There's a lot of talk about the end of days being upon us. We're coming up on 2012, the year that the Mayan calendar comes to an end. There are some people out there who think that once December 21 hits that year, our number is pretty much up. Personally, I think 12/21/2012 is just going to be another first day of winter and the world's just gonna keep on spinnin'. If you want to go back and read my historically accurate account of how the Mayan calendar came to be, click here. It's a pretty decent read if I do say so myself.
But lets leave the Mayan folks out of this for now. I mean, that's a whole year and a half away before we wake up and discover that the world's still here. We have more pressing matters that are pressing upon us. There are some who believe that we don't have 'til next December. There are those who believe we only have until next week.
Recently, driving around town, I've noticed a car that advertises a website: wecanknow.com. But the ad on the car isn't as vague as just throwing a web address at you and then driving away. There's a picture of a day planner opened to May 21, 2011, with the date circled in red. The car wants you to know that the guy driving it believes that Jesus is coming back on that very day.
Honestly, I find this a little intriguing. I don't believe it as fact, but I'm intrigued just the same. I was raised believing that no one would know the time of Christ's return. It's what I was taught in my 5th grade Sunday School class. It's what I was taught in college when I took a course that spent an entire semester studying the book of Revelation. It's what I learned from reading 1 Thesselonians 5:2, "For you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." It's what I've believed my entire life. And that really hasn't changed.
A few weeks ago, when I first saw the car, I misread it. I thought the date read as March 21. As I was following the car I couldn't help but think, "Man, they sure missed that one..." Mostly because at this point, it was already April. But then at a stop light I got a closer look. I realized the prediction was for May 21. That didn't really make me feel any better.
I mean, if they'd been right, and it had been March 21, then where was I? What'd I miss? For that matter, why were they still driving that car around since it was so outdated? But if they're right about May 21, that's kind of short notice, isn't it? You'd think if someone pinpointed the date of the second coming that it would be national news. But I was curious.
I didn't run right home and jump on their website, just to see what it was all about. In fact, I sort of forgot about it by the time I got home. Then I saw the car again a couple weeks later. At that point I decided I'd take a look. I didn't read everything in depth, but just took a quick glance at some of what this organization had to say.
The founders of the website follow the teachings of a guy named Harold Camping. Oddly enough, Mr. Camping predicted the rapture would occur back in September of 1994. Didn't happen. Kind of makes me question the validity of his current prediction.
I'm sure if I were read the website in depth and let the words reach a comprehensive level, I'd find some pretty compelling arguments. Anyone who knows enough about what they're talking about can make a compelling argument. My Dad was the kind of guy who loved to play devil's advocate in a Sunday School classroom. He would sit quietly for a while and listen while the other men would take one point of scripture and come to an agreement about what it meant. Then he would speak up and somehow convince them that it meant something completely different. After convincing a room full of grown men that he was right and they were wrong, he would turn to the leader and ask, "John, would you like me to tell them why I'm wrong?" John would just look at him and laugh, "I wish you would."
God has given us the ability to access His Word. We have the responsibility to read what scripture has to say and to interpret it the way the Holy Spirit would guide us. Maybe that's how Harold Camping feels he's been led in his interpretation of scripture that has led him to predict Christ's return not once, but twice. But, as with anyone who preaches the Word, it's important that the hearers take the time to comprehend what has been preached. It is vitally important for people to not just accept what is preached at face value.
This is how things were centuries ago, before the Bible was readily accessible to the average church goer. Back then, people were ignorant of what God's Word really had to say to them. They simply accepted the Latin words that their priests gave to them. It's this kind of behavior that led to the Crusades and to corruption in the medieval church.
I'm not saying that Camping is right or wrong. I assume we'll find out one way or the other next Saturday. Personally, I'm not gonna hold my breath. And whether Christ's return can be predicted or not, I don't think I'd want to know anyway. Another one of those things I've always believed is that, as a Christian, I should be prepared for Christ's return any day. I know I fail at that all the time. But the point I draw from that verse in 1 Thessalonians is that there's no way to know when His return will occur. It could be today; it could be a hundred years from now.
People have been predicting the end of days since before Christ's birth. I guess, for some reason, human beings are just obsessed with looking to the future. We can't seem to just be happy with where we are today.
I didn't intend to get preachy, and I hope you don't see it that way. And remember, I am a seminary drop out. But if you've read this far, I'm interested to know what you think. Do you think there's a chance Camping has it right? Is this the end of the world as we know it? Do you think the Mayans are right? Does it really matter to you when the end will come? Or are you more focused on where you are today?