If you have not already been exposed to the widely publicized "prophecies" regarding 2012, you soon will be. But can you find the truth in the midst of the media circus?
Just what does Hollywood have against planet Earth?
Whether it is global warming gone amok in movies like The Day After Tomorrow, or giant meteors crashing into Earth in films such as Armageddon and Deep Impact, moviemakers seem to have it in for planet Earth and its people! Apparently, digitally crafted scenes of mass destruction make a lot of money.
November 2009 brings a new entry into this cinematic category: Roland Emmerlich's epic 2012. This "end of the world"-themed film assaults viewers' senses with scenes of unimaginable destruction, as moviegoers watch helpless human beings struggling to survive. Using state-of-the-art digital effects, the movie offers terrifying scenes of cataclysmic volcanic eruptions, unprecedented seismic activity (even throwing entire coastal cities into a hungry ocean!) and startlingly realistic tsunamis of unimaginable height, topping even the world's greatest mountain ranges.
Yet, behind all the computer graphics, the film 2012 is rooted in a very real-world phenomenon: the mounting hysteria surrounding the year 2012—specifically, the date December 21, 2012. Growing numbers of prognosticators are predicting Earth's cataclysmic destruction on that date—while, at the other end of the spectrum, some are expecting the dawn of a golden "New Age" for Earth and its inhabitants.
Amazingly enough, millions of people seem to be taking these predictions seriously. People and groups from nations all over the world are stockpiling food and supplies—even cashing in their life savings in order to buy land on remote mountaintops—all in "preparation" for the earth-shattering events they believe will occur in December 2012.
What is behind this "2012 frenzy"? Why do so many believe that December 21, 2012 will be the end of the world? And how should Christians react to these predictions? Is there any way to truly know what lies ahead?
To understand why so many consider the date December 21, 2012 so important, we need to take a look at the ancient Mayan civilization—a culture that flourished for a time in the Mesoamerican region between North and South America.
The Mayans kept many different calendars to track various time cycles. One is what scholars call the "Long Count Calendar"—marking the days that have passed since the Mayans' mythical creation date in August of 3114bc. According to the Long Count Calendar, December 21, 2012 marks the end of a 5,100-year-long era.
In popular culture, many have interpreted this date as the "end" of the Mayan calendar. But that is where the history lesson stops—and modern "New Age" fantasies begin! Indeed, 2012 has become the adopted focal point of an astounding menagerie of New Age, astrological or occult messages concerning what is to come in the days ahead.
For many, 2012 is their expected "end of the world"—but just how it ends, or what that end means, depends on whom you ask. Some are predicting that a devastating worldwide flood will occur that year (in contradiction to Genesis 9:11–17)! Others anticipate a cataclysmic disruption of the earth's magnetic field. Some even predict that the earth itself will flip in space, suddenly switching poles or rotating in the opposite direction. Still others foresee solar flares scarring the earth's surface, or forces from a rare "galactic alignment" wreaking unpredictable havoc on our planet.
Another group of 2012 devotees fervently believes that the governments and scientists of the world are hiding information about a coming planet or small star that will collide or nearly collide with the earth in 2012—truly a conspiracy of unfathomable proportions!
At Cornell University, astronomy graduate student Ann Martin says many people are scared. "'It's too bad that we're getting e-mails from fourth-graders who are saying that they're too young to die,' Martin said. 'We had a mother of two young children who was afraid she wouldn't live to see them grow up'" (Associated Press, October 11, 2009).
Yet, on the other side of the 2012 frenzy, there are some who expect December 21, 2012 to usher in an "evolution" of mankind—a new era of peace, love and happiness that will be nothing short of the "Age of Aquarius" sung about in the hippie counter-cultural musical Hair! This new age of enlightenment, depending on your source, may involve contact with extraterrestrial beings, extra-dimensional intelligences, or the widespread acceptance of mind-altering drugs and hallucinogens as part of the expected "galactic alignment."
Apparently, whatever idea you have for the future of mankind—death, destruction, drugs or deliverance—the place for it on your calendar is December 21, 2012!
Faced with such a bewildering array of predictions, we might understandably stop and ask: "Where in the world did all of these ideas come from?"
Interestingly, although these ideas are often tied to the Mayans, their ancient culture actually prophesied nothing of the sort! As Dr. Stephen Houston, anthropologist at Brown University and Maya hieroglyphic specialist, observed, "These prophecies of doom really don't have any basis in what we know about the Maya... The Maya descriptions barely talk about this event" (ABC News, "Will the World End in 2012?", July 3, 2008).
