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End times

2012: Will it Affect You?

By Troy Anderson
Contributing Writer

CBN.comAs the “2012 Doomsday Craze” sweeps the planet, Shepherd of the Hills Pastor Dudley Rutherford is calling on fellow pastors to use the blockbuster movie “2012” to tell people what the Bible predicts will happen in the end times.

Although he believes the world is witnessing the signs Jesus told his disciples would mark the beginning of the end – an increase in wars, natural disasters, famine, wickedness and the preaching of the Gospel to the “whole world” through missionaries and modern technology – Rutherford doesn't expect doomsday on Dec. 21, 2012.

“It’s definitely a hot topic because Christians realize we are living in the season when the Lord may return,” says the pastor of the 12,000-member Porter Ranch, California church. “As far as movies like ‘2012,’ I’d encourage churches across the country to use it to engage their congregations in conversations about the real facts of the Second Coming.”

Rutherford’s advice on how Christians should respond to extra-biblical predictions about the world’s end comes with the release of Sony Picture’s $200 million epic disaster film “2012.” In the film starring John Cusack, a solar storm on Dec. 21, 2012 – the day the Mayan’s “Long Count” calendar ends – results in changes in the Earth’s core and crust – triggering a confluence of mega-earthquakes, super-volcanoes and other cataclysmic disasters.

The trailer for the movie - promoted through a “viral marketing” campaign and the faux scientific Web site www.instituteforhumancontinuity.com – shows a ginormous tsunami breaking over the Himalayas and a message that says: “How would the governments of our planet prepare 6 billion people for the end of the world? They wouldn't. Find out the Truth. Google search 2012.”

Hugh Ross, an astronomer and president of the science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe in Glendora, California who posted a “Response to 2012 Prophecies” at http://www.reasons.org/2012, says the celestial events expected to unleash unprecedented disasters in 2012 – a solar maximum, Venus’s transit of the Sun, a collision of Planet’s X with the Earth and an asteroid impact – are false or blown out of proportion.

Ross says Venus’ gravity is too weak to impact the Earth, astronomers have determined with “considerable confidence” that Planet X doesn’t exist and increased solar activity in 2012 – in the worst case scenario – will only cause temporary satellite disruptions. As far as asteroids, Ross says none of the thousands NASA is tracking are expected to hit the Earth in the near future.

“The Bible makes it clear that the end cannot happen until certain things take place and none of those events, in my opinion, have occurred,” Ross says. “For example, the end will not happen until God’s people fulfill the Great Commission by taking the Good News to all the people groups of the world.”

Tim LaHaye, co-author of the Left Behind series, which sold more than 65 million copies, says the “2012 mania” is distracting people from what the Bible predicts about the Rapture, Tribulation and Second Coming and could be part of the deception Jesus foresaw would happen in the last days.

“Remember the hysteria that existed when people got the notion the world was going to end in 2000,” LaHaye says. “The truth is no one knows day or hour and we should live every day as if this is the day that Christ could come back. And 2012, in my opinion, is just one of the many satanic deceptions coming down the pike.”

Mark Hitchcock, pastor of the Faith Bible Church in Edmond, Oklahoma, wrote in his new book “2012: The Bible and the End of the World” that Jesus told his disciples the chief sign of the end times would be deception. One of these deceptions, Hitchcock says, may involve the New Age movement’s adoption of the Mayan prophecy as their eschatology – or end-times beliefs.

Although some of the mostly New Age authors who have written more than 200 books listed on Amazon.com about 2012 believe the Mayan prophecy predicts an apocalypse, most believe the end of the Mayan calendar will actually usher in a quantum leap in human consciousness and the next step in human evolution.

“This is the New Age version of the Millennium, but it’s a false Millennium,” Hitchcock says. “Satan has basically taken the biblical model of the future and he’s counterfeited it to suit New Age purposes. It’s the biblical model, but it’s twisted where man is the focus of it – man is coming in touch with his higher self – rather than glorifying God.”

LaHaye says the 2012 phenomenon may be part of the “ultimate deception” the Bible predicts will occur after the “Rapture” – the vanishing of hundreds of millions of Christians followed by seven years of tribulation prior to the Second Coming.

