History has countless examples of people who have proclaimed that the end of the world and return of Jesus Christ is imminent. Perhaps there has never been a stranger messenger than a hen in the English town of Leeds in 1806. It seems that a hen began laying eggs on which the phrase “Christ is coming” was written. As news of this miracle spread, many people became convinced that doomsday was at hand, until a curious local actually watched the hen laying one of the prophetic eggs and discovered someone had hatched a hoax.
When comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997, rumors surfaced that an alien spacecraft was following the comet, covered up of course, by NASA and the astronomical community. Though the claim was refuted by astronomers, and could be refuted by anyone with a good telescope, the rumors were publicized on Art Bell’s paranormal radio talk show “Coast to Coast AM” in the United States. These claims inspired a San Diego UFO cult named Heaven’s Gate to conclude that the world would end soon. The world did indeed end for 39 of the cult members, who committed suicide on March 26, 1997.
The French prophet of the 16th century, Nostradamus, predicted that a great king of terror would come from the sky in the year 1999. Many Nostradamus devotees grew concerned that this was the famed prognosticator’s vision of Armageddon ushering in the end of the world.
In May 1980, televangelist and Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson startled and alarmed many when he informed his “700 Club” TV show audience around the world that he knew when the world would end. “I guarantee you by the end of 1982 there is going to be a judgment on the world,” Robertson said.
As the last century drew to a close, many people grew concerned that computers might bring about doomsday. The problem, first noted in the early 1970s, was that many computers would not be able to tell the difference between 2000 and 1900 dates. No one was really sure what that would do, but many suggested catastrophic problems ranging from vast blackouts to nuclear holocaust. Gun sales jumped and survivalists prepared to live in bunkers, but the new millennium began with only a few glitches.
The 2011 end time prediction made by American Christian radio host Harold Camping stated that the Rapture and Judgment Day would take place on May 21, 2011, and that the end of the world would take place five months later on October 21, 2011.
With all this behind us we now face a new prediction that is startling many. An ancient Mayan Calendar supposedly predicts the end of the world in December 2012. The 2012 phenomenon comprises a range of end time scenarios according to which cataclysmic or transformative events will occur on December 21, 2012. This date is regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar. Various astronomical alignments and numerological formulae have been proposed as pertaining to this date, though none have been accepted by mainstream scholarship. A New Age interpretation of this transition is that this date marks the start of time in which Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, and that 2012 may mark the beginning of a new era. Others suggest that the 2012 date marks the end of the world, as we know it or a similar catastrophe. Scenarios suggested for the end of the world include the arrival of the next solar maximum, or Earth’s collision with a black hole, passing asteroid or a planet called “Nibiru” also known as planet X.
So here comes the question to see if you have paid attention so far: What does an egg, a comet, a French prognosticator, a Christian pastor, a computer, an ancient calendar, and a planet called X, have in common? You guessed it – They all seemingly predicted the end of the world! But they have something else in common – So far they have all failed!
If I asked you right now to point in the direction of north would you be able to do it? Maybe, maybe not. If your life depended on it you would think twice. As a matter of fact you would most likely get a compass to confirm your guess. We need a compass to know for sure, with absolute precision, which direction is north. Today we all want to know what the future holds. We want a certain amount of direction in our lives. Where are we heading and what lies on the horizon?
It’s easy to guess and maybe some of our guesses turn out to be true, but there must be a way to be more certain. I believe it involves an instrument but this time not a compass. I have personally found the Bible, God’s Word, to be my compass directing my path and revealing what lies on the horizon. But just like you can get lost when you don’t know how to use a compass so you can get lost when you don’t know how to correctly apply the prophecies of the Bible.
As we have already discovered there have been Christian leaders and pastors that have made predictions that the world would end while there predictions have failed. This does not discredit the Bible, but rather discredits their ability to understand the Bible. Or maybe I should say; willingness to understand it. Because you don’t have to be a rocket star scientist to grasp the basic words of Jesus recorded in Matthew chapter 24 and verse 36 as He speaks of His second coming and the end of the world:
“But of the day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but my Father only.” —Matthew 24:36
The reality that Jesus confirms is that none of us know when the end of the world will come. When Jesus said that no one knows the day and the hour this includes the December 21, 2012 prediction. Are we then left in doubt regarding the end of all things? Are we like a boat being rocked to and fro on the ocean without a course? Where are we in the scope of time? I am glad that the same chapter in the Bible that says that we do not know the day and hour of the end does give us instruction as to what we can expect in the future.