A much more cynical assessment was offered by Dr. Sandra Noble, the executive director of the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in Florida. As USA Today reported on March 27, 2007: "To render Dec. 21, 2012, as a doomsday or moment of cosmic shifting, she says, is 'a complete fabrication and a chance for a lot of people to cash in.'" ("Does Maya calendar predict 2012 apocalypse?").
Indeed, the hysteria concerning the year 2012 is a modern phenomenon with modern, New Age origins!
Many of the most influential popularizers of "2012-ology" have openly admitted that their ideas came to them through the use of hallucinogenic and psychedelic drugs, such as dimethyltryptamine, or DMT. These individuals claim that their drug use enables them to achieve states of "enlightened consciousness" and "shamanic vision"—allowing them to talk with and gain knowledge from strange, extra-dimensional beings. Many who are fascinated with the thought of world-changing events in the year 2012 are unaware of the "chemically assisted" sources of the information they have been given.
Even the scientific-sounding "galactic alignment" theory is full of holes. Robert Bonadurer, director of the Daniel M. Soref Planetarium at the Milwaukee Public Museum, has stated clearly that there is no such alignment on that date ("Did the ancient Mayans predict the end of the world?" Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 18, 2009).
Properly understood, the so-called "galactic alignment" is not a scientific concept coming from the realm of physics or astronomy. Rather, it is superstition belonging to the realm of astrology—the aspect of the occult that believes the arrangement of various heavenly bodies can powerfully and invisibly influence the destiny of people on the earth.
As we can see, when placed "under the microscope," the true origins of the 2012 phenomenon come sharply and disturbingly into focus: astrology and occultism, psychedelic drug use and shamanism, spiritualism and "channeling"—and, of course, the simple desire for monetary gain by those banking on the gullibility of the masses.
When facing such wild assertions, a true Christian must obey the biblical command, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thessalonians 5:21, KJV). How do the sources and claims concerning December 21, 2012 hold up to the test of Scripture? Will you believe and obey your Bible?
Concerning the use of astrology and celestial alignments to divine the future, the Bible is clear: "Thus says the Lord: 'Do not learn the way of the Gentiles; do not be dismayed at the signs of heaven, for the Gentiles are dismayed at them'" (Jeremiah 10:2). Christians are clearly commanded to avoid the practice and predictions of astrology!
Is the use of psychedelic and hallucinogenic drugs condemned in Scripture? Yes! Many do not realize it, but the drug-related practices of modern-day "shamans"—as well as attempts to "channel" or contact "extra-dimensional beings"—are thousands of years old. Biblically, these practices are described as divination, sorcery, spiritism and the use of mediums and "familiar spirits," and God absolutely condemns them as an abomination in His eyes (Deuteronomy 18:10–12; Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:27, et al.)!
There really is no reason at all for someone who believes in the God of the Bible to be caught up in the hysteria surrounding the year 2012!
And yet, to even the most casual observer, it is clear that we are living in unique times. In fact, for those expecting Jesus Christ's imminent return, these days are more than unique—they are prophetic!
In the last few years we have seen the global economy teeter on the edge of collapse, terrorism grow to horrifying proportions, and disconcerting chaos and confusion in the political arena. Weather systems seem to grow ever more violent and natural disasters ever more brutal. The world's greatest nation—the once "invulnerable" United States—has been humbled as never before. Rogue nations and unstable regimes seem intent on obtaining nuclear weapons, and the world seems on the brink of unprecedented change!
Is there any way to actually know what is ahead? Is there a time-tested and reliable guide to what the future holds—and what actions we can take for our sake and the sake of our families and loved ones?
Yes, there is!
God tells us plainly that "when they say to you, 'Seek those who are mediums and wizards, who whisper and mutter,' should not a people seek their God?" (Isaiah 8:19). Yes, we should seek our Creator's wisdom, not that of New Age "prophets."
The Almighty God is the one who can explain what lies ahead! "Remember the former things of old, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will do all My pleasure'" (Isaiah 46:9–10).
Yes, God does reveal the future to those who are willing to listen. What He reveals is laid out in the pages of your Bible.
