In the first article in this series on the end of the world, we explored the Mayan myth and what NASA thinks about such end-of-the-world predictions. (Click here to read – http://www.changingthefaceofchristianity.com/christian-news-and-insights/the-end-of-the-world-part-1-of-2/)
In this 2nd part, let’s continue exploring this fascination with end-of-the-world predictions and try to make sense of it all so we aren’t deceived.
Other End of the Worlders
Remember when the world would supposedly come to an end because of a computer glitch? Did we really think that God would orchestrate with Microsoft to bring an end to the world? Some of us did, and I’ll admit- I myself, wasn’t sure if Y2K spelled certain annihilation. But as we all know, no end to the world came, and the biggest change the public experienced was how we fill out online forms with dates.
Harold, a Christian radio host, incorrectly predicted two end of the world days this year and has been incorrectly predicting the end of the world since 1978, a total of 12 times! During his May 2011 prediction, his radio show reportedly spent millions on billboards and RVs with his announcement. Though Mr. Camping’s intentions might have been good, attempting to bring others to Christ, I can’t help but notice that he skipped over that part of the Bible that says “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but ONLY THE FATHER” (emphasis mine) Matthew 24:36. Unfortunately, many followed his cause, sold their possessions and believed his prediction, creating back-lash to Mr. Camping and his radio show when the day came and went and the world continued on. Such failed predictions also don’t help the cause of the Christian faith in general.
David Koresh & the Branch Davidians
Somehow, David Koresh convinced more than 50 followers of his religious cult, that he was the Messiah and to follow him was following truth to await the end of the world.
Maybe people are misled into believing what someone else teaches as truth, because many times we just don’t know what to believe and often we have no truth of our own to justify it against.
Such end of the world prophecies may sound crazy, but what do you believe about December 21st 2012? Maybe people are misled into believing what someone else teaches as truth, because many times we just don’t know what to believe and often we have no truth of our own to justify it against. So where can we start?
What does the Bible tell us?
It’s important to remember Matthew 24:36, which says very plainly that no one knows when the end of the world will happen. Jesus even said that he himself did not know the date. So does that mean that NASA, Fox News, or Harold Camping might know? Of course not.
But just because we do not know does not mean that we shouldn’t be watching and be prepared. When we are reminded about the end of the world coming, our Christian response should be to draw even closer to Christ and to prepare.
Look at Jesus’ words to his disciples in Matthew 24:3 when they inquired of the end of the world:
“when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?”
Jesus answered: “watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah’, and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.
What strikes me about Jesus’ response, is his lack of dooms-day survival advice. Why didn’t he stress the importance of stock-piling canned food or developing a strategic plan in case of nuclear fall-out? Could he have at least mentioned which country was the safest to live in?
I’m being flippant of course, but the point is that He emphasized not our physical survival but our eternal survival. “Watch out that no one deceives you.” It’s an un-mistakable warning that Jesus repeats throughout the chapter, make certain that you are not deceived by those coming to claim Messiah-ship. And because He warns us against it, we should be reminded that as we see the signs of the world coming to an end, we should also be diligently guarding against those trying to deceive us. Because… “many will be deceived.”
How do we avoid being deceived? How does a 5th grader know the truth on a test? How do we know how to drive every day? How do we recognize our best friend from someone else? By studying God’s word so that we recognize the truth, by practicing His word in our daily life until we know how to do it without thinking, and by our intimate relationship we developed with Him over time through both trials and celebrations.
We will not be deceived, when we know God so deeply that any counterfeit would immediately be recognized for what it’s not- our true Messiah who will one day come for His sheep.
We will not be deceived, when we know God so deeply that any counterfeit would immediately be recognized for what it’s not- our true Messiah who will one day come for His sheep. When we know the real thing, it makes being misled harder.
How close to God is close enough? When your eternity is on the line, I’d say the closer the better. Preparing for the end of the world by knowing God is not about earning your place in heaven, it’s about making sure that someone who claims myths and theories doesn’t mis-lead you into a veiled cult or doesn’t mislead your families and your children.
A friend of mine sat in my living room recently, upset over what to tell her child who was worrying about what the end of the world would mean to his small world. I was initially confounded over how to explain all this to a young child who only wants to have the opportunity to drive for the first time or have a wife or husband some day.
True, the date of the end of the world is known by no one, so it’s difficult to reassure a child what will come tomorrow. But we can be assuring to our children by teaching and reminding them of God’s glory every day and the amazing life that awaits us at His side. The Holy Spirit is a great comforter to us in times of worry and gives us the confidence to rest un-burdened by things we cannot change. Knowing our God who is Sovereign over all time, yesterday, today and tomorrow, brings confidence to know that He is in control, and we will not be misled.