Chicken Little Again?

The ancient Mayans, the ancient Egyptians, Nostradamus, the Masons. As the perennial favorite of children, Sesame Street, often asks, “Which of these things is not like the other?” We might be inclined to offer the Masons as an answer because, unlike the two other groups and Nostradamus, the Masons continue to function in contemporary society.

However, the question offered is a trick question because, on January 4, 2009, a special aired by The History Channel linked all four together. “Nostradamus: 2012” aired just a few days ago and linked the end of the world to interpreted prophecies of Nostradamus, the ancient Mayans, and the ancient Egyptians, and information purportedly known to the Masons. Producers of the fifty-minute television show presented arguments for and against the belief that December 21, 2012 will mark the end of the world. Why has this date created such a stir in popular culture? Is there a need to cancel your plans for New Year’s Eve in December 2012? Is Chicken Little rearing his tiny head again?

The History Channel (January 4-11, 2009: “Armageddon Week”) and USA Today (March 27, 2007: “Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse?”) are just two of the major media outlets to have run stories concerning December 21, 2012. The major artifact behind this prediction is a calendar constructed by the ancient Mayans. An early civilization, the Mayans were an extremely religious people basing a number of their beliefs on astrological movements. Ending on December 21, 2012, the ancient calendar is based on their superstitions centered on the movements of stars.

Because of the Mayan calendar, and a few other extremely ambiguous writings from Nostradamus and interpreted signs from ancient Egypt, some believe the world will either end, or significantly change, in December of 2012. The website, promoting itself as “The official Website for 122112 Information”, claims, “I don’t think anyone can honestly tell you what exactly is going to happen on December 21 2012. Although this date may not necessarily mark the end of the world, it is widely believed that it may indeed mark the end of the world ‘as we know it’.” Probably the most accurate statement on the entire website is the phrase, “I don’t think anyone can honestly tell you what exactly is going to happen on December 21, 2012.”

What should we make of the predictions concerning December 21, 2012? First, it is important to note that predictions concerning the end of the world are somewhat common. Some of the most interesting were former NASA scientist Edgar Whisenant’s 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Could Occur in 1988; The Final Shout: Rapture Report 1989; 23 Reasons Why a Pre-Tribulation Rapture Looks Like it Will Occur on Rosh-Hashanah 1993; and his 1994 publication And Now the Earth’s Destruction by Fire, Nuclear Bomb Fire. Also interesting is the Doomsday Clock maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, a clock first conceived in 1947 to measure the possibility of the world going to full-scale nuclear war. The clock currently stands at five minutes to midnight, a measurement meaning the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists believes we are close to nuclear war, though not as close as we have been in the past (in 1984 the clock stood at three minutes to midnight). As can be seen, predictions about the end of the world are common and are not consigned to religious beliefs.

Second, it is equally important to note that, according to the Bible, other than God the Father (Mark 13:32), no one knows the day or the hour of a coming future event known in Scripture as the second coming of Christ. Christians should not be troubled about predictions like those concerning December 21, 2012. We should live as though each day is our last. Like famed Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon we should live each day with the thought “perhaps today” at the forefront of our minds. Let us take the words of our Savior Jesus in Matthew 6:34 seriously, “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself.” Do not worry about December 21, 2012 because, perhaps today, Jesus will return. Take every opportunity to share the message of Christ with every person with whom you come into contact. Use the predictions about December 21, 2012 as a way to share the message of Christ with those who raise the subject. Humans have always been interested in predicting the future. There is no need to attempt to predict the future because the future is already written. As Christians, let us read and trust in the Word of God and believe what the God who created the universe has said.