God's word reveals that incredible calamities will befall our planet in the years just ahead! In particular, the Bible warns of horrible devastation coming upon the United States and the British-descended peoples, leading to the complete collapse of these nations as world powers! It tells, as well, of war ultimately breaking out between a German-led European super-state against nations to the south and east of it. However, Bible prophecy guarantees us that this world will not end in 2012, nor will a new global age of peace, prosperity and joy be ushered in at that time. Scripture details powerful events of devastating impact that must take place during the three-and-a-half years prior to Christ's return. Those events have not begun as of November 2009, so we can be sure that Christ's return will not take place in (or before) December 2012.
Of course, any of us may die at any time, so our personal "end of the world" may come long before Christ's return—meaning that we must live our lives today as if Jesus Christ were going to judge us tonight!
What, then, does Bible prophecy tell us will happen in the years just ahead? It reveals that the world will indeed be shattered by events that will soon occur—perhaps even before 2012!
Scripture tells of coming natural disasters—and supernatural disasters—of terrible scale and scope! Describing the end-times to His disciples, Jesus said: "Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be great earthquakes in various places, and famines and pestilences; and there will be fearful sights and great signs from heaven" (Luke 21:10–11). Ultimately, these events will affect all nations, on a scale never before seen on earth! Later in the same chapter, Christ warned that "there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men's hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken" (vv.25–26). These will not be astrological "signs" or "alignments"—they will be real, earth-shattering events in the heavens and on the earth (cf. Revelation 6, 8)! People will literally be scared to death by the events to come, described in the book of Revelation and in many Old Testament prophecies as well!
Unlike the many vague so-called "prophecies" related to the over-hyped 2012 phenomenon, your Bible specifically describes coming events for which we should be watchful. For example, God's word warns of global religious deception—part of which is already at work—and the rise of a miracle-working false prophet (2 Thessalonians 2:7–12, Revelation 13:11–15). It tells of a world-dominating military and economic power rising in Europe, led by a powerful Germany, that will be unlike any empire the world has ever seen (Revelation 13:1–4). We are also told to watch for a group of Arab nations achieving a unity that has previously escaped them (Psalm 83:4–7).
Meanwhile, in contrast to the vague "something's going to happen" sentiment attached to the 2012 hysteria, there are many powerful and specific details laid out for us in Scripture—events to look for before Jesus Christ returns to establish His Kingdom of peace and power over the nations! But will the world wake up and pay attention? Will you?
One of the greatest deceptions brought about by the vast collection of 2012 predictions is the sense that humanity's "date with destiny" is simply that—an essentially arbitrary date.
However, your Bible explains that the coming cataclysmic events will occur not because of some seemingly random date on a calendar, but rather because of the sinfulness of stubborn human beings and their unwillingness to submit to Almighty God!
These events will occur because of unrepentant nations—nations that have been blessed extraordinarily by a loving and merciful God who is faithful to His promises— nations that will not respond to Him with thanks and obedience and which continue to thumb their noses at their Creator. This is not "random happenstance" or "cosmic coincidence"! God reminds us: "If a trumpet is blown in a city, will not the people be afraid? If there is calamity in a city, will not the Lord have done it?" (Amos 3:6).
Unlike a celestial arrangement of the planets or stars, which we cannot avoid, God gives each of us a choice. We can repent: that is, we can read God's word, learn His ways—which were commanded for our good—and we can change our lives. Forget the "2012ers" who are looking to purchase space on mountaintops, or who are hoarding gold and guns. The Bible says in many passages that those approaches simply will not work (cf. Ezekiel 7:14–19)!
Rather, consider the words of Jesus Christ: "But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man" (Luke 21:34–36).
For those who repent—who are willing to look into God's word, read what it says, and actually put it into practice in their lives—God offers protection from the terrible times ahead. If you will make that life-changing choice, the many coming calamities the Bible prophesies actually become signs of great hope. As Christ tells us in Luke 21:28, "Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near."
Yes, these prophesied events have an end—a purpose. Jesus Christ will soon return! After breaking the resistance of rebellious and stubborn humanity, He will usher in the Kingdom of God—a time of joy, abundance and peace unlike anything humanity has ever known! People will learn to live life the way God actually designed it to be lived, in an intimate relationship with their very Creator. And what will happen to those who, in this life and in these days, learned to obey their Creator and to keep His commandments in a world that hated those commandments? They will rule alongside Jesus Christ, working under Him to teach the world, in glory and power such as could never be imagined in a thousand lifetimes!
That is the truth—and it offers so much more hope than some date on a dusty, ancient calendar!