End of the World: Do You Believe It Is Near?
The world won’t end Dec. 21, no matter what some think the Mayan calendar tells us. But what does Jesus Christ tell us about the end of the world?
In a poll taken Dec. 5 through 9, six weeks after hurricane Sandy, one-third of Americans said they believe the severity of recent natural disasters is evidence we are in the “end times.”
What are the end times? Probably there would be various definitions, but many understand them as a period of turmoil before Jesus’ second coming and the “end of the world.” (The Bible shows this to be the end of this present age.)
This poll was published only days before Dec. 21, 2012, the supposed end of the world some have found in the ancient Mayan calendar. In fact, the poll showed that 2 percent of Americans believe the interpretation that the ancient Mayan calendar prophesied that the world will end by the conclusion of 2012.
The belief that the end is near is held by 65 percent of white evangelical Protestants. Among Catholics and the religiously unaffiliated, the belief is much less common, at 15 percent for both groups.
What do you believe?
Dread and celebrations
My local paper states that the Mayan prophecy is sparking both dread and celebrations worldwide.
The Internet has helped feed the frenzy, spreading rumors that a mountain in the French Pyrenees is hiding an alien spaceship that will be the sole means of escape from a doomed earth. Reports say the French authorities are blocking access to the Bugarach, except for the village’s 200 residents, “who want to live in peace,” according to a local news release.
Geoffrey Braswell, a leading Mayan scholar at the University of California, said, “The idea that the world will end soon is a very strong belief in Western cultures. … The Maya, we don’t really know if they believed the world would ever end.”
In fact, experts are not all in agreement about whether the end of the Mayan calendar falls on Dec. 21, or whether it has already happened or is still to come.
But regardless, the Mayan heartland is bracing for a tsunami of spiritual visitors. Hotels near the Mayan ruins at Chichen Itza have been sold out for a year.
Thousands of New Age adherents are expected to fill ancient sites across Mexico. (For more about the Mayan calendar predictions, see “2012 Mayan Prophecy.”)
But what did Jesus say?
By the time many of you read this, Dec. 21 will have passed. All this frenzy reminds me of Matthew 24:23-26, where Jesus warned about false prophets and false predictions.
“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. Therefore if they say to you, ‘Look, He is in the desert!’ do not go out; or ‘Look, He is in the inner rooms!’ do not believe it.”
People are worried about the end time and searching for a way to escape. Are you? If so, see our section on the “End Times” and especially the article “End of the World: Why It’s Good News!”
The Bible makes it clear that Jesus Christ will return. When will He return?
Jesus tells us: “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only. But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and did not know until the flood came and took them all away, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matthew 24:36-39).
Christ’s own words tell us that not even He knew when the end of the world would be, and that humanity would be carrying out its own business right up to the end. People have been predicting Christ’s return for years, ignoring Christ’s own statement and facing disappointments.
Even though the Bible does not give a specific date for when Christ will come back to the earth, it does predict what conditions will be like at this pivotal time. Read more in our “End Times” section.