In his book, Hitchcock notes some New Age authors have already claimed that people not “evolved spiritually” will be taken away in “silver ships” in 2012. Hitchcock says this could be the “powerful delusion” mentioned in 2 Thessalonians 2:11 that helps the Antichrist come to power.

“This may be one of the ways those who are left behind at the Rapture will try to explain away the disappearance of millions of people,” Hitchcock wrote. “They will tell the world that those who disappeared were not spiritually evolved enough. This kind of New Age spiritual deception will pave the way for increasing delusion during the Tribulation, which will result in the world accepting the Antichrist as God.”

As a variety of organizations, scientists and former astronauts have called on the Obama administration to open up government files on unidentified flying objects and extraterrestrials, Paul McGuire, a professor of Bible prophecy at the King’s College and Seminary in Van Nuys, California, and the author of “The Day The Dollar Died,” says even an announcement that microbes have been discovered on Mars would affect the world as dramatically as Copernicus' statement that the Earth was not the center of the Universe.

“There is a reason why the Vatican made a strategic announcement about life on other planets,” says McGuire, McGuire, who was featured on The History Channel special “7 Signs of the Apocalypse.”

Following a recent five-day conference of astronomers, physicists, biologists and other experts to discuss the field of astrobiology, the Vatican called on the experts to study the possibility of extraterrestrial life and its implications for the Catholic Church. After the conference, astronomers said the discovery of extraterrestrial life may only be a few years away.

“The question of life's origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration,” Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, told the Associated Press.

The interest in the Mayan prophecy comes at a time of unsettling developments and fears about the future. World leaders are worried whether Iran is attempting to build nuclear weapons, if al Qaeda or the Taliban could gain control of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal and how North Korea intends to use its newly-developed atomic bombs. Meanwhile, there is growing concern about climate change, food shortages, disappearance of bees, pandemics, increases in the frequency and intensity of natural disasters, economic uncertainty and growing debts.

“Current events definitely parallel what the Bible says will happen in the last days,” says Jerry Jenkins, co-author of the Left Behind series. “Whether that means we really are on the cusp and the end could come even before the Mayan predictions – it’s possible. But my personal feeling is God in His mercy may wait one more day. In God’s economy of time, the Bible says a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. So my personal hope is in His mercy He would wait one more day so fewer people would be left behind.”

Describing recent events as the “beginning of sorrows” in the last days, Bible prophecy teachers say the birth of Israel in 1948, the increasing number of Jews accepting Jesus as their Messiah, calls for a global government and economic system, the alliance between Russia and Iran and the Iranian president’s threats to destroy Israel are fulfilling or setting the stage for the fulfillment of Bible prophecies.

“The last days began with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ,” says Jim Tolle, pastor of the 25,000-member Church on the Way in Van Nuys, California. “We’ve been living essentially in the last days, but we are now living in what Jesus called the ‘beginning of sorrows’ of the last days.”

Noting more than 500 Bible prophecies have already been fulfilled, including about 300 during Christ’s first coming, Bible prophecy scholars say the stage is now set for the development of a one-world government and economy that could easily be controlled by the Antichrist.

The Bible notes the day of the Lord will come “like a thief in the night” and while people are saying “'Peace and safety,' destruction will come on them suddenly....”

Ross says a key unfilled sign involves Jesus’ prophecy in Matthew 24 that the Gospel will be preached to the whole world “and then the end will come.” The world’s top mission agencies expect that the world’s 6,000 people groups will have the Gospel preached to them within a decade

“What’s happened is because of things like Facebook, the Internet, TV, radio and satellite, the Gospel is literally being beamed and sent around the world,” Rutherford says. “And so we are living at a time where we are seeing both a rise in wickedness and a rise in technology. Jesus says those are the signs and when you see that happening you’ll know the end is near. It’s got nothing to do with Hollywood or 2012.”

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Troy Anderson is a Los Angeles Daily News reporter, magazine writer and a public speaker. He can be reached at troyanderson.writer@gmail.com . © Troy Anderson. Used with permission.

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