Let’s for a moment travel 2000 years back in time to ancient Jerusalem as a Jewish Rabbi with his twelve disciples enters the famed temple on mount Moriah. It was a place the Jews esteemed highly as their worship and traditions revolved around what happened inside of those sacred walls. Now Jesus in a revolutionary way confronts the leaders with their rejection of the prophets and messages sent from God. He says:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see me no more till you say, blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” —Matthew 23:37-39
These words fell like a bomb on the Jewish audience as they expected their temple to be the pinnacle of glory forever. And so Matthew chapter 24 begins with the disciples of Jesus showing Jesus the beauty of the temple trying to convince him that his prediction could not possible happen. Even the very closest friends of Jesus could not understand his words about the destruction of the temple.
“Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and his disciples came up to show him the buildings of the temple. And Jesus said to them; Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down. Now as he sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying; Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of your coming and the end of the age?” —Matthew 24:1-3
For the disciples the destruction of the temple meant the end of the world! It led them to ask about the end of all things. Jesus in a remarkable way leads us into a description of the overthrow of Jerusalem, but much more than that he describes the events that will happen before he returns the second time. It was not many years later that the words of Jesus fulfilled as the Roman army under the command of Titus attacked Jerusalem and burnt down the temple in 70 AD. This was not the end of the world as the disciples thought but rather the beginning of many signs that would ultimately lead to the end climaxing in the second coming of Jesus. Take notice of the first thing Jesus says:
“And Jesus answered and said to them; Take heed that no one deceives you.” —Matthew 24:4
Obviously Jesus knew that much deception and misinformation would revolve around predictions on the end of the world. In hindsight we can clearly confirm these words as true! Jesus continues to list some of the things that will increase, as we get closer to the end.
“And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.” —Matthew 24:6-7
Some people will say that these things have always been and will always be and cannot possible be signs of any coming climax. Jesus in his same speech tells us to watch these signs.
“Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming.” —Matthew 24:42
Since we obviously cannot watch for a date we should be watching the signs. It is true that these signs have been around for a while, but there is no doubt that they have increased in frequency and intensity over the last decades. When you travel to a city where you have never been before you will look for signs. As you get closer to your destination the signs will appear more and more frequent. Could it be that we are getting closer and closer to the end of all things? Take notice of more signs that Jesus gives us.
“Then many false prophets will rise and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” —Matthew 24:11-14
In the midst of increasing natural disasters and international turmoil, in the midst of global deception and the loss of moral values, the gospel of Jesus Christ will be preached in the entire world. Jesus predicts that the end will not come until the gospel is preached in all the world! What a sign!
Ultimately the question we all face is: Who is going to make things right? Our chaotic world needs direction and solutions. We face momentous challenges on every side from word wide problems such as terrorism and nuclear threats to environmental degradation and financial instability. Families are falling apart which is causing society to fall apart. Millions are looking to political and religious leaders for direction and solutions, but are left empty and disappointed. Elections give a dim ray of hope, but more than often things don’t turned out as promised. The reality is that the political leaders are not addressing the real issue that causes the problems we all face. They can’t. Because the real issue is an issue of the heart!
A heart that has not been impacted and changed by Jesus Christ will not and cannot bring the solutions this world is desperately looking for. Fixing the environment and paying down the national debt will not change the hearts of men and women. Cutting down or increasing tax expenses on health, education, or the military will ultimately not stop the increase of immorality. Marriages will still break and people will still be lonely and searching for true meaning. There is not a domestic policy or foreign policy that breaks the power of greed! Only the gospel does that! There is ultimately only one that can solve the universal problem of humanity and that is Jesus Christ. He has promised that he will change our hearts. Ezekiel Chapter 36 and verse 26 says;
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take that heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep my judgments and do them.” —Ezekiel 26:26
Before Jesus finally comes back the second time to restore this world and remove sin, which is the cause of all sorrow, his gospel will go into all the world. A restoration can already begin now in the midst of the world in which we are living. There is only one that can make things right. We don’t need to wait till the end of the world for the restoration and renewal of Christ to start. It can start in our hearts as we believe and embrace the good news of our Savior. Through his death he paid the price of sin so you and I can be set free from it! All predictions of the end of the world fall into insignificance in comparison to the power of the gospel, which predicts the end of sin!