 questions (v. 3): 1) When will these things happen (i.e. the destruction of the Temple) and 2) what will be sign of His coming and the end of the world?

Jesus answered both questions. Some of the events (like the persecution of believers and the destruction of the Temple) would happen in the lifetime of the apostles. He also discussed other signs that would prelude His return at the end of the age.

It's an interesting study. Was yours a personal study or at your church? What resources did you use? Anything online?

Thanks for your comments. God bless!!


Bay City Man2Man said...

Hi Robert, it's kinda funny I wrote a blog with a very similar intro - and ended with a slightly different take on the subject. Enjoy :-)

Todd Williams said...

Hey, Robert. Sorry I didn't respond to your post. I usually have to look at the recent comments to see what has been responded to, and I must have missed it.

I read about 10 or 12 online commentaries, but I can't remember where exactly. I already read a couple of university papers on it, but I also can't remember where at this point. A lot of help!