The final countdown has begun…or has it?

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea. —Psalm 46:1-2 (NKJV)

The final countdown has begun—a global cataclysm such as man has never seen before will take place on December 21st.  At least that’s what some people believe. The blogosphere is abuzz with all sorts of doomsday stories.  The present hype is based upon the Mayan calendar, which according to some arguments ends at winter solstice in 2012.

For the Mayan faithful, the end of the calendar means that events leading to the end of the world will be put in motion in some unknown manner—perhaps by an asteroid collision with the earth; perhaps a massive earthquake will devastate the entire planet; or perhaps a giant volcanic eruption will darken the sun, causing all living things to freeze to death.

So who are these Mayans who have stirred things up so?  A quick check of the website tells us the Mayans were an ancient culture whose civilization was centered in the tropical lowlands of what is modern day Guatemala. It grew and eventually spread across a large portion of what today is Central America and Southern Mexico.  The Mayan civilization peaked around the sixth century A.D. and for unknown reasons had largely vanished by around 900 A.D.

I’ve read a lot of arguments, both pro and con, surrounding Mayan calendar predictions, but there’s one point I haven’t seen discussed. If the Mayan calendar is truly prophetic, why didn’t it end more than a millennium ago when the Mayan civilization faded away? Unfortunately there are no Mayans around anymore to provide some answers, just as there are no Phoenicians around to tell us about their civilization.  We have only vague archaeological clues as to what really happened.

History is replete with doomsday predictions, all of which have been a bust thus far.  The most recent was made by Harold Camping, radio preacher and founder of the Family Radio network. Camping convinced thousands of loyal followers that the world would end on May 21st of last year. Billboards across the nation announced the coming of doomsday.  There was even one in a parking lot near my home in Johnstown, Pennsylvania.   Camping’s prediction record is now 0-2 and thankfully he has pledged to refrain from future speculation about the Earth’s demise.

Scientists nearly universally agree that the Earth will be destroyed one day by some cosmic event conforming to the recognized laws of physics. Things spinning around the sun are bound to collide with something big sooner or later. How or when this might occur, however, is anyone’s guess.

Jesus speaks of the real end times in Mark 13:32-33, telling us,  “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”  Christians needn’t be troubled by all of the end time chatter they’re hearing today.  We only need these reassuring words from Jesus:

“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”   —John 14:27 (NKJV)

I wish everyone a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday and a blessed Christmas season. And for any Mayan faithful out there, I encourage you to read this blog entry again on Christmas day and to ponder the reassuring words of Jesus!

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