21 Dec 2012, by Lim Poh Ann-
Exploring the hype surrounding the Mayan doomsday prediction in light of the Bible.
By now we would have been bombarded from all sides with news, reports and opinions that the world might be ending on 21st December 2012, all because that is the date the Mayan calendar ends. Some are anxious and fearful while others just dismiss it as a hoax.
As thinking Christians, how shall we respond when someone makes such a claim that the world is coming to an end on a particular date?
First, Jesus asserts that no one knows the day the world will end – when the normal course of events on earth grinds to a halt with the second coming of Christ (Matthew 24:36). So even before jumping into our discussion on whether this prediction is true or not, we have to realise thatany attempt to put a date to doomsday is clearly unbiblical, to say the least.
Second, though the world has become more tumultuous in recent years – wars, famines, earthquakes and catastrophic climate events – all this is but “the beginning of the end” (Matthew 24:8).
Other events have to be fulfilled before the end comes and that includes:
- The preaching of the Gospel throughout the whole world (Matthew 24:14).
- The desolating sacrilege of the temple of God (Matthew 24:15, 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Since these events have not occurred yet, we can safely assume that the end of the world is not going to happen this December.
Third, we should not focus so much on eschatological concerns that we fail to live according to what God demands of us in the present.
Amid the discussion on the second coming of Christ in 1 Thessalonians chapters 4 and 5, the apostle Paul outlines down-to-earth principles which we are to follow even in light of the imminent return of Christ:
- Remaining pure and chaste (1 Thessalonians 4:3-5).
- Loving fellow believers (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10).
- Respecting our leaders (1 Thessalonians 5:12).
- Occupying ourselves in productive work – whether secular or spiritual so that we are self-sufficient (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12, Matthew 24:40-41).
- Encouraging the weak, admonishing the idlers (1 Thessalonians 5:14).
- Rejoicing always (1 Thessalonians 5:16).
- Praying always (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
- Giving thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
- Being spiritually discerning. Test every spirit, knowing that deception is rampant during the last days. Be careful not to fall into either extreme – being overly enthusiastic about spiritual gifts and manifestations or being suspicious and indifferent to them (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22).
- Striking a balance between looking after our spirit, soul and body. Apart from our spiritual obligations, we must feed our mind with positive things and keep our body healthy so that it can continue to serve us well (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
Fourth, whenever we think of the end of the world (Jesus’ second coming), we should be filled with hope and confidence, not fear and despair.
“But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:4).
“Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).
“For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 5:9).
But there is a condition: “The one who remains faithful to the end will be saved” (Matthew 24:13).