Since the beginning of time, people in every generation have been fascinated by and sometimes fearful of the future. For this reason many have sought out seers, fortune-tellers and mediums to predict what lies ahead. Predictions about the end of the world abound, too. Often they are tied to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ.
I’m old enough to remember the hullabaloo about the year 1988, which marked the fortieth anniversary of Israel’s founding as a modern nation. Some people tied the date to a biblical “generation” consisting of forty years and then linked it to Jesus’s prediction in Matthew 24 concerning the end of the age. He said, “This generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened” (Matt. 24:34).
One fanatic named Edgar Whisenant wrote a book titled 88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988. He sold 4.5 million copies in the United States alone and many more in foreign markets. When the rapture didn’t happen in 1988, he found his “mistake” and recalculated. He wrote another book saying Jesus was coming in 1989. It too sold many copies but you can guess what happened to Whisenant and his followers when the rapture didn’t happen in 1989, either.
Not all predictions are tied to Jesus. Nostradamus, for example, was a French seer whose “prophecies” from the sixteenth century are well known. Some people credit him with predicting major world events. However, not all of his predictions came true, which makes him a false prophet by biblical standards (Deut. 18:22). Many believe his prophecies are a vague stretch of his imagination.
Lately, ancient Mayan predictions about the end of the world are all the rage. Even Hollywood has jumped on the bandwagon by producing a blockbuster film called 2012. According to the Mayans, the world will end on December 21, 2012. If true, this means we have approximately 984 days, 23,000 hours or 1.4 million minutes until the end of the world. If true, how would this change the way you live?
The rising clamor about 2012 reminds me of the Y2K fears that paralyzed so many people as we approached the year 2000. Back then, everyone thought the world would end in a giant computer meltdown. People worried about a worldwide financial collapse, food and water shortages, and global leaders that seemed ill prepared for the looming chaos. Some people profited by all the fear mongering by writing books and selling Y2K survival kits. In the end, it was much to do about nothing. As the geeks who rule the world fixed our computers, we entered the new millennium with a whimper not a bang.
Isn’t it ironic that we start a new decade intrigued by ancient Mayan predictions about the end of the world in 2012? What will we do now? How should we respond to all this? Like always, the best response is to turn to the trusted pages of God’s holy word and find out what he said about the future.
Can we really know the future? If the God of the Bible has anything to do with it, the answer is yes.
Join me for my new series based on Matthew 24-25 titled 2012: What Jesus Said About the Future.