Predicting the Coming of Christ
By Elizabeth Cutting
The ending of the world has long been a matter of speculation. Many thought it was coming with the new millenium not so many years ago. It didn’t. In the early days of the world people thought a solar eclipse meant the end of the world. It didn’t. Between then and now the world’s end has been predicted over and over. We’re still here.
Time and time again the signs have been “read” and a prediction made. Time and time again the seers have been wrong. Jesus repeatedly refused to allow himself to be caught up in speculation, stating that even he did not know when the time would be. So how can any of us be so presumptive?
One of the latest, relevant predictions comes from a Mayan tablet, which was found during an excavation bearing the date December 21, 2012.1 It seemed to indicate something was to occur on that date, but it doesn’t say what that event will be.
Whether the Mayan calendar shows the world will end on a given date can be answered by the Mayans themselves. They are surprised; they know of no such theory related to 12/21/12. In an article by author Mark Stevenson, he states, “A significant time period for the Mayas does end on the date. . . But most archaeologists, astronomers and Maya say the only thing likely to hit Earth is a meteor shower of New Age philosophy, pop astronomy, internet doomsday rumors and TV specials. . .”
Further on in the article it states that “Archaeologist Guillermo Bernal of Mexico’s National Autonomous University ... notes there are other inscriptions at Mayan sites for dates far beyond 2012—including one that roughly translates into the year 4772.”2
So why would the Mayans be concerned with anything beyond December 2012 if the world is to end then? Clearly it’s another bid for sensational publicity.
Christians need have no part in all of this conjecture.
Jesus speaks about the coming of the Kingdom of God. As Christians we see the future Kingdom as fulfillment of the promise of a new order. It’s a good thing. It will be the end of all things as we now know them and is indeed the end of the world.
For those who do not follow the teachings of Christ only an ending is known to them, an ending that comes out of major destruction. A new order is not part of their understanding. So they look for signs, such as certain dates, in order to know when the end will come, presumably to make some preparation. Even from the time of the book of Daniel Jewish apoloclypic writers were concerned with signs of the last days.
In Mark 13:32 Jesus says,
But of that day or that hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch; for you do not know when the time will come.
Furthermore, there will be no prior indication that momentous things are about to happen, just as in the days of Noah, when the doubters weren’t prepared for the flood and continued eating, drinking, marrying (Luke 17:26-27), and Lot, when Sodom was obliteraterated by fire and brimstone without warning to any except Abraham and Lot (Luke 17:29). Once the kingdom is upon us, there will be no time for anything. Those who sought to make their lives secure by following their own paths to success will find that all they have done was to lose the life that was more important in the long run. Those who were obedient to Jesus, who did not regard their mortal lives as of primary importance, will find that they have gained eternal life.
It is a good thing not to know the hour, not to be caught up in the mode of fear and panic, wasting our days in idle speculation. If we were to know when the end was to be we would be lured to give in to the temptations of this world, unfitting behavior for Christians. We would be tempted to believe that when the signs come we will then have time to repent and be ready to go with him to Heaven.
What kind of discipleship is that? What kind of love and loyalty does that prove? We could be tempted to allow ourselves to be caught up in the cares of living in this world, worrying about things that have no significance for the coming kingdom. Having our minds thus occupied we could find ourselves unprepared.
It is a good thing to live every day of our lives as though it were the last, whether because death will take us or because time as we know it will end. In I Corinthians 7:17, Paul says, “...let each of you lead the life that the Lord has assigned, to which God called you.” Meaning we are to use God’s gifts to bring others into the kingdom in whatever time there is.
If we do this we will always be ready. There will be no reason for last minute, panic repentance, which can hardly be sincere having come from the selfish desire to save ourselves rather than from the loving desire to live God’s love on earth for the salvation of others. The prayer that Jesus counsels (Luke 21:36) is for “strength to escape all these things,” meaning the dissipated life of earthly pleasures and concerns mentioned earlier in this passage, so that we will be able to concentrate on our spiritual lives, thus enabling us “to stand before the Son of Man” unashamed.
There is the story in Matthew 25 of the wise and foolish maidens. Ten young women of the bridal party were to meet the bridegroom when he came. Five brought extra oil; five did not. The bridegroom was late and when he arrived the wise maidens trimmed their lamps and went out to meet him. While the others went to try to buy oil the door to the feast was closed. Jesus says, in verse 13, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.”
True followers of Christ will trust and obey. For those who have chosen to be obedient to God, to follow in The Way, as Paul later calls Christianity, instead of being a fearsome time it will be a time to raise their voices in rejoicing. Why? Because this is the time when his obedient followers will be gathered together in the presence of our returning Lord Jesus the Christ.
Do you need hope for the future? Find peace with God
More on 2012 and the End of the World
More from Jim Bramlett at www.choicesforliving.com/spirit/index.htm
Bring it On: End Times Questions
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More Perspectives on Spiritual Life
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Stevenson, Mark, Associated Press. Yahoo News, October 11, 2009
Elizabeth Cutting is a freelance writer. Her stories and articles have been published in several magazines, including Pockets, Women Aglow, Standard, Church Administration and Preacher's Magazine. She has also published a book, Oil of Joy, a unique retelling of the Easter story. She has been a volunteer disaster child care worker and has worked as a volunteer at a Japanese mission. She is the daughter of a pastor and has been an active church member all her life. She presently lives in New Hampshire with her husband, David, a retired pastor.
© Elizabeth Cutting. Used with permission.
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